Toad Time

Top Photo: American toad calling from wetlands. American toads have begun their annual breeding frenzy. The large toads’ loud trill can be heard across the wetlands as they vie for mates. Once coupled, the toads move along in the water trailing behind strings of thousands of eggs, fertilized by the male as they emerge from the female. The eggs should hatch in about a week, the tadpoles becoming miniature toads in about two months, that is, if the pond inRead more

Calling American Toads

Top Photo: American toad calls out from log in wetlands. During the first couple of weeks in March I’d heard an occasional American toad calling from the wetlands. On Friday March 18, they were out in numbers calling from every corner of the swamp on the west side of our wetlands in Explore the Wild. It’s a chorus of toads. The high-pitched, rolling trill, sometimes held for as long as 30 seconds, is a thrill to hear each spring, especiallyRead more

A Toad and a Treefrog

Top Photo: Cope’s gray treefrog on cedar limb. March thru April is the peak breeding season for American toads here at the museum and they’ve been out calling and mating in numbers. American toads are one of two true toads found here on the Piedmont, the other is Fowler’s toad. I’ve only heard Fowler’s toad on one or two occasions on our campus. American toad is the one you’re most likely to see and hear. The warm weather of thisRead more


It’s June, and meteorologically speaking, it’s summer. Here’re some photos taken during May as a way of saying goodbye to spring and hello to summer. Since we started off with a green tree frog perched upon Equisetum, or horsetail, in the top photo, we’ll continue with amphibians. Hairstreak butterflies are named for the long, hair-like scales that extend from the hind wings. They are pseudo antennae intended to fool would be predators into thinking the hind wing area is the headRead more

Spring Happenings

Last week started cool, temperature-wise, but ended with a warmth that brought out all manner of creatures and plants that had been lying in wait for just that moment to arrive. There are a lot of photos to show and things to discuss, so let’s start with the snake above. It was pointed out to me that someone here at the museum had seen a water snake back at the end of February or in early March. We had someRead more

Toads Aplenty

Back in March and April I photographed American toads mating and laying eggs in our Wetlands. On April 11, I photo’d the small, black tadpoles that hatched from the eggs swimming in the shallow water of the swamp to the west of the Main Wetlands Overlook. Again, this time on May 20, I took shots of the tadpoles as they were about to become toads. They still had their tails, but also their legs. They would soon be ready toRead more

Reptiles and Amphibians

It is spring, and rapidly approaching summer. The reptiles and amphibians of our wetlands are busy doing whatever it is they do at this time of year. Sliders and other aquatic turtles are out basking in the sun. Musk turtles are eating. American toad eggs have been hatching. There are 35 turtles on the logs in the banner at the top of this page. Among those is one of the largest, if not the largest, yellow-bellied slider in the wetlands.Read more

Quick Update; Egrets and Toads.

Ranger Rock called me on the radio this morning about an egret in the Wetlands. We’ve only had a handful of egret visits over the years so I went down to the Wetlands to have a look.     The egret was obviously people shy, it didn’t stay long. After just a brief time it flew off to a tall loblolly pine, surveyed the situation from above, and took off for parts unknown.     Last week I mentioned seeingRead more

Some Spring Happenings

Top Photo: Immature plumaged hooded mergansers lingering in wetlands. I’ve been negligent in my duties and haven’t been reporting as often as I’d like to on the goings on in Explore the Wild and Catch the Wind. So much is happening, as it does every spring, that it’s tough to keep up. Here’s just a couple of handfuls of things that we’ve seen in the Wild over the past few weeks (not necessarily in chronological order). During the first weekRead more