Happy Birthday, Treebeard!

December 31, 1953...a very important date to me. It was the day my best friend and soulmate was born.
Happy Birthday, Treebeard! I love you more than you can know. Posted by Picasa

Shhh...She's Sleeping

Where does the queen sleep away the winter chill? This particular one was nestled inside a dead pine log on the forest floor. She was perfectly safe and content -- at least until we came along :(
When we rolled the log to check for salamanders, it broke apart and revealed itself as the winter home of this queen bald-faced hornet (Vespula maculata). She mated in the late summer or early fall and now waits patiently for the warmth of spring when she will emerge and begin a new colony.
Luckily, we were able to piece the log back together so perhaps we didn't do any lasting damage to this sleeping beauty -- we'll keep an eye on things throughout the rest of the winter though, just to be sure. Posted by Picasa


For Ontario Wanderer, As Promised

My December 11th post dealt with "duckweed." Seven genera were mentioned in that post. With Treebeard's invaluable assistance, I have done my best to identify them to species correctly.

For an excellent introduction to duckweeds and other interesting plants, may I direct you to Wayne's Word.

Sorry it took so long for me to get around to doing this, OW!

Azolla caroliniana (Mosquito fern or Water-velvet) This one is not a duckweed, but is often found along with the duckweed mats on the millpond. The Azolla is green in the summer but turns to a velvety red in the fall.

Ricciocarpus natans (a Thallose Liverwort commonly called Purple-fringed Riccia)

Wolffiella gladiata (Sword bogmat or Florida mudmidget)

Spirodela polyrrhiza (Common water-flaxseed, Big duckweed)

Spirodela punctata (Dotted water-flaxseed, Dotted duckweed, Dotted duckmeat) syn: Landoltia punctata

Lemna valdiviana (Pale duckweed)

Wolffia brasiliensis (Watermeal)


Three Unrelated Photos

Chickweed (Stellaria media)

A garden, by chance.

Ruddy duck at sunrise on Big Lake (Umstead State Park, Raleigh,NC)


Peace and Joy

A holiday wreath for you - swamp style. May your holiday be full of things that bring you joy.


Homeward Bound

Merry Christmas to all you bloggers out there! May your holiday be joyous and safe.

Christmas Eve finds us in Charlotte, preparing for the long drive home to the swamp. Our visit has been brief and pleasant, but we are ready to head back. I know I've told you before, but there is just too much stuff here in 'Carlot' and Treebeard and I long for the peace of the woods and wetlands.

Happy Holidays!


That Green Stuff

Water garden...there are at least six, probably seven, species of plants in this photo: a liverwort, an azolla, two spirodelas, a wolffia, a wolffiella, and just possibly a lemna.

Let's simplify and call it all "duckweed."


Resinous Polypore, Maybe?

Treebeard has been keeping an eye on this whopper of a 'shroom the past couple of days. Currently, it measures 49 cm across, 24 cm deep. (you can divide by 2.54 if you want to convert to inches...)
It is growing near the base of a dead sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua).

From a distance for a little perspective.

From a bit closer to appreciate the fact that it has absorbed the fence.

And finally, right along the edge to note the ooze.

Something's up with either my monitor or with Hello because these pictures were much sharper before I loaded 'em on the blog. Curious.


Crazy Dog

Wonder what she's thinking...

...she's thinking, "I'd like to eat some dirt."

Yep, she's a crazy dog.

Note: T. Beth tells me there is a name for this practice. Seems my dog indulges in geophagy. Let 'em eat dirt!!


In Your Eye

Despite appearances to the contrary, I was neither drunk nor on drugs (at least not the kind you're thinking of) when I took this picture of my eye. I was sitting in my car waiting for my pupils to return to normal size after a visit to the eye doctor. Said eye doctor will be performing PRK surgery on one of my eyes in a couple of weeks...not this eye, the left one. He spent two hours on a pre-surgery evaluation. You will be happy to know that I have healthy eyes and he has great confidence in a positive outcome for me with this procedure. It is always good to have someone with great confidence manning the laser that is going to vaporize part of your cornea...don't you think? ;) Posted by Picasa


You Otter Be In Pictures

Look who was looking at me this morning. There were two, but the other was too fast for me. After snapping a couple of pictures I just sat back and enjoyed the show. The otters were playing in the bubbles and catching the occassional fish, but mainly they seemed to be just enjoying a mild November morning.



Mind If I Come In?

By rights, I should be posting this on SwampStuff since it happened in the work swamp. But it's early and I forgot to tell 'Hello' to change blogs...

Most of the time hunting hounds are wary and hard to catch. Not this fellow, he came right into the office yesterday morning. He's young and inexperienced and he was tired after being out all night. Despite the fact that he's wearing a radio collar, his owner hadn't been able to locate him. Luckily the dog's regular collar had a tag with the owner's name and phone number. Good thing, too. I don't need another dog right now ;)

It's tough being a dog...



A leaf from one of my favorite trees, the sycamore (Platanus occidentalis).


Bear Scat

While it is commonplace to find bear scat at my work swamp, it is less common to find it at Treebeard's work swamp (aka, the home swamp). So we have been quite pleased to have found scat the past two weekends. Last Sunday we found some along a trail several hundred yards behind the house. Yesterday found we two separate, uh, piles along a trail about a mile from the house.

A pretty pile of poo to start your Monday :) This one had a variety of seeds in it. Some were from Smilax, some from devil's walking stick (Aralia spinosa), some from black gum (Nyssa biflora), and some we couldn't identify.

We're not sure what kind of seeds these are, but whatever they are the bear seemed to like the fruit they were in.

At first I thought this scat had hair in it - bear are not adverse to eating carrion. But upon closer examination, the "hair" turned out to be loads of tiny fungi. Anybody know a good mycologist?


On a Warm November Morning

A couple of things I wanted to share from this morning's walk:

Sunny Sunday morning.

A young eastern fence lizard soaking up some rays.

Leaves on the water.

Just because I liked the way they looked.

Yellow-legged meadowhawk, female

As a courtesy to SquirrleyMojo, I have left out the photos of the bear scat we found on our walk. It did have some pretty interesting fungi growing on it though -- maybe I'll post that tomorrow ;)


Virgin Cypress, Revisited

Virgin cypress, way up in the swamp. This tree is estimated to be over 1000 years old and is over 28 feet in circumference.

I paid it a visit back in June and revisited it yesterday. Even though this isn't my work swamp, I got to go along so I could get pictures of the rangers measuring this tree. It may very well be the largest cypress in NC now...


Swamp Chicken

Cypress knees come in some pretty odd shapes and sizes. The knee pictured above happens to be one of my favorites. It reminds me of a chicken :)


Love a Spider

There are spiders just about everywhere you look this time of year. Their gossamer fills the air and delights the eye -- but it also aggravates the face :) I couldn't get a picture of the silk floating by so I settled for a couple of shots of one of my favorite spiders.

A marbled orb-weaver, Araneus marmoreus, tucked away in her maple leaf shelter.

Another weaver, hard at work repairing her web.


November Cat

Imperial moth caterpillar - Eacles imperialis. This cat was about 3 inches (~8 cm) long and quite plump. Before long it should be headed to an underground cell to spend the winter as a pupa.

Now that's a face with personality



Even though it's November, there is still plenty of green in the woods here. Things are beginning to change though. I noticed a marked increase in autumn color toward the end of last week. It won't last long, of course. Soon the leaves will fall, allowing the bare branches of winter to offer up their own particular beauty.

But meanwhile, poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans) provides a bright spot. Despite its tendency to make most people itch, it is an attractive plant in spring, summer, and fall.

The pond is showing some color. Autumn offers a more subtle palette here, but it is still pretty.

Bald cypress (Taxodium distichum) are interesting trees. They are deciduous conifers, dropping all their needles each fall. I find the russet shades of these trees quite attractive.


Outside Today

I loaded 34 pictures into my tray on Picassa and then clicked on 'Collage'. Picassa used the first 17 pictures to create this picture grid.


One of the boats that passed by my office window this week, headed south. Wonder where they will stop next...


...and not with Blogger this time. No, it's Earthlink that has me pulling my hair out. I haven't had reliable service since Wednesday and am seriously considering changing to another ISP.
Guess I better post this quickly...never know when Earthlink is gonna hang up on me :(


Sing a Song of Joy

If you're so inclined, I suggest you crack open a bottle of your favorite brew (ours is Xingu)...

and join us as we get happy...

The reason for our joy? A new camera! I'm back in business after nearly a month and Treebeard no longer has to share the Olympus.

Of course, not everyone in the family is thrilled...

Bullet, interrupted by the flash during his bath, remains quite indifferent, if not a trifle peeved...