Last month’s Wildlife Wednesday post was about the drama of parents finding safe places to nest and fighting off predators all within the constraint of vanishing habitat. This month I noticed that some of the spring babies are already on their own.
It happens so quickly.
Here’s a clever baby mockingbird. It found a safe place to perch between two lines of barbed wire. Any hawk foolish enough to try to strike this little one would find itself in a world of pain.
I spotted it very close to the area where the Pavarotti Mockingbird bird sings and sings. His long complex song suggests he is very old. Very old probably means wise in survival skills. Maybe he shared a few tips with his younglings.
How do baby squirrels know what is safe to eat? Pet squirrels apparently like to eat nuts the way humans like to eat chips but variety keeps them healthy. I suppose there must be a bit of trial and error tasting going on through the seasons.
Probably everyone has heard about the record rainfall we’ve had since April. It has been a mixed blessing for the creatures around here. In some places along the creek the plants were flattened by the rush of water. Yet, in the prairie garden at Mueller the plants are standing straight and tall. Their deep roots and strong stems had no trouble at all with the pounding rain. They just slurped it all up.
In other mammal news, I was saddened to hear that the water meant disaster for too many people who lost homes and loved ones. But nowhere did I hear any discussion that the floods were a man-made disaster. If you pour cement along creek banks, flatten and pave the earth and then build houses in flood plains then Mother Nature’s conscience is clear. With no discussion about the real cause of the disaster it is doubtful we will make better decisions in the future.
I’ve also been feeling a bit sorry for the lizards. Having your burrow flood is bad enough. But to have it happen during moulting season is a dangerous indignity. Plus, how can you attract a mate when it looks like you’ve been sitting in the bathwater for too long? I am sure that more than one lizard was left feeling a bit cranky.
Unless I am mistaken the blue colour on this guy’s chest means it is a male. You might need to click the image to see it.
When the sun came out briefly he tried to use the side walk as a place to dry out. Normally whiptails will flit away as quick as thought to the nearest cover just from the vibrations of a foot step but this guy was adamant that the side walk belonged to him. Not moving for anyone or anything. As I was photographing him I even saw several people walking by veer off to give him a bit of peace.
Of course some creatures can never get enough water. Mosquitoes. Fireflies. And toads. Good times!
This guy’s buddies ate every single leaf on my indigofera. He seemed to prefer sunflower leaves. If he is who I think he is he will turn into one of the prettiest moths around, the Spilosoma virginica. I watched him for a few days and over time he changed colour. The white turned to rust.
Here’s a photo by Anita Gould of the imago that I think does a great job of explaining its common name: the white tiger moth.
One day my husband and I tested our insolubility by taking a walk. He even stopped and asked for an insect ID. Swoon. He really does love me. But when I looked down I saw the strangest thing. It looked a bit like a fly (hovering with two functional wings) and a bit like a bee (fuzzy). Its proboscis was elephantine. I teased him and said that maybe he had discovered a new species … a bee fly. When we got home and looked it up we laughed to find out that bee fly is its actual name. They are also apparently extremely common so there goes my husband’s chance for scientific immortality.
This is turning into one of those catalogue posts with representatives for mammals, birds, reptiles and insects. So arachnophobes beware. Spiders coming up after the butterfly and web pictures.
May is normally a good month for spiders at my place but this year has been phenomenal. Extra mosquitoes mean well fed spiders with bigger and better webs. Some of the webs can be measured in feet already.
This is the time of year when I see the star spiders. They come in all kinds of colours. This year they seem to be mostly black and white but I have seen yellow and red ones before.
They weave orb webs. I can tell when a web belongs to one of these girls because of the messy centre.
This next photo is a little out of focus but I like how the legs glow in the sunlight so I kept it anyway.
And here’s a nerdy one of her spinneret:
This spider reminds me of Spider-Man …
I also found a bunch of papery egg sacs from the mystery spider that makes the messy web.
I saw the builder last year but never came up with a good ID. She has a widow shaped body but is brown. She builds her webs in obvious places for me to avoid so for now it is a live and let live situation. I do hope her success won’t eventually become a problem.
Thanks again to Tina at My Gardener Says for hosting the Wildlife Wednesday event each month and keeping me mindful of the outside world. Her garden is a beautiful place that attracts far more interesting creatures so I do recommend a visit. Be sure to check out the comments section for links.