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

Merganser Are Back

Hooded mergansers typically arrive in our wetlands in November, from the first to third week in November. A trio showed up today (10/20) at the end of the third week of October. The birds usually get right to the business of pair-bonding upon arrival. The bonds are formed here on the wintering grounds and reinforced throughout the season. When, sometime next March and April, the birds head back north to the breeding areas the pairs are already formed and theyRead more

Brief Wetland Look

There’s little doubt that the Wetlands is the most outstanding feature of the Explore the Wild section of our outdoor adventure loop. Fall’s approaching quickly so here’s a very brief glimpse of the summertime wetlands which includes a few subjects you may have to look more closely to see. The most abundant tree of the wetlands is the black willow. Here, it doesn’t reach a height of more than fifteen feet of so. Yellow-bellied sliders are the most common aquaticRead more

Turtle Nest Time

It’s turtle nesting season. There’ve been numerous aquatic turtle sightings along the paths and outdoor exhibits in the past few weeks, this week especially so. Both sliders and painted turtles have been observed searching for suitable nesting sites. Some have been seen in the act of digging a nest and laying eggs. After a satisfactory site is chosen the turtle urinates on the site loosening the hard clay making digging much easier. Digging is done with the hind legs. OnceRead more

Snow

We don’t often get snow in December, that usually happens in January or February in our rather mild section of the continent. Even then, it’s rarely a huge amount of snow, although it doesn’t take much frozen precip to bring us to our knees here in the south. But, that’s another story. When it snows here, and if you like snow, like to look at it and play in it, you’d be wise to go out and take advantage ofRead 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

Go Out and Take Some Photos

There are many photo opportunities here on our 84 acre campus. Here’s some of the things I ran into the past few weeks. While at “Bird Viewing” in Catch the Wind, I noticed a young brown thrasher picking up discarded or spilled sunflower seeds below the feeders. The inexperienced bird flew within ten feet of me and briefly posed for a photo (tip-sit quietly at the feeders). Along with the thrasher and squirrel, an American robin was picking off wormsRead more

Mink

In September of 2015, I spotted a dark pelaged mammal running along the muddy wooded edge of the Wetlands. Too dark and slim for a muskrat, the only thing it could be was a mink. Camera ready, I followed the creature through the dense vegetation but couldn’t get a clear shot of the animal. In anticipation of its intended route I ran ahead to a path that leads to the water hoping to get a shot as the animal passed theRead more

Quiet Winter

It’s February, and so far this winter we’ve skated by with very few cold days—no ice storms, only one brief snow, and minimal frigid NW winds. That could change at any time, but for now, I’m going to enjoy the mild fifty, sixty, and yes, even seventy degree weather. The bird feeders have seen steady, but not heavy, use. The local chickadees, titmice, cardinals, nuthatches, and others have been regular customers at the feeders at Bird Viewing, but I’ve not seen anyRead more

Bath Time

As I walked past the north side of the wetlands, I noticed an odd figure in the water some 25 yards distance. When you spend as much time in the wetlands as I do, you know when something’s out of place. Something was out of place. My first thought, there’s a loon in the Wetlands. Summer is the wrong time of year for a loon to be in North Carolina. Even if it were April, or perhaps October, when commonRead more