It has been a while since I posted anything about the local wildlife (or anything else, for that matter!) but now I’m looking forward to some long anticipated “spare time”!!!
Living in a small town (just over 7,000 people) surrounded by countryside, from time to time there are some unusual visitors to my garden. Squirrels are everywhere, of course, and provide great entertainment for me and my dog, but we also have entertaining ducks each spring! Black Bellied Whistling Ducks come in each year to breed and raise their young. They don’t seem to like water but they roost in trees and on peoples’ rooftops! “Whistling” is the noise they make when they fly, and they must be some of the noisiest ducks on earth!
While on the subject of birds, everyone’s favorite is the hummingbird, and there are plenty of them. Mostly the Ruby Throat Hummingbirds here. Some of the most colorful are the Red Cardinals, and the Red Winged Blackbird; the most common are the Mockingbird (the State Bird of Texas) with its amazing range of songs, and the rambunctious Blue Jays. The most unusual in these parts is the Road Runner, which used to be fairly common but is rarely seen now.
Mosquitoes here are “as big as helicopters”, but fortunately there are a few critters that like to eat them. Goldfish in my pond eat them, as do frogs and toads, although they don’t eat enough to be an effective population control. Frogs and toads abound in my garden – sometimes after they “sing” all night, a couple of days later I’ll find strings of eggs lining the pond followed by hundreds of tadpoles. Today I found a toad submerged in a watering can and I thought he had drowned – when I tipped the can up to wash the body out, he came to life and hopped out by himself! The one in the pond is a Bullfrog, who sounds like a fog horn!
Red Eared Slider turtles sometimes migrate up the road from the creek, and one had a family of cute little baby turtles a couple of years or so ago in my pond. They made such a mess that I had to find new homes for them. Grasshoppers of all colors and sizes, more snails than I have ever seen in my life, and one time a black water snake who hung himself in the recirculating pump in the pond. Red Shouldered Hawks, Caracaras (Mexican Eagle), Ruby Crowned Kinglets all come to visit, and even fluffy little bunny rabbits from time to time. Opposums, Armadillos, and almost as many stray cats as there are snails!!! The one in the photo was sitting on a piece of screen material covering the rainwater collected for watering plants.