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.

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.

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

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.

Butterflies and Moths of North America: Eurytides marcellus