Viceroy

The butterfly in the above image is a Viceroy. It’s sometimes confused with a Monarch butterfly because of its coloration, orange background with black and white markings. Some key differences in the two are that Viceroys are smaller than Monarchs, have a more rapid wing beat, and the Viceroy has a transverse bar across its rear wings which the Monarch lacks. The host food of Monarchs is milkweed. Viceroys prefer willows, so your chances of seeing a Viceroy are increasedRead more

Highlight of a “rough” day!!

As much as I enjoy Dino Days (July 16-17) and sifting through tons of dusty, gray, ocean-bottom sediment for fossils, I have to say that the highlight of Dino Days (at least day one, Saturday) was watching a Rough Green Snake eat a dragonfly in a willow tree just off the Wetlands Overlook in Explore the Wild. It was near the end of the day, hot and tired. Ranger Kristin and I were watching for frogs from the side ofRead more

Turning the Corner

Although it’s September, it was more than two weeks ago that I began to feel the change. Something was different. Oh sure, the temperatures were in the eighties for a few days and it felt really, really nice, but that’s not what I mean. We’ve crossed a line, internal triggers have been tripped, a biological turning point has been reached. The wildlife can feel it, the trees are reacting to it, and I feel it too. It’s not fall butRead more

Yellows, Reds, and Browns

The scene is changing rapidly. Although we still have some time to go, the leaves of the various deciduous trees are turning their respective yellows, reds, browns and all hues in between. The Willows are nearly devoid of leaves. What leaves that remain on the Sycamores and Ashes are brown. The Redbuds are yellow-green. The Maples and the Sweetgums are turning yellow, red, and burgundy. Wrapped around the trunks of trees, the leaves of Virginia Creeper are turning brilliant red.Read more

Fall Fruit, Nuts, and Flowers

Many plants and trees are beginning to show the signs of seasonal change. In the Wetlands the hues have shifted from the deep greens of summer to the much lighter hues of early fall. Willows and Sycamores have committed to the change. The Dogwoods are close behind; their fruit will soon be bright red. Poke Weed’s deep purple berries are greedily being gobbled up by Gray Catbirds. The waxy berries, or nuts, of Wax Myrtle should be ripe in timeRead more