Spring?

With snow in today’s forecast you might not think it’s spring. Meteorologically speaking, it’s only a little more than a week away. So, it’s no real surpise to see pickerel frogs and blue violets. The violet may be a bit early, but the local pickerel frogs begin their breeding in February. Listen for their soft snore-like calls as you wind through Explore the Wild, take a peek over the rail as you walk along the boardwalk, you may hear orRead more

Gray Squirrel Update

In my last post I mentioned an eastern gray squirrel who had been feasting on wax myrtle fruit. We all know that squirrels are sedulous chowhounds. They’ll try most any food and go to great lengths to do it. Put up a bird feeder and you’ll see to what lengths they’ll go to eat the seed in that feeder. Still, even with their reputation for gluttony driven acrobatics, and their sheer ubiquity, it’s fun to watch our squirrels here atRead more

Waxy Fruit Eaters

Above: Yellow-rumped warbler on wax myrtle. Yellow-rumped warblers (also know as myrtle warblers) are not the only animals that eat wax myrtle fruit. I read somewhere that some 42 bird species consume the wax-coated seeds of the shrub. Besides the above mentioned warbler, I can only remember seeing a handful of species of bird partake, ruby-crowned kinglet, eastern phoebe, and a few more. Regardless of how many birds or other animals eat the wax myrtle fruit, the grand prize winnerRead more

Canada Geese Back In Wetlands

Each year during February a pair of Canada geese shows up in our wetland. They’re here to mate and nest. Geese are typically noisy birds, but the pair doesn’t necessarily upset the quiet solitude of the wetlands. In fact, their presence enhances the experience of the swampy woodland. For the past several years, two pair have vied for the right to nest in out little pond. When the pairs clash, the erstwhile solitude of the wetlands quickly becomes a raucousRead more

A Tiny Wasp and Spiny Gall

The round, spiky objects you see in the photos above and below are galls. But unlike the previously mentioned goldenrod gall (see here) there’s a cinipid wasp behind the gall. The goldenrod gall is caused by a fly not a wasp. The small, spiny rose gall wasp (Diplolepis bicolor) laid eggs on the plant, in this case swamp rose (Rosa palustris), and the resultant larvae that hatched from the eggs began eating the plant. This stimulates the plant into growingRead more

Three Birds to Watch For

Don’t fret. If you visited the museum to get a look at our wintering female common goldeneye to add to your NC, year, month, or whatever other birding list you may be working on, and you missed her, she’s still around. Yes, there are days when she takes off for other fishing holes, but so far, she’s always come back. Though, she’s not always glued to the mergansers as in many of my photos of her would suggest. She frequentlyRead more

Another Early Bloomer

Typically, around the first or second week in February, hazel alder blooms here in our wetland. This year, the deciduous shrub with simple alternate fine-toothed leaves, long yellowish male catkins and dainty red female flowers was in full display in mid January. Hazel alder likes to grow along streams, lakes, and ponds and may reach 10 or 15 feet in height. The fruit or seeds of the plant, which mature in the fall, are contained within small cones (about 1/2”)Read more

Goldenrod Gall

Back in September I took a photo of a goldenrod gall. The gall was formed in response to a goldenrod gall fly having laid eggs on the stem of the goldenrod plant. The eggs hatched in about a week and a half, and at least one of the larvae burrowed into the plant’s stem. It’s saliva apparently stimulating the plant into growing the gall around itself. It’s now January and the larva is still inside the gall. The gall helpsRead more

Anole

Above: Green anole on rock wall next to rosemary shrub. There’s a fair chance I’ll see a green anole on any given warm winter day. The small lizard will most likely be basking in the sun on a rock wall in the Butterfly House’s garden next to the Cafe, close by a rosemary shrub for easy escape should a predator come by. We’ve been experiencing many warm winter days of late. Temps have even gotten into the 70’s on someRead more

Japanese Apricot

Japanese apricot (Prunus mume), or Chinese plum is once again blooming here at the museum. At about the same time last year I reported on this small tree coming into flower. At that time I didn’t know what it was. It’s obviously an early bloomer. And, as reported last year, it’s not a native species, originating in China. It’s been cultivated for some 1500 years around the world. Our little tree is alongside the path just across from the eastRead more