Friday, November 03, 2006

Lounge (ing) Lizard

After I took the Horsey Swing Turkey Oak down back in '05, I spent several weekends cutting up the giant limbs for fire and BBQ wood.
Eventually, the tree was reduced to one giant log section that was too big to fall into the "fun to chainsaw" category ... so I left it. It lay like a big bark covered parking barrier and actually kept delivery guys from driving across my struggling lawn. I toyed with the "let's make a dugout canoe" daydream for awhile, but eventually, I just let it lie.

The log is now the home of a few fence lizards (genus Sceloporus) , including a tiny baby who is only about an inch and half in length. Their cryptic coloration is so good that they usually sit tight, instead of dashing off as some other lizards do.

If you approach them slowly, they will cock their head and study you, as if trying to decide if they are still invisible or not. I don't know if a lizard can be confident, but they have this air of cockiness about them that I find endearing.
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This one is a boy ... see the bright blue patch? Sunny days find him sitting atop his perch, surveying his kingdom and slurping insects that wander by. He seems to really enjoy this log.

I'm glad this tree is still in use. When it stood healthy and tall, my small children and plenty of adults took hair raising rides on the horsey swing that hung from it's branches. The swing, a horse cleverly made from an old tire was hung so high that small children had to be lifted overhead to mount up. A length of rope attached to it allowed an adult to get the swing going fast enough and high enough to bring forth a mix of terrified squeals mixed with laughter and always, always, a "Swing me again!" response from the riders.

The lizards like the tree the way it is now since it supports a nice bug collection and offers loose bark to hide under. They can't imagine fun or swinging so a horizontal tree is just fine to them.

Meanwhile, the horse swing sits out by the barn, draped over the garden fence. The kids who rode it are in high school and college now, but still around. Last week, I poked it, shook it, and gave it a good once over. It seems as sound as ever.

I bought a coil of rope and I'm looking up ...


OldHorsetailSnake said...

You should be in charge of Be Kind to Animals Week.

Anonymous said...

They are beautiful. Wonderful camo. I like lizards, but none come this far north I guess, although there are a few down on the PA border.

Deb said...

Awww, you've gone and made me think of missed opportunities for horsey swings strung from high white pine branches... *sniff*

The lizards are cool. One thing we don't have around here.

Hurricane Teen said...

I love the way fence lizards look at me like that!! They must be thinking: "If you can't see me, then why are you staring at me?"

Anonymous said...

I don't believe I have ever seen one of those lizards around here (tampa bay area) but they must be around. I mostly see the brown and green ones. He is very attractive with his blue dew lap. I will look closer and see if I can spot one.

vicki said...

I am very fond of Florida lizards- although I haven't seen these with beautiful blue. I, too, will look closer. And you've put me in mind of my post for Monday- thanks!

missouri madness said...

Love the creature and critter posts from your part of the country. Nature is so cool!

Floridacracker said...

I'm pretty mean to chickens,beef, and pork :)

ThreeCollie and Deb,
Your comments struck me! I never thought about life without lizards.

They do have a lot of personality ...especially for being a reptile.

Look in an oak forest. They are oak bark mimics.

Was it the lizard or the swing memories? I wonder ...

Abandoned in Pasadena said...

We don't have many lizards around here so it's always a treat to run across one when traveling. Sometimes they don't even run away from you when they are on a sidewalk. I sometimes think they are begging me for food because on occasion they have walked towards me and I have had to step backwards.

I really enjoyed seeing your lazy lizard pictures.

Abandoned in Pasadena said...

Excuse me...I meant lounge (ing) lizard.

swamp4me said...

Aside from anoles, fence lizards are my favorite. And I agree, they do seem to have a certain degree of confidence.
Man, you grow some BIG turkey oaks down your way. Most of the ones I've seen around here are scrawny things. I would never even consider them as a support for a swing.

Floridacracker said...

They are everywhere here. Even inside on the windows sometimes. We always rescue those before they wind up as lizard mummies.

I guess these guys are holding their own against the invasion of the brown anoles.
Turkey oaks get big here, but they are short lived for a tree. I think 75 years is about the average lifespan. The sister to the tree in the old post stood nearby, but years ago a tornado twisted it into splinters.

Floridacracker said...

Thanks. Seeing what's going on around the country, in between real travel, is a big appeal of this blogging thing.