Thursday, September 5, 2013

September 5 2013 Ramble Report

Dale brought a Gulf Fritillary butterfly chrysalis to show; Martha and Bob agreed to take home and give it tender care. Martha will give us updates on what emerges (butterfly or parasitic wasp).

Hugh read the story of Milton Hopkins and an indigo snake. Milton graduated from UGA with an MA in zoology, and intended to become a naturalist on the Barrier Islands, but ended up, in his own words, a dirt farmer.  He was an incredible birder, and known throughout the state. 

Although it was winter, the snake had emerged from a gopher hole to sun.  Milton collected the snake, thinking to offer it as a live specimen to a professor he knew at Mercer University, the head of the biology department.  At home he made a pine box and attached the lid with nails nailed only half-way down, thinking he'd give the snake water the next morning.

"Lo and behold," his story goes, "the next morning I awoke to find an empty snake box.  The huge reptile had forced the pine planks clean off the box and escaped into our home.  Wife Mary had a few-months-old baby girl at the time and wailed, 'That huge snake will swallow my baby.' I knew this was impossible but couldn't convince her."

"'We all turned the home upside down for several days in search of the snake, without success.  I was certain it had not escaped the house."

"One morning early, while we were eating breakfast my peripheral vision caught a swift darting motion from behind a large upright freezer.  Here was our snake.  She was coiled in and out of the heat-dispensing coils on the back of the freezer, which backed up to a closed window.  The freezer had recently been loaded with over six hundred pounds of beef we had just killed on the farm, and I hated to think of unloading and reloading all that meat, so decided the best method of recapture of the snake was to take out the window casing from the outside and remove the lower window.  This took some time and effort, and I had three pairs of eyes watching from inside the house to be sure the snake didn't move to another hiding place."

"'She had herself wrapped around and in and out of the coils of the freezer, probably seeking warmth, and it took some time to get her to turn loose and come out.  This was accomplished, the snake again put in her shipping box and this time the lid was securely nailed down."

"'After affixing the address on the box I added 'Live Snake' in big letters.  Railway Express agencies prided themselves on shipping anything, but I thought it prudent to leave the snake box in the pickup, enter the freight agent's office, and tell him what I wanted to ship.   He says loudly, 'a Live snake?'"
"Yes, Sir,"
"The agent said, 'Boy, don't bring that thing any closer in here.   Push my scales outside on the loading platform, weigh the box, and I'll give you a label to attach to it.'"

[From Milton Hopkins book, In One Place:  The Natural History of a Dirt Farmer, we learn that the snake lived for many years at Mercer University.  The end came when it bit a student.]

Hugh's reading is from Janisse Ray, Ecology of a Cracker Childhood (Minneapolis, MN: Milkweed Editions, 1999),pp. 189-190.

We then proceeded down through the Dunson Native Flora Garden to go out the White trail to the Blue Trail up the service road and back on the Green Trail.

First stop was the blooming Horse Balm (Collinsonia canadensis) in the Dunson Garden.

On the walk found some of the following items:

Yellow crown beard (Verbesina occidentals)
White crown beard (Verbesina virginica)
Rabbit tobacco, or sweet everlasting (Pseudognaphalium obtusifolium)
Elephant's foot (Elephantopus tomentosus)
Fernleaf moss
Pin lichen (Cladonia macilenta)
River oats (Chasmanthium latifolium)
Wood oats (Chasmanthium sessiliflorum)
what we called some kind of boneset turned out to be
Hyssopleaf thoroughwort (Eupatorium hyssopifolium)
Lespedeza sp
Coffeeweed, or Sicklepod (Senna obtusifolium) an invasive exotic from tropical america
Winged sumac (Rhus copallinum)
Slender Ladies' Tresses (Spiranthes lacera var. gracilis)
Foxtail grass
Plume grass (Saccharum giganteum)
mosses with their spore-producing bodies (sporophytes)
Shagbark hickory (Carya ovata) and its huge nuts
Black gum, or black tupelo (Nyssa sylvatica) with leaves turning brilliant red
Southern grape fern (Botrychium biternatum)
Microstegium grass or Browntop (Microstegium vimineum) a very invasive grass from Asia

Dale pulled a June bug (beetle) out of a leaf.  It was a beautiful green on top and copper colored below.

We also found a cast off nymphal skin (shell) of a cicada as well as several cicadas.

Last but not least we found a large American Toad, which we spent some time studying.

On the way back we oohed over the red spider lilies (Lycoris radiata) in the Shade Garden.  We also found the yellow version (Lycoris aurea),  and it was time for conversation and snacks at Dondero's.


1 comment:

  1. Don has posted many great photos of today's walk on Facebook:


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