Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A Walk in the Pine Forest

One hot afternoon Charlie and I went on a mission to find the transient pond that fills after rains and erupts with singing frogs. We have been fearful of exploring the pine forest adjacent to our property because of hunters. Now, we actually know the hunter and I guess being shot by a hunter you know is less disturbing and fills you with confidence to explore the unknown. We found the pond which was dry and filled with small cypress trees. We also came across many large gopher tortoises basking in the warm pine forest. The armadillos, deer, bobcats and turkeys quietly avoided us, but we know they live there too.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Southern Hognose Snake

Heterdon simus

Description: Southern hognose snakes are fairly small, heavy-bodied snakes that reach about 24 inches in length. The photo is of a juvenile found in the front yard after raking some leaves.

Range and Habitat: Southern Hognose snakes were historically found in the Coastal Plain of the eastern United States from southern North Carolina to southern Mississippi and in most parts of Florida. However, this species has declined in recent years and is now only found in scattered locations in South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, and Florida.

Habits: Southern hognose snakes are active strictly by day and are often seen on warm mornings in the spring and fall. They are highly fossorial (living underground) and are most often encountered crossing roads that pass through sandy habitats. When confronted, hognose snakes often put on an elaborate threat display: they hiss, spread the skin around their head and neck (like a cobra), and feign striking. Eventually, they will even play dead, rolling on their back and opening their mouth. Despite this fairly convincing show, southern hognose snakes virtually never bite.

Hognose snakes feed almost exclusively on toads, although they will occasionally consume other prey. They seem to be immune to poisons produced by toads, and are equipped with enlarged teeth (called rear fangs) in the back of their mouths that are used to puncture inflated toads so that they may be more easily swallowed. Female southern hognose snakes lay 6 - 14 eggs in sandy soil or logs in the early summer. The eggs hatch in late summer.

Monday, April 06, 2009

10 Things That Happened on Spring Break.

1. The Dogwoods blossomed.

2. We took a daytrip to Kanapaha Gardens in Gainesville.

3. The pear trees started to grow fruit.

4. Nothing in particular.

5. The Suwannee River started to rise (today it is flooding areas of Northern Florida.)

6. Mimosa trees were re-purposed as art.

7. We sunbathed on St.George Island.

8. Cymande stood outside abandoned buildings in Apalachicola.

9. Though the photo doesn't document this, we attended the Apalachicola Arts Festival.

10. We considered and ate oysters.
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