Fragile Forktail (Ischnura posita) Posted by Hello

Many thanks to my husband for the id of the little damselfly in the picture! He searched through a number of sources and found a match. What was I doing? I was reading a novel -- _The Rule of Four_ by Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason. See, I do have other interests.
One of many very busy bumblebees in the yard today. Posted by Hello
Make a wish, then blow! Posted by Hello
Southern Twayblade (Listera australis) - an early blooming orchid Posted by Hello
An unusual plant for the coastal plain: trailing arbutus (Epigaea repens) Posted by Hello


We inadvertently startled this Canada Goose just as she was laying an egg. You can see it just under her back end. She flew off and I snapped a quick picture of the nest. Posted by Hello
Seven goose eggs, the freshest is on the left. Posted by Hello
A myotis inside a hollow tree. This bat was several feet above my head inside a tupelo gum tree. It may not be the best picture, but hey, I was lying on my back across the bow of my canoe holding a flashlight in my mouth. Gimme a break :) Posted by Hello
An emerging dragonfly Posted by Hello
I like spiders and snakes! The snake du jour is a brown water snake -- non-venomous -- and the spider looks like one of the fishing spiders, but I can't tell for sure. Posted by Hello


Lucky Town! We found more than 16 four-leaf clovers in less than fifteen minutes today. I post a collage of some of them here in an effort to comfort those of you who are a tad overwhelmed by my other critter shots from this weekend :) Posted by Hello

Watch Your Step!

If my husband's not on duty, we usually go wandering after I finish my water monitoring on Sunday mornings. Today we wandered over to a nearby borrow pit. In these parts it pays to be particular about where you put your feet. In the past we have seen numerous cottonmouths in and around this particular borrow pit. Today was no exception -- we found five Eastern Cottonmouths (Agkistrodon piscivorus piscivorus).

Most folks around here think every snake they see, particularly around the water, is venomous. That's just not so. The cottonmouth (a.k.a. water moccasin) is our only venomous water snake. It is one of the three venomous snakes found here. The others are the copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix) and the canebrake rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus). [The coral snake (Micrurus fulvius), another venomous species, can be found in the southern coastal plain of North Carolina.]

We like snakes, all snakes. They are very important in maintaining a healthy ecosystem. If you respect a snake's personal space and pay attention to what you're doing, you won't get bitten. I never handle venomous snakes and I handle the non-venomous ones with care. Snakes are often misunderstood and feared. It really bothers me when I hear someone say, "The only good snake is a dead snake." What a horrible attitude to have toward a truly amazing animal.
It must be spring 'cause this cottonmouth is grinnin'. Posted by Hello
Cottonmouth resting in a wax myrtle along the shore of the borrow pit. Posted by Hello
Muddy faced cottonmouth on the shore of a borrow pit. Posted by Hello
It appears that a raccoon enjoyed a tasty crayfish feast... Posted by Hello

...but if you scroll down to the next photo, you'll see that he didn't clean his plate!
Missed a piece! Posted by Hello


Isn't she a beauty! Red-bellied water snake, first one I've seen this year. Posted by Hello
White M Hairstreak Posted by Hello
A fungus overhead Posted by Hello


What'd It Say?

Patent leather beetle Posted by Hello

The handsome beetle above goes by a variety of names. Some people call it a Patent Leather Beetle, some call it a Bessbug, and still others know it as a Betsy Beetle. The scientific name is Odontotaenius disjunctus.

Betsy beetles munch away on rotting wood, digesting the little microbes within it. Several beetles may live together in a colony of sorts. They communicate with one another by "talking." If you pick one up (don't worry, they seldom bite) and hold it near your ear, you can hear the beetle speak. It is actually called stridulation and results when the beetle rubs its wing against its abdomen. The larva, or grub, can talk as well -- presumably communicating with the adult that cares for it.

One note about looking for things under and in logs: be careful where you put your fingers and ALWAYS return the log to its original position. Decaying wood, and the area under it, is home to a wide variety of organisms and some of these little micro-habitats have taken years to develop. So explore, but do it responsibly.


To you, it's a rotting log. To them, it's home. Posted by Hello


Out and About

Male green frog Posted by Hello

This green frog, Rana clamitans, lives in a pool in my backyard. He shares his pool with a couple of southern leopard frogs, Rana sphenocephala, and the occasional odd turtle. This is the first time I have seen him out and about this year. He's a bit larger than he appears in this photo - I wasn't able to get very close to him. Green frogs range in size from about 2 to 3.5 inches.

This frog is a male, as evidenced by his large tympanum or "ear," and his yellow throat. Male frogs in the genus Rana tend to have ears bigger than their eyes. The tympanum of the female is about the same size as the eye.

Lichens, Lichens, Lichens

British soldiers Posted by Hello

I have a love/hate relationship with lichens. I love them because of their wonderous variety. I hate them because of how difficult they are to key out. Think I will just stick with the common name for this group of lichens, British Soldiers.


For Michuli

Michuli: Does your mystery fungus look anything like the one in the picture below? These fungi are usually found in the summer and fall. They smell very bad but are not poisonous. This particular one is the dog stinkhorn, Mutinus caninus.
Dog stinkhorn Posted by Hello

Morning Fare

Lots of little things caught my eye while I was out wandering the woods this morning. I thought I would share a few of the images with you. Spring is my absolute favorite season -- every day something new emerges.

We're off to town now to buy some groceries. We will be caught in traffic, jostled by busy people, and be bedazzled by the array of goods available for purchase. We will be able to eat Chinese, Japanese, or Italian cuisine. I will pay an outrageous sum for a cup of coffee. And all the while we will be thinking, wonder what we're missing back home in the woods...

(The scientific name for the bloodroot is Sanguinaria canadensis and yes, the sap in the roots is a deep reddish brown that looks like blood. It was used as a dye, as well as an insect repellant, by Native Americans.)
Bloodroot  Posted by Hello