A Few Winter Sightings

Top Photo: Bullfrog tadpoles react to disturbance in the water. In our area, bullfrogs may take 9 to 12 months to mature and become frogs. It may take much longer, perhaps two or even three years, in areas with cooler temperatures and shorter growing seasons. But here, in central North Carolina the bullfrogs that hatched from eggs this summer will become frogs next summer. During winter the bullfrogs tend to congregate in the shallow, muddy water on the north sideRead more

More Stuff You Might See

Top Photo: On a cool fall morning, Eno, one of our red wolves on display, yawns deeply before resting his weary head. Bald cypress, carpenter bees, musk turtles, ground hogs and others headline Nature Watch this week. Bald cypress has put out an impressive amount of cones this year. Carpenter bee activity is far greater in the spring when over-wintering adults emerge and vie for territories and nest sites. However, they’re still active now. The bees drill nice, neat 3/8”Read more

A Tiny Turtle

Top Photo: Head tucked in, hatchling common musk turtle pauses to take shelter while making it’s way across pavement to the wetlands, a long dangerous journey. About 2.5 to 3 months ago, a female common musk turtle mucked her way through the mud of the wetlands and up and across the pavement of the walkway searching for a quiet place to dig a nest. Finding a safe location off the beaten path and in soft soil, she dug a smallRead more

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