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

Friday, June 3, 2016

Zebra Swallowtail (Eurytides marcellus)


May 26th, 2016. While I was looking for wildflowers at the Broad River Wildlife Management Area, I encountered this… 


Zebra Swallowtail (Eurytides marcellus) feeding on Butterfly Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa) flowers. It was in perpetual motion, settling momentarily on one flower and then flying to another. Occasionally, it would fly away as if in search for another plant, only to return to this plant again. I was lucky enough to ‘catch’ it for a rare instant when it stopped with its wings fully extended.

Reference: 
Butterflies and Moths of North America: Eurytides marcellus

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Wilkes County Wildflowers: Late Spring


May 26th, 2016. I happened to be near Elberton last Wednesday and decided to spend a day in Wilkes County visiting some favorite locations in search of wildflowers. I didn’t have high hopes because it had been so dry. But I did have some luck. 

My first stop was at the Broad River Wildlife Management Area where I found…


a couple of Clasping Milkweed (Ascelpias amplexicaulis) still blooming.


just one Racemed Milkwort (Polygala polygama).


A single Beargrass (Yucca filamentosa) plant was blooming. It flowers were covered with…


Eastern Leaf-footed bugs (Leptoglossus phyllopus) that flew off when I disturbed them.


Butterfly Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa) were blooming in several locations. Of all the wildflowers I saw, these seemed the most comfortable with the dry conditions. 

My next stop was at a swamp on Enoch John Road where I found…


Anglefruit Milkvine (Matelea gonocarpos) just starting to bloom. This is one of my favorites. 

At the Kettle Creek Battlefield, I found a few more wildflowers.


Southern Sundrops (Oenothera fruticosa) were flowering along the road embankment. I had hoped to find them on the road down to Enoch John Road but was glad to find them here.


This is the nicest Redring Milkweed (Asclepias variegata) flower head I’ve seen this year. The florets were slightly off-white compared with the pure white flowers I’ve seen in shaded areas.


A little further along the road, I found Fire Pinks (Silene virginica) flowering at the edge of the woods.


My final find for the day was another Beargrass with a few flowers that were completely open.

Not a bad ‘haul’ in an area that was so dry. 

References:
Native and Naturalized Plants of the Carolinas and Georgia: Ascelpias amplexicaulis
Native and Naturalized Plants of the Carolinas and Georgia: Polygala polygama
Native and Naturalized Plants of the Carolinas and Georgia: Yucca filamentosa
Native and Naturalized Plants of the Carolinas and Georgia: Asclepias tuberosa
Native and Naturalized Plants of the Carolinas and Georgia: Matelea gonocarpos
Native and Naturalized Plants of the Carolinas and Georgia: Oenothera fruticosa
Native and Naturalized Plants of the Carolinas and Georgia: Asclepias variegata
Native and Naturalized Plants of the Carolinas and Georgia: Silene virginica

Friday, April 22, 2016

Perfoliate Bellwort (Uvularia perfoliata)


April 11th.  Some years ago, I found a couple of Perfoliate Bellwort (Uvularia perfoliata) plants nestled between a large boulder and a tree.


Each year, I look forward to seeing them bloom. Last year, one flower produced a seed capsule. This year I noted that there were five plants, all of which were blooming.

Reference: 
Native and Naturalized Plants of the Carolinas and Georgia: Uvularia perfoliata

Friday, April 8, 2016

Carolina Jessamine (Gelsemium sempervirens)


March 24th.  Carolina Jessamine (Gelsemium sempervirens) is one of the earliest blooming wildflowers in our area. The vines are unobtrusive, either crawling across the ground and climbing anything within reach, or high up in tall trees where it’s impossible to appreciate their flowers. 


This vine made the mistake of climbing up a small pine and hanging down within arm’s reach. Its blooms were unusually dense along the terminal end of the vine. 

So beautiful!

Reference: 
Native and Naturalized Plants of the Carolinas and Georgia: Gelsemium sempervirens