Thirsty Thursday

Our fall days in Virginia haven’t turned too cool yet, but that doesn’t mean wildlife don’t miss the sunshine. With the rainy weather, and still more rain to come, we squirrels took off for a run to the pond.

Eastern Painted turtles were drying off even if there is no basking.

The Lilypad Forktails weren’t flying as much on cool, overcast days.

And maybe it’s good weather for you humans to look for cold-blooded wildlife. Even we squirrels saw some critters we can’t identify! (Know what this one is?)

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Thirsty Thursday

Folks,

The ponds in our neck of the woods are bursting with plant life this time of the year.

Lily pads  and algae have grown across the open water, so much so that the water critters have forged paths through them.

Cattails and lizard tails line the edges.

And these yellow sunflowers that we didn’t have Miz Fora along to identify are prettying up the edges.

It’s nice to see a pond with good healthy plant cover across and around it! Lots of space and food for wildlife to live and access the water.

 

Thirsty Thursday

Folks,

I headed over to the big pond today, accompanied by Miz Flora. Because of that dear, plant-loving squirrel’s presence, her–I mean, our–attention was drawn to the purple flowers of the Pickerel Weed, Pontederia cordata. Now this common pond plant has been blooming all summer, with its stalks of tiny purple flowers, and I…*ahem*…must admit, Ol’ Wally here was not inclined to include it in our weekly posts about water in nature.

Miz Flora had other ideas.

And so we leaped over to see the pickerel weed up close.

Several little skippers were fluttering over the flowers, dipping in to gather the nectar of the many flowers. Well, that is nice, I thought, something Nutmeg would certainly like for the blog. I followed along behind Miz Flora, admiring the flowers as she chattered. Then, before our eyes–WHAM!

A praying mantis darted from the stalk and grabbed a skipper. The poor thing had no chance to escape the wicked barbs of its front feet and was devoured within a minute. The body, at least, not the wings, which the mantis let flutter into the water…

I had no idea viewing flowers could be so dramatic, and said so.

“That’s nothing,” Mis Flora said with a dismissive flick of her tail. “Not for nature.”

This old squirrel will be retiring to his drey for a rest and reflection on how lucky he has been to survive all these years.

Thirsty Thursday

Folks, It’s late summer and the rains have been good to us lately. Lots of thick vegetation around the pods in our area. Perhaps you recognize some of these water-loving plants?

Yes, you might say I’m horning in a bit on Hickory’s mystery column…but that’s okay because he won’t be posting this Sunday.

The tall pink plant is Joe Pye Weed.

The shorter but brilliant red one is Cardinal Flower.

Both are good choices if you have a bit of a wet area. Water-loving plants can pull up the extra water in a spot like that and prevent mosquitos from laying their eggs.

 

Thirsty Thursday

Since Hickory posted a colorful dragonfly statue on Monday, Ol’ Wally here was inspired to pull out some of our brightest dragonfly and damselfly photos. Enjoy!

Eastern Pondhawk Dragonfly

Male Autumn Meadowhawk

Spreadwing Damselfly

Eastern Forktail Damselfly

Ebony Jewelwing

Thirsty Thursday

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.

Thirsty Thursday

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.

Thirsty Thursday

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.