Leaf-cutter Bee Nest?

Ever wonder what those leaf-cutter bees do with all those leaves they cut?  I think we found out this afternoon.  Treebeard lowered one of the rolled-up shades on the front porch and this fell out...

It is a pretty intricate structure.  We want to see what emerges from this nest so I rolled the structures back up, this time using newspaper.  The roll will go into a screen box and we'll wait to see what comes out.  I'll keep you posted.


Lots of Legs

Yesterday morning, before I headed to work, Treebeard and I took a walk around the yard.  We like to keep up with what's going on out there, you know.  As we passed by one of the red cedars growing on the lower end of the property Treebeard spotted something neither of us had observed before - a molting daddy longlegs.

While we watched this critter wriggling out of its out-grown skin, I looked around and spotted a couple more in various states of molt.  I was surprised to see so many so close together. 

It was a fun find.  You just never know what you're going to see when you take the time to look.


Little Rewards

Sometimes you don't get to do what you want, but if you're lucky, you get little rewards for doing what you have to do.

These are some little things I was rewarded with today...
Eastern Amberwing - our smallest dragonfly

Little Grass Frog -- our smallest frog

Six-spotted Tiger Beetle -- a little predator with a big attitude.


Skink Fest

They have been everywhere lately.

On the bridge...

On the deck...

On trees...

And beside the boardwalk...

Check out that head.  This one is a mature male broad-headed skink.  It's an impressive lizard!


Road Trip

Treebeard and I left the swamp behind this weekend and headed to the Piedmont of NC for the wedding of two of our friends.  The wedding was held outdoors in a beautiful setting and everyone had a wonderful time.  Since it was a four hour drive to the festivities, we opted to spend the night and head back Sunday following a Mother's Day brunch hosted by the happy couple.

We are early risers and the brunch was scheduled for 10 a.m.  What to do with our time???  A hike, of course!  It was quite pleasant to roam around and wander up and down those exotic landforms known as "hills" - we don't have many of those down here in the Coastal Plain.  And, of course, we had to check out the wetland area on the property. 

 I haven't taken the time to ID this fern yet.  It was quite tall though.

 This boardwalk leads to what they call a river in these parts -- it was only about eight feet wide at this point.  It does get much larger as it heads east.

 Again, I haven't taken time to ID...most likely some sort of rodent.

The butterfly is a great spangled fritillary.  We don't have these in the swamp.

 I had to rescue this juvenile ring-neck snake from the road.  It was not an easy task.  The little guy made himself as flat as he could and wiggled like crazy.
Back in the long ago when Treebeard and I lived in the Piedmont, this was one of my favorite wildflowers.  It has the crazy name of fire pink.


He's Back

See the blue berries getting ripe...

You would think we would have plenty of berries to go with our yogurt, waffles, or whatever.
Sadly, you would be wrong because...he's back...

Yes, I know, he is beautiful.  But he's a little devil, too.  Honestly, he will give us dirty looks and just swoop in and help himself to berries.  It wouldn't be so irritating if he ate all the berries he plucked but he's a nibbler.  Pick a berry, take a bite, go in for another.  Plus he has figured out how to go in under the bird netting we put over the bushes.  Like I said, he's a little devil...

Oh well, it won't be so bad once the berries start to ripen in large numbers.  But for now, we'll just have to heave heavy sighs and enjoy the bird instead of the berries.


Non-insect Yard Critters

Last post for today.  I didn't want you to think the yard was devoid of other types of critters besides insects. 

Take a close look at this picture.  Do you see one of my all-time favorite animals?

Yes?  No?  Maybe???  I'll give you a closer look...

If you've visited this blog before, you probably already guessed what was hiding in the tree.  If you haven't stopped by before, then you might not be aware that I am ever-so-slightly obsessed with green treefrogs.

But this is an equal opportunity site -- here's another amphibian that we found this morning.
Right in the middle of the frame is an Eastern Narrow-mouthed Toad.  He was hiding under a piece of lumber in the front garden.  I love the sound these little guys make.

One last non-insect and then I'm done for the day.
Treebeard ran across this pretty little worm snake in the compost.  I love these little snakes.  It makes me smile whenever I see one.

Yard Critters, Part Two

A few dragonflies to add to the butterflies posted earlier...

 Blue Dasher - male

Blue Dasher - female

 Common Whitetail - female

Common Whitetail - male

 Eastern Pondhawk - female

Spangled Skimmer - male

Yard Critters

Cool spring mornings often offer up somewhat sleepy butterflies and dragonflies, making them the perfect mornings for a walk in the yard.  Treebeard and I enjoyed our breakfast and then took a ramble through the sunny parts of our property.  We didn't venture into the mature woods, we just ambled along the yard and old field sections.  I thought you might enjoy seeing what we saw.  I don't have time to upload all the photos right now.  We'll just have to settle for the butterflies for the moment.

I wasn't able to get a photo of every species that was out this morning but I did manage to get seven of them.

 Common Buckeye

 Clouded Sulphur (unless, of course, it's an Orange Sulphur -- I didn't get a good look and they appear almost identical to me.)
 The ubiquitous Pearl Crescent.  They have been quite abundant this year.

 Variegated Fritillary

This pesky Question Mark wouldn't sit still despite the coolness of the morning.  I did manage to get both the dorsal and ventral field marks in one shot, though, so I can't be too irritated with it :)

 Another butterfly that is quite abundant in the yard this year, the American Lady.

And lastly, a highly uncooperative Red Admiral.  This guys usually go out of their way to pose, but this one was being obstinate.

I'll try to do a follow-up post later to show you what else we found.