It amazes us squirrels how you humans place your wildlife statues in exactly the right locations.
Aren’t these a handsome pair!
Have a great week!
So folks, it’s that time of the year–or soon will be. We are getting lots of rain from regular weather, as well as Hurricane Florence pushing some up this way, so our trees and hillsides aren’t drying out. But have you noticed it’s dark by 7:30 these days? Fall equinox is this Saturday, at 9:54 pm. (How do you humans figure these things out?) The plants know the daylight hours are waning and will start to pull in their sugars. This makes the leaves pretty, and you humans like to touch them. Except theres one that shouldn’t be touched…
Yep, that’s the very pretty fall variation of poison ivy. The leaves are drying so don’t have as much natural oil as it does in the spring–the stuff that causes itchiness–but it has enough.
Leaves of three, let it be!
Red things are falling on the ground, and they aren’t apples in our woods!
Any guesses for what this is? Leave me–Hickory–a note in the comments and I’ll be back later to check your guesses!
Maybe you humans would have recognized this ‘drupe’ up on its tree?
If not, we squirrels will take that as your absolute dedication to knowing about us–because we don’t eat these! Staghorn Sumac, Rhus typhina, is eaten by many songbirds, game birds, deer, rabbits, chipmunks and rats. But we squirrels would rather stick with the good stuff, acorns.
Staghorn sumac has a tartness to it, so maybe those other animals don’t notice. Also, the trees are kind of skinny for a squirrel to be climbing and not very spread in the branching at the top.
Maybe because the big, compound leaves of the sumac seem to take the place of limbs.
Even if we don’t eat their fruits, sumacs are a pretty little tree that make especially thick groves, and turn beautiful red-oranges in the fall. Look for them in another month!
After Ol’ Wally’s dramatic tale from yesterday, I decided the blog needed an uplifting moment–and butterflies seem to still fit that idea. No spicebush swallowtails or monarchs died during the time Hickory and I visited these flowers!
But we did find one juvenile hiding!
“As he well should!” Hickory chittered. “Birds. If you can’t trust them to stay out of your sunflower seeds, then when can you trust them?”
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.
Stormy skies, leaves falling because of heat, and a flash of something in a tree…
Nope, it’s not a squirrel, but what is it?
Give me your guesses in the comments and I’ll check back later with the answer!
Aren’t brownish-grayish birds some of the hardest to figure out? But if you look carefully, that’s only his back…
Ok, we admit you needed a longer look. Flashes of birds in the bush rarely lead to identification. It’s the white belly that gives this bird away as an Eastern Kingbird–and a white edge across the tip of the tail, but that isn’t visible here. These fellows love catching insects on the wing, so you’ll often see them flip out of a bush, and then right back in again.
That’s during the summer. Come fall, kingbirds will start to gather into flocks for the winter, and switch over their diets to eating fruits.