Walking Rocks?

Query: When I was in Death Valley earlier this year, I saw some enormous 750-pound rocks that appear to travel across the desert on their own. I remembered your article about rock tortoises, and wondered if that’s what these rocks could be?

Corn of Plenty (Part 4 of 4): A Field Guide by Dr. Midas Welby

Corns of the Air: Air-corns utilize their horns for jousting, playing tic-tac-toe, and spearing food in mid-flight. Air-corns often lurk undetected in trees, wood piles, and rain gutters. When bored, they use their horns to ring the doorbells of unsuspecting humans. When the door begins to open, the air-corn flies away.


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Going On Hiatus

December 6, 2014: I am loving college, but I have to admit, I’m overwhelmed.

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Pine Cone Feeders

A Present For Imaginaries: When winter comes, I get concerned about providing extra shelter from the elements for Imaginaries. Recently, I read about people who build wildlife brush shelters out of branches and plants in their yards, and thought this was a great idea.

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Update on Squonk Preserve

A New Level of Protection: Maybe some of you remember the squonk we found last year (see Archives). We went back this year to see how she’s doing, and the news is good.

The squonk lives on a little island in the middle of a marsh, under the floorboards of an old cabin. We did some stuff around there last year so that it’s hard to get to the island now. (That’s a long story, I keep saying I’m going to write a book about it someday.) Anyway, it’s amazing how fast a cabin can become totally derelict. It already has vines growing all over, and a hole in the roof, and the whole thing is sagging like it wants to collapse but just hasn’t quite gotten around to it yet. Because the cabin is so dangerous, the camp that owns the island put No Trespassing signs everywhere, and the squonk has the island all to herself.

We thought about obeying the No Trespassing signs for about thirty seconds, but decided we needed to see for ourselves how the squonk was doing, so we helped ourselves to one of the camp canoes when nobody was looking and went to check out the cabin.

The squonk’s den was still there, under the floorboards, and had been recently redecorated with fresh leaves, so we think she’s still using it. We went into the cabin and spooked this cat that was in there, although I think the cat may have scared us more than we scared him. His eyes were a milky color, and we decided he must be blind. This is not so good for the cat, but great for the squonk, since she doesn’t like to be looked at and the cat can’t see. That also means that both the cat and the squonk might be able to make a new friend to hang out with, and that cheered us up at least a little bit about abandoning the two of them to life in that desolate, ramshackle, depressing cabin.

The cabin was also inhabited by a bunch of bats in the rafters, spiders everywhere, and a big wasp’s nest right by the door, so we didn’t stay too long.

On the way back, the best thing of all happened. We found a bog turtle, and they’re a threatened species, so it’s a big deal to find one! We snapped a million pictures and followed it to shore, and then we showed the camp director where it lived, and she showed the camp owner, and the camp owner showed the governor of the state, and the governor showed his cabinet, and in the meantime a local environmental group got involved and they got some people out from Washington, DC, and everybody got all excited about it and the whole thing was on the front page of the papers.

The thing about bog turtles is, they’re so threatened, the government is willing to spend money to preserve their habitats. All last year we were on the lookout for an endangered eastern Massassauga rattlesnake - because then the government could preserve the habitat for the snake, which would protect the squonk too – but we never found one. Now it turns out that those endangered bog turtles like to live in wet places where tussock sedges and grasses grow, and that’s exactly what it’s like in the marsh where the squonk lives.

The camp and the government and an environmental group and a bunch of other people have banded together to establish a conservation easement for the turtle. That’s going to help keep the squonk safe for years to come. So while it wasn’t the snake we were looking for, I’m really, REALLY glad we found that turtle!

I wish we could have seen the squonk again, but I know she can’t stand being looked at, and really, it’s better for her that she stayed out of sight on our last visit to the island. I guess it will have to be enough knowing that we’re helping to stay safe on her little, gloomy island in the marsh. – MACY, Junior Apprentice Agent, Iranigami


Copyright © 2012, 2013, 2014 by Penelope Stowell. All rights reserved. This website is a work of fiction and does not depict any actual persons, creatures, places or events.