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

Something to Look At

Top Photo: Bumble bee takes nectar and transfers pollen in the process. Here, I have a quick list of photos of what you might see on a walk around the outdoor trails here at the museum. Last year we had at least three bald-faced hornet hives on the campus. One was in a dawn redwood tree over the boardwalk, another in a pine along one of the service roads, and the third was in a small maple hanging over EllerbeRead more

Out and About

Top Photo: Green heron perches on willow branch near water’s edge. Green herons are a fairly common sight in the wetlands during summer. They’ve nested at the museum more than a few times. I’ve previously mentioned in this blog the benefits for the naturalist who follows the eye of the bird. If you see a bird stare skyward it’s often worth your while to look up and see what the bird’s looking at. It may be a predator worthy ofRead more

Northen Watersnake vs Copperhead (Revisited)

It’s summertime and snakes are active. This is a repeat of a previous post from May of 2013 to refresh your memory on the identification of two common snakes in our area, both residents here at the museum. It’s almost a daily occurrence, I’d be watching a water snake coiled up and snoozing in the grass on the north side of the Wetlands, point the snake out to someone passing by and they’d say, “That looks like a Copperhead,” or, “IsRead more

Blind Snake

While walking along the path on the Dino Trail the other day, a small brown snake entered the path in front of me from the banana trees and palms that line the paved walkway. The pattern on the back of the approximately 10″ – 11″ snake immediately identified it as a copperhead. According to the literature, copperheads are born live in late summer or early fall. They’re 8” – 9” at birth. This snake was born last year. There wasRead more

Copperhead Encounter

It’s no secret that copperheads occur in the Carolina Piedmont. In fact, they’re found throughout the state. To the dismay of some the non aggressive yet venomous snake can often be seen in suburban back yards. We have our own population here at the Museum of Life and Science. Here, they’re typically encountered during spring and fall as they move back and forth between their summer and winter quarters. I sometimes see them crossing paths following heavy rains. All ofRead more

A Couple More Snakes

Here are photos of two snakes that are common to our area, one venomous the other non-venomous. I’ve discussed the difference between these two species in this blog on several occasions but this is simply a series of photos of the two, a copperhead and a northern water snake. Notice how variable northern water snakes are (below). Know what you’re looking at and watch your step as you go along.Read more

Copperhead vs Northern Water Snake

A slightly different version of this was posted in May of 2013. I know, it’s cold outside. Temps are in the mid-20s as I write and snakes are nowhere to be seen. Most of you are probably not going to spend a whole lot of time outdoors during the next few days, so why not sit back, grab a cup of joe (or cocoa), and brush up on your snake identification skills. Besides, we start seeing water snakes in our WetlandsRead more

A Tale of Two Tails

As I walked towards the Butterfly House on my way to my office, I noticed a small group of young children looking down at the ground and laughing, there must be something interesting over there. I approached. Lying on ground in the center of a circle of four or five squatting children, was a small U-shaped object. The object moved, wiggled. It was the tail of a skink. A few feet away was the skink itself, the lower third ofRead more