One of the highlights of a recent, beautiful, warm spring day at Camp Salmen was the sight of a young, Blue-tailed skink (also known as, the American five-lined skink, also known as Plestiodon fasciatus) hunting with great abandon. He was not acting the way skinks usually do, being secretive and dodgy, quickly scampering in and out of cover; instead he was out in the open, aggressively scarfing down his victims, totally in the moment and oblivious to my being there.
First off, Blue-tailed skinks are exquisite to look at. Their bronze-colored bodies are tastefully pinstriped like a man’s business suit and their back half is a long, brilliant iridescent blue tail. Visitors to the park will often be fortunate enough to spot one basking in the sun as they stroll on one of our boardwalks.
This skink was working a patch of sandy ground that was apparently infested with some sort of little no-see-um bug — his manna from heaven. As he repeatedly dove in and out of the leaf litter he snapped repeatedly at the seemingly invisible prey and was apparently gorging himself. As he circled round and round to get at more, it was fascinating how sensuous his movements were.
The animal was clearly enjoying himself, making quick, jerky moves; caught up in a feeding frenzy. Perhaps he was preoccupied with the beauty of being alive and being a predator, the master of his own little domain. It was marvelous how expressive his tail was, its compound curves drawn up in kinks as he concentrated on the hunt. In one leap after another after each bug, one could tell it was his payday and he was clearly, intensely enjoying himself.