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Saturday, March 13, 2010

A Diversity of Wildlife

porcupine tree

Today was the monthly hike for our North Country Trail Chapter. We hiked a very geologically interesting section from High Bridge to Leitch Bayou. If you want to see more about that, check out Interesting Geology Above the Little Manistee. But I have some critter features to show you.

We passed two active porcupine trees. Remember, in the story about The Wagon Road, that I said the opening under the tree could not be a porcupine? Now you can clearly see why I knew that! Yes, that's all poop. Each pellet is about the size of a long pill capsule. We didn't see a porky, but while we were standing around this tree, some new pellets fell down onto the pile!

pileated woodpeckerThis isn't a great picture, but I'm excited about it. It's the first time I've ever gotten a picture of a pileated woodpecker. They are huge, over a foot high, but they are very shy. You might say that I cheated, since this was taken through the window of a house (and a screen, which is why it's hazy), but I don't really care today, I'm just glad it came to pound on their tree when I had my camera. I've been saving an interesting post about this woodpecker, so maybe we'll do that tomorrow!

young praying mantis

Finally, this is really cool! This is a fairly newly hatched praying mantis. It is about 1/2 inch long (not counting the antennae). Maggie brought this in from the woods on her nose! The color is a little weird in the picture. It was really a clear spring green, not that overcooked asparagus color. I put it on a piece of styrofoam to try to get enough contrast to show it off. I realized what it was because once, long ago, I happened to be in the right place at the right time to see a whole nest of baby praying mantises come boiling out of a crack in some wood. As they grow, they shed their skins, because insects have an exoskeleton.

See Monsters and Fairies for an adult praying mantis


rainfield61 said...

You have a good partner to show you some of the wonders.

Ann said...

Oh wow, when I first looked at that last picture I thought it was some kind of picture. Had I not read on I would never have guessed that it was a praying mantis.

RNSANE said...

Whatever critter that is makes plenty of poop!! It must be several doing bathroom duty!

What a beautiful woodpecker. And the praying mantis certainly had a ride, didn't it? What other things does Maggie bring home?

Lin said...

That must be a good house by the looks of all that poop!

I like the praying mantis--I never seem them so tiny. Did you know they eat their brothers and sisters?? I love that story--good for the kids to know that kind of stuff. ;)

Joanne Olivieri said...

The woodpecker shot, wonderful as is the praying mantis even though it gives me the shivers :)

Lynne said...

great pictures! I especially love the woodpecker photo, excellent (even through the screen)! :-D

VanillaSeven said...

Interesting information about the Praying Mantis. I wish I can see the process myself. How smart Maggie is :)

Rick (Ratty) said...

I smiled with delight when I saw the woodpecker, and it grew wider with the picture of the praying mantis.

Sharkbytes said...

rainfield- Everyone should have a hiking club! As much as I like going alone, having extra eyes and points of view is always interesting.

Ann- well the color of the picture is goofy, and it doesn't look right in the photo, but that is what it was.

Carmen- just one porky up in that tree... well maybe two! The poop just collects at the bottom of the hollow all winter.

Lin- Oh my! I know that they will eat just about anything that gets too close. Do you know the Cautionary Tales for Children? Sounds like a theme for a new one!

Lynne- I just feel so happy to have a picture at last, that I took!

Vanilla- Do you have cicadas? Their shed shells are easy to see.

Ratty- It was a great wildlife day!

Evelyn said...

OMG! I thought we had problems with termites! They will take down a tree, or a house, but not with holes THAT big!

That's the stuff cartoons are made of! Wow, a real woodpecker! Cool! Feeling badly for the tree. It didn't look dead. But, I guess it is now!

Secondary Roads said...

I've never seen a pileated woodpecker. Thanks for sharing that. My grandpa always cautioned to never kill a porcupine. He said, "If someone is lost in the woods they can always kill it with a stick and have something to eat."