Two fully-grown coyotes crossed the road in front of us at 10 AM today before I turned into Jamestown Beach. A patrolman told me he had seen others. The boldness of these sleek canids in shaggy coats the color of dry oak leaves took me by surprise. Their cousins in the mountains are far shier because they are hunted.
Minutes earlier, I disturbed a pair of Red-tailed Hawks feeding on what little remained of a deer carcass in our yard. A kettle of vultures waited patiently nearby.
When a new carcass appears, I assume a road accident victim crawled away to die and attracted scavenging birds to our yard. But coyotes in a pack less than two miles away might have been the primary scavengers or even come here to prey on deer. We are visited by red tooth and claw.
While walking our dogs, Ben and Reg, on the beach, I heard two Great Horned Owls calling to each other in the pinewoods. And the morning’s entertainment finished as a pair of eagles soared acrobatically in the blue sky.
2 + 2 + 2 + 2 wildlife sightings the same morning remind me that Valentine’s Day falls this month.
Plans for the morning were interrupted when I heard the Silver Hand Meadery in Williamsburg was filling glasses for all-comers this morning. And why? It’s World Honeybee Day on the third Saturday in August. The calendar event has gone international since 2009 for celebrating the benefits of pollinators and the only kind that manufactures sweet liquid gold.
There was more to attract attention than the chink of glasses in a small crowd gathering to start the weekend with “Cheers!” A beautiful mural stretching yards along a wall leading to the front door was unveiled by the meadery’s owners. It is as colorful as a children’s picture book, full of bright flowers, bees, and butterflies under a blue sky. The artist Emma Zahren-Newman titled it: “The Flight of the Honeybee, circa 1622.” Why the date? It is reckoned to be the year when the Virginia Company of London shipped honeybees to the Jamestown colony, then only 15 years old and barely hanging on after starvation and a fractious relationship with local Native Americans.
Although many native bee species exist here, they were probably the first honeybees introduced to North America. Evidently, they didn’t do well in this climate at first, but they followed the westward march of the frontier as European settlers grew new crops that depended on the services of Old World insects then and ever since.