Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Wild Wednesday ~ Early September

Despite our relatively dry weather (not counting last night's deluge), there's a lot of mushroom fruiting going on out there.

I'm not even going to try to pretend to i.d. them, though.

I took a mushroom class a couple of years ago, but it would take a lot more than an evening lecture to learn this complex kingdom.

For now, I'll just appreciate their interesting colors and shapes.

I don't have a lot of interesting new flowers to share with you today, but I saw this guy growing in our dry river bed and thought it might be a hemlock of some time, but it turns out it's water parsnip (Sium suave).

Also near the river I found this:
A rodent skeleton of some kind, almost completely cleaned and desiccated. I'm not sure what it is--too big for a mouse or vole. Maybe a chipmunk or flying squirrel? It's tail wasn't bushy, but most of the hair was gone from the rest of its body as well. It looked like its spine had been severed, but i wonder what (large animal) would have eaten it, picking its bones so clean but leaving it intact. Maybe it fell from a tree. If I was a real naturalist, I would have brought it home for a specimen, but I left it where I found it.

Meanwhile, the insects are very busy, including great big darner dragonflies that course over the fields in the early evening, and this more diminutive, and sedate, meadowhawk.

I walked through our back field last week, and it was literally humming with activity--bees, flies, grasshoppers, wasps, cicadas, all singing their busy, end of summer songs.

It occurred to me that someone with a bee phobia might freak out a little, walking among such buzzing,

But I didn't bother the bees, and they didn't bother me.

I mostly just felt happy about all the good pollinating going on around me, and the health and well-being of so many wild pollinators here in my corner of the world.

I also spied this caterpillar on an aster stem. Z got me a caterpillar field guide for my birthday and this was my first chance to use it. Fortunately, this guy had some very distinctive markings and I quickly found that it was a brown-hooded owlet (Cucullia convexipennis), which grows into a much less interesting-looking moth.

Finally, frogs have been on the move, hopping out of the way of my feet as I walk in the woods, or along the river and pond. But this pickerel frog (Lithobates palustris) sat nice and still for me to snap its photo and I finally sat down to learn the difference between it and the northern leopard frog (Lithobates pipiens).

The leopard frog is usually green (though it has a brown phase), while the pickerel is coppery brown. The leopard's spots are more rounded while the pickerel's are more square and arranged in two neat rows down the back (as you can see below), while the leopard's are more randomly arranged. Finally, the ace in the hole is that the pickerel has bright orange-yellow coloring under its hind legs. I didn't pick this one up to check, but based on the other characteristics, I'm going with pickerel.

What's wild in your neck of the woods this week?


  1. Beautiful spread again! We got to go hiking last week-end and as we were leaving on our trail, we came across a group that was leaving on a mushroom id class trip. What fun! I may have to look into that next year.

    1. Thanks! I know, mushrooms are so intriguing, but there's only so much I can focus on at one time.

  2. We actually saw a firefly in the yard last week which I have never seen here before! I am trying to enjoy the cicada song while it is still here - I love it so.


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