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

Anole

Above: Green anole on rock wall next to rosemary shrub. There’s a fair chance I’ll see a green anole on any given warm winter day. The small lizard will most likely be basking in the sun on a rock wall in the Butterfly House’s garden next to the Cafe, close by a rosemary shrub for easy escape should a predator come by. We’ve been experiencing many warm winter days of late. Temps have even gotten into the 70’s on someRead more

Snakes in Winter

(Above: Worm snake at Black Bear Overlook.) I’ve seen six different species of snakes here at the museum during winter, eastern garter snake, black rat snake, rough and smooth earth snakes, brown snake and worm snake. The snake species and quantity encountered depend on their local abundance at the time. So far this season, brown snakes and worm snakes have been most frequently observed. Worm snakes are small, maxing out at about a foot or so. They’re shiny snakes withRead more

Turtles in Winter

While most species of aquatic turtles are inactive, tucked-away on the bottom of a pond in the leaf litter and mud, our resident sliders tend to become active throughout the colder months. All it takes is a few bright sunny days. Among the local turtles, yellow-bellied and red-eared sliders, eastern painted turtle, common musk turtle, and common snapping turtle, it’s the sliders that are most often seen out basking in late fall and winter. The water is shallow in ourRead more

Snapping Turtle Roll

As I walked on the boardwalk past the entrance to the Black Bear Exhibit I heard splashing noises and low hissing sounds beneath me. Looking over the railing I could see two snapping turtles rolling in the water below the walkway. Common in our wetland and any other water habitat in the area, common snapping turtles typically breed in the spring to early summer. I’ve seen what appears to be mating attempts once in August and again this month (September).Read 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

Blind Snake

While walking along the path on the Dino Trail the other day, a small brown snake entered the path in front of me from the banana trees and palms that line the paved walkway. The pattern on the back of the approximately 10″ – 11″ snake immediately identified it as a copperhead. According to the literature, copperheads are born live in late summer or early fall. They’re 8” – 9” at birth. This snake was born last year. There wasRead more