Friday, October 4, 2013

Hide and Skink, Busy Beaver, and Insect Craftsmanship

I've been on the road and working in the field a few days a week lately, which is just the way I like it.  I enjoy a good dose of the grime and labor of working in the great outdoors most when it's mixed with my fair share of temperature controlled environments and cushy chairs.  Unfortunately, I also get a extra dose of time spent staring through the windshield of a truck, but until someone gets a handle on hover craft or teleportation, it's the price I pay for seeing various parts of the world.  Today, the little piece of the world I visited brought me face to face with this skink.  I'm convinced he though he was hiding under that small stick on his back, because he held very still while I took his picture.  Only his eyes were moving.  I really hope he gets better at hiding before a real predator makes a tasty snack of him. 

We stopped on a small bridge over a stream to admire a beaver's dam.  That organized pile of sticks near the bottom of the photo is the engineering masterpiece of a busy beaver.  Sometimes when working near streams at night I see beaver swimming and working.  They are always bigger than I think, and when they want to protest my presence, they smack their tails on the water surface.  It sounds like a gunshot, and I can't help but jump, even when I know to brace myself for it.  

I don't know if you can see in the photo, but not only are the sticks strategically placed, but bits of green vegetation and mud is mixed in to plug up all the holes.  I'm sure I could never assemble sticks and mud in a way that turns a narrow stream into a wide pool like this.  This dam was hand crafted by the American beaver.  

Speaking of craftsmanship, Jamie and I saw these little mud nests on a stem on the edge of a wetland.  They look like perfectly crafted mud jugs, with perfectly round holes.  I've dabbled in pottery making, so I appreciate the skill involved in making such containers.  It's impressive to make one jug, but to make a matching set of four, with limited tools is quite the accomplishment!  I think they are the nests of a mud dabber wasp, but I couldn't find any photos online that looked very similar, so I don't know what kind of bug created them.  


warfighter said...

Beaver dams only appear to be sturdy. I found out the hard way they are not rated for ATV travel.
Joseph Fields

rain said...

Now that sounds like an adventure! I hope you didn't sink your ATV. I've walked on a few and managed not to dunk myself, but it was a slow balancing act compared to driving.

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