Friday, June 27, 2008

Nature Quiz #001

This photo was taken in early June in the De Soto National Forest in southern Mississippi. Anyone care to guess what is depicted, and how this pattern came to be? Answer to be posted later...

Update: Kiirsten (see comments) from Ontario (wow!) is right that the little guys are "toadpoles"--probably Bufo terrestris. Click on the image for more detail. But it's a drying puddle in a clay-sand road, not more than 6 feet across. I don't think wave action is responsible for the honeycomb effect. Getting warmer...

UPDATE 07-07: And the answer is...
The little craters are made by tadpoles in the evaporating puddle. The substrate is silty sand. I have no idea why they do this, only to somehow escape into deeper water, but you can see a couple of dead ones that got trapped.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Bird Banding at the Wehle Center

Eric Soehren logging data for a female Hooded Warbler

Me (sporting new goatee) preparing to release the Hooded Warbler

Back on June 13 I spent some time with my good friend Eric Soehren of ADCNR's State Lands Division Natural Heritage Section, who is running a Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship (MAPS) bird banding station at the Robert G. Wehle Land Conservation Center in Bullock County, Alabama. We opened the ten nets at 5:15 AM, and in the short hour I was there we got a female Hooded Warbler, a pair (male and female in the same net) of Indigo Buntings, a male Yellow-breasted Chat, and a male Common Yellowthroat. These birds all had been in the tropics of Central or South America only a few weeks before, but are now on their breeding grounds. It was quite a treat to see these gems of the forest at such close range. Thanks to Eric for that opportunity.

Male Yellow-breasted Chat

Male Indigo Bunting

Hillbilly Teeth

I'm dabbling in Facebook, and have only three "friends" so far. One, Naomi, saw my goofy avatar (above) on my page and made the following observation:

"Did you see there was a nationwide recall on those "hillbilly teeth" because they're lead-contaminated? And of course we know that ingesting too much lead will cause the exact kind of brain damage that turns normal kids into stereotypical dumb hillbillies.


I checked; she wasn't kidding. It might explain a lot. By the way, that photo above was from the late 90s, and these were genuine Billy Bob teeth. They were sure lots of fun back when nobody had ever heard of them. Yep, I was hillbilly teeth when hillbilly teeth weren't cool.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

RIP Tim Russert

One of the true good guys in Washington, Tim will be missed. Sundays won't be the same.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Nine-foot Kingsnake?

If it's on the Internet, it must be true, right? That's me holding the snake. Click image for better resolution.