Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Toads and Lizards and Rain!

It is raining! Texas temperatures have ranged over 100 every day for a month and it's been so dry I was worried the entire state might self-combust, but Central Texas got rain yesterday afternoon and all day today. And with the rain comes the toads and frogs. Last night I noticed our smaller pond was filled with toad eggs. Frogs lay their eggs in a nest, but toads lay their eggs in long strings draped around rocks and plants. This afternoon, when I checked on the eggs I could only find a few strands. At first I thought they were all eaten by the monstrous garter snake who has made my ponds his home, but then I noticed a bunch of teeny little stick-like forms near the rocks. It sometimes seems as if there are a billion predators for toad and frog tadpoles. I wish there was more I could do to protect them. If they survive to be much larger I will move a few into my fish tank. The other pond has quite a few fish in it and they are growing fat and sassy feeding off the mosquitoes, so I think the tadpoles are safer in the smaller pond.

The squirrels congregated on the back porch today. They like to hang out on the food table when it's raining. A little rain always seeps through, but for the most part they remain dry. Early this morning I noticed three of the baby male squirrels hanging upside down beneath tree branches. I couldn't figure out what they were doing, or why they didn't just come onto the patio and eat. Then I realized my husband was in the backyard adjusting the water drains coming into the yard--they were waiting for him to leave! The squirrel with the injured eye was also on the table today. His eye was a little damp. I will continue to pray for him. I wish there was more I could do for him. He seems to be maturing and growing stronger and larger, so it must not bother him too much.

I have noticed lately that when I work with the plants on the back porch I always hear something scampering about. Today I got a good, long look at my new back porch resident. It is a rather large lizard. I've seen him back there often, but I didn't realize until today that he had made my plant table his permanent home. You can see a picture of him to the right. He is looking into the den through the window. Now that I know where he lives I can keep fresh water out there for him. This will also attract bugs to his living area so he'll have something to eat.

There are large, deep holes beneath one of the crape myrtle trees and I don't know who put them there. They are about 1/2 inch wide, and there's about six of them. My husband suggested it might be a snake, but the snake who lives at the pond has a large hole he took over from the bunnies last year. He lives beneath a sprawling oak at the base of the front slope.

I have two gigantic sunflowers in the backyard now. They are volunteers--I did not plant them. They must have come from seeds in the birdseed mix on the back porch, or perhaps they were mixed in with the marigolds and Mexican Sunflowers growing around them. The sunflowers are butterfly magnets! However, I also noticed they attract the same caterpiller-like beasts that have been munching away on my tomato plants. I took a picture of one that I found on a leaf and you can see it to the right. It appears as if he's had a great feast!

1 comment:

JJ said...

Love reading about your little creatures and seeing the photos!