W is for Water

 

Hello, folks! Ol’ Wally stepping in here for Nutmeg. I couldn’t let her use anything but water for today’s Blogging From A to Z Challenge. First, because it’s Thursday, and our regular readers know this is the day this old squirrel runs the Thirsty Thursday column featuring water. And second, we’ve had so much rain in these parts that it’s getting a bit hard to ignore.

‘Suppose you humans know how important water is. I mean, your lives depend on it. So do ours, but we wildlife aren’t in as good a position to keep that water source clean, or even there. We are relying on you all.

That means good planning when you put in your buildings…

to where that water goes from your parking lots…

to putting in places where the smaller critters might have a damp home…

to bigger solutions for water cleaning and recycling for entire buildings…

to simply putting out water when it isn’t raining, like in the heat of summer…

or the frozen winter.

It’s not from a squirrel, but let me leave you with this wise Native American proverb:

The frog does not drink up the pond in which he lives.

E is for Eastern Painted Turtle

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!

 

Thirsty Thursday

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.

DSCN2441This here is a favorite of mine, the Eastern Pondhawk–see, Ol’ Wally isn’t the only one thinking hawk! The male is easy to identify if you look for the blue abdomen and green face.

Eastern Pondhawk male

 

Eastern Pondhawk male

I’m sure you’ll be watching over your shoulder on your next pond stroll!

Thirsty Thursday

Nutmeg and Hickory have both shown you humans the Common Milkweed plant. Well, Ol’ Wally here has a milkweed a mite better.

Swamp Milkweed

How do you like them blossoms?? ‘Pretty in pink’ as I’ve heard humans say. This is Swamp Milkweed, Asclepias incarnata, which is sometimes known as Pink Milkweed–but you know how Miz Flora hates common names, so we’ll stick to the proper one.

Aside from the brighter color, this milkweed flower doesn’t form a ball like Common Milkweed, but is more like the orange Butterflyweed in shape. And I bet you readers have already guessed–since this old squirrel is featuring this plant on the water column–that Swamp Milkweed likes a wet soil. Only wet, though, it won’t grow in standing water. Like the other milkweeds, it is highly attractive to nectar feeders, and the sap in the leaves (that the caterpillars eat) even contains the same toxins as Common Milkweed.

 

Thirsty Thursday

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.

Ebony Jewelwing female

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.

Ebony Jewelwing male

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.

Ebony Jewelwing damselflies mating

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.