Ducks, Cherry Dogwood, Crocus, Geese, Sliders, and Mistletoe

Top Photo: Hooded mergansers float and reflect in the wetland’s water. Here’s a handful of things to look for as you stroll around and through our outdoor areas during the last half of winter. We hope to entice hooded mergansers to nest in our wetlands. Cornelian cherry dogwood’s flower buds are about to burst open into a bright yellow display of florescence. The small tree shown here is located on your right, just outside the main building’s door to GatewayRead more

Who’s Who (Niko and Oak)

Top Photo: Oak (front) and Niko. On November 12, I posted about the arrival of our two red wolves, Niko and Oak. In that post I also mentioned a bit about how to differentiate the two, tell them apart from one another. Besides the white cheek patch (very small and barely noticeable) and white area surrounding the base of her tail (quite evident), Oak has a much narrower face than Niko. The broader snout and forehead of Niko is discernibleRead more

Oak and Niko

Top Photo: Oak (left) and Niko carefully watch members of the Animal Care crew in their enclosure during routine maintenance. Now that word is out about the new pair of red wolves having arrived at the museum, Niko and Oak, you may want to come have a look at them. Both wolves are still getting used to their enclosure and the rush of people stopping in or passing by the exhibit space. They’ve only been on-site a handful of daysRead more

October Color

Top Photo: Ashleaf maple, or boxelder. On a walk around the Explore the Wild/Catch the Wind Loop I photographed some of the fall color during the last week of October. Here’s some of those images.Read more

Otters in the Midst

Top Photo: Otter latrine. I’ve been documenting the occurrence of otters in our wetlands since before 2010 when I saw tracks of one of the mustelids on snow covered ice in the wetlands. On one occasion during that time period I saw a large golden shiner, about 10” (they can reach 12”) floating in the water next to the Main Wetlands Overlook. It had a u-shaped mark on the middle portion of its body, as if something had grasped theRead more

October

Top Photo: Thorny olive flowers. If you happen to be strolling past the Farmyard and sense something powerfully fragrant invading your nose, it’s probably thorny olive (Elaeagnus pungens). It’s related to autumn olive and Russian olive, two invasive shrub species from Asia. We have much autumn olive on our campus, no Russian olive that I’m aware of and just a few locations overgrown with thorny olive which tends to ascend trees and nearby structures when it can. Thorny olive, unlikeRead more

A Disturbance in the Wetlands

Top Photo: Ripples in the water. Near the end of the day, two museum visitors coming up from the wetlands in Explore the Wild stopped me to ask a question, “Are there otters in the wetlands?” Apparently, they’d seen something that “looked very much like an otter.” I thought perhaps they’d seen a mink. I’ve seen mink fairly often down in the wetlands. But when our guests mentioned there were two of them, a picture of frolicking otters flashed acrossRead more

The Squirrel at the Train Station

Top Photo: Gray squirrel enjoying bird seed. If you’ve ever ridden the Ellerbe Creek Railroad at the museum you may have seen this or another squirrel at the bird feeders. The rodent has no fear of people, feeds at its own leisure, and is quite plainly entertaining to watch. We have “squirrel proof” feeders at our official bird feeding site, Bird Viewing, in Catch the Wind. The feeder at the Train Station is more or less a freebie. Oh, andRead 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

A Good Day

Top Photo: American mink on floating deck (photo-Ranger Dakota). Mink are elusive, frenetic, always on the move. Though I’m not sure how intentional their elusivity is. They simply go about their business quickly and quietly, keyword, quietly. In my encounters with the chocolate brown mustelids I’ve always been completely ignored by the weasel, until, that is, I paid too much attention to the animal. In those cases where I’d tried to get close up photos, or otherwise followed too closelyRead more