Thursday, July 21, 2011

Creature Feature: Five-lined Skink

Adult Male Five-lined Skink

Juvenile Five-lined Skink
The Five-lined Skink is one of the most versatile lizard species in the United States with a range from Southern Texas North into Canada. These lizards are well adapted to their environment throughout their range.  The Five-lined Skink has many forms so don't be fooled into thinking you are seeing a different species!  The beautiful juvenile with its yellow stripes and bright blue tail grows up into a lizard with a more uniform brown color. During the spring breeding season the brown colored males show off a bright red head as well!

In some cases you may actually be seeing a Broad-headed Skink which can look very similar to the five lined with some subtle differences in scale arrangement, coloration, and overall maximum size. This little lizard can be commonly found in sunny areas basking on logs and likes to eat many types of insects, worms, spiders, and sometimes even baby mice!

Female Five-lined Skink guarding her eggs
Lesser Known Fact: Unlike most lizards the female will actually tend the eggs until they hatch!


Hiking Garrett County

Hike Date: June 20th, 2011

Francis here to share with you some little bits about Deep Creek Lake State Park hiking.  Over the years I have started this hike by taking the Snake Root Loop trail and then climbing the mountain up the challenging Fire Tower Trail.  On my most recent visit, the Fire Tower Trail was closed so I headed down to the bottom of the hill to hike from the Meadow Mountain Trail up.  Much of this trail is forested and hilly but not extremely rocky.  In some areas there are boardwalks because the trail can be quite muddy in the springtime.  For miles of trail it is rare to encounter many other hikers so the seclusion is nice.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

C & O Canal Adventures Part 4: Washington County

Hike Date: June 12th, 2011

So after a drive out to Fort Frederick and Big Pool we did some of the hiking along a small beaver pond and the C&O Canal.  Big Pool is a lake for those of you not familiar with the area so don't be suprised that there isn't any diving boards or lifeguards when you get there!  The area is very popular for kayaking, fishing, and biking.  The trails were flat, mosquitoes were hungry, but that didn't stop us from hiking a few miles!  There were several turtles seen along the canal and we were even treated to a wild turkey gobbling as we hiked along!   Not a bad place to visit but not much to offer in the way of hiking and variety in scenery.

Maintenance  «««««
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Billy Goats in Maryland?

Hike date: June 9th, 2011

Mather Gorge

Rocky Section of Billy Goat A Blue Blaze in pic
One of the most challenging and rewarding day hikes near DC is right along the C & O Canal at Great Falls, MD.  If you are native to the Greater DC area, you've probably heard about this trail.  Billy Goat Trail A offers a variety of flat terrain and some moderate rock climbing for a nice hike/work out.  Even though dogs, horses, and bikes are prohibited on the trail, expect some company.  Due to the areas proximity to DC it attracts a lot of visitors just to see the Falls area so our best advice is to avoid this hike on the weekends if possible.