Flying Fish

The Echoes of Albemarle Sound
by Nicole Carlozo -- June 23rd, 2011

There’s nothing like a little noise to break up your day. This week, one little guy proved that size isn’t everything.

Unexpected Visitor: Sitting at work one morning, I jumped out of my skin upon hearing a loud QUACK coming from somewhere in my office. Upon further inspection and much listening, I realized that the creature was outside, most likely on the roof or in the tree that brushes against my window.

What is that? I called to my co-workers as the creature once again made its presence known. The strange call vibrated through the office, turning quite a few heads. Imagine my surprise when my boss assured me that it was none other than a green tree frog.

Hyla cinerea, commonly known as the green tree frog, has a bright green or yellow coloration with large toe pads and a loud chorus (believe me!). They thrive in North Carolina’s Coastal Plain within wetland areas, preferring trees or shrubs near permanent water. However, they are often guests in my summer home, sticking themselves against the outside of our large glass windows, where insects are attracted when we turn on our porch lights.

Dancing Duo: Our office was also visited by a pair of noisy woodpeckers this week. Unfortunately, I did not see the duo, but my colleagues declared that they were red-headed.

Dryocopus pileatus, or the pileated woodpecker, is one of the largest woodpeckers in North America (and one of the most beautiful, in my opinion). These omnivorous birds live in large, older trees and forage for carpenter ants by peeling tree bark or drumming holes with their powerful beaks. I can’t offer a photo of the dancing duo, but the above shot was taken in Belize during a study tour in 2008. These guys get around! Click here to listen in…

Background Noise: Outside of work, I spend most evenings at the beach, where the sound of crashing waves lull me to sleep on the sandy shores. Upon opening my eyes,  I often see flocks of Pelicans soaring gracefully through the air. Brown Pelicans (Pelecanus occidentalis) are common along beaches and lagoons, residing from North Carolina all the way down to Venezuela. It’s always exciting to watch them dive into the water towards their fish prey, as if the act of predation is nothing but a game. When I see the birds, I think “no fear.” They look like they belong.

So far, the largest flock I’ve seen had 31 individuals. My housemate, however, swears she counted 53 soaring together down the beach!

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