Winter

Hiking around the outdoor loops here at the museum can be rewarding, you never know what you’ll come across. Even though I’ve walked these trails for some eleven years now I and my fellow rangers are still finding new things to discover. A few weeks ago, Ranger Martha discovered a group of earthstar mushrooms on the Dinosaur Trail. Initially, earthstars look like onions. Eventually the outer “onion” layer splits open creating a star-shaped platform on which sits a small ball-shapedRead more

Falling Into Winter

We’re on the back side of fall and sliding into winter. There’s still much going on out-of-doors with lots to see if you keep an eye open to it. Here’s some of what I’ve been seeing. Asters are late summer and fall blooming flowers. They’re still blooming in the garden in front of our Butterfly House. Red buckeye fruit have already burst open spilling their large brown seeds (buckeyes) to the ground. Several common snapping turtle hatchlings were spotted bothRead more

Pumpkins

What do you do when you’re a six month old red wolf and your keepers (animal keepers) put pumpkins in your enclosure. First you stare at them. Then, if you can fit them in your mouth, you pick them up and walk around with them.Read more

Questionmark Pears

There are more than a few Bradford pear trees on our 84 acre campus. One, a volunteer that sprouted next to our north parking lot has been dropping fruit. The rotting fruit is attracting flies, bees, and butterflies. One butterfly in particular is the question mark. It belongs to a group of butterflies known as anglewings, referring to the angular edges of the wings. Question marks are named for small whitish markings on the underwings, a “c” and a dot.Read more

The Wolves ID’d

After posting to this blog recently in regards to red wolf identification and my inability to confidently discern our young wolves from one another here at the museum “…whatever differences the two pups had which distinguished them from one another have disappeared, at least to my eyes. I can no longer tell one from the other,” and experiencing a bit of ribbing and ridicule (light-hearted, of course) from fellow staff and volunteers about my observational failings, I decided to setRead more

Merganser Are Back

Hooded mergansers typically arrive in our wetlands in November, from the first to third week in November. A trio showed up today (10/20) at the end of the third week of October. The birds usually get right to the business of pair-bonding upon arrival. The bonds are formed here on the wintering grounds and reinforced throughout the season. When, sometime next March and April, the birds head back north to the breeding areas the pairs are already formed and theyRead more

Season Changes and The Wolves

Migration has been underway for several months. Most of the northern insectivorous birds have passed us by for warmer climates. The majority of our local insect-eating birds have long since departed. Some still linger, like catbird, but they’re on their way out. Granivores like juncos, white-throated sparrows and others will arrive soon. It can’t be long before the butter-butts (yellow-rumped warblers) come in. I heard a yellow-bellied sapsucker the other day. Our winter visiting hooded mergansers should arrive next month.Read more

Copperhead Encounter

It’s no secret that copperheads occur in the Carolina Piedmont. In fact, they’re found throughout the state. To the dismay of some the non aggressive yet venomous snake can often be seen in suburban back yards. We have our own population here at the Museum of Life and Science. Here, they’re typically encountered during spring and fall as they move back and forth between their summer and winter quarters. I sometimes see them crossing paths following heavy rains. All ofRead more

Strange Goings On

The photos above and below are of glowworm beetles. The light colored areas of the beetle glow in the dark. They eat millipedes, which may explain why I’ve seen so many of these strange beetles. Millipedes are plentiful this year. So, whatever eats them should do well too. I’ve seen more glowworms this year than my previous nine seasons here at the museum. The beetles pictured are either adult females or larvae. The females carry certain larval characteristics into adulthoodRead more

Some Sights From the Wild

Hearts a bursting or strawberry bush (Euonymus americanus) is showing off its namesake fruit. There are a dozen or so of these plants across the campus. The easiest to see and photograph is on the Dinosaur Trail, on the right side of the path just past the Albertosaurus. While on the Dino Trail, keep an eye out for a flatworm or land planarian, especially on warm, rainy days. Most people are familiar with planarian worms from biology lab back inRead more