Where the wild things are

Sydney and the squirrel eye each other warily. They seemed genuninely curious about each other ...
Sydney and the squirrel eye each other warily. They seemed genuinely curious about each other …

We’re settling in to Innisfree, which means we’re also meeting our neighbors. Sydney is getting particularly up close and personal since the back porch he inhabits feels like its more part of the forest than the house.

On Thursday morning, Sydney and I watched as doe walked cautiously past the porch. Syd was nervous but took his cue from me and shifted from being anxious to curious. Just then, a fawn darted past, trying to catch up with mom. Instead of screaming, which was his reaction when a squirrel got too close for comfort several weeks ago, he leaned in, trying to get a better look at the fawn.

This morning I walked in to to see Syd leaning off his cage toward the windows. Then I looked down to see a squirrel eyeballing him. I couldn’t believe Syd was so calm during the encounter. He’s feeling much more secure in his environs.

A ring-necked snake. Photo by Brian.gratwicke and taken from Wikipedia under Creative Commons license.

While there are no howler monkeys here, there is plenty of wildlife, much of which I’ve never encountered before. While cleaning out the area where the propane tanks are stored, I flushed out a ringed-neck snake that seemed more worm than snake. I gently nudged it off into the woods.

The fishing spider in happier days.
The fishing spider in happier days.

I also encountered a big, gnarly spider later that day. I thought it was a wolf spider at first, but after researching a bit I’m confident it was a fishing spider. Apparently, they’re water spiders, primarily, but they’re also found in forests. There venom is more like a bee sting, so I left him be only to see him again an hour later in the kitchen, where he was curled up into a ball. I thought he might be molting, but he rolled out into the middle of the kitchen so I kicked him, gently, I thought, outside where he curled up under a chair. But apparently my kick was fatal. When I checked up on him later, I found this grisly scene, with gore leaking from the dead fishing spider’s abdomen, which an opportunistic ant was feasting on.

An ant fests on the guts of a poor fishing spider that I accidentally killed.
An ant fests on the guts of a poor fishing spider that I accidentally killed.

Speaking of ants, I’ve been watching them swarm the trumpet vines as they flower. Apparently, the vines attract an aphid that leaves a residue called “honeydew,” which the ants love. They love it so much, in fact, that they protect the aphids from predator bugs.

An ant on a trumpet vine bud.
An ant on a trumpet vine bud.

And here are few more random photos of life at Innisfree …

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