Biodiversity…I Spy…Surprises!

I walk our farm at least twice a week, usually more, but I always find something new, and sometimes, very surprising.

Butterfly weed, Asclepias tuberosa.  This is the first time I have seen this bloom here.

Butterfly weed, Asclepias tuberosa. This is the first time I have seen this bloom here.

Most of the time I have walking companions – three sheep, a goat, and a dog or two.  Such a crowd of four-legged ones walking around seems to trick the birds into thinking no humans are present.  Sometimes the dogs and the goat call my attention to things I haven’t noticed – the dogs by barking furiously and the goat by freezing in position and refusing to move.

After confronting our dog Harper for ten minutes, this hog (below the fallen trees) made a dash for space.

One of the dog’s finds, a young feral hog below the fallen trees). Hogs are all over Texas, but this is the first time I ever saw one here.

It was too brushy to get a good picture.

It was too brushy to get a good picture.

Leila (the goat) spotted this broad-banded water snake in a little dip on our path.

Leila (the goat) spotted this broad-banded water snake in a little dip on our path.

And then other times, all the animals charge down the path so I think it is clear, and then I step on a snake that not a one of them noticed.  (Just an Eastern Hognose, no worries.) At my age it is good to keep my reflexes working!

Also the sheep are notorious for munching the exact plant I am trying to photograph, or inadvertently scaring the frog I am trying to photograph, so sometimes I go out alone.  I don’t know if I see more animals that way, but I am pretty sure I see different ones.

This coral snake was out in the middle of the pasture in broad daylight.  I did not have the usual thundering herd with me, so I caught it unaware.

This coral snake was out in the middle of the pasture in broad daylight. I did not have the usual thundering herd with me, so I caught it unaware.

And sometimes creatures just pop up in unexpected places.

This feisty crawfish showed up in the backyard this morning.

This feisty crawfish showed up in the backyard this morning.

 

A Carolina Wren built a nest in the barbeque! This is Day 4 after they hatched.

A Carolina Wren built a nest in the barbeque! This is Day 4 after they hatched. Bad picture but I don’t want to disturb them.

Other surprising things:

  • A Great Horned Owl swooped down and tried to catch one of the ducks as it was swimming in the very middle of the pond.  I had no idea an owl would risk getting soaked, or that they would go after such big animals.
  • There are salamanders called sirens, that have only two legs, and gills AND lungs.  I know because one about 12 inches long turned up in our minnow trap.  I had no idea such a thing existed, much less in our pond.
  • I am amazed that Eastern Kingbirds are still in existence, because every day I see a crow making multiple trips to steal the eggs they have laid in their nest.
  • To make a rare butterfly, snake, or bird appear, all I have to do is get on the phone with someone.  The minute I hang up and am able to aim my camera with both hands, the rare creature disappears.

What wildlife surprises have you had?