Happy Groundhog Day!

Yes, The Squirrel Nutwork is closed, but we’ve made time for some breaking news: six more weeks of winter!

Here in the east, we get our weather reports from none other than Punxsutawney Phil, Groundhog extraordinaire! Here’s Phil’s official website, and one of the best photos we’ve seen of of him.

“Why does he see his shadow and we get rain?” Hickory chitters. “It’s not fair!

Thirsty Thursday

This old squirrel knows Nutmeg said the blog is closed for the winter, but sometimes a squirrel has got to do what a squirrel has got to do!

Eastern Gray Squirrel

See this pole next to Ol’ Wally here? On top there’s a great little puddle of water. Usually.

frozen water in birdbath

Please remember wildlife need water, even when it’s all around us. Sometimes that’s not how we need it, and we’ve got to be able to find it where it always is…uh, was…when we’re cold and trying to get back to our leaf nests.

Ok, end of old squirrel rant.

Welcome to a new year!

The Squirrel Nutwork blog is still closed for the winter, but we thought you might like an update on our activities. Eastern Gray Squirrel in winter

For us squirrels, today is like every other winter day here in Northern Virginia: sunny and cold. The bright light wakes us up, then it’s lots of running around to eat to stay warm. Once again to Hickory’s dismay, we are in competition with the birds at our favorite deck bird feeders.

Birds feeding at bird feeder

There is a line–roughly a line, in bird terms–in the oak tree, and today a pair of Eastern Bluebirds have joined it.

Eastern Bluebird

Tail flicks all around. We may as well collect what falls instead of risking our ears getting pecked.

Hope you humans have a great start to your year!

Happy Holidays!

Dear Readers!

Our suburban yards are filled with so many wonders this winter season, we squirrels are caught up in your celebration.

Deer statue

Happy Holidays from your friends at The Squirrel Nutwork!

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!