Thirsty Thursday

Folks,

We squirrels woke to another of those humid summer days where the air is so thick with moisture, it hangs in the trees. When it’s this damp out, it sure is confusing why the ground is rock hard for digging up acorns.

We decided on a romp across the golf course to search for last year’s mast (acorns for you humans) under those oaks. We were enjoying the slightly cooler morning…until we came up over a rise and spied danger!

A fox, under our trees! Obviously we had to climb and wait him out. So much for the cool of the morning.

Thirsty Thursday

Folks, sometimes critters are desperate to find and use water.

We squirrels were on one of our romps across the golf course when a wiggle in muddy sand trap caught Hickory’s eye.

And like the curious young squirrel he is, Hickory went investigate. Ol’ Wally here figured out that the sprinkler water had collected at the bottom and its mud is green with algae–which no squirrel would suspect in a sunny spot–because the sprinklers wash grass fertilizer down to the hole.

But something else was also in the water. Hickory found toadlets. Little, newly emerging tadpoles into toads. Everywhere. In the water, isn the mud, in the grass.

Do you see three of them hiding in the grassy edge?

And prints of birds and raccoons.

These clever marauders likely know about this wet spot in the sand that is regularly filled by the golf course sprinkler system. They know it’s a reliable source of food!

Yep, it’s plum-amazing the tadpoles have made it. But they have. Nature persists!

Why weren’t the toads using  a nearby pond, or the streams the cross the golf course? True, they fill with stormwater from the neighborhoods so that might not be the cleanest water either.

It’s mystery to us squirrels, but points to a problem: wildlife need fresh, clean sources of water. If you can provide that in your suburban garden–year round!–then you will be doing wildlife a service.

Not to mention, we will provide you with more nature entertainment than you can catch in your boxy dreys! You are welcome in advance!

Thirsty Thursday

Folks,

Are you hearing things at night? It’s early June, and the season of the mating bullfrog!

Ol’ Wally here is being kept awake nights. The male bullfrogs make LOUD and repeating croaks that sound like a chair scooting across one of your wooden decks.

Some humans confuse bullfrogs and green frogs, or believe that all of the large, brown frogs are Bullfrogs and the large, green frogs are Green Frogs. However, their colors vary from frog to frog. Best to check for those lines ridges that run down the back…or not!

Bullfrogs do not have the ridges, called dorsolateral ridges.

Green Frogs DO have the ridges.

Both of these frogs are calling at the same time, throughout the summer months. The Bullfrogs give a two syllable croak, ‘gur-unk’, while the Green Frog call is a single croak, ‘gunk’.

It’s something we squirrels finally learn to ignore from our dreys…or we take lots of naps during the heat of the day.

For a great short video on more tips for identifying these two common frogs, check out #NaturalistMarty’s video.

National Invasive Species Awareness Week – Yellow Iris on Thirsty Thursday

Folks,

Ol’ Wally here.

Bet you folks didn’t think this old squirrel would have an invasive plant on his Thirsty Thursday. But Nutmeg made sure I found a water-loving one. There are many, Water Hyacinth and Purple Loosestrife are others, but we’ll focus today on Yellow Iris, Iris pseudacorus. 

You humans may think this is like any other iris you plant in your yard. The pretty flower looks the same, and blooms at the sometime, May-June. The leaves look the same, though can grow taller and be mistake for cattail leaves. But this iris, also known as Yellow Water Iris and Yellow Flag, likes its roots in water.

Oh, it likes its roots in water! And it doesn’t behave the same as in its native homes of Europe and parts of Asia and Africa.

Yellow Iris produces seeds, but it’s the aggressive rhizomes on this iris that allow it to spread far and fast. The dense mats they form quickly crowd out other water plants. No native plants survive once Yellow Iris gets a hod of a pond.

Do you know what they means for the insects living there? For the ducks looking for a few tasty roots. You got it, water desert.

Steer clear of this one, folks!

Thirsty Thursday

Howdy Folks!

Ol’ Wally here. For those of you who are new to our nature blog, I’m your more-often-than-not Thursday squirrel writer about water. Wildlife that live in water. Plants that like water. Humans helping with water related activities. Sometimes just water.

We’ve had a bit of rain in these parts, not unusual for spring. Get the juices flowing in a lot of ways–the streams and rivers are flowing full and the plants are sucking up the extra to send their leaves into full flush. Yep, it’s a good time to be outdoors…oh

Nutmeg is reminding this old squirrel that times have changed and you humans must abide by Stay Home rules. All very well and good, but you should be poking your paws outside, at a ‘socially distant’ Nutmeg says, or that might have been social distantly? Anyway, put your noses up to sniff the freshness of nature in spring. Perk those ears for the mating calls of birds and frogs.

Lots you can do from a distance!

And sometimes you want that distance…

These are some mighty big snakes…squirrel-eating snakes?

I had to skedaddle from my intended walk around the pond!

These snakes might be mating. Their choice of being near the pond might be their habitat or it might be by chance. We were guessing they were watersnakes, but they lack a pattern and so we are waiting on an identification. We will let you know the answer…or speak up if you know!

Anyway, nice day to run around a pond!

Thirsty Thursday

Last week I prompted you folks to leave out water for your wild neighbors, but I forgot to mention that we squirrels have noticed that some of you humans are getting creative.

This here is a new style of watering dish for bees and other insects. The idea is that they won’t fall in and not be able to climb out. So far, we haven’t seen any insects watering here. And there are plenty in our neighborhood, before you ask.

Have our readers tried this? Have you seen insects at it? Please let us know!

Thirsty Thursday

Folks, this is Ol’ Wally here with you today. This old squirrel is feeling a mite better because the heat in the Washington D.C. area isn’t as bad this week. However, we’re getting less rain, and that means yes, it really is Thirsty Thursday.

 

Do your wild friends a kindness and set out a dish of water.

High or low, or both. Different critters have different feelings of comfort approaching these things. It doesn’t even need to be fancy!

It you see a neighborhood tree with wilted leaves, set a sprinkler on it.

No reason not to share the resources with every being!