The first belongs to a lionfish. An invasive species in this area and up the eastern seaboard, lionfish are native to Pacific waters. They have venomous spines in their fins--so don't touch!
The second belongs to a chicken turtle:
The third belongs to a copperhead--another venomous creature. Also, did you notice the heat sensing pit next to the eye?
You may have recognized the last beautiful eye--it belongs to one of our educational program birds--a great horned owl. Owls have a nictitating membrane that acts as a "third eyelid," sort of like built-in safety goggles to shield its eyes as it flies through the forest:
That's all for now...more off the beaten path in two weeks. We're updating our website, so this blog will have a new web address soon, which you will be able to access through our main Virginia Living Museum website.
I've done several "spring things" blogs in the past, so to keep up the tradition, here's the 2014 edition of "spring things." I took these photos over the last two weeks or so. After a more intense winter than usual (at least for around here!) these are a few welcome signs of spring. First, I always know spring is around the corner when we see migratory robins return:
Other wild birds like this cormorant start hanging around the pond behind the Museum--and yes, they really have bright blue eyes!:
Of course the flowers blooming are a very welcome sight. Here's a shot of the very tiny flowers of a red maple tree:
Bloodroot is also an early spring bloom:
Another beautiful white flower is the rue anemone. Thanks to Horticulturist Darl Fletcher for helping me to identify these lovely gems!
I love the brilliant color of these violets:
....and of this iris, which actually bloomed in our Cypress Swamp exhibit:
Perhaps one of my favorite spring flowers are witch hazel flowers, with a brilliant yellow color and a sweet scent, too!
Some delicate mushrooms made an appearance in our Mountain Cove. Thanks to Larry Lewis for spotting these for me:
Also it's the time of year when turtles start their courtship dances--male pond turtles wiggle their long claws in front of a female's face to get their attention. These turtles are on exhibit in our Cypress Swamp Habitarium. Thanks to Adrienne Pack for spotting them for me!
And with the warm weather, wild turtles on the pond line up like dominoes on a log to soak up the warm springtime sunshine:
I hope you're enjoying spring where ever you are! Also, heads up...very soon this blog will be moving to a new website address via our main Museum website. All of my past blogs will remained archived on Blogger, and you'll still be able to access them through a link on our Virginia Living Museum website. So look for more "Off the Beaten Path" via the Museum website in the coming weeks!