Hunting in Winter

Can you see the bird in the above photo? It’s a red-shouldered hawk. As mentioned in the previous post, Herps (reptiles and amphibians), there’s been lizard, snake, and frog activity lately. This red shoulder is hunting those creatures. It’s also keeping an eye out for any incautious bird, shrew or rodent. Looking high and low, left and right, the hawk keeps a sharp eye on it’s environment for the slightest movement, ready to pounce. After many minutes (at least anRead more

Herps (reptiles and amphibians)

The seventies and eighties are behind us, for now. It’s back to more normal temps, forties and fifties. But, while the atypically high temps lasted, I was able to find some out and about reptiles and amphibians. It’s not unusual to see a brown snake in winter unless the temps are extreme, on the low side. I saw the northern brown snake, or Dekay’s brown snake, pictured here slowly making its way across the path just uphill from the LemurRead more

Turtles!

If you like turtles, aquatic turtles, you’ll like our wetlands right about now! Turtles galore are out basking in this crazy warm February sunshine! But you better hurry, this 70, and yes, 80 degree weather won’t last long. Highs are expected to be in the forties on Saturday.Read more

Winter Continues

We’ve had both warm and cold weather so far this season, mostly warm. Regardless of the temperature, things are rolling along as always; sunny days bring out turtles to bask, ducks feed, court, and rest in our wetland, and Mahonia blooms as it always does this time of year on the Dinosaur Trail and elsewhere around the campus. There seems to have been an unusual amount of fungi this fall and winter, perhaps due to the significant rain we’ve experienced.Read more

Familiar Faces

If you’ve spent any time walking the paths at the Museum of Life and Science, the following faces may be familiar to you. All of them, save one, are residents in some form. Above (banner photo) is one of our ring-tailed lemurs (Satyrus). Snakes are always a possibilty, even in winter. If you do see a snake during winter it’s probably a brown snake or possibly a garter snake. Everyone has seen one or more of our four black bearsRead more

A Salamander

Before this week I had seen only one species of salamander here on the museum’s 84 acres, a dead marbled salamander found alongside the path in January of 2017, nearly two years ago. Another salamander, described to me by a summer camper a few years beyond that, was probably a red-backed salamander. We now have a third. Animal Keepers Autumn and Janine, after several previous encounters with the slippery amphibians, were able to capture and photograph another species of salamanderRead more

Falling Into Winter

We’re on the back side of fall and sliding into winter. There’s still much going on out-of-doors with lots to see if you keep an eye open to it. Here’s some of what I’ve been seeing. Asters are late summer and fall blooming flowers. They’re still blooming in the garden in front of our Butterfly House. Red buckeye fruit have already burst open spilling their large brown seeds (buckeyes) to the ground. Several common snapping turtle hatchlings were spotted bothRead more

Copperhead Encounter

It’s no secret that copperheads occur in the Carolina Piedmont. In fact, they’re found throughout the state. To the dismay of some the non aggressive yet venomous snake can often be seen in suburban back yards. We have our own population here at the Museum of Life and Science. Here, they’re typically encountered during spring and fall as they move back and forth between their summer and winter quarters. I sometimes see them crossing paths following heavy rains. All ofRead more

Some Sights From the Wild

Hearts a bursting or strawberry bush (Euonymus americanus) is showing off its namesake fruit. There are a dozen or so of these plants across the campus. The easiest to see and photograph is on the Dinosaur Trail, on the right side of the path just past the Albertosaurus. While on the Dino Trail, keep an eye out for a flatworm or land planarian, especially on warm, rainy days. Most people are familiar with planarian worms from biology lab back inRead more