It’s beginning to look like fall.
Enjoy it, cold weather is coming this weekend!
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?)
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.
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.
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.
Cattails commonly grow in wet areas and that brown fuzzy thing on their stalks is their idea of a flower–which butterflies ignore. Its seeds are spread by wind like a dandelion’s and can take over with strong rhizome roots if the moisture conditions are right.