Mid July Check-in

Top Photo: Eastern rat snake, or black rat snake, smells its way across the path in Explore the Wild. Black rat snakes are known by many different names, chicken snake, alleghany snake, pilot snake with variations on those names and more. Though it may be confusing to consider the various names of the snake, the only other snake you’d likely mistake it for is the black racer. But, racers have smooth scales, all black undersides (except for the chin andRead more

Some Outdoor Goings-on

Top Photo: Two adult red-tailed hawks silhouetted against the clouds as they soar above Butterfly House. Note that each bird is molting. The two red-tailed hawks above successfully nested on the museum grounds. They’re regular nesters. I rarely see eastern cottontails on our 84 acre campus, until this year. I’ve seen more this spring and summer than I have in perhaps the last 14 years of hiking the museum’s trails. Predator numbers must be down. Besides the red-tailed hawks above,Read more

And Along Came Summer

Top Photo: Eight-spotted forester and dogbane. Summer’s here and the time is right for checking out nature. Sure it’s a little hot, but you might just as well accept it and get out there. You’ll be missing a lot of interesting sights if you don’t. Here’s some photos of some of what you might see. There’s a patch of dogbane in front of the Butterfly House which attracts numerous flying insects to its tiny flower’s nectar. One such insect isRead more

Fake Eyes, a Lady with a White Spot, and a Skipper with a Silver Spot.

Top Photo: Eyed click beetle prepares to take flight. Fake Eyes Eyed click beetles (Alaus oculatus), or eyed elaters (elators), are large beetles in the click beetle family (Elateridae). Click beetles can launch themselves into the air via a spring-loaded latch and hinge mechanism between their abdomen and thorax. If you place the beetle on its back, and it still has plenty of energy stored in its body, it will flip several inches straight up into the air accompanied byRead more

It’s All About Procreation

Top Photo: Fledgling eastern phoebes huddle together as they await feeding from parent. Spring keeps chugging along, and with it the lives of many different creatures. Below are photos of some of our local residents rolling with the flow. A nestling blue-gray gnatcatcher waits for one of its parents to deliver protein. The lichen covered nest is in a maple tree on an island in our parking lot. It was spotted by sharp-eyed Ranger Dakota. Unlike gnatcatchers, brown-headed nuthatches nestRead more

Keep Watching the Spring

Top Photo: Pipe vine flower. Spring keeps rolling along in typical fashion, flora and fauna reacting and adjusting to our hemisphere’s slow tilt towards the sun. The days are getting longer, the temperatures warmer. Here, in no particular order, are things I’ve come across in my walks around campus. The painted lady in the photo is a worn individual with scale damage and fraying on the wings. Blue-gray gnatcatchers are small but noisy birds. They arrive in our area earlyRead more

A Garter and a Thrasher

Top Photo: Eastern garter snake enjoys sun on chilly spring morning. A garter snake was seen for four (probably still there) consecutive days sunning under a wax myrtle just a few feet from the path in Explore the Wild. The snake may be the same female which was spotted in February sunning among the sandstone slab steps at Water’s Edge some fifty yards or so to the west. Garter snakes bear live young from June through September, depending upon when theyRead more

Masons, a Cob, an Anole, Tadpoles, and a Red Bat

Top Photo: Mason bee hangs at entrance to its nest in mud wall. There are simply too many things happening outdoors to sit idle. Everything and everybody is waking up, becoming more active, stirring, building nests, blooming, fruiting, whatever it is they do in spring, and I don’t want to miss any of it. If you’ve ever been to the museum and visited Into the Mist in Catch the Wind you’ve probably noticed a little hut in the back ofRead more

Spring Happenings and Aquatic Turtle Update

Top Photo: Upper surface of American snout. Things happen very quickly in spring, flowers bloom and fade, plants shoot out new leaves, insects emerge, birds who’ve been absent half a year, reappear. Here’s some of those things and more of what has occurred over the past week. Daffodils are early season flowers that last but briefly. Bees emerge with little on their agenda but food and reproduction. It’s time to get a new nest started. Northern, or Dekay’s brown snakes,Read more

Spring Happenings

Top Photo: Increasing in number on the piedmont, green anoles are expanding their range. When I first started work here at the museum some 14 years ago, it was unheard of to see a green anole in the outdoor areas of the museum. It’s now a common sight. Even on warm, sunny, winter days you may run into one of these, largely arboreal lizards. So far this spring I’ve seen question mark, comma, mourning cloak, falcate orangetip, eastern tiger swallowtail,Read more