Water Feature Fun for Beauty, Conservation, and Natural Habitat

by Pamela Neeley

Note from Suna: Pamela Neeley from the El Camino Real chapter has been working with water features on her property for the past few months (years), creating not only areas of beauty (sight and sound), but places for aquatic plants to flourish, and wildlife to sustain themselves on. I toured her property a couple of weeks ago and encouraged her to share some of her ideas and techniques with fellow Master Naturalists. Maybe you can borrow of her creative thoughts some in your own gardens and wild areas!

Here’s another example of a dripping faucet connection caught into a container. Cats and dogs like this one, too.

In Search of Ant Lions

Suna learned about ant lions this week.

The Hermits' Rest

A set of fortuitous circumstances have led me to have something more in the naturalist vein to write about. I’ve been missing those things! It all started when I was in the horse pen, and noticed all these cool paths in the dirt.

In addition to the trails, there are a couple of donkey hoof prints, to liven things up.

I couldn’t remember what made those trails, though I was sure I used to know, so I posted about it on Facebook. I got some cute and silly guesses, then, as I’d hoped, someone from around Cameron reminded me of the answer. Burton, who’d been in my Master Naturalist class, identified them as ant lion, or doodlebug, trails. These Myrmeleontidae (it means ant lion!) are commonly called “doodlebugs,” because their trails make them look like they’re doodling around.

I knew THESE were ant ions!

The reason I should have known…

View original post 379 more words

The Barking Baby

By Donna Lewis

A few days ago, I was headed out to the back pasture when I walked right up to a tiny Pocket Gopher with his little back end up in the air as he was digging in the ground.

Dirt was flying everywhere.  He must have gotten out in the open because there was no tunnel to dive into.

I’m thinking… buddy you need to watch what you’re doing or one of my dogs will get you because you are not paying attention.

So I reached down and touched him on his little tail.

Lordy mercy…he jumped up and started running around my boot barking at me.

I was laughing so hard.

I had my camera in my pocket so I took a photo of him.  He was really telling me what he thought.

Angry little pocket gopher!

And no, I never kill these little creatures, even though they eat things in my garden. They aerate the soil and add organic matter to the areas where they are. So they do some good for us. 

Everything has a purpose.

Toad Abodes and Frog Fun

by Pamela Neeley and Sue Ann Kendall

Last week, Sue Ann got all excited when she spotted a Southern Leopard Frog (Lithobates sphenocephalus) in her little pond at her ranch. She also saw 14 bullfrogs and a Gulf Coast toad, and wrote a blog post about it. When she mentioned the leopard frog at our July Chapter Meeting, lots of members chimed in that they’d been seeing them in large numbers this year.

Toad in the water, frog well camouflaged on the shore.

This morning, Pamela went out into her garden and found a truly magnificent leopard frog specimen. We agreed that this had to be shared.

Hello! How do you like my eye stripe?

The stripes and the way they got through the toad’s eyes are so interesting, and the color is almost glowing! Pamela measured its belly print at over three inches. That’s a big one.

Look at those long legs! You can tell it’s a true frog.

Pamela mentioned that she has more than one toad house on her property, which some of the frogs apparently use, too. Here’s the really pretty one.

Any toad would appreciate such a fine home.

But the plain ones work just fine, too, as long as you leave the bottom open, so their bellies can rest on the dirt.

Perfectly adequate toad home.
Now you can see its pretty white belly.

Making a toad abode is easy and fun. Here’s a great page Pamela found, from the Houston Arboretum Nature Center on how to make toad abodes of many charming styles, along with a lot more information about them. Don’t forget, they will need a source of water!

What kinds of toads and frogs do you have where you live?