CRITTERS AT BRAZOS BEND STATE PARK (AND ELSEWHERE)--LIZARDS
This page was born 09/22/2006.  Rickubis designed it.  (such as it is.) Last update: 12/03/2016
Images and contents on this page copyright 2002--2016 Richard M. Dashnau 

Here are my other Brazos Bend and/or critter pages:
 ----------------------------------------------------------------                  OR,  FOR OTHER ANIMALS:
Alligators at Brazos Bend State Park Introduction                Critters at Brazos Bend State Park Page 1
Snakes-nonvenomous 1-------------------------------------------    Critters at Brazos Bend State Park Page 3
Snakes-nonvenomous 2-------------------------------------------------Insects, non-toxic
Snakes-nonvenomous 3------------------------------------------------Spiders
Snakes-venomous------------------------------------------------------Mammals
Birds-Waders----Birds-Raptors---------------------------------   Lizards!--Turtles!

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That's me on the Elm Lake Trail at BBSP. As I've gotten more pictures of lizards at the park (and elsewhere), I've gathered enough to start putting them on a separate page. Here they are!

8/07/2016 While walking along the Spillway Trail, I noticed this Skink sunning on a log. It was about 4 inches long, and about 4 yards away.  Skinks are usually very shy,so I snapped some pictures from
that distance away using as much zoom as I could. I moved on without disturbing the Skink.  After looking at 2 field guides (Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Reptiles and Amphibians;
Peterson Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America ), the best I can do is guess that this is a 5-lined Skink (Eumeces fasciatus).  What I thought was best about this
brief encounter was that the Skink on the log was at a place on the trail where the water had been about 6 feet deep during most of June. So, either the Skink floated on the log during that time...or
climbed one of the nearby trees. In any case, it was there after the flood.
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7/16/2016 While outside at the Russ Pitman Discovery Center, I noticed something light-colored moving in one of the trees about 20 yards away. It seemed to be moving like a lizard does, so I carefully walked over-so I wouldn't
scare it-until I could see what was going on. It was a Brown Anole shedding its skin. I decided to try to take some pictures. I had trouble focusing my camera in the contrasting shaded areas for photos, so I shot more video than photos, and
hoped to salvage some useful frames from the video. Most of the images here are cropped from frames grabbed from 1920 x 1080 video. To avoid scaring the Anole away, I stayed about 8 feet away and used the optical zoom--without a
tripod.  The two images below are from a single photo. I happened to catch the Anole as it was pulling off one of its "socks"--the molting from one of it's back feet.
 
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I was able to see a large portion of the molting process. The Anole pulled bits of its old skin off, and ate them. Occasionally, the Anole extended its dewlap. (As in the RICKUBISCAM picture) Brown Anoles do this often, and it's hard to tell if they are always extending a challenge to whatever lizards might be around...or everything that might be around. It appeared here that maybe the Anole was using it to help flex the *old* skin and tear it.
I was lucky enough to see the Anole pull off one "sock" and one "glove".  It was interesting to see how it carefully pulled the old skin off of its toes. Once it got a good grip, it pulled on the skin ("sock" or "glove")  steadily, and slowly.
It took about a minute and a half for a single foot to be pulled free of the molted skin. By contrast, bits of skin from other parts were pulled off rather quickly. I was impressed by the patience and care showed by the Anole as it cleared
 its toes of the old skin.
  
             LOTS OF OLD SKIN                                  SHOWING ONE "GLOVE"                      GRABBING ONE "SOCK"                               PULLING THE SOCK...

  
         MOST OF THE FOOT IS FREE                      STEADY, SLOW PULL                              ALMOST OFF...ALMOST                            JUST THE TIP IS LEFT
I can think of a few reasons for the care.
For one thing, the old skin has to come free of the hundreds of small hairs on each of the Anole's toe pads. Does the old skin stick the the new ones on the foot? Or, does the old skin have to be pulled off of all of
the new hairs (setae)--that is, does each new hair shed a casing? For another, if the Anole isn't careful, it could tear the old skin, and leave fragments stuck on its toe pads, which would impede their clinging function.
Also, how would it get small fragments off its toes? The hairs stick through molecular attraction. They can't be "turned off".  Anoles unstick their toe pads from climbing surfaces by curling their toes backwards to unstick
 the hairs a few at a time. And another reason--an Anole is probably strong enough to break its toes. It could possibly cause injury to itself by hurrying.

  
       TOENAIL MUST BE STUCK                                      IT'S FREE!                              NOW WHAT DO I DO WITH IT?                NICE, INTACT MOLTED FOOT
This is all guesswork on my part. I haven't found anything that describes Anole molting in great detail. Brown Anoles (Anolis sagrei) are considered an invasive species, and as I've mentioned before; since the first time I heard
of them being in the Houston area, I have seen them in many places. I see them where I work, I see them where I live. They are competing with the native Green Anoles (Anolis Carolinensis) and seem to be driving
them out of their preferred habitat. But, something interesting might be happening.
The Green Anoles appear to be migrating *up*!  That is, they appear to be adapting to live higher in trees (maybe up to 30 feet)--leaving the Brown Anoles to the ground, and lower plants. This study: "Rapid evolution of a native species
following invasion by a congener" Y. E. Stuart,1*†‡ T. S. Campbell,2* P. A. Hohenlohe,3 R. G. Reynolds,1,4 L. J. Revell,4 J. B. Losos seems to indicate that as time passes (and a surprisingly short time...a few years),the Green Anoles'
 foot-pads are becoming better-suited for clinging to the larger smooth surfaces (such as leaves) at the higher altitudes. The Anoles are developing more clinging surfaces on each toe!  So the home
team is still in the game.  To see video of this Anole molting, click the link here.

  
                       CHOMP!                                                         CHOMP!                                     AND THERE IT GOES.                                      CHOMP!

 
              THERE IT GOES.                                  BUT THE JOB ISN'T DONE.  MORE MOLTING TO FINISH.

October 03, 2012 (added 9/25/2014)  During another visit to Russ Pitman Discovery Center, I found more Brown Anoles. The three images below show some close images of a Brown Anole (A. Sagrei). 

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IThe 2 images below are frame grabs from short video clip of 2 Anoles fighting. The edited video clip can be seen here(wmv) or here (mp4).

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August 03, 2012 (added 9/20/2014) I have found that Brown Anoles are all around Houston.  During a visit to Russ Pitman Discovery Center, I noticed both Brown and Green Anoles. The two images below show the striking orange and yellow dewlap of the Brown Anole (A. Sagrei). 

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IThe 2 images below are frame grabs from short video clips of each type of Anole jumping.  The edited video clip can be seen here(wmv) or here (mp4).

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October 17, 2010 (added 8/29/2014) I was able to take another macro video of a Green Anole on a metal frame. This is another view of the "toe curling" that Anoles use to pull the tiny setae off of a surface in small increments--which allows them to lift their feet. The molecular attraction is always "on"; but individual hairs have very little strength.  The first group of 14 images below are frame grabs from the video clips. This shows the sequence of the lizard lifting its foot, then re-seating it. The edited video clip can be seen here(wmv) or here (mp4).

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-The images below are photos taken at the same time, and I enjoyed the view.  

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September 5, 2010 One definition of Van Der Waals force is a weak attraction between molecules. An example of this is condensation of water vapor into liquid. If the water molecules weren't attracted to each other, condensation wouldn't happen. Very small objects are subject to this kind of attraction.
Suppose you could make are really, really thin hair (averaging about 108nm (nanometers) in diameter) and have it flattened and widened to about 250nm at the end--so that the end resembled a spatula. If you laid the "spatula" flat against a surface then that flat wide end would be subject to Van Der Waals force attraction. What you would have is called a "spatular hair" or sometimes a single "seta". For comparison, a single human hair is about 75000 nanometers thick. So, these are really, REALLY thin hairs and really small spatulas.
So, if you laid the seta flat, it would stick; but not very strongly. To stop it from sticking, you could just tilt it so the flat wasn't making contact any more. Now imagine that instead of just *one* seta, you were a creature that had over a million (as many a billion in some species) of these covering pads on the bottoms of your toes. Geckos have these on their toes, and so do Anoles. The Geckos have branching bundles of these setae, with a thicker "trunk" of splitting into branches, with split into clumps of single hairs. Anoles have a simpler arrangement, with less branching and a lesser density of spatular hairs. Both lizards use these hairs to cling to surfaces. The amount of cling depends on the number of hairs that are laid with "spatulas" flat contacting a surface. A few hairs touching something irregular (like a speck of dust), would not cause enough adhesion for the dust to stick. But if a large percentage of the spatulas make contact, then the adhesion can be strong. But, this attraction can't be "turned off". More hairs will cause more stick. So for a Gecko, or an Anole the effect is as if their feet are the hooked half of a Velcro adhesive set; and the entire world is the material that the hooks will grab on to. They could potentially stick to everything. How can they walk anywhere at all without remaining stuck?
If you have a mated piece of Velcro, how would do you undo it? You'd peel it apart by starting with an edge. By peeling, you are breaking the connection of a few hooks at a time, and eventually the pieces separate. The adhesion of a spatular hair can be interrupted by tilting it. And using the model of the Velcro, it seems that if a mass of setae are stuck to a surface, then it could be taken back off by peeling it, by tilting--and therefore releasing--smaller numbers of hairs at a time. And that's EXACTLY what the lizards do. When they want to move, they peel their toes off of surfaces by curling them backwards. I saw a rather macabre side-effect of this once when I found a dead Mediterranean Gecko hanging on one of the buildings where I work. It was dead, but it was still sticking onto the wall by two of its feet (one front foot and the opposite back foot). The spatular hairs were still sticking even though the Gecko was dead because they had not been "peeled" off the wall. The body was arched backwards, and looked like it should have fallen--but it remained there for a number of days.
I had just rigged a way to use a macro lens with my Casio camera, and I was testing it on 09/12/2010. While I was looking for subjects, I found a small Green Anole on one of the plants by the Nature Center at BBSP.

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I experimented by filming the Anole, and moving in and out of focus by moving the camera. I was concentrating on the Anole's head, but caught other parts as it moved. I was filming video at 210 fps. When I reviewed the video, I watched as the foot that rested on one of the leaf curled the toes backwards before lifting it! I was extremely excited by this, as I'd been researching online about the foot adhesion of various creatures for a year or so and I immediately recognized what I'd seen. A few weeks later, I finally found a few more Anoles at Russ Pittman Discovery Center, and was able to shoot some more clips. I'm very happy with this. I suppose I could buy or capture some lizards to film, but I prefer filming them outside in the wild. The images on this page are from the edited video clip  (11MB wmv), and the links to the video is under the pictures.

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                                                                                    ----Anole toe curling video clip  (11MB wmv)
 Below are some articles that explain the concept in detail as it applies to lizards. Spiders, some insects, and a few other species of lizards also use spatular hairs to cling to their envrionment. Some of these are quite technical, and I don't understand everything in them, but I can still use them for information. I was able to find them on the internet, most of them for free. There are many other articles.

"Characterization of the Structure and composition of gecko adhesive setae" --N.W. Rizzo, K.H. Gardner, D.J. Walls, N.M. Keiper-Hrynko, T.S. Ganzke and D.L. Hallahan

"Adhesion and friction in gecko toe attachment and detachment"
Yu Tian, Noshir Pesika, Hongbo Zeng, Kenny Rosenberg, Boxin Zhao, Patricia McGuiggan, Kellar Autumn, and Jacob Israelachvili

"Characterization of the Structure and composition of gecko adhesive setae" --N.W. Rizzo, K.H. Gardner, D.J. Walls, N.M. Keiper-Hrynko, T.S. Ganzke and D.L. Hallahan

"Integrative biology of sticky feet in geckos"  Eric R. Pianka* and Samuel S. Sweet

"Dynamics of geckos running vertically"
K. Autumn, S. T. Hsieh, D. M. Dudek, J. Chen, C. Chitaphan and R. J. Full

"A comparative analysis of clinging ability among pad-bearing lizards"
DUNCAN J. IRSCHICK, CHRISTOPHER C. AUSTIN, KEN PETREN, ROBERT N. FISHER, JONATHAN B. LOSOS1 AND OLAF ELLERS

08/12/2010 (added 8/15/2014)--  In the years since my first encounter with the Brown Anoles (see below--08/07/2004) I have found that Brown Anoles (anolis Sagrei) could be found in various places around Houston.  I'd heard that they could be found at Mercer Aboretum, so I drove up there to find them. Yes, they were everywhere! In fact, just about any small creature scurrying around at the Arboretum was a Brown Anole. Here are some pictures of of few of them. While watching them running around, I noticed that they did alter their skin coloring, going from very dark brown to a light greenish-brown, although they kept their patterning throughout. I also captured high-speed video of one of these lizards showing its dewlap for mating/territorial display, and jumping. The last image below (with the black border) is a frame from the video.
It was edited slightly to make it shorter.  The click this link to see the clip (wmv).  

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                         WITH THE DARKER BROWN--              ----       A BIT LIGHTTER PATTERNING-                           -    LOOKING FOR OTHER LIZARDS---

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                   THE ORANGE DEWLAP--                                ---IT'S WATCHING ME

05/10/2009--  I was watching a Green Anole in one of the bushes at the VC at BBSP. I was hoping to try out a new pocket camera, a Casio EX-FC100 and catch it in mid leap. It was well-covered by leaves, though, so I missed its attack on a katydid. So, I decided to experiment with the camera, shooting photos at different settings, and shooting some high-framerate video.  I saw some interesting things. Today's RICKUBISCAM is cropped from a photo I shot of the Anole's head from about 2 feet away. I shot everything far enough away to avoid alarming the Anole. The images below are cropped from photos, or from single frames of the video clips.
Like its larger cousin, the American Alligator, if a Green Anole catches large prey, it has to do something to process it so the Anole can have a meal. Like its larger cousin, the Anole uses its teeth and jaw pressure, to weaken the carcass so it can be broken up (to compare with an Alligator, check lower on this page).

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                           ANOLE WITH KATYDID--              ----CHECKING THE SURROUNDINGS-                    -THE TEETH ARE VISIBLE---

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           CLOSER LOOK AT THE TEETH--                ---IT'S WATCHING ME

This Anole moved onto a more substantial surface--a metal garden post.  It began to press the katydid against the unyielding surface of the post.

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                    ANOLE ON THE POST----                   --ON THE POST, CLOSER VIEW--         -PRESS THE KATYDID AGAINST THE POST.
Anoles can catch, and later manipulate their prey with their tongue, which has adhesive properties. Using the tongue this way is called "lingual prehension".  The four photos below show how the Anole used its tongue to pull the katydid further into the jaws. I've read that using the tongue this way is a trait of "older" species of lizards. In more recent developments, this behavior has been lost, and this frees the tongue to be used as a sensory organ instead. So, it has become forked and is used as a taste/smell organ in those species of lizards (like the Komodo Dragon).

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                     KATYDID CLAMPED IN JAWS-----                  ---JAWS ARE OPEN!---                  ----TONGUE PULLS IN KATYDID---                --  JAWS CLAMP AGAIN

After a number of sessions of clamping, etc, the Anole shook the carcass. Where an Alligator will do a single sling, and attempt to "whip crack" a carcass, the Anole's face was a blur as it moved. I filmed the shaking at 210 frames per second, and it was still hard to make out. Of course, the Anole's head (and prey) is much smaller and therefore lighter than an Alligator's. When I watched the video, I got the impression that the tip of the Anole's snout makes a figure-eight as it shakes. As shown in the pictures below (about one cycle of a shaking bout), the Anole also twists its head as it shakes the carcass.  Note that we alternate views of the top of its head with views of the bottom of its lower jaw as the Anole's head moves.  After a bout of shaking, the Anole would continue jaw squeezing, and then pressing the Katydid against the post.

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Finally,  the katydid broke. I decided to leave then, to let the Anole eat undisturbed.

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I put together a short video using these photos and edited portions of the clips I shot of this Anole. To see it, click on this link (wmv 28mb).

01/10/2007---January...still "wintertime". I was opening my apartment door when I saw this little female off to my left.  She's a brown Green Anole. The females have shorter snout, and the light-colored line along the back. I was very happy to see this visitor. The RICKUBISCAM image was shot with a flash, backlighting everything very nicely. The image below was taken without the flash.  I'm always happy to see these neighbors of mine. 

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--     WONDERFUL SUN FLASH!------------           --WONDERFUL SUN!

August 07, 2004 The first image below (KING OF THE POST) shows something that is a rare sight in Texas, and Houston. It's a small lizard, about 6 inches long. At first glance it seems to resemble the little brown or green lizards that people here in Houston see almost everywhere, the Green Anole (Anolis Carolinensis).  People often call them "chameleons" because they can change from brown to green and back again.
However, this is NOT a Green Anole. It's a Brown Anole (Anolis sagrei)! According to both my Audubon Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians (tenth printing); and my Peterson's Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central America (Second Edition); these anoles are only found in Florida. The lizards I photographed are out running loose, in what must be an established colony here in Houston!
Here's a brief version of how I happened to be able to see these lizards. I'm going to be deliberately vague, to avoid any bother to the people who were nice enough make it possible for me to see these; and who were kind enough to let me walk around their yard and take pictures. (YOU know who you are. :-) Thanks again. ) Take a look at the following images..

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                         KING OF THE POST!                                                   ON ROUGH BARK                                                   ON SMOOTH BARK       

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                         HEAD CLOSEUP                                        SKULKING THROUGH THE GRASS

About a year ago, a friend of the park, Helen Davis,  mentioned that she'd found some Brown Anoles in her backyard. This was some good spotting (sharp eyes, Helen!), and there was video footage taken. There was no chance of mistaken identity.
Just about a week or two ago, I happened to see Helen, and asked about the Brown Anoles. She hadn't seen them in her yard.  About a week later, I got email and some pictures from Helen. While walking the neighborhood she saw The Brown Anoles had appeared again, but about four blocks away, on a tree. She took more video footage, and of course, the digital pictures. I asked a lot of questions, and found out where it was. Helen was kind enough to mention me to the homeowners. I called them, and went to their house on Sunday. The people who lived there were *very* nice; and mentioned casually that they saw these lizards in their backyard often. I walked back hopefully. I saw one very small Brown Anole on a flowerpot. Then one of the homewners came out, and began talking to me about the lizards, and showing me where they'd been seen.
Folks...I wish *everyone* had the attitude that these people have towards their reptilian neighbors.  They talked about worrying about the lizards as they ran through the grass (one of the characteristics of the Brown Anole is that it prefers to hide on the ground when threatened, instead of in trees like the Green Anole); and various other little things that showed that they appreciated their lizard neighbors---and that was before they knew that these were uncommon! VERY cool folks!
Anyway, as I was shown around, the Brown Anoles became more evident. I could have sat in that yard for hours, but kept my visit as short as I could; about 45 minutes. (These people were kind enough to allow me to come to their house, and not only allowed me to take pictures of the lizards, but HELPED ME FIND THEM! Thanks again, by the way.)(I'm hoping they'll come by and visit my website, and so can see this.)
So...in this 45 minutes or so, I saw at least 12 Brown Anoles. I saw large males, large females, small ones, *really* small ones with red heads...males displaying...a brief interaction with a male Green and a male Brown...OH, IT WAS GREAT!
Below are more of the pictures.
I was a bit confused about identifying gender.  In the Green Anoles, the males seem to have a longer snout, and generally broader head than the females. In Brown Anoles, the male (which shows the throat fan) has a shorter snout. However, if I understand the guidebooks correctly, the male has the regular patterning on the back (it looks to me like "X's" or hourglasses side by side); while the female has light coloration with "scalloped" edges.  The Brown Anole throat fan is bright orange, with a yellow or white edge; while the Green Anole fan is pink with no outline.   I took a good number of pictures, but some of these anoles moved so quickly that it was hard to focus on them. I also didn't get any pictures of the little red-headed ones.
The image below (DEWLAP DISPLAY) is a frame from a short video of a male displaying; but without bobbing his body.
 

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                    FEMALE BROWN  ANOLE                                          MALE EXTENDS THROAT FAN                                THROAT FAN CLOSEUP          

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              MALE FROMTOP (640X480)                                          DEWLAP DISPLAY VIDEO 201KB

Anyway...there is NO way that these are Green Anoles. And there is a good-sized colony of these Brown Anoles established in at least one back yard; and there's no reason that I can think of for them to be confined to that single yard. Also, they were sighted last year about 4 blocks away!  From what I've seen (in only 45 minutes...HA!) the Green Anoles are still around. Also, if I can believe the guidebooks, the Green Anoles are far more widespread, and probably not threatened by the Brown Anoles. They *do* have somewhat different habits. So... I think this is REALLY cool.  Thanks again to Helen for mentioning these anoles, and for speaking on my behalf to the other homeowners!

June 27,2004 One other thing. One of the times I walked into the VC/NC at the park, I saw Ken and Nicole watching something outside the side door. When I walked over, I saw a Green Anole. I've mentioned before that I'll always have a certain affection for these lizards, because of the hours I'd spent watching the ones I had as pets when I was younger.
This Anole was in full "battle dress". That is, he was in full territorial aggression pose. When I first saw him, he was standing stiffly with legs under the body lifting it straight out, and his body seemed to be flattened from side to side. His crest was fully extended and the skin behind his eyes had turned black. I've seen males display like this to one another before fighting. While I watched him, I carefully looked outside for the other male, and then I realized that there wasn't one. He was getting tough with his reflection in the window! I quickly went out the front door, and went around to get some pictures, and a few video clips. Here they are.

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         ARE YOU LOOKING AT ME?                            AGGRESSIVE FACE                            COME OUT AND FIGHT!               

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                  BETTER BACK OFF!                            IF I COULD GET IN THERE.... 

First, he's broken off the confrontation (ARE YOU LOOKING, above), and is still checking out his "opponent".  Next, is a cropped closeup showing his face (AGGRESSIVE FACE, above). Look at that extended crest, and the black patches behind the eyes--just like the lizard in front of him (ha!). Later, he actually tried to get into the window (COME OUT AND FIGHT!, above). The last two images are frames from two video clips. BETTER BACK OFF, above, shows him in the clip (888kb) as he does another bobbing display and shows his red dewlap (the pouch under the lower jaw). Watch as he looks in at the "other lizard", then finally backs off. When he did, he walked over and encountered the other window! Then, his crest stood up again when he saw his reflection again, and he tried to get into the window. (See IF I COULD..., above) from the clip (918kb) that shows him trying to get into the window a few times. I stayed back a distance so that he wouldn't see my reflection in the window and get distracted.

September 21, 2003 Well, we've been getting some rain. The park certainly needed it. Unfortunately, it prevented me from getting the material I wanted to use this week. I was able to capture a Golden Silk Spider, and attempted to photograph it, but that didn't turn out well at all, although I did get some interesting video clips of it crawling around my hands. While I was out in the rain, I saw a number of alligators, and a number of wading birds and also surprised three deer by the water station on the Elm Lake trail. But, since it was raining, I didn't get many pictures.
Yesterday wasn't exceptionally bright either, and as I left my apartment that morning, I looked to my left, and saw the tip of an Anole's nose sticking down from the shingles on the exterior trim. I went around to the side, and was so amused by what I saw that I snapped a picture of it (see HEADS DOWN!, below). It seemed like this little guy was *really* trying to come up with a good reason why he should bother going out at all. I watched the little nose poke out...and then it would slowly back inside...and then slowly inch back out and then...go back in. Pretty funny.  I guess it isn't a surprise that out of the two of us, he was the one smart enough to stay in out of the rain.

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                                                       HEADS DOWN!

February 16-17, 2003 I encountered some more Anole antics.  I stopped by the water station to see what was in there. This is the same spot where I saw the Anole tangled in the spider's web, and where I'd encountered one at other times since the cold weather. I opened the door, and saw this male (I assume it's male because of its size, and proportion of head to body. What I assume are females are a bit smaller, with a smaller head proportionate to body size, and seem to have light coloration along the spine. These are purely my own judgement, and I haven't verified these observations with any authority.)  This male looked at me while I took his picture (OH, IT'S YOU AGAIN, below).  There was a female, also; but she scampered underneath that white plastic cupholder. The male slithered under the cupholder, also (see HEY! THIS IS *MY* SPOT, below).( His tail is pointing straight up, and hers is pointing straight down.)   As I tried to see under the cup without disturbing it, the male Anole stuck his nose out from under the cup, and peeked out at me (see WHEW, LIZARD BREATH!, below)( His nose is at the top of the cupholder, where his tail had been.).  I carefully closed and locked the station, and walked the trail for a while. I returned after an hour or so, and slowly opened the door and peeked in again. What I saw indicated, I thought, that the two anoles might have been on their honeymoon. (see WAIT. I *LIKE* LIZARD BREATH, below).  Now, what is interesting to me is this: If these are the same anoles that have been there all winter, does this mean that they have "bonded" and that these females (I've seen up to 3 in there) are with this male (if it's the same male)?  Or, is this just a coincidental gathering, due to the shelter afforded by the shelter of the water station? It *is* interesting seeing that this limited shelter, which makes for an enclosed air space, seems to attract Anoles for the cold weather.
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           OH, IT'S *YOU* AGAIN.               HEY! THIS IS *MY* SPOT!               PHEW, LIZARD BREATH!         

 
    WAIT, I *LIKE* LIZARD BREATH!

December 15, 2002 Today was, among other things-- Anole Sunbathing Day, evidently, judging by the number of Green Anoles (Anolis Carolensis) that I saw. As I walked along the Spillway Trail, it seemed like almost every tree had at least one anole sunbathing on it.


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               WHAT? GO AWAY!                                 THREE ON A TREE
             THREE ON TREE 640

I took a number of pictures of these Anoles. I've always had a soft spot for these lizards since having them as pets while I was young.  One good picture appears here (WHAT? GO AWAY, above). As just one example of how plentiful they were, I got this picture of three together (THREE ON A TREE, above--click on the 640 link to see it even larger).

December 08, 2002 It's been kind of cool lately. Today, it was around 50 degrees F at the park. After having poor luck trying to do a minor PC upgrade in the Nature Center, I was finally able to walk around Elm Lake and the Spillway Trail around 2 PM. While on the Spillway Trail, I found two Nephila Clavipes (Golden Silk) spiders in webs. These two webs were right next to each other (about 12 inches apart). I didn't walk the entire trail, but those were the only ones I saw..
While on the trail, I decided to look into one of the water stations.  This water station was the home for the Dolomedes Tenebrosus spider that I've shown here before. When I opened the door and looked in, what I saw is the subject of the picture below (see HANGING).
Hanging by his tail ( I assume it was a male, mostly because of size) was a Green Anole (Anolis Carolensis).  The Green Anole, like many lizards, is equipped with a "breakaway tail", which breaks off easily to help the Anole escape from predators. So, the fact that he was hanging by his tail was surprising.  However, not only was he hanging by his tail, but he was hanging by his tail from a spider's web! Don't ask *me* how he got in this mess. He didn't appear very happy about it himself. ---
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------ HANGING A LIZARD?   ------------   WHO COULD RESIST? ---------------   MASTER BUILDER--------
In most situations, I leave the animals and plants  I encounter as I found them, intending for nature to take its course. But, this time it just didn't seem fair.  Looking at the Anole's face (see WHO COULD RESIST?, above), and seeing how the spider who had apparently made the web was not even a half mouthful for this lizard (see THE MASTER BUILDER, above), I decided to help this guy out. After all, the weather was getting sort of cool, anyway, and the Anole needed to find shelter.
The following three links are for some short clips I took with the C-700 and a little flashlight that I usually have with me.

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-------THAT'S IT, I WON'T HURT YOU.   -------    MAN, THIS WEB IS TOUGH!      ------------      WHEW!, SAVED!
I moved slowly, so I wouldn't alarm him, and as I moved my hand closer, the Anole grabbed it (see THAT'S IT, above, or this clip1(462 kb) .  He walked down my hand, and I slowly began pulling away from the web. However, he was stuck worse than I thought (I was trying not to damage the web too much), and I carefully helped him pull with his tail. I didn't want to leave it squirming in the web. With the cold weather so close, I didn't think the Anole could spare the energy necessary to heal and regenerate his tail. (see THIS WEB IS TOUGH, above, or this clip2(468 kb) . Finally, we got free, and he climbed down my palm to my wrist, where he rested--probably enjoying the warmth of my skin. I tried to pinch of a bit of webbing that was still caught on the tip of his tail, and this made him run up my arm. This looks like I'm doing some kind of magic trick. (see WHEW!, above, or this clip3(197 kb) . He ran up my arm to somewhere on my back. I put my lenses and camera away, and he finally reappeared on my shoulder, from which he moved back to the door of the water station, and moved back inside. I hope he makes it through the winter.
REMEMBER, I AM A VOLUNTEER AT BRAZOS BEND STATE PARK. AS SUCH, I'M AUTHORISED TO HANDLE LIVING THINGS AT THE PARK.  BOTHERING, FEEDING, OR OTHERWISE INTERFERING WITH THE ANIMALS AT THE PARK IS PROHIBITED.  PLEASE LEAVE WHAT YOU FIND AT THE PARK ALONE SO THAT OTHER PEOPLE CAN ALSO ENJOY IT.

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                                                           HEY!, I'M ORDERING, HERE!

July 20, 2002  I was on my way home from Brazos Bend State Park, when I decided to stop at a Burger King. As I was coming up to the drive-in window, I saw this anole sitting on the window sill. As I sat in line, he seemed to be looking inside for something. (HEY! I'M ORDERING, HERE!, above)

June 30, 2002  It had been raining all weekend.  Not steadily, but enough to make things wet and the air close and sticky.  I witnessed some alligator behavior (recorded elsewhere).
Then, I wandered down Pilant Slough, and on the long wooden bridge, I scared up a good-sized skink (I'm not sure of the exact species. At least, I'm pretty sure it's a skink. I'll be checking this.). (See SKINK, below.)They move very quickly and are quite shy. This makes them hard to photograph. Well, for me, anyway. This poor creature frantically skittered back and forth across the bridge (and I hadn't even gotten there yet) as it tried to find a hiding place.  I felt bad that it was so scared, but it was pretty comical to watch. Then, the skink seemed to suddenly realize that it could go between the boards, and it did. I had stopped on the bridge to watch a Robber Fly, and when I turned around, the skink had popped out, so I snapped this picture.

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                                                                         THE SKINK

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                                                                                                                                GECKO
June 02, 2002   I decided to post this picture of a Mediterranean gecko  (GECKO, above)I encountered at the front door of my apartment just last week.  It was nice enough to visit, after all.  Since we're on the subject of these geckos (which are not native to the US, but were introduced in the early 1900's, and they've spread everywhere. Well, everywhere South.),  has anyone else noticed that they turn very light colored at night? Almost whitish-pink. The skin, during the day, resembles bark in color and texture, but at night, it gets almost translucent white or pink. Is there a purpose to this? I've noticed that they may blend in with bricks while their skin this color, but otherwise, I don't know why they'd do this. The gecko in my picture was originally this lighter color. I went inside, got my camera, and came out with a flashlight. He'd already started getting darker when I shined the flashlight on him (so I could focus the camera, and use the flash). The lighter pigmentation of the skin can be seen around the darker spots.

February 10, 2002   It was a mite nippy out at the park today.  Temperature had dropped to about 50 degrees (it was almost 70 yesterday!) and with the strong breeze, the percieved temperature due to wind chill was around 38 degrees. I was tying bundles of wood for the campsites when I found this little anole (green anole, below). I relocated him to a larger woodpile, where hopefully he was able to find shelter again. My finger was a lot warmer than the air, and he was reluctant to leave the heat.
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------------------------GREEN ANOLE 1-------------------------------------------- GREEN ANOLE 2-----------------------------------------  GREEN ANOLE 3--------------------------------------------  GREEN ANOLE 4


If you'd like to know more about the park follow these links:

Brazos Bend State Park   The main page.

Brazos Bend State Park Volunteer's Page  The volunteer's main page.
 

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