House 'Possum

"Yes, dear?"
"I think there's something in the stove."
"In the stove?"
"Well, in the drawer under the stove. It sounds pretty big. I'm gonna take a look..."

And what to my wondering eye did appear as I eased open the drawer beneath the stove? I saw an inquisitive little pink nose that I immediately identified as belonging to an opossum - an adventurous young opossum exploring the inside of the stove drawer. We have had this stove for about 12 years now and I never use the drawer or the broiler pan that came in it. The drawer is used from time to time by a field mouse or two wandering through, and I did find a lizard trapped in there one time. I did not expect to see a 'possum though. Could be what we've been hearing roaming around under the floorboards lately...

The ever stalwart Treebeard made a grab for it and had it by the tail for a brief second before it slipped over the back of the drawer and disappeared into the nether regions behind the cabinets. If it comes back we'll make another attempt to catch it. If not, c'est la vie, it's just a 'possum. Posted by Picasa

Not What You Think

It's not a snake. Or perhaps I should say it wasn't a snake since this picture shows only what's left of an Eastern Slender Glass Lizard (Ophisaurus attenuatus longicaudus).

Glass lizards are large, legless lizards. This particular species ranges in size from 22 to 46 inches. (I placed my pen in the picture so you could get an idea of the size.) Their tails are quite long, extremely fragile, and usually break off quite easily. Sometimes the tail will break into several pieces. There is even an old wives' tale that this "snake" will break into pieces and then join itself back together. If you look at the tip of this one's tail you can see that it is regenerated. I seldom find one of these lizards with a completely intact tail.

So what happened to this one? Why didn't it's tail break off and distract the predator so the business end of the lizard could escape? And why didn't the predator finish it's meal? All good questions for which I have no good answers.Posted by Picasa


What a Good Girl Am I

I stuck in my thumb and pulled out - a snake. Just a little bitty snake.
(Southern Ringneck Snake - Diadophis punctatus punctatus)

Addendum: I just realized I haven't been giving much information in my posts of late. Blame it on my oh, sooooo slow, connection. (At 14.4 it takes forever just to load a picture.)

The ringneck is a small, slender snake. Most guides will give it's max length as 20 inches. This particular snake was about 12-13 inches. Ringnecks are mostly active at night and they eat earthworms, small salamanders, frogs, and lizards. I have never had one attempt to bite, but every single one I have ever handled has discharged some pretty smelly musk from its anal glands. Posted by Picasa


Something Unexpected

Guess what we saw using this clump of old tent caterpillar web...go ahead, guess.

Okay, I'll give you some background information:
-The tent caterpillars used this last year, so the webbing is old.
-The web is in a sourwood tree and the sourwood tree is on a piece of high ground adjacent to the swamp.
-The clump of web is about 12 feet off the ground.
-The critter using the web usually uses Spanish moss.

So what did we see?: FloridaCracker came the closest with his guess of a prothonotary warbler. It was indeed a warbler, a Northern Parula Warbler to be exact. I've seen them nest in Spanish moss, but I've never seen one use an old tent caterpillar web. Guess I'll have to pay closer attention from now on...


One Predator Falls Prey to Another

A Daring Jumping Spider (Phidippus audax) makes a meal of what appears to be a Common Baskettail (Epitheca cynodura).
I didn't want to get close enough to disturb the feeding spider, so I can't be 100% sure of the dragonfly ID.


I Saw a Dragonfly Fall Down

No, it's not dead. Apparently, it was just "taking a moment" as one of my former teaching colleagues used to say. One minute it was flying along, the next it flopped to the ground, belly up.
Seconds after I took this picture, it roused itself and took off.
Curious, don't you think?
(Eastern Pondhawk, Erythemis simplicicollis)


Anybody Gotta Cotton Swab?

The most convoluted ear I've ever seen. Auricularia sp., perhaps.



uh, well, you know? Why yes, I believe they are! My goodness, right out there in the open -- in a lizard love-lock!!

Oh well, we're all adults here, right? :)

By the way, these lovers are five-lined skinks in the genus Eumeces. Posted by Picasa

At the Water's Edge

Do you see it?
There, in the center, looking all cute.
It's a Big-Eyed Toad Bug, Gelastocoris oculatus. It hops along the water's edge and gobbles up unsuspecting little insects. You just gotta love 'em. Posted by Picasa

Getting Back to Normal

I spent Sunday morning hiking. It was nice to get back to my normal routine.

These are flowers from the shrub called Silky Camellia, Stewartia malacodendron. It is always a delight to come across one growing in the woods. From a distance, your first thought on seeing one is what is that dogwood doing blooming so late? Then you get a little closer and realize that it's not a dogwood at all and the flowers are quite spectacular.
 Posted by Picasa


Graduation Day

Feelin' froggy today! Finally, at long last, my class is done. I passed my 300 question comprehensive exam yesterday and this afternoon my classmates and I will graduate - hallelujah!! It will be back to normal life come Monday morning so it's "Look out swamp! Here I come." :)