Follow Your Nose

Nothing like having your olfactory nerves grabbed by an odoriferous 'shroom while you're out and about. Before the rain started on Wednesday we were working on clearing brush from an area where we are planning to build a boardwalk in the work swamp. As I was doing a walk-through to find flagging tape that was hung last winter, a distinctive odor rose up from the ground. I knew immediately that I was in the vicinity of some type of stinkhorn. It took a little looking, but I soon discovered the culprit - Ravenel's Stinkhorn - Phallus ravenelii - probably. There is a chance it is another Phallus or possibly a Dictyophora, but I'm leaning more toward the Ravenel's.

We have been in a severe drought here so I was quite surprised to see these fungi. Since I found them on Wednesday, we have had a decent rainfall. I plan to go back into the site on Monday and see if there are any more of these "delightful" stinkhorns in the area. I'd like to get a couple more pictures if there are any of the stinkhorns in better shape than the ones I found Wednesday.
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See Below

Grr...Blogger is eating pictures again! This is the photo that is supposed to be in the post below.
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Watching You

About 33 years ago I sent my sister a greeting card that said, "Be Alert. (open the card) The world needs more lerts." This praying mantis sure looks like a lert to me...

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Sharing space on the same sumac with the mantid were several Sumac Flea Beetles, Blepharida rhois. Cute little beetles - I've never noticed them before.

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On the ground nearby, an Eastern Comma (Polygonia comma) caught some afternoon rays.

We saw several other interesting things on our walk this afternoon, but I will have to save them for later. Time for bed, I'm afraid. Got to get up and go to work tomorrow...

What A Little Stinker

That's right, I called this adorable little red-breasted nuthatch (Sitta canadensis) a stinker. And I meant it. This morning, as Treebeard and I patrolled the yard, this bird flew up, perched a mere five feet from us and posed everso nicely. So why didn't I get a killer shot of this co-operative little beast? Because...I didn't have my reading glasses so I couldn't see my viewfinder, plus I was looking into the sun. Bet that little bird just knew I was unprepared - the little stinker. Grrrr.

Probably wouldn't bother me so much if this wasn't one of my all-time favorite birds. We only see them certain years - we didn't have a single one last year. White-breasted nuthatches are frequent, year-round visitors and we have a few brown-headed nuthatches on a regular basis, but the red-breasted nuthatches are a treat. They are full of personality and quite chatty. So yeah, this one was a little stinker ;)

On another bird note: we had our first slate-colored juncoes in the yard this morning. (I saw one in the work swamp on 8 October.)
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Sad Tale?

While out walking on the trail behind the house, Treebeard and I happened upon this squirrel tail. No sign of other squirrel parts, no blood, no tufts of fur - just a tail. The bone was still in the tail so it was probably snapped or bitten off. Very neatly done, whatever did it. Our guess is that the rest of the squirrel made a tasty meal for one of the resident predators in these parts, most likely a hawk.

I could have sworn I heard the birds at the feeders snickering though - they didn't seem too upset by the demise of this particular rodent...

Treebeard update: Doctor's appointment today. He removed the packing and said that things were looking pretty good. He still doesn't want Treebeard to bend from the waist, pick up anything anywhere near heavy, or heaven forbid, blow his nose! He also recommended that he avoid being around people as much as possible. Catching a cold is one of the absolute worse things that could happen right now as is coming down with any sort of secondary infection. So, I have put my man under house arrest and am stopping visitors at the door. We appreciate all the calls and well wishes from everyone!
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Okay, I know I said I wouldn't be messing with my pictures, but I really like this incarnation of the feather from the post below...it appeals to the little hippie child that lives inside me ;)

Gotta run. Treebeard has slipped the leash and gone outside unsupervised. We can't have such flaunting of the rules! Now, where are my shoes???
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Shake Your Tail Feathers

Treebeard continues his recuperating and is behaving himself nicely. So nicely, in fact, that I allowed him to take a short walk out in the sunshine yesterday. I had to keep an eye on him though - he isn't supposed to lean his head down and we had to navigate under several spider webs along the trail. It's kinda hard to limbo with your head up :)

The tail feather above is from either a downy (Picoides pubescens) or a hairy (Picoides villosus) woodpecker. Woodpecker tail feathers are quite stiff, providing support as the bird makes its way up a tree.
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Not So Pretty Poo

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Someone has been searching for an image of opossum scat. Well, here you go. 'Possum scat comes in quite a few variations - depends on what the little critter's been eating. But, no matter what it's been eating, 'possum scat isn't pretty ;)

As for the fly - no clue as to genus/species. I haven't had time to look it up.

(Treebeard is currently recouperating from outpatient surgery. I am staying home from work to keep him out of trouble and to see that he mends in a timely fashion. So far, so good. He seems to be behaving himself. We will see how things progress as the week goes on...)



Lace-capped caterpillar (White-streaked Prominent moth) - Oligocentria lignicolor - munching out on an oak leaf in the front yard.
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Another look at the same cat.
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Freaky dog fennel flower? Diffle-wuzzie?
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Look again. It's a Camouflaged Looper, the caterpillar of the Wavy-lined Emerald moth, Synchlora aerata. It sticks flower bits to its back as it munches on the flowers of a variety of plants. If you are having trouble seeing that it is indeed a cat, click on the picture to enlarge it. The larva's head is toward my fingernail.
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Morning Stroll

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A stroll through the yard this morning offered up a variety of things to see. I selected four that I liked most and decided to post them without identifying them properly -- radical, eh?

Mr. Toad starts us out (actually, I think this is a female)

Posted by PicasaThen we move on to a tiny toad stool. Ironically, the toad was sitting next to this 'shroom when Treebeard spotted it, but it hopped off before I could catch the two in the same frame.

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And finally to a fine, furry caterpillar.
There, I did it! I posted pictures without identifying the critters -- so double "ha" to the person who said I wouldn't be able to do it! (And no, it wasn't Treebeard)


Idle Hands

Things are piling up on us at the moment, stressful things. Things that I needed to take a break from thinking about for a few hours. The result? My idle hands found a program on my computer that I had forgotten I had purchased (did I mention things have been stressful lately...) Anyway, I rediscovered this program and proceeded to play with it. Thought I would share a couple of my creations with you. But not to worry, I won't be futzing around with my actual posts. Nature is astounding in its own right - I don't need to tweak it to make it "better."


Friday's Finds

Friday was drizzly. Actual water was leaking from the sky - amazing! I went for a two mile walk to gather materials for a program and I only got damp, so it wasn't exactly a drought-busting day. But hey, at least it was something.

The photo above shows one of Treebeard's favorite fall treats: persimmons. He eyes this particular tree each time he comes to my work swamp. Persimmons don't get me too excited - as a child I ate too many at time once and sort of lost my taste for them :0

Persimmon, Diospyros virginiana, is a dioecious species. You have to have both a male and a female tree in order to have fruit.

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The flower is yellow crownbeard, Verbesina occidentalis. Sorry I don't have an ID on my little invertebrate friend. I really do need to find a good reference for snails...

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Something relatively small has taken a bite out of this pawpaw, the fruit from Asimina triloba. Most of the pawpaws have been gobbled down already. Bears love 'em and I found plenty of bear sign where I found this particular fruit.
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First, there was the evidence: treefrog scat clinging to the side of my truck, just below the bed well on the side rail. Then the discovery:
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This sneaky little green treefrog has made itself quite at home in my truck - hiding out in places too tight for me to reach into. By my count, this hitch hiking froggy has logged at least 256 miles. I managed to catch him once and put out on the side of the house. He made his way back into my truck. If I catch him again, I'll put him out on the front porch.
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Flicker Finery

Walking back to the office this afternoon I chanced upon this feather in the trail. It is from a Northern Flicker, Colaptes auratus. It was a nice way to end my day - the little things make me smile.
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