Thursday, August 23, 2012

The chase of 3

Here is a scene that occurred early one morning on the trail west of our spring house:  Two deer run away from something--and then that something appears!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Cattails and Water Spiders

Fishing Spider, Dolomedes triton
I spent the rest of the afternoon cutting back cattails in Crystal Pond and serving as a scarecrow (Scare-heron?) for the salamanders.   As I sank up to my shins in mud and water, I was accompanied by an amazing array of water-striders and diving beetles.   I noticed also several varieties of water-spiders zipping about among the cattail stalks I was cutting down.    One looked like a giant, aquatic wolf spider and another seemed transparent, with a pale yellow tint.    I did not remember enough about these two to identify them when I got home, but a third species was more memborable.  This one was brown outlined in white, with several white spots on the abdomen.   With the aid of my Audubon Field Guide to Insects & Spiders,  I saw that this one was the Six-Spotted Fishing Spider, Dolomedes triton. 

Fishing Spider--a name packed with meanings!   Not only does this spider eat tiny fish, but it is sometimes eaten by fish.   Fish, fishy, fishiest!

Salamander Update--Oh, no!

Oh, no--About an hour after releasing the salamanders in Crystal Pond (our seep pond), I returned with the intention of cutting cattails along the edges.   As I crested the hill, I saw a Great Blue Heron rising up from the center of the pond--leaving muddied the very spot where we had released the salamanders.

We see GBHs a lot around here--in the creek.  This is the first either of us has seen a GBH in Crystal Pond.     A coincidence?  I hope so.   The Crystal Pond is full of frogs and minnows--it would be a logical place for GBHs to hunt.   With the heat, we haven't been monitoring the Crystal Pond as we sometimes do.   Maybe GBHs have been coming there regularly, and we have just missed them.

But if it wasn't a coincidence--how did a Great Blue Heron find out so quickly the salamanders were there?  How did they know the salamanders were neophytes, still figuring out their new environment, including hiding places?

Should we have waited until dark to release the salamanders?  Or would that just have been an open invitation to raccoons?

Welcome to the land community, little guys.   Meet your next-door neighbor, a Great Blue Heron.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

What predator?

from Peg in Morris County:

Yesterday while riding my 2-yr old gelding I was checking the creeks and found what was left of a deer (yearling,maybe) near a water gap (no water!) It was the complete skeleton stripped and still looked fresh like maybe a day or two....when I told Don he asked "did you see any cat tracks?"....NO mud to make a track!!..LOL....I know that our Great Pyrenees has been working hard the past two nights and hearing a lot of coyotes!.......

Mourning Doves--gathering early!

Here's a great observation  from Peg in Morris Co.:

"....this morning we rode a pasture of steers that we take care of (in Wab.Co.) about 5 miles east of us and as we were driving down the road about 8:30 the road was covered with doves!!...huge flock maybe a 100 or more!....Like Don said we usually don't see them gathered up like that till Sept.....And I had just told him riding across the pasture that maybe, just maybe we had Aug weather in July and will have Sept. weather in Aug... Remember how so many things were 2-3 weeks early this spring?!!... Crazy year!!..."


Greetings!   Today is a big day for us (Aug. 4, 2012), as a friend brought us some Tiger Salamander larvae from an established population in northern Geary County.   They wriggled out of their pail into our seep pond, apparently quite happily.   We'll keep our fingers crossed that they like it there and find everthing they need to thrive.    The adult form of Ambystoma tigrinum is pictured on the left.   The adults run around on land and hang out in burrows--but they need quiet, still water for breeding and egg-laying.   The larvae have gills and grow in water like tadpoles.   According to Amphibians & Reptiles in Kansas, the larvae can reproduce and tend to do so "when terrestrial conditions are harsh and habitat for salamanders is minimal." 
                                                                                   Does that describe this drought year, or what?

Here is a photo of a Tiger Salamander larva:   The ones we put in our pond today had gill covers that were not so brightly colored.


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Thoughts on Hummingbirds?

Peg Jenkins from Morris County has this question:  "Is anybody else having bunches of hummers at the feeders?...for over a week now there will be 6-8 all wanting to eat at the same time at the same feeder...and fighting!!...This goes on most of the day...except at the hottest part of the day..... 
I am wondering if they are starting to migrate?.....seems early!"

Some friends in Pottawatomie County mentioned the same thing--an unusual number of hummingbirds at the feeder all at the same time.  

Thoughts, anyone?
Here is Peg with hummingbird in hand (below).   The little guy flew into her patio door.   As Peg described the situation:  "Poor thing hit the patio door just as I walked by...another one was chasing him!!...put him in a brown paper bag for maybe 15 minutes and he was ready to go again!....What a thrill!!!...."