Spring Appearances

Top Photo: Fatsia japonica or Japanese Fatsia, fruit. Not native but planted on the Dinosaur Trail to enhance the sense of a long ago tropical realm, fatsia is in fruit, but going fast. The plant’s name is derived from the fact that fatsia, in an old Japanese language, means eight, presumably referring to the number of lobes on the plant’s large palmate leaves. This, even though the leaves never have an even number of lobes, or points. I’ve consistently countedRead more

Summer Odes

Top Photo: Male blue dasher perched and ready to sally forth. In the photo below a pair of blue dashers mate, assuming the “wheel” or “heart” position. This is when sperm is transferred from the male’s accessory genitalia to the tip of the female’s abdomen where her eggs will be fertilized. As I’ve mentioned before on this blog, great blue skimmers are the largest eastern skimmer. They’re a common sight at ponds, lakes, and slow moving rivers and streams. SlatyRead more

Shedding, Basking, and Waiting

Top Photo: A green anole in mid-molt. Air bubbles are visible under old, shedding skin of the green anole pictured here. Green anoles may shed as often as once a month, or as infrequently as once annually. They may eat their old shed skin. At first glance, the dragonfly below looks to have three pairs of wings, even four pair. In fact, eastern amberwings have two pairs of wings. The illusion is cause by the translucence of the dragonfly’s wings,Read more

Spring Heats Up for Plants, Animals, and Staff

Top Photo: Tent caterpillar hustling across path. The caterpillar pictured above has made it’s way down out of its secure, communal silken tent in a nearby cherry tree. It’s in search of an even more secure location to pupate, under siding, tree bark, crevice or other hidden location. By late spring to summer it will become an adult moth and deposit eggs on a twig of another cherry tree, or perhaps the very same tree it crawled out of. TinyRead more

The Ode Season

Top Photo: Female blue corporal clinging to siding of restroom building at Cafe Plaza. Odes* are finally being seen around campus. At least four species are confirmed, blue corporal, lancet clubtail, green darner, and common whitetail. Both blue corporal and lancet clubtail are early season species and make brief appearances each spring. Blue corporals prefer still water but can occasionally be found around slow streams and rivers. They typically perch on or near the ground. However, the one pictured wasRead more

From Hummingbirds to Mushrooms

Top Photo: A lichen “pipe.” What appears at first to be some sort of corn-cobish kind of smoking pipe is actually a ruby-throated hummingbird nest. Ranger Dakota noticed it lying in the leaf litter adjacent to the Farmyard. As soon as I saw the object I knew it was a hummers nest, about 1 3/4” high, 1 1/2” across and covered with lichen. The nest must have fallen from a loblolly pine above us on the path. The delicate lookingRead more

Meteorologically, Fall

Top Photo: Green heron works the “turtle logs” in the wetlands. It is, according to climatologists and meteorologists, fall. I agree. Days are getting shorter. Trees that’ve been pumping water and nutrients from their roots to their leaves have slowed down production. And although it’s still mighty hot outside during the day, the night time temps seem to be moderating. Here’s some of the things that have been going on during the first week of Fall. Though they’ll be leavingRead more

Some Outdoor Goings-on

Top Photo: Two adult red-tailed hawks silhouetted against the clouds as they soar above Butterfly House. Note that each bird is molting. The two red-tailed hawks above successfully nested on the museum grounds. They’re regular nesters. I rarely see eastern cottontails on our 84 acre campus, until this year. I’ve seen more this spring and summer than I have in perhaps the last 14 years of hiking the museum’s trails. Predator numbers must be down. Besides the red-tailed hawks above,Read more

And Along Came Summer

Top Photo: Eight-spotted forester and dogbane. Summer’s here and the time is right for checking out nature. Sure it’s a little hot, but you might just as well accept it and get out there. You’ll be missing a lot of interesting sights if you don’t. Here’s some photos of some of what you might see. There’s a patch of dogbane in front of the Butterfly House which attracts numerous flying insects to its tiny flower’s nectar. One such insect isRead more