Not a bad year for acorns

Most humans would walk by thinking this was a mulch bed.

We may not have mentioned it, but we’re not having one bit of problem finding acorns this year!

This s a fine mix of white oak and chestnut oak from two huge trees.

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Persimmons!

A thrifty squirrel has a nose that is always on the alert!

Hickory and I found this persimmon, but one sniff said it wasn’t ready yet. Know why? Persimmons only come into their flavor after they’ve frozen. We haven’t hit a frost yet.

But there are still persimmons up there, so we have hope!

Seeds are in demand!

As summer winds down, Hickory and I have been making our rounds of your human decks. To sun, you’re thinking?

No. We’re checking the bird feeders, but unfortunately, it’s a little early for you humans to put out the bird seed. Our next stop is always the sunflowers…

Rats, beaten to them again.

The goldfinches always have an advantage over us squirrels for finding seeds–even when they aren’t fully ripe!

“Look!” Hickory twitches his tail. “There’s another they haven’t spotted yet!”

May-apples…Hawthorn

What do you know–some common names are correct! The Hawthorn is living up to one of its–May-apple–with the ‘pome’ fruits beginning to ripen now, in May.

We took a look at this small tree’s other names, and we squirrels feel they are just as descriptive of some hawthorn characteristics:

Whitethorn = the blossoms are white, the branches are covered in thorns, as seen in this post.

Thornapple = again, the thorns and the ‘apple’ fruits.

Hawberry = those do look like berries, though scientifically they aren’t. Haw is an old English name for hedge, which these trees would make a mighty fine one of, in our humble opinion, but we understand that this is what people call the fruits over there.

Thirsty Thursday

Folks,

This week’s water column isn’t about water per se, but about what water does.

We’ve had a lot of rain in northern Virginia the last few days. A LOT, what Miz Flora calls ‘That blasted weather’. She’s particularly miffed because the rain has brought down flowers–from trees. Notice those white patches along the roadsides?

If your nose hasn’t been tuned upward, there’s been a fragrance in the air–the sweet Black Locust blossoms.

Yes, we know that phrase is usually refers to magnolias, but trust me, black locust, Robinia pseudoacacia, is sweet, or so we consider it, and it’s a favorite of the honeybees.

That’s what makes us squirrels particularly sad–huge numbers of bees collect from black locust during the week they’re blooming. These pea-shaped flowers hang in bunches, called racemes Miz Flora says, and they make for easy nectar-gathering.

Unfortunately, they’re also heavy, so after Monday’s storm, most of the flowers and many branches ended up on the ground, even though this strong wood has traditionally been used for fence posts.

Sigh. If you’re a friend of bees, you might want to slip them some extra food during our predicted week of rain. Good timing if you managed to get your planting done last week though! I see plenty of oaks sprouting from acorns we buried last fall.

Z is for Witch HaZel

It’s sad to admit that the end of the alphabet doesn’t get much attention from naturalists’ contriving nature names. So this year instead of resorting to a perennial favorite, the Zebra Swallowtail, which we have called on five of the last six years, we are again branching into the name to highlight a great shrub, the witch haZel to stand in for ‘Z.’

The witch hazel’s claim to fame is it flowers in the fall or winter, producing skin petalled flowers that remind some of you humans of spider legs. Get it? Spiders, Halloween, witches?

We don’t actually, but this is a pretty neat tree that grows a nut from those flowers that wildlife find pretty tasty.

Witch hazels appear in suburban gardens as shrubs,

but in the wild the native species, Hamamelis virginiana, is an understory tree.

Give a witch hazel a spot in your yard–lots of late and early foraging bees will appreciate that you have extended the blooming season!

And this ends our 7th year participating in the Blogging From A to Z Challenge. We love sharing nature in our suburban neighborhood and hope or readers have enjoyed this month of nature blogging, too. We will take a few days off, then resume with our blogging in a more casual manner, as befitting a group of squirrels!

N is for Nectar-Feeders!

And by this we don’t mean the human devices that hold sugar water–no, we mean the animals that feed on nectar!

Yes, it’s honeybees

and solitary bees

and other insects besides.

Butterflies,

and moths that we don’t see because they feed on night-blooming flowers.

And even this confusing little hummingbird moth–who looks and behaves like a hummingbird, but is actually an insect. Speaking of hummingbirds…

Yes, they are nectar-feeders and will come to your nectar feeders.

So feed them both ways, and enjoy them in your garden!

Of course, we can’t leave without our Motionless Monday–here’s a different version of a wildlife statue today!

Have a great week!

K is for Keep Calm and…

Keep them messy!

Now this isn’t the perfect suburban forest floor–it’s got a few of those invasive vines in it, but the leaf litter under the hollies and oaks is an oasis of acorns and bugs, and even a few mushrooms pop up, all tasty to us squirrels.

I certainly can’t find any of that here:

The ground has been raked clean of acorns. The small nooks where insects can winter over and feed on decaying leaves are gone. And daffodils? You humans do realize they are poisonous, right? No squirrel with any woods-smarts touches them!

You humans might like a neatly mulched area of woods, but it does exactly zero for wildlife.

Even if our suburban woodlands aren’t perfectly native, Keep them Messy, please!

A is for…Acorns!

Hey, we are squirrels. A is always for acorns. It’s the favorite natural food of eastern gray squirrels.

The Blogging A to Z Challenge is a challenge to blog every day in the month of April, using a designated letter of the alphabet for your day’s theme. With 26 letters, usually the challenge skips Sundays, but there are 5 in 2018’s April, so we are starting A on Easter Sunday, today, and skipping the rest of the Sundays so we end on April 30th with Z. Still confused? Go to the A to Z website.

For the challenge, we’ll feature nature in our suburban neighborhood outside of Washington DC. That’s what we do all the time, not just for the A toZ, so follow us if paying attention to nature is your thing!