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This Week in Johnson Canyon: May 19, 2013

It has been a very good week here in Johnson Canyon. We are coming up on the end of our first year in Utah, and are still having a marvelous time exploring and discovering new things. It still amazes us that we actually live here, and even something as simple as walking to the mailbox (1/4 mile) is wonderful.

After a very enjoyable winter with lots of snow, the seasons have definitely changed. We have had some very warm days, (a couple over 100°F), but due to clear skies and dry air, at night the temperature goes down into the 40's and high 30's. We have been experimenting with different plants, to see which will survive the daytime heat and the occasional nighttime freezes. We have been doing quite a bit of skywatching at night, thanks to the warmth of the hot tub. If I was not "The Happy Scientist", I would be tempted to become "The Hot Tub Astronomer".

With the warmer weather, the summer birds are returning. This time last week, we had 10 hummingbirds. Now we have at least 40, and it takes them about a day and a half to empty a couple of one quart feeders. We have been opening the doors to let the fresh air in, and the hummingbirds have discovered that they can fly in one door and other the other. That path takes them right over my desk, which is quite an experience. So far, they are almost all Black Chinned Hummingbirds, with a few Broad Tailed Hummingbirds showing up now and then. I am anxiously waiting for the return of the first Rufous Hummingbirds, as they are my favorites.

Other birds have returned too, including Lazuli Buntings (seen above), Black Headed Grosbeaks, Brown Headed Cowbirds, Western Kingbirds, and Ash Throated Flycatchers. The Goldfinches that have been here all winter have become so used to us that they don't leave the feeders unless we get within a few feet. I think that if I hung one of the nyger socks around my neck, they would be all over me in a few minutes.

The warm weather has also brought a variety of wildflowers, such as Yellow Bee Plant, Scarlet Gilia, and Lupines. Last year, we went to a lot of effort to collect Bee Plant seeds, but they are coming up everywhere without us planting any of our seed. The garden is shaping up nicely, with lots of gazanias, pansies, marigolds, cosmos, and a couple of new roses. The broccoli, mustard greens, and spinach are doing well in my vegetable garden, and so far my most recent group of tomato plants are still doing well. My first two attempts at tomatoes did not survive the chilly nights. If this batch don't make it, maybe I will plant the next batch in the hot tub.