Saturday, August 29, 2009

Shawnee- Baby Herps and an Orange Orchid- Camera Critters

Almost one week ago, I started this little adventure to Shawnee State Forest with the Ohio Heritage Naturalists, so I better finish it up- I'm sure most of you forgot where we left off- with the Liatris aspera, a beautiful blazing star.

We walked down and back a grassy forest trail that was full of the liatris, when I spotted a few of our naturalists on their knees, hunched over looking at something. Sure enough, it was a tiny, newly hatched five-lined skink, with a bright blue tail. We saw several of these tiny lizards throughout our adventure. Ray was kind enough to hold the skink for the camera.

I had noticed that not all of our naturalists joined us for this little side trip. Mind you, it was getting ridicuously hot by this point, and the humidity was up there as well. Jason and Weedpicker Cheryl said that it was actually cooler on the ground in this position. I'll let them explain it, but they were lined up like they were going somewhere on an imaginary roller coaster ride or something like that. I snapped the picture quickly, they were up and with us again in a flash.

Ahh, the beautiful view from picnic point. From this vantage, theOhio valley can be seen- Ohio on the left, and Kentucky on the right. You can just barely make out the river city of Portsmouth, Ohio, now a shadow of its once former self. It actually was home to a National Football League Franchise called the Portsmouth Spartans. The team left for Detroit in 1934- they're now known as the Detroit Lions.

In addition to the grand vistas, there was plenty of interest at a much smaller level at picnic point. A tiny eastern fence lizard was basking on one of our van's Goodyear tires. The "r" in Goodyear gives quite a size reference- these newly hatched lizards were really, really little.

Jenny Richards, the naturalist at Shawnee State Park, found several other eastern fence lizards, and as I promised Kelly, here she is holding one of these little reptiles. I'm sure we could have found many more, but we needed to pack up our vans and head back to Columbus.

However- We couldn't miss the opportunity to stop and see this botanical wonder- the yellow fringed orchid, thanks again to Jenny. I've seen this species one other time, I believe, in the Oak Openings west of the Toledo. What an amazing plant. More orange than yellow, it was a great way to end our day of botanizing and naturalizing.


See what we found during the first part of our Shawnee Trip

This is my Camera Critters post for this week.


  1. Great photos, and really cute little critters!

    My CC

  2. Haha! Thanks, Tom! I can definitely recognize Jenny with those hands! :-D
    Matty, Rick and I love looking for salamanders and lizards. Jenny introduced us to them a couple of years ago on our spring break trip to Shawnee. Now whenever we hike, we're watching for them. The Five-lined Skink is adorable--the blue tail is fantastic!

  3. that first one is a pet killer sandy

  4. It has been an excellent year for skinks here -- good to see they are flourishing elsewhere, too. And I love the baby fence lizard. It's just too cute.

  5. That tiny skink is just too beautiful for words! The fence lizard is pretty cute, too. I was delighted to make their acquaintance. Thanks.

  6. Wow! Loved the little critters, but think the yellow fringed orchid stole the show!

  7. Hey Tom-

    Is that zig-zag pattern a tire-tread camo on the fence lizard? Awesome! ;)


  8. I love the little lizards!

  9. that blue tailed lizard in the first picture i never seen before but i had one on my window just now and had to find out what it was very interesting and cute glad i found another person in ohio who has seen one i live near marietta and never saw one before