Red Fox Sunning

One of our regular readers had a rare treat one of these sunny afternoons–a red fox napping in her sunny yard! We squirrels are just thankful it was over in her neighborhood, not ours! With the danger far from us, we thought our human readers would enjoy her photos.

The life of a predator! Thank you, Nancy!

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One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

Hey there!

The poison ivy season is upon us again. Can you tell it apart from other vines? That’s your mystery challenge today!

1

2

3

4

Which is / are poison ivy? What are the others?

Will check in later for your answers!

~~~

These are all vines in our area of northern Virginia. We had a correct guess in the comments on the poison ivy, number 2: ‘Leaves of three, let it be’ is a good reminder of what it looks like.

Number 1 is a plant that perhaps you should fear more than poison ivy–it’s a horrible invasive, mile-a-minute weed.

Number 2, the dangerous poison ivy.

Number 3 is the top vine confused with poison ivy, Virginia Creeper. It commonly has 5 leaflets to a leaf, but that varies tremendously, from 5 to 9!

Number 4 is trumpet creeper vine, native, not poisonous, but is so aggressive that some gardeners choose not to let it grow.

Thanks for visiting!

C is for Camouflage

Do you see the….

Read on for what we are looking for; we won’t identify it yet, just to give you a chance to see it for yourself. This photo was shared from our field correspondent in the Rocky Mountains, Coney the Pine squirrel, but animals all over use their natural coloration to blend with their surroundings and stay safe. You humans have even mimicked it.

So? Want to try again?

Can you see the owl? A Great Horned owl with ear tufts? (Shudder…the danger our correspondent went to get this photo!)

Here, she has turned her head, watchful of her surroundings, because she’s sitting on her eggs.

X is for eXciting!

Yes, we’re poking at our letters today, but our little snake is an Xciting sight for some humans and is twisted into just the right shape!

For all the excitement a snake popping up in the garden causes, the ring-necked snake is one you can flick your tail at. It rarely gets over pencil-sized, and can easily be identified by the yellow to orange ring around the neck, or if you have scared it, the yellow-orange underbelly, as it tried to flash you nature’s warning color and chase you off.

And what do they eat, we would like you to ask? Slugs–every gardener’s bane–earthworms and salamanders.

U is for…Uh-oh!

Yes, we missed U day yesterday. We’ll chalk it up to three days of rain! No squirrel wants to be out in that! Not mentioning the procrastination that went on the day before because U is an exceptionally hard letter to find in nature.

So in the interest of saving time, we’ll repeat a past Blogging From A to Z Challenge post, one you humans might have missed in nature:

Underwing Moth!

This moth sits calmly on tree bark, blending in with its upper wings of gray–up until it feels threatened! Then it flashes those underwings of bright orange…enough to scare even the hardiest squirrel–*cough* Hickory *cough*–off a branch.

Go looking for them if you are bored!

O is for Owl

The Barred Owl, who keeps watch in our neighborhood!

And maybe O is for Oops! Sorry we’re so late this morning, but now I bet you see why we weren’t too enthused about today’s Blogging From A to Z Challenge letter. We could only thing of something dangerous!

Yet as dangerous as owls are, they are endangered themselves. You humans don’t seem too keen on keeping dead trees around, and dead trees are where many owls nest. Have you considered putting up an owl box on your property? They can be purchased or made from plans…and it seems like most of the plans we are seeing in a online search are for barn owns, which need lots of open land.

In spite of our squirrel instincts to avoid owls, we’re going to hunt down some plan sources for your humans. In the meantime, here’s a good overview of why you should want owls in your life from Rodales Organic Life.

I is for Poison Ivy

We are repeating a favored perennial for ‘I” on the Blogging From A to Z Challenge: Ivy, of the poisonous kind!

Please consider this a nature service announcement! This native vine can be one of the nastiest you encounter in our woods, fields, and even your lovely foundation plantings. Notice we said ‘can be’. Some people do not react to this plant’s oils that cause itching. But with exposure, their tolerance can decrease, so it pays not to expose yourself unnecessarily.

In the spring, it looks like this:

In the fall it looks like this:

In the winter it looks like this:

Don’t get poison ivy this year. Know what it looks like so you can avoid it.