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

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.

One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

Hey there!

For today’s mystery, I’m asking if you know what kind of turtle this is?

I’ll check back later for your answers!

~~~

We’ve had a few correct guesses, so I decided to pop in and confirm that the turtles are Red-eared Sliders. That red mark along the side of the head is quite distinctive, as is their ability to ‘slide’ into the water when danger approaches.

Red-eared sliders are now a common turtle in ponds even outside their normal range, and are considered invasive. Unfortunately, this is because many have escaped or been let go as pets. They eat both plants and animals in the water, preferring still water of ponds, but also slow-moving streams and rivers. With high numbers and more rugged ability to adapt, the red-eared sliders replace shyer, native turtles and might be one of the reasons frogs are on the decline.