Having a cool down

An northern watersnake allows the rushing water of Coleman Creek to cool and disguise him on a warm late summer afternoon in Little Rock. A small colony of these snakes inhabit part of the creek that runs through the campus of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

 

9-1-2016 Water Snake UALR.jpg

Weekly photo challenge: Pure

Late spring and it’s nesting time for the long-eared sunfish. While the water in this urban creek is not strictly pure, it is incredibly clear. From one of the bridges over Coleman Creek, the circular outlines of their nests (last photo below) are visible.

6-7 Three Sunfish-crop

6-7 Nesting Sunrish
These nesting fish take any intruders very seriously, darting aggressively to chase them away.
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At the center of each stone circle is a fish ready to defend its territory.

House of cards

Every so often, the lawn near the fine arts building on the University of Arkansas at Little Rock campus turns into a showcase for student projects.

Here’s hoping no ill winds will blow any time soon.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Connected

This week’s challenge is all about being connected.  Shoes off and safely slung between two trees, a student takes advantage of a warm, sunny afternoon in a campus green belt to keep connected via cell phone.

student in hammock
HANG OUT – Student at the University of Arkansas-Little Rock takes a break between classes in the Coleman Creek greenbelt. Taken Sept. 3, 2015.

The stripper

The squirrels on the UA-Little Rock campus are used to people — hundreds of people — tromping past at any particular time of day.

Squirrel with bark shreds in mouth
SHREDS — Maybe cypress bark tastes good?

Generally, however, they will hop away to maintain a safe distance should a human make too close an approach. Not so with one squirrel, who was intent on a strange activity — stripping bark from a cypress tree. The squirrel hopped down, ripped up a mouthful of mulch, then hopped back up the tree (mouth empty) to begin ripping and stripping again.

I have a query in to our local extension wildlife and forestry specialists about this odd behavior. It’s been noted elsewhere, according to the Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Management. There are multiple theories for this behavior, such as the need for nutrients or water. (this spring, however, there is no shortage of either for  this scholarly squirrel). Reason 5 may be the most accurate:  “We may never have a complete understanding of why bark-stripping occurs.”

Squirrel chewing bark
STRIPPER — This gray squirrel was busy grabbing shreds of bark from a cypress tree.
Cypress with bald spots
SEEING RED — Reddish areas show where the bark-stripping squirrel has gone to town all over this tree.

She’s a whopper!

This substantial lady was identified as Arkansas’ largest wolf spider, Hogna carolinensis. My hand is next to her in the second photo for scale. Thanks to both Dr. John Hopkins, extension entomologist for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, and Dr. Jeffrey Barnes, curator o the University of Arkansas Arthropod Museum for the ID. 

 

Big spider.
BIG SPIDER — Wolf spider resting in the shade of a street sign on the campus of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.
Big spider with hand.
FOR SCALE — Photographer’s hand next to this large female for scale.

Henpecked?

Saw an unusual red bird during a lunchtime walk. A scarlet tanager? A summer tanager, or something else?  A closer look showed him to be a cardinal — a bald cardinal. One colleague suggested this poor fellow’s condition the result of an extreme case of henpecking.

HENPECKED? — A cardinal without headfeathers picks off some lunch on the campus of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

Mudface

There’s nothing like a stroll around the office before the work day begins to clear the mind, enjoy the sub 100-degree temperatures and find delightful surprises like this massive 2-inch-plus beetle. (not to mention four whole cents in two days!)

GIANT –When you’re this big, it’s OK to have a dirty face.