Sunday, March 24, 2013

Camp Time

My wife and I took granddaughter to camp for a couple days to enjoy the outdoors while I did some spring maintenance (pressure washing the house, repairing the barbed wire fence).  We arrived to a picturesque day and were greeted by small flocks of chipping sparrows that were exploring the edges of the sandy road leading to our place.  My first task of the day was to check the bluebird box I erected back in 2007, which I discovered a nicely constructed nest containing five sky-blue eggs nestled neatly in the center of the nest’s perfect bowl.
Avian nest construction has always amazed me.  How each strand of hay, that was harvested from our very own hay field, is intertwined, eventually materializing into this flawless work of art that caresses the delicate eggs and nestlings to follow.  Not long later I spotted the adults flying back and forth between two water oaks we have on the property as they rummaged the ground below for insects.  Soon they will have their hands full with five hungry mouths to feed, which means they’re in for long days of foraging.
We wandered over to the barn, as we always do, to see if anything interesting was stirring, and we were not disappointed.  
On the rough-hewn cypress gate on the south side of the barn was a large eastern fence lizard (Sceloporous undulates) measuring approximately five inches from stem to stern.  Other names include- Prairie Lizard, Texas Swift, and Gray Lizard.  This “sit-and-wait” predator feeds on a variety of insects including moths, ants, beetles, and grasshoppers. Its colors are a mixture of grays, browns, oranges, and whites.  But the most brilliant of its colors are the electric blue that is found on the chin and undersides of the males of this species of lizard.
They're pretty fast, wary and built for this terrain, but luckily I was able to grab him on the first try.  We flipped it over to find blue markings indicating a male.
I tried to get granddaughter to hold it, but due to an intimidating experience with a lizard in the past (it latched on to her lip when she tried to give it a kiss) she declined.  
But I was able to get her to run her tiny finger across its back so she can feel the roughness of its spiny “keeled” scales, and that was good enough for me.

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