Northen Watersnake vs Copperhead (Revisited)

It’s summertime and snakes are active. This is a repeat of a previous post from May of 2013 to refresh your memory on the identification of two common snakes in our area, both residents here at the museum. It’s almost a daily occurrence, I’d be watching a water snake coiled up and snoozing in the grass on the north side of the Wetlands, point the snake out to someone passing by and they’d say, “That looks like a Copperhead,” or, “IsRead more

What’s Happening on the Outdoor Loop

Top Photo: The Wetlands in summer. If you’re familiar with the museum’s outdoor loop through Catch the Wind and Explore the Wild, you may be happy to know that life goes on as it always has in the past. There are, though, a few changes around the bend. Here, a few familiar sights and a few behind the scenes sneak previews. Shrubby St. John’s wort is in bloom, as it is each year at this time. The 4 foot tallRead more

Mayapples

Top photo: Mayapple patch in early April. It’s June and mayapples are ripe, or soon will be. Warning, the whole plant is toxic. Just touching the leaves may cause dermatitis. But, like many toxic native plants mayapple has medicinal uses. A topical treatment for certain skin conditions, as well as other ailments, is derived from the plant. Mayapples begin to emerge from the moist earth of alluvial woodlands and meadows in March. By April they’re obvious, a big patch ofRead more

Box Turtle

I don’t see many box turtles at the museum. The habitat’s right but I can remember seeing only one or two of these terrestrial turtles in the twelve plus years I’ve walked the outdoor loop at the museum. Perhaps their scarcity is due to the fact that our 84 acre campus is surrounded by suburbia and ever increasing traffic on the roads around and through the area. These turtles have a bad track record in face-to-face encounters with cars. BoxRead more

Turtle Logs

Top Photo: Three of five sets of new turtle perches in Wetlands. With our changing wetlands and growing turtle population, basking perches for our resident turtles are at a premium. As old snags and logs that used to be in the wetlands rotted and decayed it’s become tough for a turtle to find a place to sun itself. It’s sometimes a tight squeeze for our aquatic turtles. A half a dozen years ago, I tossed in a 10’ pine logRead more

A Toad and a Treefrog

Top Photo: Cope’s gray treefrog on cedar limb. March thru April is the peak breeding season for American toads here at the museum and they’ve been out calling and mating in numbers. American toads are one of two true toads found here on the Piedmont, the other is Fowler’s toad. I’ve only heard Fowler’s toad on one or two occasions on our campus. American toad is the one you’re most likely to see and hear. The warm weather of thisRead more

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