Friday, July 5, 2013

Nature's Boundaries...Adapt and Survive

Hunter captured images of these wild creatures on and around the campus of Davidson University on a recent Saturday morning.

With a burgeoning human population, every day sees fewer and fewer areas of "wild" or "natural" habitat available for North Carolina wildlife. As rapidly as this transition is occurring, it is heartening to see how many of our wild creatures seem to be  successfully adapting to a less "natural" environment.

Staring defiantly from its concrete perch just beyond a line of traffic, this northern mockingbird seemed very much the master of its urban surroundings; in fact, it triumphantly defended its few hundred square feet of territory from Hunter and his camera, a scurry of grazing groundhogs and a trio of marauding American crows in the space of less than 15 minutes.

This hive of wild honeybees seems right at home in the heart of the campus as well, setting up a bivouac in a massive oak just outside the stadium, a few feet from the iconic Davidson Wildcat.

Peering from the entrance to its burrow hidden just inside the shrubbery on the hill overlooking the tennis courts, this groundhog seemed oblivious to its human observers.

As Hunter moved in for a closer look, the groundhog betrayed no hint of concern.

Apparently rather bored by the entire affair, this fellow appeared to grow drowsier in direct proportion to the proximity of Hunter's approach.

Nearby, other residents of the colony shared some gossip in the soothing sunshine, equally unperturbed by Hunter's lens.

The reptiles were not to be outdone, as a male five-lined skink demonstrated that this red brick wall in the midst of town was every bit as efficacious for basking as a rotting log or rocky outcrop in the wilderness.

Likewise, this satiated sulphur has no qualms about pausing for a nip of nectar at a planter of petunias outside the Davidson apparel store, tucking in quite contentedly to the abundance of domesticated flowers in this locale without a thought for the wildflowers that might once have adorned this hillside. 

The question of just how "wild" these guinea fowl might be remains unresolved, but they have unquestionably adapted to life on the "plains" of a college campus...

as evidenced by the beetle about the disappear into the crop of the avidly foraging fowl.

A bit farther afield, on the fringes of suburbia, this goldfinch illustrates the value of mobility that allows the winged wild things of our state to adapt very well in some cases to the changing landscape; perhaps feasting at an urban feeder in the winter...

then munching thistle seeds on a rural ditchbank in June while the blue grosbeak exploits a field of just-ripened grain.

Survivors in the natural world adapt and change over time, relentlessly altering the implications of terms like "nature" and "wild." So, lovers of all things wild, keep your eyes open, for all across our rapidly growing state, nature increasingly seems to know no boundaries.

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