More Invertebrate Art

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Woodworking inverts.
The top "sculpture" was produced by termites, while the engraving in the photo below it came to us courtesy of slugs.
Mother Nature has many hidden talents.

Go Outside!

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Across the road from the house, the Christmas ferns, Polystichum acrostichoides, are sending up fiddleheads.

Positively Froggy

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Coastal Plain cricket frogs, Acris gryllus gryllus
0.5 to 1.5 inches (16 to 32 mm)

The yard and surrounds were littered with cricket frogs yesterday when Treebeard and I went for a short walk. One had to watch one's step lest one squish a frog.
Isn't that wonderful?


After, For Pablo

Here you go, Pablo, an "after" picture from roughly the same angle as the "before" picture. Obviously, we still have quite a bit of work to do in the landscaping department, but things are coming along nicely.
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First Ode of Spring!

An odd shape on the surface of the canal caught my eye today. I focused my binoculars and discovered it was a dragonfly. The poor thing was stuck on the surface of the water -- I hate it when that happens. Try as I might, I was unable to reach the struggling critter. Luckily for me (and the dragonfly) our head maintenance mechanic has long legs. He maneuvered out onto the ram barge of the bridge, and using the telescoping pole we have he managed to scoop up the ode and deliver to me as I waited on the main section of the bridge.

After a quick cat bath -- dragonflies like to keep their eyes clean -- and some wing vibrating to dry off and warm up, the little guy was ready to fly off to hunt.

I always get a thrill when I hold a dragonfly in my hand. Next to frogs they are my favorite wild things.

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Common Baskettail


Weasel Supports PBS

Weasel is a discriminating TV viewer. Today she joined Treebeard to watch an episode of Exploring North Carolina. The title of today's show was "For the Birds" and Treebeard reports that Weasel was quite attentive.

Weasel contemplates the impressive size of a pileated woodpecker.
Then she looks to see where that delicious looking cedar waxwing went.

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Oh boy, she does love hummers!
She listens attentively to the commentary.
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And here she considers the enormous bill of a pelican.
I guess this fellow must of said something with which she disagreed.
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Treebeard reports that Weasel watched nearly the entire show.
She's a good kitty, but she's a killer. That is why she is strictly an indoor cat.

A Year Ago Today

It's hard to believe that just a year ago today the house looked like this:
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Just a foundation waiting for cinder blocks and bricks. How quickly things change.


Fish Ladder

The ladder at the millpond is open for piscatorial traffic. So what fish might find such a ladder useful? Shad and river herring are some that come to mind. Both are anadromous, for the non-fishy folk out there (like me) that means that they begin life in fresh water then head for the ocean where they mature. Of course they must return to freshwater to spawn. The American eel is another species that might use the ladder. Eels are catadromous -- they begin life in the Sargasso Sea and then find their way inland to freshwater where they mature. Then it's back to the Sargasso to spawn.

Such complicated life-styles!

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Shall We Dance?

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This pair of Variegated Fritillaries, Euptoieta claudia, is trying to get a jump on the competition. We generally don't see them around much until April. Purple passionflower, Passiflora incarnata, generally serves as the hostplant for the caterpillars and I haven't seen any of that in leaf yet.


Proper Punctuation

This is an Eastern Comma, Polygonia comma, one of the anglewing butterflies. It gets its name from a small, silvered mark on the ventral surface of its hind wing. Unfortunately, this particular butterfly refused to fold its wings sufficiently for me to get a shot of the comma.


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One seldom sees one of these butterflies nectaring. They prefer other fare...tree sap, rotten fruit, scat, and carrion, for example. They overwinters as adults so it is not unusual to see this species out and about on warm winter days.


Lead Poisoning?

Sometimes when you're out walking in a place you have walked for the past thirty years you run across things you have overlooked for all those years. Case in point, this battery. Years ago these woods were logged and farmed. This battery was probably left here sometime back in the late '70s. I imagine we have passed near it numerous times without seeing it. We noticed it this time and bent to take a closer look...something's been gnawing on it. Squirrel, perhaps?


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Nope, not a little brown bird. This one is a little brown butterfly called Henry's Elfin, Incisalaia henrici or Callophrys henrici depending on which authority you use. There was some really pretty green on the wings that didn't show up in this photograph. Too bad.

These butterflies fly here in the early spring and though not particularly uncommon, they can be hard to spot. Being little and brown they tend to go unnoticed. Evergreen hollies seem to be a favored host plant.

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You Lookin' at Me?

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It was a one-snake walk yesterday with just a lone Black Racer out catching a few rays. Conditions were sunny but cool, enabling me to get pretty close to him. Usually these snakes make a quick exit if you get too close. This one never even poked his tongue out at us.

As it has turned out to be a busy weekend around here the posts I had planned will just have to wait. Right now I have to go start a fire in the fire pit -- we're roasting oysters tonight! Shrimp and freshwater fish are also on the menu, so I'd best get busy!



It started last Thursday and it just doesn't show a sign of stopping before midday tomorrow. We really need the rain, but I could do without the cool temperatures -- although a couple from Massachusetts told me yesterday that it's 20 degrees warmer here than where they live. Guess I shouldn't be such a whiner ;)

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All the supple-jack is dripping...

and the new cherry leaves are soaked...
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but this Barnacle Scale (Ceroplastes cirripediformis) doesn't seemed bothered in the least.


Last Ones

Here are the last of the photos taken on the swamp trip last weekend that I'll share with you. We ended our day with a fine, fat gator and a "turtlebow". The young men had a good time and us old folks had a good time. Who could ask for more?

(Hey, FC, do you think that gator is a female?)

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