Although I don't have any exciting new field stories to recount, I haven't had to venture far from NESCent to have had a few close encounters with nature - including one that was much closer than expected. Pictured in the upper panel of the figure at right is a cool praying mantis that we found perched on the rear tire of my Aveo the other day. However, it was what happened to me this evening as I finished an easy run around dusk that really takes the cake. As I was running up the street towards my house in Old West Durham, I suddenly perceived the shadow of something flapping right above my head. Before I had time to react, I felt what later turned out to be talons and the weight of something quite large on my head! Of course, I did what almost any normal person would do (yell "Ahh, ahh!" and swat wildly). After hanging on to my scalp for a second, I felt it release, and then an enormous barred owl flew off my head and up to the telephone wires, where it hung out long enough for me to go back to my house and grab a camera to snap the (admittedly poor) photo in the lower panel at right. My neighbor reports that this is the 4th time he has heard of this owl attacking, and by interesting coincidence, several other owl attacks have recently been reported for North Carolina (here and here).
Dechronization is authored by evolutionary biologists interested in the development and application of methods for estimating phylogeny and making phylogeny-based inferences. The goal of the blog is to provide a forum for discussion of the latest research and methods, while also providing anecdotes, tidbits of natural history, and other related information.