Happy herp day!

Now that it’s warmer, the herps on the hill are becoming more visible. We were so glad to see the appearance a young eastern coachwhip after spotting a freshly shed skin last night.

We used to have a bevy of coachwhips and hognose snakes in a complex of burrows under the front porch. However, we did not see any last spring or summer, which coincided with the appearance of two large fire ant mounds within a few feet of the burrow openings. We don’t know if those two are related, but Amdro took care of the fire ants last fall and now a snake reappears.

Weekly photo challenge: Inside

This week’s challenge was an inside outside job.

Where to get inside the challenge:

And some nice takes on inside this week:

The lizard pool

Drought continues to strengthen its hold on Arkansas, with a third of the state’s area in what the U.S. Drought Monitor calls “exceptional drought,” the most intense category of dryness. That area includes the Suburban Ferndale rural-plex. And it’s hot, with 100-plus degree temps (37 C and up).  Call it desert-like. Call it drought-blasted, but the most vivid indicator of our drought was this: the fence lizard turning this bucket into his own private swimming pool.

COOL POOL — This lizard wiled away at least an hour in this catch bucket set up under the spigot.

Herp-y April!

More of our local reptiles showed themselves on April Fool’s Day. The long coachwhip stuck his head, and a few inches, out from under the porch and a big fence lizard made himself at home on the deck.

CAN YOU SEE ME? -- Big Jake, the big fence lizard, finds the deck's outdoor carpet to be a great place not to be seen hungry hawks.
COMING OUT -- The under-the-porch coachwhip comes out for some sunshine on April Fool's Day. It was our first sighting of him (or her) this year.
EYE ON YOU -- The coachwhip turns to face the photographer. It's tough stalking a snake!

Random Oct. 3 photos

Was hoping to catch more butterflies in pixels today, but only managed a smudgy shot of a monarch outside the office window. It is exciting to see the varieties of golden rods continue to mature. We hope their beautiful chrome yellow blooms will attract monarchs as they make their long flight south.

The slanting fall sun caught the tops of a couple of native plants and later, there was a plume of smoke that arose straight up, framed by the darkening red of the sunset.

MONARCH -- Monarch visits flowers outside the office window.
BRIGHT -- The tops of these plants catch the last of the afternoon sun.
PLUME -- This plume resembles the volanoes of the imagination of my childhood, except for the slight leftward lean.
HELLO -- Fence lizard peers back at the photographer.

The Ouachita Mountain blues

It’s hard not to get the blues sometimes in the Ouachitas. The pines are peppered with indigo buntings, the flawless blue sky invites all sorts of avian and insect traffic and even the fence lizards get into the act. They show turquoise coloring under their throats and on their bellies during breeding season.

Three photos showing an indigo bunting, blue sky, lizard with blue scales
An indigo bunting tops a pine, a hummingbird heads into the blue and a fence lizard showing his turquoise scales during breeding season.