What’s Happening on the Outdoor Loop

Top Photo: The Wetlands in summer.

If you’re familiar with the museum’s outdoor loop through Catch the Wind and Explore the Wild, you may be happy to know that life goes on as it always has in the past. There are, though, a few changes around the bend.

Here, a few familiar sights and a few behind the scenes sneak previews.

Shrubby St. John’s wort is in bloom, as it is each year at this time. The 4 foot tall woody shrub with its showy yellow blossoms is a welcome sight along the path leading into Catch the Wind. It’s a native plant and grows in all three regions of the state, coastal plain, piedmont and mountains.

Shrubby St. John’s wort.

Sneak Peek.

There’s work going on in Catch the Wind across from the Sailboat Pond. This area used to contain the old Bungee Jump Exhibit and uncultivated shrubbery to the north. I can’t say for sure what’s going on, but it looks to be a new path through the shrubs and trees opening to a meadow-like habitat. I can’t wait to see what develops.

Is this a new trail in Catch the Wind?
More clearing and planting to do.

Down in Explore the Wild, swamp rose shows off its simple but attractive pink and yellow blossoms as a green heron keeps watch over the wetlands.

Swamp rose.
Green heron keeps watch.

Tracks are visible leading from the water where turtles have dragged themselves through the mud to come ashore and lay eggs. Unfortunately, many of the turtle nests are dug up by raccoons or gray fox and the eggs eaten.

Nesting turtle tracks leading from water.
Eaten turtle eggs next to nest hole in Explore the Wild.

Sneak Peek.

Just below the Lemur House, large slabs of sandstone are stacked alongside the path in Explore the Wild. Looking closer, it appears the slabs are being stacked in a stair-like arrangement leading into the wetlands. Curious? I guess we’ll just have to wait to see what unfolds as the work progresses.

Stack of sandstone slabs next to wetlands.
What’s going on here?
Steps leading to water of wetlands?

Walking up the boardwalk, an old familiar face greets me on the railing of the walkway. If you’ve walked the boards before, you’ve probably seen this brush-tailed rodent, sitting in perhaps the exact same spot.

Resident eastern gray squirrel.

Gray squirrels are a common sight running along the rails, jumping between the tree trunks and generally keeping busy searching for food in the outdoor areas of the museum.

Stay tuned.

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