Monday, August 1, 2011

Rock Piles

On the upper slopes of an old cedar covered hillside, can be found piles of limestone slabs. The pieces were created when a meteor struck this site hundreds of millions of years ago. They were exposed by erosion resulting from improper land use experienced in the last couple of hundred years. Now they offer another specialized habitat for the creatures of Blue Jay Barrens.

The rock piles are found in a 100 foot wide band that follows the contour for about 900 feet across the south facing slope. The southern aspect allows the rocks to heat quickly on sunny days in late winter and spring. That makes these rock piles an excellent place to search for lizards and snakes coming out of hibernation.

Each pile produces a wide range of caves, cracks, crevices and shelves. Each location provides a variety of temperature and moisture conditions. Here we have a lizard absorbing the heat of a sunny ledge while a turtle squeezes into a cool, shady nook just below.

Each rock pile seems to have a resident Northern Fence Lizard, but I never see more than one lizard per pile. There is a hint of blue coloration at the base of the throat and on the exposed portion of the belly that indicates this individual is a male.

Temperatures in the high 90’s are a bit much for the turtles. This Eastern Box Turtle has squeezed beneath a thick rock overhang to escape the rising sun and benefit by the slightly cooler earth at the base of the rocks. Both the turtle and the lizard are carrying about bits of spider web, so I imagine there are a few spiders making their homes among the rocks. I put my hand beneath the ledge to feel the cool turtle getaway, but I didn’t go sticking my fingers where I couldn’t see.


  1. Wonderful critter pictures. Love that lizard. It's almost as if they see you coming and pose for you.

  2. Hi Steve...Pretty interesting those rocks..I love findinf stuff like that!!
    I am just glad you didn't find a snake ,but I was on my guard!! : }}

  3. Hi, Lois. The lizards always keep an eye on me. It's hard to get a picture where they're not staring straight at the camera.

    Hi, grammie g. I wouldn't let a snake get in there without giving you some kind of warning.