A Hint of Fall

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It will be a while yet before the leaves change color, and when they do the colors will be subtle, lasting only a brief time. But if you look closely you can find a hint of the change to come.
The Virginia creeper is often the first to give us a glimpse of what's coming.

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See The Snake

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Rough Green Snake, Opheodrys aestivus aestivus

This snake is one lucky critter. It came close to becoming road-kill today. Green snakes are very hard to see on a sand and grass road and I would have felt very sad if I had squished it. Luckily we both survived the encounter :)


Pretty Sphinx

No time to write this morning, but I did want to share a few photos with you. This is a Pandorus Sphinx, Eumorpha pandorus, all decked out in my favorite color.

Have a great Wednesday.

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A Change in Season

It's hard to believe that summer has come to an end. Where'd it go? It does seem that the older one becomes the faster time flies...

Oh well, we'll just have to celebrate the change in season and enjoy what autumn has to offer.

Here's hoping you're feeling fine as frog hair on this first day of fall!

A properly green green treefrog resting on nettle.

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A lemon yellow green treefrog hiding in plain sight on a blackberry leaf.


Sunday, With Treebeard and Swampy

In late July of 2007, Treebeard and I helped some researchers from Bat Conservation International and Southeastern Bat Conservation place data loggers in cavity trees in the home swamp. We have been monitoring these trees for years, keeping track of the species of bats that roost in them. The data loggers were installed to record temperature and humidity both inside and outside the trees being used by bats. It is hoped that the information will help researchers design better artificial roosts for bats that live in areas where cavity trees are scarce.

We headed out to the swamp today to retrieve the data loggers, now with over a year's worth of data inside, for shipment back to BCI headquarters. Nothing like a Sunday stomp in the swamp, climbing in and out of hollow trees! We saw plenty of animal tracks while we were out: fox, turkey, otter, raccoon, opossum, deer, and a bear. I think they have secret parties in the swamp when we aren't looking. Particularly the raccoons -- their tracks were everywhere.

Ever pass a tree with a hole in it and wonder about what's inside? You might be surprised by what you'd find if you looked in.

Sometimes we check these trees using a mirror and a flashlight as Treebeard demonstrates...

other times it's easier to just climb inside, like he did here.

And sometimes climbing inside is the only way to check out the cavity. This tree is a challenge because you have to wiggle your way in...

and then wiggle your way out. That's me coming out of the tree.

Here's a view from inside a chimney tree. The white thing is the bottom of the data logger.

If spiders make you nervous, then this probably isn't how you'd want to spend your Sunday. You do see the spider don't you?

But, if spiders don't bother you and you don't mind getting dirty, then you get a thrill each and every time you find a bat inside! The bat shown here is Rafinesque's Big-eared Bat, Corynorhinus rafinesquii macrotis. A truly awesome little beast. And that little shiny spot below and slightly to the left? Spider eyes! -- most likely one of the Dolomedes. So cool.

So, are you ready to spend a Sunday in the swamp with Treebeard and Swampy?


In The Crownbeard Patch

The yellow crownbeard is in its full glory right now. A walk among the blossoms yields an interesting variety of insects. Here are just a few I saw today...

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An arcigera flower moth,

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a golden northern bumble bee (male),

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a red-banded hairstreak,

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and a cuckoo wasp, shining metallic green in the late afternoon sun.

Ain't life grand?
Sort of helps to balance all the bad news that fills the airwaves these days.
Take the time to go outside and look around - it's good for you ;)

Tiny Turtle Time

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I love this time of year, loads of baby reptiles cruising around. This little guy was on the pavement. The person who found it and brought it to me thought it was a bug until she picked it up. She had never seen such a tiny turtle.
It is a mud turtle hatchling, genus Kinosternon.


Well, not to be a whiner or anything but now that I have high-speed it seems that Blogger has decided to be a pain in the backside. Yesterday I loaded 5 photos - quick as a wink - and then attempted to consolidate them into one post. Blogger declined to cooperate. Okay, I thought, I'll just delete the drafts and start over...HA! Blogger wouldn't let me delete and then, it wouldn't let me post a new photo. Not a happy camper.

I'll try to resolve my issues after work today. I've got a picture of a tiny turtle I want to share with you...

Meanwhile, have a great Friday!


Gossip Gulls

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Work took us to another park today, Pettigrew State Park in Tyrell County. We were helping out as presenters for the park's annual Indian Heritage Week. Fourth graders rolled in by the busload. Treebeard taught them about hunting with the atlatl and the bow and I talked to them about the wildlife of the area and how Native Americans depended on the animals for many of their needs. It was fun -- tiring, but fun. Other rangers from different parks and volunteers from the community will man the stations for the remainder of the week. Hope their experiences are as good as ours were today.

I've written about Pettigrew in past posts. It is an interesting place. If you ever find yourself in Tyrell County, near the town of Creswell, I recommend that you take the time to visit the park. Lake Phelps features prominently in the landscape of the park. It is some 16,000 acres in area and averages somewhere around four feet deep. The gulls and terns sure like it. They were lined up on the pier today enjoying a cool breeze -- a welcome break after yesterday's stifling temperatures in the 90s.


Pickin' Up Pawpaws

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All is well here. We had only a little wind damage from Hanna and only about 1.5 inches of rain. Lucky for us it was a relative non-event. Not like the destruction wrought by Ike. Our thoughts are with those suffering the effects of that storm.

The reason there have been no posts for quite some time is because I have been crazy busy at work and at home. My dial-up connection was not conducive to making a quick post. Did you catch that past tense there? I'm grinning like a fool because as of tonight, Treebeard and I have joined the 21st century. We have high-speed internet! I just installed the modem and activated the service about an hour ago -- I have already checked all our email accounts, read a week's worth of your blogs and watched a video clip! I am giddy with joy :D

Oh, and how about the size of that pawpaw! Wouldn't take many of those to fill up your basket.


Hunkerin' Down

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Tropical Storm Hanna may be paying us a visit in the next couple of days, thus we are taking precautions. Loose items are being secured, vehicles gassed up, generators checked, water stored, etc. Please keep your fingers crossed for us that our brand new, nearly completed house comes through unscathed...ah, the joys of home-ownership.

Black Racer

Monday's wander wasn't just about treefrogs, although I do have more pictures of them. We also saw other critters. One was this black racer at the base of a beech tree. He was rooting around in the leaves, obviously in pursuit of some tasty prey.

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He was so intent on what he was doing that he didn't notice us until we got quite close. We didn't disturb him too much. As soon as we stepped away he went back to his business.

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Do you see them?
(You may have to click to enlarge the photo.)
Aren't they cute?
Yes, it's true, I am obsessed with green treefrogs.
No apologies.


Mystery No More

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Remember the brown caterpillar frass I posted the other day when we took a walk down by the pond? We checked on the same beech tree on our Monday walk and discovered the identity of the frass-producers: Yellow-necked caterpillar, Datana ministra.
I was not aware that they fed on beech trees. Learn something new every day

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The cats are eating well and growing quickly. In the photo above you can see a couple of middle instars above a bunch of shed skins. Wonder how they get their heads out?