This raccoon was watching us from a tree along the trail beside our house.


Streamside Dragon

For your entomological enjoyment, I offer two views of a large and lovely dragonfly we found today. We were unfamiliar with this particular species and were delighted to add it to our odonate list.

Cordulegaster obliqua, Arrowhead Spiketail -- this one was quite fresh and hadn't completely dried after emerging from its nymphal skin. It was about 3 inches long.

Here's a close-up view of its head and thorax.

Cute and Harmless

I know some of you have aversions to snakes, but this one is cute and it couldn't bite me even if it wanted to because its mouth is too small. (Take a deep breath Keith! Just think of it as exposure therapy.)

Carphophis amoenus amoenus -- a long name for a tiny little Worm Snake...

...with quite a pretty belly.

These snakes are very small. Adults range in size from 7.5 to 12.5 inches (191 to 318 mm). Earthworms make up most of their diet.

Atlantic Coast Slimy Salamander

Leopard's Bane



Post Successful...

...the two most beautiful words in Bloggerdom!
Oh yes, oh yes! As mysteriously as it stopped working, Hello has started working again. It is just down right silly how happy this makes me. Pardon me while I do the dance of joy!
I have absolutely no idea why Hello went AWOL, or why it came back...I'm just happy it did. But enough talk -- on to the pictures.

Indian cucumber root, Medeola virginiana

I believe this fungus is one of the tree-ears, but I haven't tried to key it out yet. The top surface feels velvety and the underside is smooth.

Absolutely no idea what these will turn out to be, but they were so positively pink I had to show them to you. Perhaps one of the puff-ball fungi? I will go back and check on them tomorrow to see how they have matured.

Thanks for stopping by! Hope everyone has a wonderful and safe Memorial Day weekend.


OK, Maybe That Wasn't the Last Thing

Thanks to help from two very special guys (you know who you are!) I may be able to keep on with this blogging business, just with a bit less frequency. My nearly once a day, multiple pictures in a post, blogging habit may be replaced by twice a week, only one picture in a post habit. I have a dial-up connection so things tend to go a bit slowly.

Please check back toward the end of next week and I'll try to have something up for you.

One Last Thing

Just so you don't think I'm a wimpy ole quitter...

I bit the bullet and joined the Google Groups thing because I really would like to resolve this picture posting issue. What did I learn? Number one, I am far from alone in this problem -- it is mildly rampant! And number two, there appears to be no resolution for it. People have tried a tremendous range of remedies, but to no avail. Plus there were MANY letters referring to the lack of response to requests for help.

C'est la vie!


Still Not Right!

So, I am giving Photobucket a try. Thus far its performance has been less than stellar...maybe I'm just not holding my mouth right or something...

Things are a trifle hectic here in the swamp at the moment and I just don't know if I have the time or patience to deal with software that won't work. Perhaps when things calm down, and I have enough time to deal with troubleshooting, I will get back to posting regularly, but for now I think I am hanging up my blogging hat.

You all take care of yourselves -- even though you are invisible "e-people," I have come to consider you friends (don't we live in very strange times?).
Image hosted by Photobucket.com


Hello Frustrations

I know, you come here expecting to see the denizens of the swamp and for several days all you have seen is that silly tick. Why? Because for some reason, known only to itself, Hello has decided to quit working. Oh, it tells me it is putting my images on my blog and asks me to wait as this "might take a few seconds," but then, nothing. Nada. Zip. I wait and wait but see no little reassuring Kbps numbers in the lower right of my screen, I see no "Post successful" message.

So, being a responsible-type, I go to the online help which refers me to the online forum where, by gosh, I find someone with an inquiry about the exact same problem! When I click on the reply to said inquiry to learn how to fix this little problem, I am told that I must first join Google Groups. Why? I am already a Picasa and Hello user and I am just looking for a solution to a problem with the software I am already using. Maybe I am just in a mood today...but I don't want to have to join to get an answer.

By tonight I will probably fold and sign up for the blasted GG, but for right now I am going to stick out my lower lip, put my hands on my hips, stomp my foot, and whine. When I am done raging against the machine I will attempt to post again. So please know that in the meantime, I am thinking of all you swamp-deprived people out there and I am still taking pictures to share.


Is That a Meal I Feel?

They're out there waiting for you...

...it's called "questing" in the tick world.

Ever so patiently this female Lone Star Tick (Amblyomma americanum) waits, with sensor-equipped forelegs raised, for an unsuspecting host to happen by. When a likely prospect brushes against the grass, the tick grabs on (no, they can't jump) and scurries to find a spot to tuck in for a blood meal.


Isn't he just the cutest thing? And don't worry, I did wash my hands after I handled him. Can't play with a "tumble turd" without washing up afterward! (Rainbow Scarab) Posted by Hello
Rainbow Scarab Beetle - Phanaeus vindex Posted by Hello

This one is an adult male.

Waste Not, Want Not

An American Carrion Beetle, Necrophila americana, working on the carcass of a Northern Black Racer.

The snake was probably caught and eaten by a Red-Shouldered Hawk. The left-overs have provided meals for several fly species, ants, and now carrion beetles.

The economy of nature is a marvelous thing.

Home Bodies

Remember the little fire-fannied, early instar wheelbugs I posted about a while back? I got curious as to whether any of the little ones were still near the egg-mass so I stopped by for a look. There were about 15 or so of them still hanging around.

As you can see, they are getting bigger -- must be munching out on their own siblings. It's a bug-eat-bug world out there!


Tiny mantid on crane's-bill Posted by Hello

Lizard Love

Yesterday afternoon, as I was walking past one of our out-buildings, I heard quite a ruckus. My initial thought was that there was an opossum rambling about in the shed. My subsequent thought was that it might be a hunting dog that has been roaming around for the past 5 months. She has eluded all attempts at catching her thus far. In the hopes that it was the dog, I crept toward the building, determined to block her in and then call her owner.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered the source of all that noise was a trio of Southeastern Five-lined Skinks (Eumeces inexpectatus) trapped in an old metal pail. Seems I had happened upon a sort of lizard soap opera -- a love triangle, if you will.

How the trio managed to get into the pail is a mystery, but it was apparent that they couldn't get out. Since I didn't know how long they had been trapped, I immediately got them some water. All three were quite thirsty. The female, pictured below, parked herself in the water to drink.

One of the male skinks was a bit battered. He was missing quite a few of his posterior dorsal scales as well as the last inch or so of his tail. You can see the severed tail segment there by his left hind leg.

The other male looked to be in better shape. He wasn't missing as many scales and his tail was intact.

So which male was the successful suitor? My money is on the battered one. I think the reason he was so chewed up is because he was, uh, occupied by his attentions to the female and thus too busy to bother fighting back. Guess we'll never know for sure though.

After confirming our ID and taking some pictures, we released all three skinks and turned the pail upside-down to prevent future entrapment. I may poke around the out-building in the coming weeks to see if I can find the female and her eggs. I'd like to think that there will be some offspring to show for all that trauma of being stuck in the pail.


Luna moth (Actias luna)Posted by Hello

It was a treat to find this intact luna moth. Usually, I find only the wings - apparently these moths are quite tasty to various nocturnal predators - or well worn moths that are tattered and tired. This one has one small tear in its right forewing, but aside from that it is in perfect shape.

Judging by the large, feathered antennae, I am inclined to believe this one is a male.

A Very Fine Frog Indeed

My husband presented a program on frogs on Saturday night. He had everything from itty bitty cricket frogs...

...to great big bullfrogs.

The bullfrog, Rana catesbeiana, is our largest frog. Measured from tip of snout to base of, uh, tail, this species ranges in size from 3.5 to 8 inches (85 to 200 mm).

When a frog feels threatened, it will puff up its body. Pick up a toad sometime and notice how fat it gets (and don't worry if it wets on you, you won't get warts).

My, what big feet this frog has.

I think frogs and toads have the most beautiful eyes.

One last shot, a big smile for the camera, and we thanked the frog and let it go.

It wasted no time in returning to its home in the culvert by the office!


Must Be Home, 'Cause There's a Snake in that Tree

Black Racer (Coluber constrictor) Posted by Hello

I am simply too tired to write anything about this snake other than to tell you it is an odd looking black racer that has camped out in a dead tree in our front yard.

Perhaps when I have recouperated from the drive back from Charlotte I will able to think and type coherently. Until then, hope everyone has a wonderful weekend.

(Home...there's no place like it and I am very happy to be back.)


Who Are You?

Sometimes, it can be a challenge to identify a toad to species. This ornate individual has us scratching our heads at the moment. He has some characteristics of an American Toad, some of a Southern Toad and some of a Fowler's Toad. It is a young toad and that tends to make things even more difficult.

Oh well, whether we know what species it is or not, I can still appreciate it for its beauty.


Tulip Tree, a.k.a. Tulip Poplar

It is rare that we get to see the flowers of Liriodendron tulipifera while they are fresh. The tulip poplar is a tall, straight tree and the flowers are usually well out of our reach. However, Hurricane Isabel blew through in 2003 and dropped quite a few trees without killing them so now we get to see what is normally in the canopy rather than the understory.

The ant in the picture is after the nectar produced by the flower and exuded along the orange surfaces. It is a sweet treat and we can be seen taking a taste now and then when we are lucky enough to find a fresh flower.

You can see the nectar if you look closely at the orange part of the flower above. It tastes like honey. Of course, I recommend inspecting the flower before tasting the nectar -- unless, of course, you don't mind eating an ant or two. :)

Woodland Shrub

Stewartia malacodendron -- Silky camellia. This shrub is truly beautiful when it is in full bloom. The flowers are almost palm-sized (well, at least the size of my palm) and the foliage is lush. It's an understory treasure.

Handy work Posted by Hello
Xylocopa virginica Posted by Hello


Lunchtime Encounter

Our dog discovered a couple of very young opossums today during our walk at lunchtime. She's a very well behaved dog, but the little 'possums were taking no chances. Each one scurried up the nearest sweetgum tree and got itself out of the reach of the big, black dog. They were quite agile little climbers.

This one thought it was hidden because it couldn't see me...

...but when I moved a couple of feet to the right - smile, little 'possum!

They're such cute little critters. I wonder if they are the offspring of the cropped-tailed opossum that was hanging around here this winter. Guess I'll never know unless I happen to see them all together before the little possums are completely on their own.


Variations on a Theme

It's off to Charlotte again today. But this time it is a quick trip and I am not going solo. We are heading back home tomorrow with family in tow, so I doubt I will have much time to blog in the coming week. I thought I would leave you with a few pictures featuring my favorite color, green.

Good thing frogs aren't sensitive to poison ivy or this green treefrog (Hyla cinerea) would be itchy in all the wrong places.

In this "before" picture, a Cabbage White caterpillar (Pieris rapae) seems to be enjoying the broccoli in our garden. While we don't use pesticides, we aren't adverse to pinching the heads off poachers! I'll spare you the "after" picture.

A Northern Rough Green Snake (Opheodrys aestivus aestivus) just hanging out in a high bush blueberry. I have never had a green snake even attempt to bite me, but every one I have ever caught has treated me to a foul-smelling spray from its anal vent.