On Decmebr 16th as I walked the trail through the outdoor exhibits of the Museum where it enters Explore the Wild near the Lemur House, there was a small snake stretched out on the pavement. The temps were in the forties but the little patch of sun that the snake was in was probably a bit warmer. The snake was a Rough Earth Snake, and December 16 was the latest that I had seen one of these little snakes at the Museum.
The same day, while at the Ornithopter in Catch the Wind, an Autumn Meadowhawk weakly flew in front of me and attempted to land on a light pole. Apparently unable to grip the pole, it fell to the base of the pole. There’s a possibility that December still has a few warm days in the 50’s and 60’s left in it, but it’s most likely that this meadowhawk was the final ode of the year.
Red-shouldered Hawks frequent the Museum. This past year, a pair nested at Northgate Park along Ellerbe Creek, which runs through the Museum’s property. Bill Marjoras spent many hours photographing those hawks and their offspring. Bill has some of his bird photos on display in Grayson’s Cafe across from the Train Station, as well as in the Gift Shop in the Butterfly House. Bill has an extensive online photo album of the Red-shouldered Hawks that nested at Northgate Park, one of which appears here showing a pair of perplexed young hawks and a very daring, or very foolhardy, Gray Squirrel trying to elude the hawks. The rest of the album is here (in both links you will be asked to select the operating system of your computer for optimum viewing of the images, go ahead and click, it’s worth the trip).
By the way, for anyone strolling past the Wetlands, there are two Red-shouldered Hawks that hunt there. One often hunts from the willows in the Wetlands, the other from the trees in the swamp up above the Lemur House. The larger of the two (probably a female) is rather used to people and can be approached quite closely. This is the bird that is most often seen perched in the Wetlands. The smaller bird (presumably the male) seems a bit more skittish and flies off when disturbed.
After many individual encounters with these two birds, I was finally able to see them perched side-by-side, and therefore able sort out who was who, I think.