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

Garden Watch

Top Photo: Goldenrod in bloom at Wander Away. Visiting a garden at this time of year can be very rewarding. Goldenrod likes to wait until September or later to bloom, and like boneset mentioned in the previous post, has tiny blossoms which attract big crowds. Butterflies, bees and wasps are too busy sucking up nectar to pay much attention to naturalists who stare at them while they refuel. If you’re patient, and you’re taking pictures, you may end up withRead more

Fall

Top Photo: A female monarch butterfly sips nectar from sunflower. Fall is here. It’s September and fall is all around us. Birds and butterflies are migrating, late season flowers are blooming, seeds are nearly ready to cut loose into the wind, and fruit is on the vine. It’s even a bit cooler outside than it’s been the past few weeks. Here’s a group of photos of what’s going on outside, in case you missed it because of the heat. AnRead more

Anoles in Trees

Top Photo: Green anoles engaged in mating. The sharp eye of Ranger Dakota spotted the two lizards on the trunk of a small cherry tree outside the door leading from the main museum building to Gateway Park near the bells, drums, metal tubes, wooden sound boards and other music and noise making devices that make up Sound Garden. What he saw were two green anoles (Anolis carolinensis) engaged in mating. I’ve been familiar with green anoles since childhood, though IRead more

Bonus Features

Top Photo: A green heron contemplates its next move. While making the rounds on my weekly bluebird trail nest box inspections I often come across other creatures besides the bluebirds, chickadees, and wrens that use the nest boxes on the trail. Red-shouldered hawks nest in the woods next to the train tunnel as they have been off-and-on for years. The one pictured is a product of this year’s effort. I have to pass by the parking deck on the southRead more

Something to Look At

Top Photo: Bumble bee takes nectar and transfers pollen in the process. Here, I have a quick list of photos of what you might see on a walk around the outdoor trails here at the museum. Last year we had at least three bald-faced hornet hives on the campus. One was in a dawn redwood tree over the boardwalk, another in a pine along one of the service roads, and the third was in a small maple hanging over EllerbeRead more

Ducklings in the Wetlands

Top Photo: Mallard duck with two of her six ducklings. Ranger Molly informed me she saw a mallard duck and six ducklings in our wetlands over the weekend. On my next trip into the wetlands, I spotted the family in the swamp across from the Main Wetlands Overlook. A pair of mallards had been hanging around the wetlands the entire spring, had disappeared for a while early on, but had returned. Sometime later in the season they had again goneRead more

The Color of the Name

Top Photo: A green anole shows off its dewlap on fence in Butterfly House Garden. Certain animals are named for their color, or at least the color of a prominent feature of their feathers, scales, or fur. Here’s several local birds and a lizard which meet the criterion. It’s obvious why the green anole is called what it’s called, it’s green. But check out the pink dewlap this lizard sometimes displays as a territorial warning to other male anoles orRead more

Nest Box Update for the Month of May 2021

We have six nest boxes on our bluebird trail. I inspect the nest boxes once per week following the same sequence each week; Cow Pasture, Explore the Wild, Into the Mist, Parking Deck East, Parking Deck West, and Butterfly House. This is a compilation of the nest box inspections for the month of May. May 5 There are currently three active nests, though no eggs. Two nest boxes have been taken over by house wrens. The house wren nest inRead more

Basking Turtle

Top Photo: Yellow-bellied slider out basking? At approximately 11:30 AM on January, 29 a yellow-bellied slider decided to haul out of the water and bask in the sun on the north side of the wetlands. The air temperature at the time was in the mid 30s though it was a bright sunny morning. I can only speculate as to why this turtle came ashore on such a brisk morning. Sliders are known to stir on sunny winter days, even outRead more