Here in Virginia we have officially passed the last hard freeze date. So these sliders, their fellow water turtles, and frogs, toads and salamanders, will be out of the mud for the summer!
The warm, sunny days of spring have brought up the Eastern Painted Turtles from their hibernation in the pond mud. Even if it cools down again–like it has here in Virginia–the turtles will be okay. They have a anti-freeze-like blood that sees them through these temperature changes.
What better ‘E’ wildlife to feature on our normal ‘water’ day, Thirsty Thursday!
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.
Walk around a pond and you’re sure to see dragonflies. Have you folks ever noticed some of them eat the smaller damselflies? Dragonflies are predators! Reminds this old squirrel of a miniature hawk.
I’m sure you’ll be watching over your shoulder on your next pond stroll!
Down at the pond, there are a lot of insects flying on these long summer days. When its hot, this old squirrel likes to take a slow meander down to the edge and stretch out in the shade of a big tree.
Well, today, from my sycamore branch, my whiskers were buzzed by a damselfly. Don’t know if you good human readers have ever had that happen, but it’s annoying. The darned thing forced Ol’ Wally here to open his eyes.
Before me was the prettiest little blue damselfly–an Ebony Jeweling. This one was a female.
I watched. Sure enough, in a few minutes along came a male.
They’re easy to tell apart–he has white patches at the tips of his wings.
These aquatic insects are sometime called black-winged damselfly. Easy to tell why.
Well, it wasn’t long before they found each other, and started doing what bugs do.
That’s why there are so many of them around in nature. I closed my eyes–not out of modesty, but to go back to sleep. They’d forgotten about my whiskers.