This here Lesser Yellowlegs is doing something we squirrels practice every day…
Get it? He’s taking a walk outside.
National Trails Day is coming up this Saturday, June 2. Maybe you’ll plan a walk to see us–or at least something in nature?
Well folks, we’ve had some excellent weather this last week. Cool enough we squirrels leaped over to the big pond to have a poke around. Spotted a few birds relaxing, and Hickory wanted to steal this one for a Sunday mystery, but my water column fell first. Still, I’ll ask, do you recognize him?
It’s a black-crowned night heron, which as their name implies, are mainly active at night or early mornings. By the time we arrived, he was done with catching fish and crayfish and moving on to rest and preening.
There’s a look at some mighty fine feathers! Enough to make even a squirrel proud.
Folks, it’s been dry this fall. But this old squirrel, with his comfortable suburban life knowing which houses have a birdbath or backyard pond the humans keep filled, had no idea the local natural waterways were faring this poorly.
Yikes, that is low for our local pond.
We haven’t had a freeze–ha, far from it!–so the place was still abuzz with insects, like this male Autumn Meadowhawk.
Despite finding the pond in less than its best state, I’m happy I took the outing while our weather is balmy.
Well, folks, it’s been a few years since this old squirrel has seen a good stand of Cardinal Flower, Lobelia cardinals. But I did this week.
Is that a pretty sight, or what? This of course, was down by the pond. Cardinal Flower is one of those plants that likes its feet–well, its roots–wet.
You humans like it for the red flowers, and so do the insects and hummingbirds. Makes it easy to spot. However, pretty much only the hummingbirds are successful at getting the nectar from a Cardinal flower–or any of the Lobelia family for that matter.
Might be hard for you to tell, but this type of flower is one Miz Flora calls ‘tubular.’ Among all those fancy bits of petal, is a backend that is so long that it takes a hummingbird tongue to reach the nectar. Some of the buds there at the top are a sample of that distance.
This is a mighty beautiful plant, so much so that it has been picked to the point of disappearing. Please, if not for your friend Ol’ Wally here but also for the hummingbirds, admire it with photos.
Hello, folks! Ol’ Wally stepping in here for Nutmeg. I couldn’t let her use anything but water for today’s Blogging From A to Z Challenge. First, because it’s Thursday, and our regular readers know this is the day this old squirrel runs the Thirsty Thursday column featuring water. And second, we’ve had so much rain in these parts that it’s getting a bit hard to ignore.
‘Suppose you humans know how important water is. I mean, your lives depend on it. So do ours, but we wildlife aren’t in as good a position to keep that water source clean, or even there. We are relying on you all.
That means good planning when you put in your buildings…
to where that water goes from your parking lots…
to putting in places where the smaller critters might have a damp home…
to bigger solutions for water cleaning and recycling for entire buildings…
to simply putting out water when it isn’t raining, like in the heat of summer…
or the frozen winter.
It’s not from a squirrel, but let me leave you with this wise Native American proverb:
Our mystery today comes to us from regular reader, Connie. Thanks, Connie!
Yes, it’s those little blobs, about the size of a small acorn.
I’ll check back later for your guesses, but if you’d like a hint, scroll down:
Hint: Connie found these on her pontoon boat.
One brave reader guessed that these particles were the stuffing from the boat. No, but that was our first guess, too! No mice or insects were burrowing inside. This was deposited on the boat and appears nearly every morning, Connie tells us.
And every morning someone visits the boat.
If the light is a bit too dim for you, here’s another photo.
That’s a Great Blue Heron. A very old one, we believe, because his beard–the feathers trailing from his neck–is full. Now we squirrels had heard of owls regurgitating pellets of fur and bones after they eat, but not herons, so we did a bit of research. Turns out herons do as well, and it’s called “casting.”
If you look closely, this deposit, or regurgitation, contains small fish bones and scales!
Herons also have a throat pouch. When they have young in the nest, they swallow a fish or two and carry them back to the nest and regurgitate them for the young birds. Young birds might do the same if a predator attacks their nest to frighten it away.
Want to learn more about Great Blue Herons? The Cornell Lab of Ornithology has a camera on a heron nest and answers many questions about these birds on their Bird Cam FAQ website.