Lately, I’ve been thinking about the nature that we observe in our basements, backyards, and neighborhoods.

It started with a poem from Anna Zuiker, a local middle school student, who so kindly let us share her poem about the ecology of her backyard on the blog.

Then a couple weeks ago I posted a short video that I shot while strolling my neighborhood one evening: a beetle (and cockroach) feeding frenzy at an oozing oak tree!

And yesterday, my colleague Jenny Weston in the NC State College of Engineering emailed me a fun series of photos her fiancé took in their backyard garden.

Jenny is on the NCSU Turtle Rescue Team – she fosters injured turtles and nurses them back to health so that they can be released into the wild. A couple weeks ago, she began caring for one particularly ornery and injured turtle. When he refused to eat the delicious fruits and veggies that previous turtle patients had gobbled down in an instant, Jenny headed out to her garden on the hunt for a big fat juicy slug – something she knew it just couldn’t resist. She began flipping rocks. And much to her surprise, under one of the rocks, she discovered THIS:

A female five-lined skink (Plestiodon fasciatus) guarding a clutch of eggs under a rock. Photo credit: Mike Cox

A mama five-lined skink guarding a clutch of 10 eggs! Over the next week or so, Jenny kept an eye on the nest, always guarded by the mother skink.

After about 10 days, Jenny couldn’t resist gently checking under the rock again. This time she saw little lizard heads poking out of the eggs – the skinks were hatching!

Skinks starting to hatch from the eggs. Photo credit: Mike Cox

She checked the next day to find the tiny newborn skinks scurrying out of the nest and into the surrounding leaf litter. Mama was still onsite, but the egg cases were gone.

After scooping up a handful of leaf litter, Jenny got a close-up with a skink hatchling. Photo credit: Mike Cox

Suffice it to say, I bet we’ve all experienced these little wondrous moments of nature, the brief yet delightful phenomena that unexpectedly catch your eye or ear and give you pause when going about your daily life.

If you’re like me, maybe you snap a photo – or even record audio or video. You may take a mental snapshot, but then so often those observations get buried in your smartphone’s photo album or in the recesses of your memory.

I think it’s time we share these moments with one another – like Jenny did with me over email. I bet if something caught your eye, made you smile, or pause and ponder, it will do the same for others. And who knows? Maybe you’ve witnessed something that no one else has seen, a new phenomenon awaiting scientific investigation.

So what are you waiting for?  Drop us a line at — We’re eager to hear and share the nature in your backyard!