Oct 26, 2009

Ten Minute Break

I took a stroll to end of the driveway tonight at 11 pm before tucking myself in for the night. I couldn't help but throw out some screech owl whinnies. I got a response first from what I think was a flying squirrel. A boxy shadow glided from the outer branches of the catalpa tree closest to the driveway to the trunk when I began to call. About a minute later, a small shadow passed about ten feet overhead, heading across the driveway and the garden to the catalpa tree with the bluebird box on it. I soon heard the high pitch whinny from the east across the paved road perhaps at 150 yards distance. After another minute a lower-pitched whinny joined in the chorus directly behind the house, perhaps 40 yards away. I kept each whinnying for a minute or so then stopped, not wanting to disturb them further. The owl behind the house moved to the south and was heard close to the pond. The other owl fell silent. I decided to leave them be and walked back to the front door listening to the lonely call of the screech owl near the pond. I'll stay out of their lives for a few weeks, but I'm sure I'll feel the urge to talk with my neighbors again in the future.

Oct 13, 2009

On the Visitor Center

I stopped at Canoe Creek State Park and helped set up an activity for tomorrow at the visitor center. Heidi, the environmental educator, pointed out a roosting bat behind the light outside of the door. After we were done, I walked around the outside of the building looking for other animals coming up with a woolly bear caterpillar, an assasin bug, and the bat. All these animals are preparing for winter in their own way. Woolly bear caterpillars are the folk weather forecasters with cinnamon red and black stripes. The caterpillars find a safe place to overwinter - under rocks, in the leaf litter, and in logs. In the spring, they'll spin their coccoons and Isabela tiger moths will emerge. This woolly bear will hopefully be moving to more sheltered location for the winter. The assasin bug pictured here is one I frequently find in my own house. These overwinter in the cracks and crevices of houses, in rocky areas, and other sheltered spots. Known for their predatory behavior, these Hemipterans are quite adept at stalking prey. Their piercing sucking mouth part acts as a tube that exudes digestive juices and ingests the soupy nutrition it creates. Assassin bug is more of a general term, applying to some 3,000 species. The bat, probably a little brown, has found safety for today. I hope after a good day's rest this bat moves to a sheltered cave or some warmer abode. Temperatures are dropping into the 30s tonight.