Wednesday, August 17, 2016

And There She Was…


August 12th.  i turned into our drive and…


there she was, with her fawn.

Luckily this section of drive is down hill, so I turned off the engine and coasted down the drive, stopping periodically to take photos. This was the last one - zoomed, not that close up - before she decided that enough was enough, and took her fawn and left.

This has been a good year for White-tailed Deer in our area. This doe had a single fawn. Another doe that we see frequently had twins this year.

Reference.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Something You Don’t See Very Often…


August 4th. I took a slight short detour from my usual route to look at an unusual mushroom by the trail. After satisfying my curiosity, I walk a little further along the trail to meet the main trail I wanted. 

I was surprised to see the trail cordoned off with caution tape. I’d never seen a trail blocked in this area before. In fact, I’d never seen a trail in this park every blocked from travel. I had to walk over and find out what was going on.

And here it was. ‘KEEP OUT – ACTIVE HORNET’S NEST’ 

That explained something else. I parked at the lot uphill from this section of trail. While I was gathering my gear, a couple of Southern Yellowjackets (Vespula squamosa) flew in through the open door of the car. They seemed more active than I’m used to seeing. I just stood back and they flew off within a few minutes.

Postscript. The trail was still blocked on August 11th and I encountered a couple more yellow jackets in the car. Guess the trail will be closed now until winter at the earliest. The major nest building will occur this month, and will reach its maximum size in October to December. Hopefully this will be an annual nest and the trail will be opened again in winter or spring.

Reference:
Wikipedia: Vespula squamosa
 
 

Monday, July 11, 2016

Green Frogs (Lithobates clamitans) In The Garden


July 2nd – 9th, 2016. A few years ago, we had to relocate a watergarden barrel during some renovations. I decided to move it back to its original location just recently.
The barrel had a couple of inches of wet leaf litter in the bottom. I tipped the leaf litter out onto the ground and moved the container to its new location. 

When I went back to get its bricks and plant container, I realized that a frog – a Green Frog (Lithobates clamitans) - was sitting in the leaf litter near my foot. I picked it up and placed it back into the barrel. Some duckweed, re=introduced into the container, soon spread over the water’s surface to provide cover. 

It wasn’t long before the frog was comfortable enough to climb out in the late afternoon and…


sit on the side of the barrel to hunt for insects. Its tympanum, much larger than its eye, indicates that it is a male.


Recently, he has also begun to hunt at various times during the day.

When he’s not sitting on the side of the barrel, he may often be found…


floating in the duckweed.


Occasionally, he will make its way to another shallow container to hunt.

Recently a second Green Frog has joined the first one in the container where I’ve seen them siting together on the edge of the barrel. 

Reference:
Savannah River Ecology Laboratory: Green/Bronze Frog (Rana [Lithbates] clamitans]

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Mighty Hunters


June 27th-30th, 2016. I found a Cope’s Gray Treefrog (Hyla chrysoscelis) in mid-June. It had arrived near our water containers for the annual breeding season was chilling out on a window frame. Usually, that’s where we see them. Just hanging out. 

A few nights ago, I happened to look out closer to dark to find a couple actually…

hunting on the house wall. Their poses let me see the bright yellow color on the inside of their thighs that is a cardinal characteristic for identifying this species in this area. The patterns on their backs indicated that they were different frogs from the one I had seen in mid-June.

Reference.
Savannah River Ecology Laboratory. Cope’s Gray Treefrog (Hyla chrysoscelis) 

Related post: 

Thursday, June 23, 2016

It’s That Time Of Year Again…


June 14th, 2016. The breeding season for Cope’s Gray Treefrogs (Hyla chrysoscelis) has arrived again. These frogs like to breed in small pools of water and will use watergarden containers, of which we have several near the house. 

As the breeding season approaches, we’ll often hear soft, chirping calls as they settle in near the containers. This year was no exception and prompted us to check the window frames on the front of the house where we’ll often find one or two encamped.


This young frog – judging by its size – was hunting insects on the side of a window frame.


I caught it and it managed to wiggle free. I was, however, able to hold it so that I could photograph the…


bright yellow color on the inside of its thigh. This color serves as a key characteristic for distinguishing a Cope’s Gray Treefrog from a Bird-voice Treefrog (Hyla avivoca) in areas where both species are endemic.

Although the frog was desperate to wriggle free from my grasp, once free, it was quite content to…


sit on my hand and pose for photos from several angles. Perhaps it was enjoying the warmth of my hand because it was reluctant to…


return to the window frame.

Sure enough, within a couple of days the frogs began their raucous mating calls and eggs are visible in some of the water containers.

Reference. 
Savannah River Ecology Laboratory. Cope’s Gray Treefrog (Hyla chrysoscelis)

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Hiding In Plain Sight


June 16th, 2016. There is one log where I always look for Eastern Fence lizards (Sceloporus undulatus). In spring they sun themselves and look for mates. Then they disappear for the rest of the year; it’s unusual to see them at other times of the year. I checked the log as I passed the log on my way to the Old Fort – nothing. 

On my way back to the car park, I usually make sure my camera is set on ‘zoom’ and ready in case I find a lizard as I pass the log. On this day, I forgot.


I almost missed her. She was just sitting on the log, nicely posed – hiding in plain sight.

She saw me and froze. She stayed put while I got my camera ready,and while I took several shots. She even stayed while I sat down beside her. She didn’t move until I tried to take a close-up. That she objected to, and she shot off under my arm to safety somewhere in the leaf litter behind me.

Reference.
Savannah River Ecology Laboratory. Eastern Fence Lizard (Sceloporus undulatus)

Monday, June 6, 2016

Pollen Project: Polygonatum biflorum (Solomon's Seal)


Last fall, I set up a microscope to photograph spores for identifying fungi. However, with the dry weather we’ve been having, I’ve only seen a few mushrooms. So, in the relative absence of mushrooms, I decided to photograph pollen from wildflowers. The first in the series is… 

Polygonatum biflorum (Solomon’s Seal)

 
Polygonatum biflorum (Solomon’s Seal) Pollen



Reference:
Native and Naturalized Plants of the Carolinas and Georgia: Polygonatum biflorum