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These small, odd-looking flowers turn into these large, odd-looking pods.

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Gonolobus gonocarpos, or Matelea gonocarpa depending on your reference.



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Luckily, I saw this cryptic fellow in the middle of the road and stopped my truck before I hit it. American woodcocks are such cool birds and they have an amazing variety of common names: timberdoodle, bog sucker, hookum pake, and night peck. Awesome, don't you think?
Woodcocks probe in the soil for earthworms. Their bills are flexible at the tip.
Plus they can see a full 360 degrees without turning their heads.
How cool is that?



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I'm feeling a bit like this vine today - all twisted around myself.
We are having some issues with the installation of the water line at the new house and I'm getting antsy about the impending move.
Oh well, I will just have to emulate this vine a tad further and do what it does -- reach higher!
By the way, the vine is called Supple-jack, Berchemia scandens. It is, of course, one of my favorites.


Do Your Ears Hang Low?

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Check out the tympanum - the big circle behind the eye - on this green frog (Rana clamitans melanota). It's bigger around than the eye, a dead give-away that this frog is male.


Skink In Hand

Most of the time I only get to see skinks from a distance. Get too close and they scurry off into the bushes. This female skink happened to be out in the wide open. A golden opportunity! After chasing her around, sometimes on my hands and knees, much to the amusement of spectators, I was able to catch her. Since I grabbed her with my right hand I had to photograph with my left -- not an ideal situation. Time to improvise! Using the steps to the back deck of our center as a prop to lean against, I put the camera down on the deck and positioned my captive in front of the lens -- again, much to the amusement of spectators.

First, a picture of the supralabials (scales above the mouth)
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OK, eight of those.

Next, a shot of the postmentals (chin scales)

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Two of those.

One more shot, this time of the subcaudals

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...scales in the median row appear wider. Hope it doesn't matter that she has a regenerated tail!

Conclusion: Broadhead skink, Plestidon laticeps or, if you have an older text, Eumeces laticeps.

By the time I let her go, she was quite calm. When I set her down she did not immediately run away, but instead sat and pondered me for a while. Hopefully, she was not thinking evil thoughts about me ;)


A Fingerful of Frog

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This is the little frog from the previous post. It is a pine woods treefrog, Hyla femoralis. I found him spread-eagled on the bridge dock at work. He looked a little distressed - clinging to a metal sheet just a few inches above the canal. Carefully, so as not to tip my canoe, I leaned way over and plucked him off the wall. He seemed content to sit on my fingers as I paddled him over to the bank and let him go.

I have neglected to mention lately that I adore frogs...so consider it mentioned.


Denizens of the City

We spent last weekend at my sister-in-law's house. (She is mom to the infamous Ratdog.) SIL lives in the city of Charlotte in the piedmont section of the state. As cities go, Charlotte is a pretty one - at least in places :) It tends to be a city with lots of trees and many of those trees are oaks of various species. The picture below is a shot of the willow oak in SIL's front yard. Whenever we visit we always check out what's hanging out in or around the tree. This trip yielded various insects, a female hummingbird, the ever-present mockingbird, a robin, and oodles of squirrels.

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Here's a little evidence of the eastern gray squirrels that romp among the branches. Squirrel scat!

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By the way, the eastern gray squirrel is the state mammal of North Carolina. If you were a fourth grader here you'd be expected to know that.



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Meet my grandpuppy, the amazing Grace. Yes, she's a pit bull, but don't let that scare you. She's the most even-tempered dog I've ever met.
The amazing thing about Grace is that she is deaf and blind. My younger son, Flamebrain, adopted her when the lady that had her had to give her up. (Seems Grace has a tendency to chew on cats if they get too close to her.)
Normally I'm not a fan of pit bulls, but you gotta love your grandkids, right? And she really is very sweet -- as long as you aren't feline.

And while we're on the subject of "dog" breeds I don't particularly care for...
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Meet my niece, Ratdog (not her real name).
Yes, you're right...she's not a dog, she's a chihuahua. But she's a sweetie - go figure.
I don't like chihuahuas, but I like her.
Oh well, that's how it is with family.


Icky Algae

All together now, "Yuck!"
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Wordless Wednesday

I intended for this to be a Wordless post, but it seems to be causing some confusion among my readers. This is a picture of an ant hill, not an ant lion's trap. An ant lion larva, aka doodlebug, builds a concave trap downward into the soil with no hole visible in the center. The ant lion larva then waits until an unsuspecting critter falls into the trap.

I watched the ants building this mound and I thought it had an interesting appearance. Sorry for any confusion!

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Itty Bitty Bear

In a drying mud puddle I spied the cutest little bear tracks I have ever seen. The tracks may be hard for you to make out, but they are there. They were very small for this time of year - hope the little cub makes it.

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Front foot with my reading glasses for scale.

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Back foot. The sun came out when I was taking this picture, changing the color of the mud.


One-Eyed Jane

As Treebeard headed out the door after lunch yesterday he said, "Hey Swamp, you've got company." I stepped out onto the carport and sure enough, there was a visitor.

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I have kept a photographic record of all the box turtles I have seen here at the house for about the past 12 years. This one was not one of "mine." Cause for excitement around here.

Take a good look at this turtle. Notice something a little odd about her eye?...It's not there. Yep, it's a one-eyed turtle. Her left eye was perfectly normal, her right was non-existent. She was in pretty good shape so I guess it hasn't caused her too much problem. We tossed her a piece of plum and a couple of blueberries. She gobbled up our offerings and then headed off back into the yard.

Carry on my little friend -- I've got you on my list now. You're one of mine.


Cool Cats

It was quite pleasant out early this morning, the air was almost cool. Treebeard and I took a stroll around the yard to see what was stirring in the early dew. He spied this cluster of datana caterpillars on the blueberry bush...

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and I spied this second instar giant leopard moth larva on pokeweed.

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This Poo's For You

Seems I'm the go-to girl for pictures of bear scat. Who knew? So, for the folks who have been searching for pictures of bear scat lately, here's some fresh poo for you. I stuck my foot in the pictures for scale. My foot is not dainty...I wear a women's size 10 - that's equivalent to a men's 8 for those of you with a broken chromosome ;) Please note that the second, uh, pile, is positively purple. Black bears do love blackberries...

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I'm Hungry!

The hummers are very hungry this morning. We have four 1-quart feeders out, each with 10 feeding ports. All the ports on all the feeders are occupied, some with waiting lines. It can be crazy out there in the side yard when these little dynamos get into a feeding frenzy. I took this picture through the window from the safety of the kitchen ;)


Going In To Work

Traffic was a real bear today...three bears, actually. This is the only one I was able to get a picture of however. Sorry about the grainy quality -- we are having air issues here thanks to the fire that is still burning.
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