Gracie afternoon

Yesterday (Tuesday), we had a cold start to the day plus it was windy unlike the day before. The forecast was for a high of 62, but on the walk to the mail box at 11 am, it felt like, well cold. I had planned to go to the grasslands in the afternoon. Did I still want to go?

It was 29 degrees on the morning walk. Of course ice formed at our obelisk. Love these shapes!

I told Gracie, let’s go to the grasslands despite wind. So down the road we went.

The flock of 10 to 12 turkeys was a nice surprise!

Gracie was happy to accompany me on this outing! Still have until January 16th for the hunting season to be over so we worn our orange.

Pocket gopher (Geomys) or Eastern mole (Scalopus aquaticus) mounds? I always thought these were pocket gophers. In fact, I saw a gopher but only once at the our house near our old hand-dug well. However, after reading online about the mounds, is it possible these could be mole mounds? Pocket gophers are herbivores which feed on the roots of Paspalum grass, Bermuda grass and sandbur. In addition they will consume all parts of the plant in the Helianthus genus (sunflowers). On the other hand, moles are carnivorous and feed on insects like grubs and worms. So how do you tell the difference between the two mounts? What I found follows. Moles dig tunnels that only go a couple a feet deep and sometimes you will see evidence of a surface tunnel. The moles’ mounds are roundish and conical, fluffy with the occasional clod on top the mound. Pocket gopher’s mounds are usually crescent shaped with a plug between the crescent. I do recall the mounds near our well usually have a hole (if visible) to one side of the mound. In fact near the old well is where I got to see my one pocket gopher! Tell me if you have noticed differences. Most of the websites about the gophers and moles I visited were pest control companies sites. Seems to me they do a service for us by aerating the soils. But that’s just me. Like they say, one person’s pest(junk) is another person’s treasure. Oh and I think the above mounds are gophers. I will be looking at all of the mounds just a little closer in the future. 🙂

The Eastern Red Cedar berries were brilliant!

A close up of the berry attachment.

It won’t be long before the pollination starts!

The bagworm always make me think of an ornament! With more photos to process, I will continue on with Gracie’s great day out in tomorrow’s post.

Kentucky Is Turning a Defunct Coal Mine Into a 200MW Solar Farm

Keep looking!

The more you know, the more you see and the more you see, the more you know.

10 Comments

  1. Nice to have a Grasslands turkey escort! And I greatly approve of converting old industrial spaces into solar facilities. I hate hearing about perfectly good wild spaces (usually prairies or deserts) getting covered with solar panels.

    1. Always cool to see the turkeys! The placement of this solar farm is wonderful. Maybe it will catch on for other similar sites. And I have similar thoughts as you do about the placements.

  2. I attended an interesting Webinar on Pocket Gophers last February and was amazed at the genetic diversity they represent. Texas Parks and Wildlife presented “Wildlife Diversity Webinar | Status of Texas Pocket Gophers” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6t_qcMcDw8k is a link to the Youtube video.
    Texas has many species of pocket gophers with quite complex taxonomy. This has led to numerous subspecies and quite a bit of confusion. In order to better understand if our current understanding of gopher taxonomy is correct, Texas Parks and Wildlife funded research with Texas Tech University to evaluate the taxonomy of Texas pocket gophers. They assessed the genetic diversity among and within subspecies using restriction site-associated DNA markers (RAD-Seq) and by generating basic information on the potential distributions of these groups in Texas using climate and soil data.

  3. Mary, you said you concluded that the mounds are pocket gophers. That means they have the crescent shape. I can’t see a crescent shape so can you explain? I had a discussion with a naturalist down here about my mounds and he was describing this shape to look for. All I found was a round mound and I could not find a hole by pushing a stick around looking for it to go down into a space.
    I have never seen a mole or a gopher here but have been told we have gophers. We for sure have the mounds in multiple places. I think the issue some people have with them is that they will eat your vegetable garden from the bottom up and they make a mess of a citified lawn. As long as they stay out of my garden I find them interesting and like you said aerating the soil. But can you explain the crescent shape because i’m not seeing it in your photo.

    1. Kathy, I don’t see the crescent very often. I think they must be too messy most of the time. However, I checked a few of my mounds at home. And I found that the hole was to the side or on one edge of the mound. Thus I concluded before they got “wild” with the dirt it would have fit the description. Also to find the entry, I had to move the dirt with my hands and look where the grass was gone. The hole was not open, but filled in. Only sometimes do I see the crescent. I’m not sure I have ever noticed the surface tunnels except in our woods. So I’m thinking the gophers like to be out with the forbs and the moles like the woods (mostly leaf litter) for more grubs and insects, at least at my house.

  4. Thank you. I will check them out more carefully. Like you said about the holes being filled in but the grass is removed. Wish I could see one of those creatures. Of course I wish we still had prairie dogs across the state like they used to be. Love those guys and will pull over and park to watch anytime we are near a colony.

    1. It would be cool to have Prairie dogs, I agree. The grasslands would be perfect. But that ain’t happening. 🤷🏻‍♀️

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