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.

One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

Hey there!

Today we have a tree mystery.

Mystery #108

Do you recognize it? Give me a guess and I’ll check in later with your answer.

~~~

No guesses? Ahem! I, Hickory Squirrel take this as a bit of an insult since the tree is in part named for me. Or was it the other way around?

The bark is also part of the name–Shagbark Hickory, Carya ovata. It’s cool bark, a little hard to climb. But that’s only on the mature trees. The young ones have a smooth gray bark, so could be camouflaging themselves in your woods! The way to find out is the nuts.

Shagbark Hickory Nuts

This tree had plenty. The shells are like fat balls that split into four parts and leave four ribs on the hickory nut inside. The nut is roundish, not oblong.

Shagback Hickory Nut

And they are delicious! Of course since I am named for them, I can’t say enough about hickory trees!

But even if it’s not fall harvest, the Shagbark Hickory is a beautiful thing to climb.

Shagbark Hickory Tree

Hope your fall is treating you as well as mine is!

Thirsty Thursday

Frog Bird bath

This here is a pretty fancy bird bath. Ol’ Wally isn’t too sure how many frogs can make a leap that high to get into it, but it’s a good reminder. This time of year the animals that will be out and about this winter are scoping out the places they will get food and water.

If you humans think you are going to put out feeders for the winter, or keep a nice supply of unfrozen water–either by heating it or putting out crest everyday–then NOW is the time to set these up. Once winter hits and we are freezing our little paws off going out and digging those acorns from the frozen ground, we do not have the energy to waste going around searching for other food and water sources. Neither do the birds. You humans may not think we are smart enough to prepare, but I’ll let you in on a secret: most wildlife have a dozen or more known sources they will return to again and again. In the harshest weather, they go to a few most likely spots to refuel.

Let us make your yard one of them!

Fine, fine…Nutmeg is making me get off my high stump… When you get to be as old as this old squirrel, there’s no time for fancy talk.