Tuesday, October 18, 2016

What's in the cast net today?

The instructor's demo cast hauled in some menhaden. Or do you call them shad?

Ninth-graders used cast and seine nets during a Back to the Bay class to get a peek at what's below the water's surface.

On this warm October morning at Baytown Nature Center we mostly found menhaden, brown shrimp, comb jelly and old oyster shells covered in barnacles and hooked mussels.

But it's always fun to catch something.

A guy looking for bait fish wanted this catch. Sorry, dude, this is a catch-and-release class.
One group caught a 5-inch blue crab with their seine net.
But mostly they caught little brown shrimp and comb jelly.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Snakes like the pots pile

A harmless ribbon snake can still make be jump.
This is why you kick the pile of pots a couple times before pick up a stack for planting chores. The hope is that snakes and critters will leave their outposts. But sometimes they stick around.

The skin of a snake among the pots about ground level.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Pearl Crescent or Phaon Crescent butterflies?

Pearl Crescent is mostly orange and black,  They like asters.

One challenge for newbies (like me) on a butterfly count is distinguishing Pearl and Phaon Crescents on the fly. Their wingspan is only about an inch and half.

Veterans logging Saturday's count at Baytown Nature Center would see a flash of white and say: Phaon.
Phaon Crescent is orange and black with a cream band on the forewing. They like frogfruit.

Friday, September 30, 2016

When you do yard work and keep finding distractions

Not bad for an iPhone pic.

Woke up to a cool morning that makes you want to open all the windows to flush out the air-conditioning that has kept us from melting in the heat of the past few months.

Decided to catch up with some yard work, but I was immediately distracted by a Walking Stick. When its movement caught my eye, it really did look like a stick. It was about an inch and half long and so delicate.

I moved it to a leaf for a pic. It was unhappy and jumped back to the leaf litter.

So I moved on and found a beetle, I thought. When I nudged it, I discovered it was an empty carcass. I wonder how it lost its head.

The headless beetle.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Oops! Disturbing toads at home

These four toads were under an overturned plastic table holding bits of concrete.
Toads1 Toads! Toads!

I uncovered some toad hideouts while cleaning a space behind the garage where the previous homeowner built a lean-to for firewood.

For us, the tin-roof shelter has become a catch-all for yard junk. However it seems the mess has become a hangout for the croakers we hearing calling at night.

The area is toad-ally hopping.

There were three toads sharing that slot. A tiny frog hopped out of the other slot before I could snap a pic.
I'm  not sure what I did to disturb this one.
This one took a look at me when I pulled weeds too close to home.
As a peace offering, I buried pieces of a broken pot to replace the concrete blocks.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Snakes in the pond

A long, fat ribbon snake watches me. This one was bigger than the ones I usually see.
After a couple of days of rain cooled the August temperatures, lots of critters are emerging from the crevices.

These two snakes were on opposite sides of the small pond at Sheldon Lake with the alligator statue that warns visitors about gators.

A broad-banded water snake peeks out.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

When it rains, you get a seed day indoors

Break open the Erect Baptisia (Baptisia sphaerocarpa) pods to find the seeds.
 When it is too rainy to go outdoors, volunteers at Sheldon Lake State Park & Environmental Learning Center clean seeds. A no-sweat workday.

Sometimes you need a hammer to get the seed pods open.
A bucket of seed pods will be reduced to about two cups of seeds.
If you sneeze while separating the Splitbeard Bluestem seed heads, all your work will fly away.
Seed work gives you time to chat. We managed to stay away from the topic of politics.