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

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

Nest Box Update 6.7.22

Top Photo: Eastern bluebird eggs. Two active nests include nine nestlings, six newly hatched bluebirds and what appears to be three house wrens. The Cow Pasture bluebird eggs have hatched. The birds’ eyes have yet to open. The parents are steadily supplying their offspring with plenty of protein. I can clearly count six nestlings. The nest box at Explore the Wild remains empty. Into the Mist has attracted no further activity in its nest box. Though I counted six nestlingRead more

It’s Tiny Turtle Time

Top Photo: Newly emerged eastern painted turtle makes its way to pond in Explore the Wild. Tiny hatchling turtles are beginning to emerge from last summer’s nests. On Wednesday March 23, I spotted three fresh-out-of-the-nest eastern painted turtles heading for the wetlands. These tiny turtles have been underground in the nest for perhaps 200 days or more after having been deposited there by their mother last season as eggs. If conditions are right the turtles will hatch and dig theirRead more

New Arrivals in Wetlands

Top Photo: Paddling out in the wetlands (new wetlands structure coming). If you’ve been out in Explore the Wild lately you may have noticed several new arrivals in and around the Wetlands, a floating walkway, geese, ducks, and a snake. First, the walkway. A new floating walkway across at least part of our wetlands has arrived in sections and is now in the process of being bolted together in Explore the Wild. If you stroll through the area, you mostRead more

The Bag

Top Photo: Christian slogging across wetlands after successful mission to Goose Island. It’d been bugging me for more than a week, a plastic bag hung up on a tree just off the boardwalk, I’ve been throwing sticks at it, trying to spear it, whatever I could think of to get rid if it. It was just far enough away, and protected by branches, that I couldn’t reach it with whatever object I tossed at it. It was an eyesore. ItRead more

What you might see

Top Photo: “New” frogs huddled together on floating log. All are bullfrogs recently morphed from tadpoles. Some still have tails. Here are photos of things you might see on our outdoor loop through Explore the Wild and Catch the Wind. Each fall there’s a flurry of Cape May warbler activity in the trees on the north side of the wetlands, whichever trees are infested with insects. This year, it’s the mimosas. The insect? Mimosa web worms. Grasshoppers become more evidentRead more

Canada Geese Rising

Top Photo: Goslings resting at Sailboat Pond on May 15, two weeks after first being sighted in wetlands. I first saw the pair of geese with 5 goslings in tow on the first day of May. They were swimming across the open water of our wetlands. Waterfowl in general are precocious, that is, they’re ready to go the day of, or day after they hatch. The next time I saw them they had lost one their number. The four remainingRead more

Bonus Features

Top Photo: A green heron contemplates its next move. While making the rounds on my weekly bluebird trail nest box inspections I often come across other creatures besides the bluebirds, chickadees, and wrens that use the nest boxes on the trail. Red-shouldered hawks nest in the woods next to the train tunnel as they have been off-and-on for years. The one pictured is a product of this year’s effort. I have to pass by the parking deck on the southRead more

Basking Turtle

Top Photo: Yellow-bellied slider out basking? At approximately 11:30 AM on January, 29 a yellow-bellied slider decided to haul out of the water and bask in the sun on the north side of the wetlands. The air temperature at the time was in the mid 30s though it was a bright sunny morning. I can only speculate as to why this turtle came ashore on such a brisk morning. Sliders are known to stir on sunny winter days, even outRead more