Brief Wetland Look

There’s little doubt that the Wetlands is the most outstanding feature of the Explore the Wild section of our outdoor adventure loop. Fall’s approaching quickly so here’s a very brief glimpse of the summertime wetlands which includes a few subjects you may have to look more closely to see. The most abundant tree of the wetlands is the black willow. Here, it doesn’t reach a height of more than fifteen feet of so. Yellow-bellied sliders are the most common aquaticRead more

Night-heron Visit

A yellow-crowned night-heron showed up in the wetlands on Tuesday (8/7). One of the summer campers spotted it under the boardwalk leading to Explore the Wild. It was in immature plumage. In other words, the bird was hatched this season. It may be somewhat local. This is the second time I’ve seen a yellow-crowned night-heron here at the museum. The first time was in May of 2011 following a heavy thunderstorm. Here’s a few shots of this year’s bird. LuckyRead more

July, gone but not forgotten

On its way to the ocean via the Eno River, Falls Lake and Neuse River, Ellerbe Creek runs through our 84 acre campus. Before it reaches us, it flows under an interstate highway (twice), through a golf course, through quiet neighborhoods and under and through a mall, mostly unseen by the local human population. There are a handful of preserves along its 20 mile meander through Durham but for the most part, I’d wager, most folks don’t know it exists.Read more

Nest Box Update 7.31.18 (the final count)

There has been no activity in any of the nest boxes for the past two weeks. A house wren nest had been started in the nest box at the Cow Pasture, but apparently the birds have moved on. Likewise, the bluebirds that started construction of a nest in the box at Woodlands Classroom have not been seen or heard from in two weeks. I’m calling it. The season is officially over! Here’s the totals for birds fledged this and previousRead more

Nest Box Update 7.17.18

We have two active nests. Of the six nest boxes on our modest bluebird trail, two have nests within. One nest is of house wrens, the other of bluebirds. The twigs were piled high when I looked into the nest box at the Cow Pasture on Tuesday (7/17). The house wren nest is complete but there are still no eggs in the nest. It was started on or around 7/3 (two weeks ago) so I would have expected more progressRead more

Nest Box Update 7.10.18

We have 3 nests that have now, or have recently, shown some sort of activity. One has seen additional construction, one has fledged its occupants, and another has what may be a new beginning. The building of the second-of-the-season house wren nest at the Cow Pasture has continued. I could hear the adult house wrens in the woods behind the nest box. They had started the nest in the nest box last week and it now looks to be nearlyRead more

Mountain Mint

  These large, black wasps are specialist in orthoptera. They provision their underground burrows, or nests, with grasshoppers and katydids. Thread-waisted wasps of the ammophila variety provision their burrow nests with caterpillars or sawfly larvae. Great-golden digger wasps (Sphex ichneumoneus), like the great black wasp above, is an orthopteran specialist. It too uses grasshoppers and katydids to stock the chambers of its burrow nest. Both bees and wasps seem mesmerized by the diminutive flowers. Indirectly attracted to the flowers, thereRead more

Nest Box Update 7.3.19

Two of our six nest boxes are active. One contains the start of a new nest, the other nestlings. The Cow pasture nest box has the beginnings of a second house wren nest. It’s only partially completed but the wrens could be heard off in the woods nearby. Five house wrens have already fledged from this nest box. It’s late in the season but there may be more to come. The Explore the Wild and Into the Mist nest boxesRead more

June Sightings in The Wild

It’s near the end of June. Below (and above) are photos of some of the creatures I’ve seen during the month. They’re arranged in no particular order. The top photo is of one of the milkweeds, butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa). It attracts many insects to it’s flowers, leaves, and seed pods throughout the summer season. Here, you can see new flower buds on the left and older flowers to the right. Some insects go out of their way to attractRead more

Nest Box Update 6.26.18

We have one active nest with five bluebird nestlings. All but that one nest box is empty. The nest box next to the Parking Deck contains 5 newly hatched bluebirds. Look closely at the photo below. You can clearly see the main feather tracts (rows of gray “dots” where feathers will grow) on the nearly naked nestlings. All other nest boxes have been cleaned and readied for new occupancy. We still have time for another brood but that will beRead more