Wild-Eyed Wiki

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No words can do this justice.

Apparently, I'm It

One of several "Its" actually. Nina over at Nature Remains tagged me for the Seven Random Facts Meme. I'm not planning on tagging anyone but if you'd like to tell the world seven things about yourself, go for it! The rules are simple:

1. Link to the person who tagged you and post the rules on your blog.
2. Share 7 random or weird things about yourself.
3. Tag 7 people at the end of your post, and include links to their blogs.
4. Let each person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

Well, here goes. My seven random facts --

1. With the exception of my aunt, I have never personally met another person with my same first name (and no, my real name isn't "Swampy").

2. When I was a child I wanted to grow up to be both Daniel Boone and a June Taylor Dancer on the Jackie Gleason show. Instead I grew up to be, among other things, a librarian, a science teacher, and finally a park ranger. Go figure.

3. In college I participated in a study conducted by a psych grad student. She was studying the responses of the brains of right-handed people to the written word and pictures. According to her, I should be left-handed instead of right-handed -- my left hand disagrees :)

4. I eat my salad without dressing. It is a shame to cover the delicate flavor of vegetables with various oils and fats.

5. Shoes should tie. I don't like slides, clogs, sandals, or flip-flops. And don't get me started on high heels!! They should be illegal.

6. I very seldom ever drink soft drinks, but when I do I drink Pepsi and it always gives me the hiccups.

7. In February, when I turn 50, I am going to get a tattoo - but you will never see it ;)

There you are. Seven totally random facts about me. Now, who else wants to play?

Pilfered Pics

Shhh...quiet now. I sneaked into Treebeard's files and lifted a few photos. Jennifer wanted to see some of what I was so jealous about in a previous post. One of the things was that Treebeard observed a pair of eagles near this nest. He was out checking for illegal hunting activity on the park when he heard a cracking noise behind him. He turned to see what made the noise and saw an eagle carrying a branch it had just snapped from a tree.

This is the tree where the eagles are building their nest. The tree is on an island and Treebeard had to use maximum zoom to get this picture. (It was cloudy yesterday when I went for my walk so the picture I took of the nest didn't turn out very well.)

Another of the things that made my green-eyed monster rear its ugly head was the number of otters Treebeard saw that same day. Below you will see a photo of the "Gang of Three," a group of bullies that attacked a young otter and ran it out of the pond. Such behavior! Here they are on a beaver lodge - the same lodge that one of them entered last week and apparently attacked the beaver inside. Yes, Treebeard heard and saw that little episode, too!

What was I doing at the time? I was at the work swamp measuring the height of the water in the pump tank of the septic system!! Ah, the glamorous side of rangering...

Blowing Raspberries?

Friday afternoon found me in the work swamp tweaking a trail that a boy scout troop helped me cut. I was working by myself, but I wasn't alone. The woods were full of birds - mostly robins, but there were other species as well. This pileated stayed close by for quite some time so I finally put down my hand tools and picked up the camera -- just in time to catch him sticking out his tongue.
(My ultra-slow dial-up connection has prevented me from posting as many pictures as I'd like. Sometimes it takes 10 minutes for a picture to load and then there will be problems that prevent the post from publishing. Very, very frustrating. To attempt to overcome this challenge I am resizing my photos before posting. I'm not crazy about the results though...)


Solo Saturday

It has been ages since I have had the opportunity to take a walk with no particular destination in mind and no time table to follow. Treebeard and I have been tied up with work or with house-building related tasks for what seems like forever. Even today I guess I should have been out on the property doing some prep work before the contractor comes in to place the foundation...but I needed some time to just be, so I headed out for a ramble this morning. Treebeard is on duty this weekend and my dog is too old to go for an all-day hike so I headed out solo. It was hot and cloudy, not exactly ideal conditions, but how glorious to be out and about!

The beech trees whispered to me as I walked along the trail and the Spanish moss sighed out on the pond.
Resurrection fern took advantage of the humidity provided by our recent rain...

...and a tiny little garden of twinberry, mosses, and lichen flourished at the base of a tree.

A wrinkled old mushroom gave a mysterious wiggle.
A gentle tilt of the cap revealed the source of the wiggle - an unidentified scarab beetle at work.
Somewhere along the way an unwelcome hitcher - a black-legged tick - snagged a ride . Needless to say, he is no longer with us.
Plus, another sojourner joined me. This hunting dog was wandering around, separate from his pack. When I came along he must have figured I was the next best thing so he walked with me for about 2 miles. I'm not a fan of hunting with dogs and it is particularly irksome when the packs get on the park. This is the last Saturday of hunting season - the woods were full of dogs. Unfortunately, dogs can't read boundary markers. This fellow is back home with his owners now, hopefully with a full belly and a nice box to sleep in. (He was an amiable companion, made me miss walking with my dog...)
Evidence of other more task oriented wanderers...snail trails on a dead log.


Last December 28th I posted a picture of some shells I had found in the work swamp -- they have been on my desk for a whole year. Yesterday morning I went into my office and found this:

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Some nocturnal vandal had visited my just-straightened, unusually cleared-off desk and left this mess in its wake. Plus, a butterfly wing I had been studying was missing! Who could do such a thing? Determined to find out, I set a live trap and left the office for a few minutes. Surely the culprit would return to the scene of the crime (particularly since I had baited the trap with some extra yummy peanuts...).


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The miscreant did indeed return! I emptied the live trap into a large galvanized trash can to get a good look at it before I dispatched it...my mistake. Took one look at those big eyes and those cute ears and couldn't bring myself to kill it. Such a sucker. I toted the can well out into the woods and let the little rodent go. Yeah, it will probably be back in my office in no time, but then again it could end up as owl/hawk/fox food...mmmmwwwwahhhh.


Green-Eyed Monster

I am not jealous.

I am not jealous.

I am not jealous.

I am not jealous.


Okay, so maybe I am just a teensy-weensy bit jealous. But you would be too if you were me. I mean seriously! Did Treebeard just have to see a pair of eagles working on a nest AND nine otters in one day? Plus, he witnessed what amounted to an otter turf war. Don't you think that is just a little over the top?

But, I am not jealous...


Merry Christmas To All

Hope your day is merry and bright!
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Good Morning

We were greeted by a beautiful sky this morning. The picture doesn't do it justice, but we wanted to share it anyway. (Yes, we know that a red sky in morning is a sign of bad weather coming, but we're in a drought -- bad weather would be good!)

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Oy! Treebeard just went out to move the tractor under the shelter in case of rain...and a hydraulic line blew!! Red skies are supposed to be about bad weather, not bad luck :(
Oh well, such is life. We'll get it fixed after the holidays, I guess.



This morning we got a phone call in the office: "Is Ranger Swampy working today? We have a bird that's hurt and we want her to come get it."

My co-worker and I headed out for the bird. By the time we got to it, it had died - the apparent victim of a window strike. We both looked at it and immediately knew it was a swallow, but neither of us knew what kind of swallow. About the only swallow we might see in the early winter here is a tree swallow. We both knew it wasn't a tree swallow...so, we were off to the guides, both print and online.

Our conclusion was that this is a cave swallow. But, we don't have cave swallows here. They see them out on the coast, but not here. But still, the field marks matched those of the cave swallow. I sent the picture off to someone more knowledgable than we are -- two someones, actually -- and they both said, yep, that's a cave swallow.

Unexpected, yes. But then again, it does have wings...
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Checking Us Out

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So far the neighbors approve of us, I think. After we mowed the field where we intend to put the house, a pair of red-tailed hawks made it their business to check us out. This is the larger of the two. They seem to like what we've done with the place. It's much easier for them to hunt in the area we cleared and they seem to like the fact that we didn't mow everything in sight.

Yesterday Treebeard worked hauling old bricks to the property to help in preparation of the driveway. I was feeling a tad under the weather so I didn't go with him. The smaller of the two red-taileds kept him company though. The hawk caught some hapless little rodent, so we know at least one of the birds had a full belly to help keep it warm during last night's rainfall.

Speaking of the rainfall: an inch and 9/10ths fell overnight and this morning! Yippee!!! There are actual puddles out there - a very rare sight these days. Of course, it was a short-lived storm. Now the sun is out, with temps in the 50s and a strong breeze is blowing. The puddles won't last long...


Can You See It Now?

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Still having trouble? Maybe this will help...

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It's a Carolina Anole, Anolis carolinensis. This little arboreal lizard has the ability to change color. During warm weather, against a green background, it would most likely be green. This one was scurrying about during our lunch break on Thursday. The day was warm, but very little green was to be found in the flower bed where it was hunting for its food (most likely insects and spiders). I absolutely love these lively little critters. We are just north of their range here in the swamp so it is a treat when I get to travel south, just across the Albemarle Sound, into their range.

Congrats to tai haku over at Earth, Wind & Water for spotting the lizard in the original picture. Good eye!


Do You See It?

There is a critter in this picture. Can you find it? It's doing a pretty good job of hiding in plain sight. We don't have this particular critter here in the swamp, but they are common in the park we traveled to today for day one of our annual first responder refresher training. I'll post a closer shot later. Meanwhile, happy searching!

Oh, and extra credit if you find it without enlarging the photo ;)

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Sweetie Pie

Isn't it cute? Twice-stabbed ladybeetle, Chilocorus stigma.
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Tower of Poo

Bear scat has character, there's no doubt about it. Last week I found eight piles of scat within about a tenth of a mile along one of our roads. This one was my favorite though. It was studded here and there with purple beauty berries, white gum berry seeds and the occasional persimmon seed. It rose an impressive 6 inches tall - a veritable tower of poo.
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Sorry for the lack of updates on all things swampy...Treebeard and I have been a tad busy of late. Work has been crazy - lots of programming and natural resource management to do at each of our parks, and then there is our big adventure of starting our house. That's me on the tractor, bush-hogging part of the property where we plan to put the house. Treebeard did most of the mowing today while I limbed and bucked the trees he felled yesterday, but I did take a turn on the tractor to escape the chainsaw for a few minutes.

The wheels are in motion, and it looks like we will eventually have our own place after living in park housing for the past 28 years. Yikes! I'll try to keep you posted on how things are going. Please think good thoughts for us - this is uncharted territory and we are scared to death :)
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