Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Notebook Jottings 5

"Study nature, not books." ~ Louis Agassiz

While mowing grass I watched as one of my purple martin (Progne subis) gourds fell to the ground like an apple falling from a tree. The martins have showed back up at my site and good thing the nesting phase had not begun. If it had I would have a bunch of scrambled eggs in that gourd. I looked up at the rack and noticed that the wire that it was hanging from had broken.

It had worn out from the gourd swinging in the wind. I then decided to change out all of the wires so this same thing doesn't happen when they begin laying.

Out of the corner of my eye I spotted something black hopping across my front yard. It was a spicebush butterfly (Papilio troilus) that appeared to have just crawled from the confines of its chrysalis with its wings still not quite dry. I helped it out by placing it under a nearby bush so a hungry bird wouldn't spot it out in the open.

My son was lifting up a block of cement that rests in our yard and I noticed a squirming bundle beneath it. Come to find out we discovered the love nest of a couple of rough earth snakes (Virginia striatula). I'm always finding these when I work out in the yard having to relocate them to keep them away from the strings of my weedeater. They're harmless and love earthworms and spiders. Great to have in your flower garden.

Squirrels like eating mushrooms they come across when foraging. I found this one sitting on top of a bird feeder I have attached to an oak tree that local gray squirrels (Sciurus carolinensis) use frequently. They will cache mushrooms, sometimes hanging them in the crook of a branch in order to dry them out. Squirrels are known to even eat mushrooms that are poisonous to humans, such as the amanita (Amanita muscaria). Some believe that due to their short digestive tract the poisons are not in their systems long enough to do harm.

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