Most of my encounters with adult Northern Fence Lizards occur in the early spring. At this time of year the lizards are fresh out of hibernation. The cold ground and air temperatures cause the lizards to seek out sunlit basking areas where they can warm their bodies.
A fallen log, exposed to full sunlight, is an ideal place to find one of these lizards. Northern Fence Lizards spend much of their time on tree trunks, and they don’t seem to discriminate between trunks in the vertical versus the horizontal position. This log, situated on a dry, sunny bluff beside the creek, is an ideal place to watch for lizards.
As the sun warms the lizard, its face assumes an expression of contented enjoyment. More likely, the closed eyes probably serve some physiological function that benefits the survival of this organism.
The lizard’s mottled brown coloration allows it to blend well with rough tree bark. Their existence is often unnoticed until they happen to move.
On the ground, the colors merge with those of the fallen sticks and leaves. It’s the sound of dry leaves being pushed aside that calls your attention to the presence of a startled lizard running for cover. The sound generally moves towards a nearby tree where the lizard suddenly appears on the trunk.
If you move slowly, most of these lizards will allow a close approach, although they often keep a watchful eye on your presence. Black and blue coloration on the throat and sides indicates a male Northern Fence Lizard.
By sitting quietly, you soon become just another object in the woods. The lizard then turns its attention to stalking insects that will provide a suitable meal. Northern Fence Lizards will be active through the summer and into the fall, but they will become harder to see as growing vegetation begins to hide them away.