Dactyloidae nights

After making the previous post, I went out in the evening to scope out the property, and soon had to call The Girlfriend out, since she doesn’t get the opportunity to see these guys too often. On the oak-leaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia) in the front garden, my photo subject from earlier in the day was snoozing. I haven’t seen any Carolina anoles (Anolis carolinensis) do this is a while, and now that the weather’s cooled down a bit I expected to see it even less, but so much for my predictions.

Carolina anole Anolis carolinensis snoozing on oak-leaf hydrangea Hydrangea quercifiolia
She remarked on how small the tail was, smaller in diameter than normal household string, which is the best I can give you for scale at the moment – I probably should prime the yard with hundreds of little millimeter rulers. But I did make the effort to get some light under its sheltering leaf.

Carolina anole Anolis carolinensis disturbed on oak-leaf hydrangea Hydrangea quercifiolia
During this, the anole cracked open an eye to try and determine what that bright light was, but did nothing more than that, and once I got my frames I left it in piece.

Then, out of curiosity, I checked out the other oak-leaf hydrangea, at the front of the property in The Jungle, because I had on occasion seen an anole up there, though it’s been a while. And yes, this one was out too, all the way up on the topmost flower spire of the tallest branch (which puts it at my eye level, when I’m alongside the plant and not at the bottom of the slope that it’s on.)

Carolina anole Anolis carolinensis snoozing on oak-leaf hydrangea Hydrangea quercifiolia dried flowers
Typically the anoles go a bit paler at night, so this makes them easier to spot against the darker foliage – which may not mean ‘easy,’ as this image illustrates. The hydrangeas bloom in late spring to early summer, but the dead petals can hang on all winter, and the anole was using them to maximize its altitude – it appeared to be observing the moon. This was my initial view, but we can go in closer.

Carolina anole Anolis carolinensis snoozing on oak-leaf hydrangea Hydrangea quercifiolia flowers
Your call: is the anole attempting to play that dead petal like an instrument, or mind-meld with it, or totally lost in rapture? Or perhaps just asleep in an awkward position? I still traipsed up the slope for a better perspective, which again, caused the diminutive lizard to lazily crack open an eye.

Carolina anole Anolis carolinensis eyeing author warily from oak-leaf hydrangea Hydrangea quercifiolia
Those little toes. And they are little – the head is about 5-7mm in length, so you do the math.

I found this one much later than the other, so The Girlfriend didn’t have the chance to see it (she has an unearthly early bedtime, while it’s still the same day even.) Naturally, I had to check the next night, before she went to bed this time, so she got called out again to see the anole in the exact same place, but even more curiously perched.

Carolina anole Anolis carolinensis snoozing on oak-leaf hydrangea Hydrangea quercifiolia flowers
Boy, it sure loves its dead hydrangea flowers, doesn’t it? I don’t know what to make of that, but at least it was easier for The Girlfriend to see.

And then, even as I was remarking on it, my eye fell on another, a half-meter away on the same plant atop another flower spire.

Carolina anole Anolis carolinensis snoozing on oak-leaf hydrangea Hydrangea quercifiolia flowers
It would be easily to believe I hadn’t rotated this image to vertical like the previous, but this is dead-level; the anole is sleeping like that, because why not? I’d sleep like that if I could. No – no I wouldn’t, the sinus headache would kill me.

Yet, it was pleasing to see, confirming at least that there was another juvenile anole living in the yard, though whether either of these were one of the pair that I saw together earlier (some ten meters away from this spot) is an unsolvable mystery – that Japanese maple tree is many times closer to the first anole shown here than these two, so the odds are favoring one of them being that one. You know what I mean – I’m not gonna name them for you, and couldn’t tell them apart if I did.

Of course I checked on them during the day, and one of them (Ambiguo is its name) was sunning itself on one of the hydrangea leaves, though much lower in altitude now and despite the lack of sun.

Carolina anole Anolis carolinensis perched on oak-leaf hydrangea Hydrangea quercifiolia leaf during day
Despite being right out in the open, Ambiguo was reluctant to abandon its perch even as I leaned in closer with the camera, trying to decide if the threat was worth getting up just as it got comfortable (or, perhaps more likely, trying to determine if relying on the camouflage was better than attracting attention by fleeing.) Note the color difference now, of course.

I was in and out several times today, passing right by the front garden where the first (this would be Morgan) was seen, and indeed, that anole was trying to bask on the concrete statues out there. Morgan is significantly more wary than Ambiguo and sought cover almost immediately, and I could only capture a couple of frames when it paused to assess after gaining a little cover.

Carolina anole Anolis carolinensis glaring from concrete statue
I was able to see that it switched perches between two statues routinely, every few minutes or so for unknown reasons, and it remains possible that there are two there as well, though I consider this unlikely. Morgan, however, has attracted my attention before by fleeing, when the front garden has enough cover for it to blend in easily, so there are values to both actions. And yes, one of these days I’ll attempt to stake out any of them to capture some more behavior on video – I imagine this will be tricky. I admit that I did stake out the Japanese maple one evening to see if I could capture one gaining its perch for the night, seeing absolutely nothing and never finding them snoozing on the Japanese maple again – I can’t say if those are related, but it gives an impression of how tricky this might be regardless. We’ll see.