Monday, March 14, 2011

Camp Workday

I spent the last day and a half up at our camp, mostly working, but even during those times of all work and no play I still keep my eyes and ears open. The outside of the camp house needed cleaning so I was about to start on that when I saw a small eastern fence lizard creeping out from under the house.

I've written about these before and as you may recall they are incredibly fast and hard to catch. I remembered having a small aquarium net inside, so I retrieved it and it worked perfectly. It was a male, identified by the beautiful blue markings on its throat and belly.



After photographing it I went to release it on a small wood pile out front and noticed a larger one basking in the sun, so I grabbed the net and was lucky again. This one was three times as big as the first and a bit more aggressive as it tried to bite me several times.

Notice the tail of the larger lizard. You can see where it had broken off (defensive measure or "tail autotomy") and grown back. Each time I grab any lizard I'm very careful not to involve the tail in the capture so as not to cause its loss. Losing the tail can spare its life from predators, but it is costly. Protein and fat which is needed for energy now has to be diverted into growing a new one.

Carpenter bees were very active as they were buzzing around me as I worked, I'm sure looking for a nice spot for to tunnel. A male (expressed by the white patch on its face- females lack this) landed on the electrical panel allowing me to get some nice shots.

I checked my bluebird box that has been up since 2007 and unfortunately they have not yet begun building a nest. Last season was the first time since I put this box up that they did not nest in it. Still haven't figured out why.....wasps?? I checked my neighbor's box on the way home and found that he had a nest and one egg. Good for him. Hopefully there's still a chance for my nestbox this year.

There were lots of butterflies flitting by throughout the day- mostly swallowtails-zebra, tiger, black, spicebush, and an occasional monarch. Birds seen and/or heard- tufted titmouse, Carolina chickadee, northern cardinal, red-bellied woodpecker, mourning dove, chipping sparrows, blackburnian warbler.

In full bloom, among other things, was the yellow jessamine vine. It seemed that everywhere I looked this vine was present. This woody, trailing vine is poisonous to humans (contains alkaloids). In fact if honeybees from nearby hives use this plant solely for nectar gathering, the honey produced could be toxic.

Though poisonous to humans it is though harmlessly browsed by deer and its nectar also fed upon by ruby-throated hummingbirds, spicebush swallowtail butterflies, and other insects as seen inside the flower.

Though work was the agenda for the day there's always time to observe what's around you.

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