One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

Hey–yawn–there.

It’s been so overcast and gloomy in Northern Virginia, I didn’t get my post up very early. But this week I wanted to share a real mystery–even to us squirrels here at The Squirrel Nutwork. This er, object photograph was sent in to us–thanks, Jeanine!–so we didn’t have the pleasure of curling it, poking our noses to it or taking a swipe at it.

Mystery #111

Any guesses?

Back with you later!

~~~

Looks like we are a little stumped. Heh, for a bit I–Hickory Squirrel–considered those little holes and the gray coloring meant a paper wasp nest got rolled around in a mud puddle and became somewhat waterlogged.

Then Miz Flora declared it a fungus because of the stalk emerging from the ground.

Nutmeg thought it might be a puffball that dried up before maturing.

But during another email exchange, our reader/photographer suggested false truffle. That’s looking like the best guess after we looked it up. The stalk is a clue, and the ‘spongy appearance’.  If any of you human readers come across one again, it seems a nasty odor and cutting the false truffle open to see if a stalk is hidden inside would confirm that’s the group.

However, please do not consider our guesses here accurate identification. Fungus are tricky to identify and since many are poisonous, please do not use our ramblings as proof. We never recommend eating anything from the wild without positive identification from experts!

One Of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

Hey There!

Long time no see! We are on our winter break, but because Northern Virginia has seen little snow so far, I want to poke this in for a substitute.

Mystery #110

What is it?

Give me your guesses and I’ll check back later.

~~~

I don’t suppose this one is too much of a mystery since we featured Common Milkweed, Asclepias syriaca, several times this summer. See the posts here and here. These are the seeds, now escaping from their pods, dry and fluffing out.

Common Milkweed Seedpod

It’s just such a great native plant!

Common Milkweed

This stand of the wildflowers gone to seed was along a suburban street near us–lots of sun and in a place humans can easily see it. Street flowers.

street flowers

Hope your fall to winter transition is going well!

Closing Down…again

Dear Readers,

Yes, we are closing the blog today, but before our goodbyes, we have to show a photo shared with us of a black squirrel in Winchester.
Black Eastern Gray Squirrel

Good looking guy, isn’t he?

And closer to home, we’ve had the results of a late nesting:

Eastern Gray SquirrelEastern Gray Squirrel

Aren’t their feet huge!

And now for a few last thoughts. I looked back eleven months ago to see what we’d posted when I closed the blog the first time. It’s very nice and I have to say I still have the same feelings deep in my furry chest. But I won’t repeat them. If you care to, you can go look at November 30th, 2013.

I’m sure you human readers know how life can be. It seems to get harder to collect all the acorns we need for winter. Hickory and I had to decide to close before we ran ourselves ragged, at least for the winter, maybe longer. A squirrel just never knows what winter may bring.

We’ve enjoyed the six months of nice weather with our readers. Thank you for keeping the blog interesting for us with your questions and comments.

On behalf of Hickory, Ol’ Wally, Miz Flora and myself, have a warm and safe winter.

Nutmeg

 

One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

Hey there readers!

We squirrels saw pumpkins at many of the houses in our suburban neighborhood. But we also saw ‘pumpkins’ in the trees.

Mystery #109

Any idea what they are? Give me a guess. And since we’re shutting down the blog for the winter, I’d like to note this is the 109th Nature’s Mystery I’ve posted in the last two and a half years. I started shortly after Nutmeg began the blog in March of 2012, taking on her empty Sundays during the Blogging from  A to Z Challenge in April. After three years of participating, I’m pretty sure we will be back for that…but Nutmeg says not to make too many promises.

See you later!

~~~

These little ‘tree pumpkins’ are persimmons, from the American Persimmon, Diospyros virginians. Years ago when I was a kit, i tasted one before frost. Whew, i didn’t think i’d ever get that pucker out of my mouth. Since then I’ve learned to only eat them after a frost. It hasn’t frosted here yet in northern Virginia, so the persimmons are still hanging on the trees.

American Persimmon

Our temperatures have dropped though, so we expect frost anytime. When it does, every climbing mammal–raccoons, squirrels, opossums–and some who aren’t, like deer, will be after those fruits. They turn quite sweet.

I believe we have one more post planned for you tomorrow!

Creeeepy!

Yes, creepy things are out and about these fall days, but not only in the humans’ yards. Hickory and I were racing along the top of a concrete wall, leaped off and when I looked down, I saw something wasn’t right.

Daddy Longlegs

We rounded back to the wall for a closer look.

“Is it…a Daddy Longlegs?” Hickory guessed.

It was. We crept closer. He didn’t look right.

Then Hickory started laughing. “He’s in a hole. The concrete is full of holes and he’s ducked his body into one of them.”

So he had. We looked from all angles, then raced to get Ol’ Wally and Miz Flora.

Daddy Longlegs

“I never saw anything like it.” Ol’ Wally twitched his tail. “I don’t suspect I ever will again.”

Miz Flora peered from the side, close enough her nose nearly touched the concrete. “Show him from this angle, Nutmeg, or the humans will never believe the harvestmen are this smart.”

Daddy Longlegs

I couldn’t get a good focus, but even fuzzy this shows he’s got his body in the hole, surrounded by warm concrete in the crust day. “But why do you call them Harvestmen?,” I asked.

“That’s the ol’ name for ‘em,” Ol’ Wally explained. “You young’uns don’t use it, but it’s a good one.”

“Because they scavenge. Feed off the dead. And worse.” Miz Flora sniffed.

Hickory’s eyes gleamed. “Worse? Like these weird statues the humans are displaying now instead of regular wildlife?”

Her nose dipped. “Certainly worse,” she whispered. “Nothing a decent squirrel would never eat.” We inched closer to hear. “Most arachnids are predators, capturing live insects. Harvestmen might capture an insect or two, but they also eat–” she shuddered “–the leavings of birds and other animals.”

Leavings. Hickory and I knew what that meant: an even politer way of saying scat, or the dung of animals.  My stomach rolled, and we all wrinkled out noses at the thought.

Hickory finally broke the silence.”Hey, someone’s got to clean up that mess. Better them than us.” And with a tail twitch, he raced to the nearest oak. “Let’s see who can gather the most acorns in five minutes!”

I ran to join him. “I’m in,” I chittered nervously. “I need a stash for this evening. With all these creepy things the humans are putting out, I’m going to hole up in my leaf nest early tonight.”

Thirsty Thursday

Don’t know if you humans got the notice, but Nutmeg has decided the end of the month we will close the blog down for the winter. Ol’ Wally here decided to start taking his break a little early. After all, how much longer will we have these warm fall days? They make it pretty easy for this old squirrel to take a ramble across the golf course.

Pond in fall

 

Beautiful view.