Mergansers, Kingfishers, Shiners, and Gambusia (mosquitofish)

Last week, I posted that hooded mergansers, annual visitors from the north, have arrived in our wetlands for the season. They’re busily forming pair-bonds as I write. Over the years I’ve counted as many as 41 mergs at one time floating on our wetland’s water here at the museum. Early in the season it’s not unusual to see larger numbers until the fish-eating diving birds disperse, pairs and small groups choosing their favorite ponds and lakes at which to rest,Read more

What’s That Smell?

If you’ve been parking in the lot just west of the Museum (Edison Johnson) you may have noticed a strong smell wafting through the air upon exiting your vehicle. The fragrance, or odor, is coming from a plant growing along the east edge of the parking lot, a sprawling shrub known as thorny olive (Elaeagnus pungens). As the Latin name suggests, it’s a powerful smell, a bit too much for my liking, but most folks think it pleasant. If theRead more

Taking a Bite Out of the Crawfish Population

About a month ago I decided to watch our local great blue heron more carefully. The heron can been seen daily stalking across the water, sometimes belly deep, step by calculated step. Every few minutes the heron splashes its head down into the water after some unseen (by me) prey beneath the surface. I wanted to see just what he was catching and eating out there in our little wetland. Ever since I began to see red swamp crawfish inRead more

Look Who’s Back!

  I first noticed the grebe towards the end of the day on the 16th of October. I hadn’t seen one here in our Wetlands since 2012, September to be exact.     These smallest of grebes likely to be found in the east, are by no means rare, or even uncommon. A trip to any of the big lakes in our area during late fall or winter should score a look at one. Despite their relative common local occurence,Read more

Hummbird Minute.

As I stood near the service road across from Into the Mist I noticed a small bird at the top of a very large mimosa tree alongside the road. It was a Ruby-throated Hummingbird. It’s always a thrill to see a hummingbird, and certainly many people get really close looks at them at their backyard feeders. But it’s always a special thrill to see one away from the feeders, even if it is in a mimosa tree (non-native). You canRead more

The Crayfish Among Us: Part II

Our Wetlands is Changing! In August I wrote about a pile of crayfish hatchlings that I found on the path in Explore the Wild. I also wrote about how those crayfish are not native to our area and how they may be completely changing the Wetlands. The crayfish that I see and capture in our Wetlands are Red Swamp Crayfish (Procambarus clarkii). I first noticed these large crayfish with the red claws a little over two years ago. Then, it was unusual toRead more