Category Archives: Nature

Ground hog? Spring peeper!

I was walking the Matrimony Creek Greenway in Eden yesterday, lost in thought. Not deep thought, just the kind that never bubbles to the surface unless you’re on the trail.

There was a break in the week-long rain, but it remained gray and cold. Certainly not weather to entertain thoughts of spring. But suddenly I was, thanks to one of the sweetest sounds nature conjures — the ascending croak of a spring peeper. read more

GetOut! 5 Activities for the Last Weekend of Spring

OK, it’s been hotter than a cup of lawsuit coffee the past week; no surprise that of the 24 North Carolina State Park events scheduled for Saturday, seven are water related. We’ll get to those. But first in this week’s 5 weekend activities:

Whack Attack! Invasive Species Removal Workday, Saturday, 8:30 a.m. to noon, Lower Haw River State Natural Area, Pittsboro. Periodically, the Friends of the Lower Haw River State Natural Area (pictured) hold workdays to remove the profusion of invasive plants that grow along this linear Natural Area lining the Haw River between Bynum and U.S. 64. It’s a great opportunity to learn about invasive species and to work out some aggression by yanking ‘em out of the ground. BYO — loppers or hand pruners, work gloves, insect repellent and water, that is. Preregistration is required, by emailing ncmlynch@gmail.com with “Invasives” in the subject line. Learn more here. read more

Taking the mystery out of a snake sighting

Note: The following post originally ran May 7, 2010. It’s been updated, and the information on snake ID is as relevant today as it was 12 years ago. 

Wednesday, I was hiking along the North Prong of Shining Rock Creek, a lively mountain stream that plunges 2,200 feet in just three miles through a narrow, overgrown canyon. I was in a reveric trance, lulled in part by the rugged vegetation here in the Shining Rock Wilderness,  in part by the cloudless, 70-degree spring afternoon, when —
Whoa!
I like snakes, but their sudden appearance four feet away causes me to stop in my tracks and say, “Whoa!” Such impromptu meetups are common this time of year, as we humans hit the trail more and rising temperatures activate these cold-blooded critters. Being in the sun rejuvenates our spirit, it jumpstarts their system.
After catching my breath, I scoped out the critter, taking a couple of pictures, jotting some notes, searching my increasingly porous memory for clues about what kind of snake it might be. Not that my database was brimming to begin with.
When it comes to snakes and birds, I don’t expend a lot of my remaining gray storage memorizing types and species. Two reasons: One, there are thousands of species to begin with, and two, the same critter can look completely different depending on various factors: read more