Early Spring

Neotropical migrants won’t begin arriving on the scene for a month or more. However, our local year-round resident birds have the jump on those mainly insectivorous migrants. Some of the locals like cardinals, towhees, brown thrashers, Carolina wrens and others are in full song and some are building or investigating nest sites. American robin numbers are increasing, and keep an eye out for cedar waxwings on any shrubs or trees that still have fruit, like holly or red cedar. NorthernRead more

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

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

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

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

Another Mushroom

Poronidulus conchifer is a polypore fungus. Polypores are mushrooms found mainly on dead or living trees, which play an important part in wood decay, as you can imagine. I first saw the ones pictured somewhere along the path in Explore the Wild. At the time, I didn’t know what they were. They looked very much like bird’s nest mushrooms, sans eggs, but as I later found out, are not related. They were about 1/4” – 3/8” across. Bird’s nests areRead more

What’s to Eat

The grasshopper in the above photo is being disassembled by a yellowjacket. The meaty parts of the hopper will be transported back to the hive where it’ll be placed in cells containing larvae within the hive. The female wasps are busy this time of year as the hive is perhaps at its largest of the season. I found the parts of a red swamp crayfish on the railing of the boardwalk leading to the Black Bear Overlook. It too hadRead more

Early Fall

The bullfrog in the top photo was one a four spotted yesterday at the end of the boardwalk in Explore the Wild. Bullfrogs can sit very still while waiting for prey to come along then spring forth with lightning speed to capture and swallow that prey. They eat just about anything that comes close enough to snatch, insects, fish, smaller frogs, crawfish, even birds. Up until this week I’d only seen two snakes in our wetlands the past season, anRead more

A Caterpillar and a Salamander

Walking down the boardwalk, I noticed a dozen or so pieces of frass ahead of me on the boards. There was a branch of sweet gum tree overhanging the boardwalk directly above the frass. Several leaves had been chewed to mere skeletons. A search through the leaves revealed a large green caterpillar with red spots along its sides. It was a luna moth caterpillar and it was munching away on the leaves of the tree. I see lots of lunaRead more

Summer Pics

A sampling of sights you may witness while strolling through Catch the Wind, Explore the Wild, Hideaway Woods and the Dinosaur Trail. Ranger Martha discovered the following fungi. When perched, hairstreaks slowly rub their hind wings back and forth. This may be a way to attract attention to the rear of the butterfly to fool predators into thinking it’s the head of the insect. Note long, modified scales (false antennae) and red spot (head/eye). The butterfly pictured has damage toRead more