Snake Jaws

Top Photo: Northern water snake. Northern water snake (nerodia sipedon) is the water snake of the North Carolina Piedmont. The banded and brown water snake look-a-likes are more closely tied to the coastal plain. The water snake shown here was basking on a wax myrtle branch next to the floating walkway in our wetlands. Curiously, this snake kept opening and closing it’s mouth. This is probably the same snake I reported seeing on May 26 which also kept opening andRead more

Nest Box Update 5.30.23

Top Photo: Eastern bluebird eggs. We now have three nests which show at least some activity. One has four nestlings, one with bluebirds sitting on five eggs, and minimal nesting material in another. ———————— The Cow Pasture nest box has four nestling house wrens. They look healthy and may fledge by next inspection. Both Explore the Wild and Into the Mist nest boxes are empty. The nest box on the east side of the parking deck still has three smallRead more

More May Sightings

Top Photo: Common snapping turtle contemplates its next move. The snapping turtle pictured here was heading towards our wetlands. It may be a new arrival, having come up the creek which lies a dozen or so meters behind it. The creek is where our wetland drains. There’s a substantial drop where a large pipe delivers our wetland’s overflow into the creek. The drop keeps creatures like this snapping turtle from continuing their journeys via a direct route to our wetlandsRead more

Nest Box Update 5.23.23

Top Photo: Eastern bluebird eggs. We have three active nests, at least in part. There are four nestlings in one nest, four eggs in another, and nesting material added to another nest. ————————— The Cow Pasture nest appears to have four nestlings. They’re house wrens. Last week I could clearly see four house wren eggs and it appears there are four nestlings piled atop one another now. It’s difficult to see them all, but I’ll check the nest again laterRead more

Dazzling Sights on the MLS Outdoor Loop

Top Photo: Rat snake crosses path in front of me. A walk around our outdoor loop through the Dinosaur Trail, Explore the Wild, and Catch the Wind can be relaxing and rewarding. You never know what you’re going to run into. Anything from snakes to folded-wing skippers is possible, and frankly, expected. Here’s some of the things I bumped into this past week. The photos above and below are of a common local resident, rat snake. The individual above isRead more

Nest Box Update 5.16.23

Top Photo: Eastern bluebird eggs. We have three nest boxes which have at least some activity, one has four eggs, one has a complete new bluebird nest, and one has only just a suggestion of a bird’s interest in making a nest inside, one twig was placed in the middle of the berry basket inside the box. ———————— The Cow Pasture nest is doing well. The house wren that was inside the box incubating the four eggs as we approachedRead more

And Then There Were None

Top Photo: Lone barred owlet peeks out from damaged nest. Barred owls are cavity nesters. They nest in holes in trees, nest boxes built for them, or a broken off trunk open at the top, exposed to the weather and other dangers, like predation. On April 29, I posted on this blog about a barred owl’s nest here on campus. At the time there were two owlets in the nest. On May 6, one of the owls fell out ofRead more

Nest Box Update 5.9.23

Top Photo: Eastern bluebird eggs. One of our nest boxes has been emptied and there are now four house wren eggs in another. The remaining four boxes are empty. ———————— The wren nest which had remained untouched for two weeks now has four new wren eggs in the twig based structure. The chickadees in the nest box in Explore the Wild have apparently fledged. There were five nestlings huddled together in the nest last week, today it’s empty. The IntoRead more

Mimics and Other Amazing Springtime Sights

Top Photo: Brown thrasher belts out his best imitation of other local birds and sounds. Like mockingbirds, thrashers (above) mimic other birds and sounds that occur in their immediate area. While mockingbirds often repeat the same phrase over and over again, thrashers tend to repeat each mimicked phrase or sound twice, then move on to the next one. Physical mimicry is fairly common in invertebrates. Whether to avoid being eaten by predators or as a predator seeking to hunt otherRead more

Nest Box Update 5.2.23

Top Photo: Eastern bluebird eggs. We have two active nests, Cow Pasture and Explore the Wild, house wrens and chickadees respectively. ———————— The Cow Pasture nest is still intact but doesn’t appear to have been attended to in the past week. We’ll have to wait to see what develops as the female house wrens come to town. There are five growing chickadee nestlings in the nest box in Explore the Wild. You have to look closely but you can seeRead more