The Robins of Winter

Top Photo: One of dozens of American robins pilfering holly berries in Gateway Park. It’s that time of year again when flocks of robins descend on all available remaining fruit bearing trees and shrubs. Fact is, they flock together all winter long looking for foodstuffs. Apparently, “the more eyes the better to spot food sources,” and the “safety in numbers” theories come into play with these wintering flocks. They group together in fall and break up in spring to breed.Read more

Mahonia

Top Photo: Mahonia buds, blossoms, and leaves on Dinosaur Trail. Mahonia goes by the names Oregon grape, grape holly, mountain grape or just plain Mahonia among others. Grape because the ripe fruit has a visual similarity to grapes. Holly, because the leaves resemble holly leaves. The name Mahonia is the binomial genus name of this and several other west coast broadleaved plants. It’s derived from Bernard McMahon (Mahon-ia) horticulturist, author, and one of the stewards of the Lewis and ClarkRead more

It’s Crunch Time!

Top Photo: Fall color (Northwoods, Wisconsin). What does fall have to offer besides the spectacular annual changing of the leaves—the crunching of them under your feet, that’s what. Few things can compare to swishing around in the thick, fall, leaf liter. But, as much fun as that might be, seeking out and crunching individual leaves is even more pleasing. Not every leaf is equal though. I’ve found that certain leaves make a very satisfying crunch underfoot while others leave youRead more

GBH and more Fall Colors

Top Photo: Great blue heron with fluffed out neck feathers. Great blue herons (GBHs) are not as regular visitors as they once were, so it’s nice to see one in our wetlands. Things are changing rapidly. Seasonal colors peak and fall. Don’t miss it. Don’t miss a minute of it.Read more

Groundhogs, a Little Bear, and a Hawk

Top Photo: Oak stump and resident groundhog. Strolling through Wander Away in Catch the Wind, I noticed a gray, furry head poking out from the side of a large oak stump on the side of the path. I immediately stopped and reached for my camera. Inching forward, I was able to get a few shots of the young groundhog whose head was posed at the entrance to its burrow, its nose twitching for scent. Groundhogs are fairly common sights hereRead more

Color Arrives

Top Photo: Dwarf sumac. Here in the middle of North Carolina, fall colors arrive in November. This year, many of the leaves went straight to brown, whether due to an unusually dry summer or some other meteorological phenomenon. However, there are still gems to be found out there. But you better experience it now. It only takes one good November gale to knock the color out of the trees and onto the ground. Here’s some color I came across theRead more

Warblers!

Top Photo: Yellow-rumped warbler scans the willow branches for food. Yellow-rumped warblers are on the scene in force. If you happen to be in the area of our Main Wetlands Overlook first thing in the morning, walk to the end of the platform, turn so your back is to the sun and watch the willows, wax myrtle, groundsel and bald cypress for movement. If you’re lucky, and there at the right time, you’ll likely see many small, gray-brown birds withRead more

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