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

A Dip in the Pool

Top Photo: Mimi Bear swims in upper pool at Main Black Bear Overlook. If you know our black bears, you know that Mimi is the one who likes a little dip in the pool more than any of the others, though lately Little Bear is giving Mimi a run for the money. But regardless of the two bears’ mutual fondness for water, Mimi prefers to swim alone, all by herself. Little Bear tends to annoy the adult female bears inRead more

GBH

Top Photo: Great blue heron searching the wetlands. What is the great blue heron searching for when it slowly stalks through the belly deep water of our wetlands? The answer is, whatever it can catch? It eats whatever animal it can snag with its long pointed bill. What does the heron catch? Well, currently in our wetland there’s not that many choices. The resident mosquito fish are quite small. There’re some aquatic insects that might suit the tall, long-legged, wadingRead more

Masons, a Cob, an Anole, Tadpoles, and a Red Bat

Top Photo: Mason bee hangs at entrance to its nest in mud wall. There are simply too many things happening outdoors to sit idle. Everything and everybody is waking up, becoming more active, stirring, building nests, blooming, fruiting, whatever it is they do in spring, and I don’t want to miss any of it. If you’ve ever been to the museum and visited Into the Mist in Catch the Wind you’ve probably noticed a little hut in the back ofRead more

All in a Day’s Work

Top Photo: Female bluebird prepares to exit nest box after delivering nest material. We have six bluebird nest boxes at the museum. At present, the boxes are in various states of development. Five have bluebird nest material in them, one a chickadee nest. One has eggs. As I walked through Catch The Wind the other day I noticed bluebird activity near one of our nest boxes. Just the day before, I had looked into this same box on my weeklyRead more

More Squirrel “Food”

Top Photo: Gray squirrel enjoys what’s left of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. We all know squirrels like to eat various roots, nuts, pine and other seeds. But those foods are either seasonal, difficult to acquire, or buried underground in a place where the squirrel simply can’t remember. Fortunately for them, there are plenty of alternative food sources, wherever people tend to gather. As a follow up on last week’s post, Pollen, Butterflies, and Squirrels, you can add theRead more

Pollen, Butterflies, and Squirrels

Top Photo: Male flowers of eastern red cedar or juniper. Pollen Red cedar is in bloom, and the male flowers are sending out pollen for the fertilization of female flowers, and for the rest of us to breathe in and sneeze. The local elm trees are in bloom as well. Elm is another tree, like the cedar, whose pollen is carried by the wind. Butterflies Not strictly an indication of spring, but of warm days throughout the winter and earlyRead more