REMARKS ON THE FIVE SPECIES
OF MOST INTEREST TO UNCLE BEAR:
When my children were young, (they're in their forties now), I taught
them to call all squirrels, "Charlie." Where the name came from
is lost in a fleeting memory, but if I'm talking about a gray-coated, cousin to the
rat, s/he is a Charlie. As I've always enjoyed watching this animal, please
allow me to hold him up as one of my favorietes.
This spring, (2008), I enjoyed watching three fish crows
work to build a nest. I discovered that juvenile fish crows will sometimes help their
parents with the raising of a new brood. I have no idea what happened, but one day, close
to the northern equinox, all three simply disappeared. I never saw or heard of them again,
However their stay was both enjoyable to watch, and quite noisy to listen to.
The small butterfly/moth I.D. book I own shows a drawing of a "satin
moth." This was no big deal, until I look at one under a 20X microscope
lens. "Satin" is truly the word to describe this moth's wings. Looking
soft, silky, and sexy, I ended up showing this insect off to more than one person who
visited the Bear's Lair.
North Carolina's State tree is the Flowering Dogwood. In
the spring it makes all of us Tar Heels proud, and if you'll give us a chance we'll tell
you the story that goes with the cross found in the blossom, its diminutive
height and tiny branches.
After a cool spell, and with a little rain, if the temperaures will climb
into the 70 degree range some of the yards will feature, yellow wood sorrel.
This plant offers four leafed flowers, 1/4 inchs in diameter, and as bright yellow as
bright yellow can be. But, you have to look carefully for the yellow wood sorrel. It
normally hides its head in the cut blades of grass that surround it. It's a wonderful
flower to spot, and even more fun to discover just how many are adjacent to the first
spotted yellow wood sorrel.
Uncle Bear's Essay:
When I started to discover my 100 life forms, it seemed pretty much like
an impossibe task, especially if I stuck to the restriction I had placed on myself.
First, I would start fresh in recording the species I found. Next, I would define "my
neighborhood," (a six block area), and not stray from it. To that end, with the
exception of four plants and two birds, every species has been found within a three block
area of my home. Also, of the 37 species of insect logged in, 35 were found on or
within 10 feet of my porch. If anyone wishes to check they will find I
removed the clam I had logged in on my Silver list, as I felt it didn't belong in my
Another self-imposed rule I placed upon myself was to read at least one
page about every species I logged in. Wow! What a wealth of information the internet
contains, and for me, the Wikipeadia Encyclopedia. Of course the net and Wikipedia
can cross a person up. What happens when your trying to identify a particular insect,
and you find there are 24 variations of the same bug? Thank goodness, that's where ssp.
The first 33 came easy, and the second 37 came a bit harder. (I wanted to
submit 70 for my Silver Leaf). The last 30 were logged in one at a time, however, it
seemed things slowed down to a snail's pace when I reached number 94, and only had a half
dozen to go. When I did pen in a century mark of life forms, I felt a let down. I was
done. I had accomplished my goal. Then, in talking to a naturalist friend, Bruce
Beerbower, who had supported me, he asked why I was quitting? Had I identified every
species of (native) animal or plant in my neighborhood? Why didn't I try for a second
100? I had no answer other than to start recording "The Second 100." This
may take awhile, as in the three weeks, I only logged in five life forms.
All in all, earning my Gold Leaf has been a positive, rewarding
experience. I would recommend it to anyone who loves nature, and wants a fun
ESSAY FOR 300 SPECIES:
Trying to identify species and having a degree of colorblindness has its
drawbacks. As an example, the Catawba Science Centers Lead Naturalist Bruce
Beerbower was fielding a call from me to narrow down the type of bird Id spotted. I
answered his questions as to size, beak, wing bars, eye rings, everything except color.
Knowing what was coming next; Bruce asked what color was the bird. Hesitating only for a
second I replied, It was -- brown, no -- gray, perhaps -- green, no, wait -- it
might have been tan --- well -- Im not exactly sure, but I do know it wasnt
blue. At this point Bruce gently replied, Until we can be a little more
accurate, lets label it Ursa penna.
It seems anyone who knows youre closing in on a goal will do all
they can to help. As the list neared the coveted 300 mark, my niece rushed into the house
to proudly announce that Nibbles, our cat, had brought home something that would
be a great addition. On the porch, standing tall and proud, Nibbles presented me an oak
leaf with a gall. After much petting, praise, and a special treat, while Nibbles took a
nap, I tried to determine where a Wooly Oak Leaf Gall should be placed on the list.
Finding the answer, Ive never had the heart to explain to him that a gall is not a
living organism but an incubator for insects, mites, bacteria, etc.
Whats next? After I presented my original 100 species list to Bruce
Beerbower, he said, It looks good! I bet you can find another hundred. When I
presented my next list containing an additional 100 species he spoke the same words. This
time when I presented my list of 300 species to Bruce, I stated, Right now Im
one down and ninety-nine to go.