Oakworms, Again.

TOP PHOTO: Early instar orange-striped oakworm caterpillars go to work on red oak leaves. It’s that time of year again when oakworms do their best to defoliate the red and willow oaks here at the museum. There may be thousands of these voracious moth larvae in the oak trees here at the museum but they never do as much damage as to harm the trees in any great manner. The trees seem to thrive regardless of the devouring hordes ofRead more

A Stinkhorn and a Cardinal

Top Photo: May be Phallus rubicundus. Stinkhorns are fungi. They’re often found in mulch around plantings of trees, shrubs, or flowers. Originally egg-shaped and white, the red/orange horn arises from the “egg” in the substrate and develops a slimy brownish mass near the tip. This mass is the spore bearing material called a gleba. The gleba produces a putrid smell which attracts certain insects, including green bottle flies, to the stinkhorns. The bottle flies and other insects spread the sporesRead more

Bathe and Graze

Top Photo: Adult robin attempts to coax one of its offspring (left) to bathe in the water below waterfall at Red Wolf Enclosure. There are numerous bird families flying and foraging about our campus. Fledglings need to learn to cope with life before they go out on their own and the adults are doing their best to show them how. Finding food, bird song, and even bathing are all on the list. I came upon a group of American robinsRead more

Secret Spot

Top Photo: The view from the Secondary Wetlands Overlook. When you find a nice quiet “secret” spot to sit and rest, think, or meditate, it’s a good idea not to tell all of your friends, it will soon become a not-so-secret spot. I feel compelled, though, to tell you about this one. You’ll find out on your own anyway, sooner or later. It’s the Secondary Wetlands Overlook. It’s been “done-over” and remade into a shady rest stop for weary walkers.Read more

Out and About

Top Photo: Green heron perches on willow branch near water’s edge. Green herons are a fairly common sight in the wetlands during summer. They’ve nested at the museum more than a few times. I’ve previously mentioned in this blog the benefits for the naturalist who follows the eye of the bird. If you see a bird stare skyward it’s often worth your while to look up and see what the bird’s looking at. It may be a predator worthy ofRead more

No Time to Spare

Top Photo: A male slaty skimmer waits for flying insects to pass by. If you spend any time out in nature, you’ll no doubt see animals sitting around seemingly doing nothing. Perching, waiting, and sitting still is just part of life for many wild creatures. There’s usually a very good reason for the apparent idleness. While some dragonflies spend a good portion of their day hunting on the wing, slaty skimmers, like the one pictured above, do their hunting fromRead more

What’s Out There?

Top Photo: Great blue skimmer with prey. In one rather quick trip around the outdoor loop here at the museum I came upon a good bunch of interesting sights. In no particular order, here’s some of them. There are banana trees planted at several locations throughout the museum’s outdoor areas. The one pictured is in the garden next to Sprouts Cafe. Pomegranate is growing next to the bananas. Along the edge of that same garden I spotted a banded longhornRead more

In Disguise

Top Photo: Camouflage looper on right side of seed head. It’s time to start looking for camouflaged loopers. If you’re not familair with camouflaged loopers, they’re the small larvae of the small green moths in the family of moths known as Geometridae, geometrids or geometer moths. The adult moth of the camouflaged looper is called a wavy-lined emerald (Picture Here). These caterpillars (about 1/2” – 5/8”) are well known for covering themselves with the plant they feed on. The caterpillarRead more

Cooper’s Hawk and Widow Skimmer

Top Photo: Before you continue, see if you can identify the above hawk. That’s correct, it’s a Cooper’s hawk in immature plumage. This hawk, along with another in the same plumage was flying from perch to perch in the woods next to the path, squeakily calling as it went. The two young hawks were recently fledged from a nearby nest. I didn’t see an adult, nor do I know where the nest was. I did, however, see an adult inRead more

The Changing Environment and Chronolog

Top Photo: Wetlands in summer. If you haven’t been to the museum’s wetlands in a while (let’s face, not many people have since this past March) and you miss it, here’s a few shots of what it looks like now. Back in March the deciduous trees were just beginning to leaf and aside from the needles of the loblolly pines the scape was shades of grays and browns. Now it’s full of color with the black willows, redwoods, cypress, maples,Read more