Late Season Hyla*

Top Photo: Juvenile green treefrogs (2) huddle safe and secure inside unfurling leaves during late summer (look carefully). Both young and adult green treefrogs rely heavily on their color and posture to “hide” themselves from possible predation. They often, though, squeeze down into tight nooks or recesses for added protection, as the juveniles in the above photo illustrate. We installed three artificial “hides” around the outdoor exhibits for our resident treefrogs. And, believe it or not, there are still frogsRead 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

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

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

More Fall Sights

Top Photo: Hearts-a-bursting on the Dinosaur Trail. The second week of fall brought even more new sights than the first. Read on to find out what. Euonymus may be known to gardeners by various names, burning bush, golden euonymus, winter creeper, and others, all non-native plants in the genus Euonymus. However, hearts-a-busting, or bursting hearts (Euonymus americanus) is a native understory shrub which can be seen at various places along our outdoor trail loop. It’s also know as strawberry bushRead more

Northern Water Snake vs Copperhead (rerun)

Top Photo: Copperhead Over the last few weeks I’ve gotten several emails with attached photos requesting the identification of the snake in the pictures (copperhead). With that in mind, and the fact that fall is upon us, and copperheads will be moving about more, I offer a link to a previous post on distinguishing copperhead from northern water snake, both locally common on the North Carolina Piedmont. The following first appeared in May of 2013 Click here > Northern WaterRead 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

Treefrog Encounter

Top Photo: Freshly morphed green treefrog clings to rush stem at edge of wetlands. While making the first round of the day through the Outdoor Loop at the museum, we rangers discovered a group of juvenile green and gray treefrogs in Explore the Wild. The frogs were clinging to the vegetation next to the sandstone steps at Water’s Edge. Most of the treefrogs were green treefrogs, a few were Cope’s gray. The frogs are clearly making use of the duckRead more

Brown Snake Babies

Top Photo: Juvenile northern, or DeKay’s, brown snake. Brown snakes are common here at the museum. They can be seen in any month of the year but are most frequently observed in late winter to early spring. They’re most often seen crossing the open pavement from one favored habitat to another, forest floor or grassy areas. It’s not uncommon to see one hanging from the talons or bill of a red-shouldered hawk during that period when the hawk’s nesting isRead more

Bullfrog Offal

Top Photo: American bullfrog. It’s a well known fact that red-shouldered hawks take crawfish from our wetlands. Besides actually being observed eating the crawfish, the hawks leave the claws of the arthropods on the railings of the boardwalk when they’re done. The evidence is clear. Frogs are also on the menu. The hawks, though, don’t typically leave frog parts on the boardwalk as a record of their passing. Last week, I was confronted by a mystery while walking down the boardwalkRead more