Oddly Red

Top Photo: Redbud beginning to bloom in the last week of October. Redbud (Cercis canadensis) is a March bloomer in Durham County and surrounding areas. It was odd, but not totally surprising, to see buds about to open up on a redbud tree on the Dinosaur Trail this past week. Not surprising because, after all, we’ve been experiencing very mild weather with not a hint of frost. Even so, many of the leaves on this particular tree had turned toRead more

Fall Update

Top Photo: Eastern phoebe awaits airborne insects. These hardy flycatchers will be with us for most of the winter. The weather is delightful and so are the sights outdoors at the museum. But, you have to be there to see them. Abelia is still blooming and attracting visitors at the Butterfly House Garden. It’s a non-native species but not considered invasive. A carpenter bee buzzes by goldenrod in the garden along the stairway and ramp leading to the Butterfly House.Read more

More Stuff You Might See

Top Photo: On a cool fall morning, Eno, one of our red wolves on display, yawns deeply before resting his weary head. Bald cypress, carpenter bees, musk turtles, ground hogs and others headline Nature Watch this week. Bald cypress has put out an impressive amount of cones this year. Carpenter bee activity is far greater in the spring when over-wintering adults emerge and vie for territories and nest sites. However, they’re still active now. The bees drill nice, neat 3/8”Read more

A Spider and a Resting Monarch

Top Photo: Spider takes refuge under magnolia leaf. After my having walked through it’s partially deconstructed web, the architect and builder retreated to the underside of a sturdy southern magnolia leaf. It was an orb weaver which tells you what kind of web it builds and what family of spiders it belongs to, Araneidae. Araneidae build the stereotypical webs most people are familiar with. The webs are vertically oriented, circular webs placed across paths, roads, walkways, between shrubs and trees,Read more

A Tiny Turtle

Top Photo: Head tucked in, hatchling common musk turtle pauses to take shelter while making it’s way across pavement to the wetlands, a long dangerous journey. About 2.5 to 3 months ago, a female common musk turtle mucked her way through the mud of the wetlands and up and across the pavement of the walkway searching for a quiet place to dig a nest. Finding a safe location off the beaten path and in soft soil, she dug a smallRead more

What you might see

Top Photo: “New” frogs huddled together on floating log. All are bullfrogs recently morphed from tadpoles. Some still have tails. Here are photos of things you might see on our outdoor loop through Explore the Wild and Catch the Wind. Each fall there’s a flurry of Cape May warbler activity in the trees on the north side of the wetlands, whichever trees are infested with insects. This year, it’s the mimosas. The insect? Mimosa web worms. Grasshoppers become more evidentRead more

A Little Bit of Blue

Top Photo: Larva on crownbeard. I was expecting to find larvae of silvery checkerspot as I bent down to look at the usually tall, broad-leafed herbaceous plant with misshaped yellow flowers, crownbeard. I always associate crownbeard with that orange and black butterfly, though I’ve never recorded one here at the museum in my 14 some years of walking past these flowers, it does no harm to look. When I see this plant along the Eno River, or other wet areas,Read more

A New Ode

Top Photo: Male roseate skimmer sallies forth from its perch on twig. There’s been another species added to the list of odonata seen at the museum. With the addition of roseate skimmer (Orthemis ferruginea) seen on Saturday, September 18, I’ve recorded 42 species out of 188 listed for the state. There are many species that will never be recorded here at the museum due to their specific habitat requirements and range. I didn’t expect to see this species. It’s aRead more

The Littlest Lizard

Top Photo: Ground skink with regenerated tail. Ground skinks are the smallest lizard found on the museum’s grounds. In fact, they’re the smallest lizard found anywhere in the state (about 3” – 6” of mostly tail). The tail is as long as, or longer than, the body. They have short legs. They tend to wriggle snake-like, more than run, when fleeing. Perhaps more often heard slithering off through the dried leaf liter than seen, they were, until this past year,Read more

More Fall

Top Photo: Juvenile northern mockingbird perched in rain garden shrubbery. The juvenile northern mockingbird pictured here is perched on the white-berried variety of the native American beautyberry. The bird’s parent was in the next shrub loudly calling schek, schek, schek as it watched the younger bird pick through the berries of the shrub. The overall brownish hue and spots on its breast, and the light colored gape (corner of mouth or bill) easily mark this bird as a juvenile. CertainRead more