Another Milestone – #500

Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.

~Lao Tzu

Nature may not hurry, but this past year sure seems to have flown by. My personal life has been a blur these past many months, and the blogging  has slowed a bit (you may have noticed). I blame it on that thing called work.  I have been back at work a little over a year now and time for writing and photography has dropped off a bit. In spite of that, I have reached another milestone in the history of this effort to educate myself about nature – my last post was the 500th since I started just after retirement in 2013. Although it took a little longer to pass this last one hundred posts, in looking back, it looks as though things have been far from dull with the return to work. In fact, being at the NC Botanical Garden has  created a lot of new opportunities for learning about the natural world, especially with regards to plants. Here is a short series of highlights from this past one hundred posts of Roads End Naturalist…

campsite

Campsite, Boundary Waters Canoe Area, 2016 (click photos to enlarge)

Before returning to work, we had a great week-long camping trip (with beautiful weather) in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area of Minnesota in the Fall of 2016. What an experience! And camping seems to have been a theme these past many months (I am with the “camping queen” after all)…

boulder on Wilburn Ridge

Hiking and camping in Grayson Highlands State Park, VA

Barred Owl Roost platform

Camping on a platform in the swamp along the Roanoke River

Looking back, it seems that even after starting back to work, camping kept us busy, and in some beautiful places…

Jones Lake sunset 1

Jones Lake State Park at sunset

Holly Shelter oitcher plants

Yellow pitcher plants galore at Holly Shelter Game Lands

We even finally made it to the other Y park

Cathedral Peak 1

Cathedral Peak, Yosemite National Park

Huge sequoia

Giant sequoia, Kings Canyon National Park

Luckily, I managed another trip to Yellowstone, always a highlight.

Baby bison head in flowers

Bison calf, Yellowstone National Park

Of course, I had many trips to my favorite home state destination, Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge. I even managed to finally visit the Black Bear Festival that is now a regular thing in June in nearby Plymouth, N.C.

Large black bear at sunrise in soybeans

Black bear at sunrise, Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge

Winter is still my favorite season at this amazing wild place…

Swan wing flap

Tundra swan putting on a show at Pungo

And that nearby refuge, Mattamuskeet, offered some nice surprises, as always.

eye to eye

Fish dinner (almost) at Mattamuskeet

We had a wonderful experience of culture, food, and wildlife in Austin last summer. That experience was capped by one of the great wildlife spectacles in North America – 20 million+  Mexican free-tailed bats exiting Bracken Cave at sunset.

Mexican free-tailed bats flying out of Bracke Cave

Bats streaming away from the entrance to Bracken Cave for a night of foraging

But, as is almost always the case, most of my posts were about those miracles of nature close to home, either in our own woodland yard or the beautiful native plant habitats at work. Here are just a few of those highlights:

Pair of pitcher plants

A frosty morning at the carnivorous plant collection at the NC Botanical Garden

Cope's Gray Treefrog calling front view

Cope’s gray treefrog calling on our walkway

leafcutter bee bringing in leaf fragment

Leafcutter bee carrying a slice of redbud leaf back to her nest chamber

Nature, close to home, had a lot of beautiful things to see…

Columbine flower

Wild columbine flower in the yard

bloodroot flower in snow

Bloodroot flower bud poking up through a recent March snow

And, as usual, there was a bit (sometimes more) of the bizarre that nature has to offer…

Slug sex 3

Leopard slugs mating

Anytime you think beautiful and bizarre, you should also think about one of my favorite photographic subjects – caterpillars!

Crowned slug

Crowned slug caterpillar

I just checked on some of last Fall’s crop of caterpillars that pupated during the museum’s BugFest event last Spetember. They are all doing fine, and will be ready to emerge over the next few months. Maybe that will elicit a few pictures and words when they do. Hope you will stick around with me to find out.

Pupae from Bugfest

A variety of moth pupae from caterpillars we showcased at BugFest last year

 

16 thoughts on “Another Milestone – #500

  1. I really enjoy your photography and writing. I happened upon your blog when I was searching for photo reference for artwork. I thought at first you were a professional photographer!

  2. Thanks for sharing all these wonderful places on your blog. We’ll look forward to more as time allows. We always learn so much from your posts.

  3. Gosh I enjoyed these photos, especially the fish dinner (did it actually succeed in getting that fish down?), the yellow pitcher plants (I’ve only ever seen a handful in a propagation house), the tree frog, bloodroot flower bud, leopard slugs, and slug caterpillar. Awesome!

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