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 of the exhibit, the Cob. It’s made of clay/soil, straw and water.
Inside, the walls have numerous holes in them which were originally intended to aid in the drying process of the hut during construction. Now, many of them are the nests of mason bees.
In spring, the bees are in and out of the hut all day as they configure the interior of the nests and collect and distribute pollen in the various nest chambers in their homes.
There are perhaps 4-6 chambers in each hole separated by masonry walls constructed by the female. Each chamber has its own supply of pollen and egg before it’s sealed.
When the eggs hatch the larvae consume the pollen and in the process go through 5 stages of development, finally entering the pupal stage. They then molt several times until fall when they become fully formed adults. They enter a state of dormancy over the winter.
The bees emerge as adults the following spring to start the process all over again.
They may seem intimidating as they come and go in and out of the cob, but they’re not in the least aggressive. They’re nesting in close proximity because of the availability of nest sites in the cob and are not social and therefore not collectively aggressive towards intruders. You’d have to do something drastic to make one angry enough to contemplate stinging.
If you walk through the outdoor areas you’re bound to hear the song of numerous birds as they announce themselves to other members of their species. One of our locals is eastern towhee. Resident all year long, towhees call out with a loud single note whistle though-out the year but extend that into their trademark “drink your teeeaa” call in spring.
Bright warm sun brings out the reptiles. Here a green anole catches some rays in the Butterfly House Garden.
A little over three weeks ago I reported about the many American toads who were mating in the swamp on the west side of the path near the Main Wetlands Overlook in Explore the Wild. These early spring breeding amphibians depend on spring rains to ensure the continuation of their species, in fact, the evolution of their species is tied to spring rains. As long as the temporary pools of water they deposited eggs into don’t dry up, they will survive. So far, so good, we’ve had a least one solid day of rain per week in the last four.
And finally, of the bats I’ve encountered over the years, the eastern red bat is the one I’ve most often seen out in broad daylight. So it was no surprise to see one when following up on a radio call from Animal Care Specialist Kate of a bat out in the open at the Secondary Black Bear Overlook.
The bat was hanging upside-down bat-style on a windscreen attached to the bear-yard’s fence. The bat hung by one foot.
Note the white fur on what is the wrist and shoulder of the bat in the images. The only other species of bat in the east with white in those areas is Seminole bat which is darker in color.
The bat may have been migrating north and dropped in as the day began to brighten.
That’s all for now. I have to go outside. Don’t want to miss anything.