Friday, August 26, 2011

Bona Dea Update-1

Bona Dea is still in operation. I have been absent for awhile. I went there in the late afternoon today, Friday. I went to the spillway. After just going down swinging bridge trail for a few feet I saw a raccoon cross in front of me going from one pool to another one. I slowly crept up on it until it saw me and ran down the bank. Then as I was starting to walk again, 2 small babies walked across the trail and right in front of me stopped and stared and raised their backs like cats ready to fight. I had no camera so I missed a great photo opportunity. The link above shows close to what they looked like. After going to the spillway I fed the fish and also a small Musk Turtle. I have not mentioned one in a long time. The photo here shows one at the same location some time back. A few days ago I went to the Disc Golf Course near by and while standing on the iron cross over bridge, I looked down into the water and saw and really huge Midland Watersnake,Nerodia sipedon pleuralis. No camera again but this is a link to them. They really look mean and poisonous but aren't. I noticed out there that there are many young Eastern Kingbirds flying around and chasing each other like crazy. I saw this several days earlier out there too. In the early spring, there were several pair in the area so I supposed most of the eggs hatched by the looks of things. An oddity I discovered when I got home was while going to the mail box by the road, I noticed what looked like an apple growing in the Japonica or Quince Flowering bush. I examined it closely to see if it was attached to a foreign plant embedded in the bush. But no, it was attached to a stem of the bush. I researched it and found it was the fruit or seed pod for this bush called Chaenomeles. I have seen and been up close to these bushes all my life and never have noticed these things. Here is a photo of 2 of them together. And also a photo of what the mature flowering bush looks like in the Spring. You can actually eat these. They are very hard which I found out when handling it. But you can boil it down and make jelly out of them. Learn something every day huh? Back to the subject at hand, some time ago at the Disc Golf Course, I viewed these beans or seed pods to a Trumpet Creeper wildflower vine. These were huge. You can see them attached to the vine with the orange flower blooms. Also present behind these were some smaller seed pods of a Hazel Alder small tree or bush. They were planted there by the waters edge when the authorities built the park. I zoomed and cropped the photos to see the small seed pods that were in the background. It actually rained close to 9 inches in 9 straight days at my home in the last month. It has rained some since then. But it has really been a hot and dry summer up until August. The night now are in the high 60's to low 70's F. Nice sleeping weather.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Bona Dea Update

Bona Dea has been very, very hot and dry for the last couple of months. There have been several days of over 100 degrees F. with heat indexes around 110 degrees. Very little rain in this period of time. However the vegetation and animal wildlife doesn't seen to be effected other than the birds stay inactive in the middle of the day. An interesting site a couple of weeks ago was out at the Disc Golf Course that I have talked about before, where at the small cross over iron bridge across the canal was a rather small black and white pigeon. This pigeon sorta resembled a Birmingham Roller pigeon. When I was a kid, I used to raise them and watch them tumble or somersault in the air. I got real close to it and it did not fly. I backed off and went the other way and someone else came across and it flew in strange patterns diving down and going back up before landing in a nearby tree. Did not get a photo but this is what it looked like preening itself. First and only one I have seen there or at Bona Dea. At a local restaurant close to Bona Dea, I was walking down the drainage ditch in back and happened to see this Common American Snapper Turtle. I am sure it was a female looking for a place to dig a hole to lay her eggs. At Bona Dea on Rabbit Run Trail on the south side of the park, I had noticed where the private land by the fense had been mowed in just one place. So I had jumped the fence and saw a wildflower that I had not seen there before. It just a few feet from a pond. It turned out to be a False Fiddleleaf wildflower-Hydrolea ovata. As you can see, it has a very pretty blue bloom. The days have been so hot that this bloom had started to wilt. The surprise came when in route to the Fiddleleaf plant, I saw this juvenile Texas Ratsnake, Pantherophis obsoletus, going across the trail. I followed it and took these photos. No signs of the Alligator in quite a while now. They have posted signs at both park entrances to beware of them and not to feed them. There have been swarms of grasshoppers all around this area during the summer. They are all over the place. It appears they are the species Differential Grasshopper Melanoplus differentialis. We really need it to cool down and rain.