A Fondness for Fungi: Fall Findlings

Turkey Tail (Trametes versicolor)

Our autumn started five days ago here in northern Minnesota and our woods are fairly

Purple Coincap (Collybia iocephala)

flourishing with many varieties of fungi. I love hiking at this time of year and take

Earthstar (Geastrum sp.)

considerable care to find as many as I can and not to crush any of them underfoot,

Lobster Mushroom (Hypomyces lactifluorum)

and later to identify them, if I can. I am by no means an expert, I hasten to add, but we have several field guides that are great fun to peruse to try to match up the photos

Blue Cheese Polypore (Postia caesia)

that I’ve made with the ones in the books. Here are a few from the past several days.

Scaber Stalks (Leccinum sp.)

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Late Summer Splendor

There is only one more week remaining of summer here in the northern hemisphere, and the signs of the approaching autumn are plentiful. It has been a memorable and rewarding four months, and it’s time again to start to prepare for the upcoming transition to the start of spring in the south. A few of the maples and most of the sumacs are beginning to show off splashes of their scarlet phase and the leaves of other trees and bushes are turning brilliant yellow and developing rusty crimson veins. The grains and grasses glow with golden light. I love this time of year, and it’s a real pleasure to be able to walk in these wonderful northern Minnesota woods and enjoy it again.

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A Fondness for Fungi: Coral Cathedral

I’ve been working on a nature trail for a couple of decades in our south seven acres of forest here in northern Minnesota. I look forward to this time of year with special anticipation, to see what delights will appear. There are always interesting mushrooms and lichens, but this one was particularly rewarding. My Mushrooms of the Upper Midwest tells me it’s a crown-tipped coral mushroom, Artomyces pyxidatus. How lovely!

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Webnesday (48)

While prowling the raspberry bushes the other day, I found this little spider waiting patiently on the topmost leaves of one of them. Most crab spiders I’ve seen here usually wait in ambush in or very close to a blossoming flower, but this one had chosen a spot with no flowers near. It was a fairly calm early afternoon but there were nearly-constant little puffs of breeze, which alwaysserve to make serious macro work quite a challenge. It took me the better part of an hour to get these four portraits. I looked her up in Larry Weber’s  beautifulSpiders of the North Woods and identified her as a transverse-banded crab spider, Xysticus transversatus (formerly Xysticus ferox). I’m sure it’s a female because  the male has terminal enlargements “boxing gloves” on his palps and is smaller. Please  remember to click on one of the photos if you’d like to see it at higher resolution.

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Webnesday (47)

I’ve been back in Minnesota for a month now and finally have a small window of free time from all the (several dozens of) projects that seem to keep clamoring for my immediate attention. Yesterday, as I walked through our little meadow of anemone flowers, daisies, and birdsfoot trefoil, I spied, in one of the anemonies, a large hoverfly that seemed to be in an odd position. I’ve seen this before, when an insect has been captured by a spider in ambush, so I was not surprised—but quite delighted—when I came in for a closer look. By the time I’d gone in for my tripod and returned, the tiny crab spider had maneuvered it into a more “normal” stance, but this gave me a better angle to see just what drama was unfolding. And how fortunate the timing: It was just in time for Webnesday, too!

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Marvelous Muriwai

Batty had a college roommate, a very good friend, visiting from the US for a few weeks, and one of the places she wanted to share with her was my favorite beach in the area, near the community of Muriwai (MOOR-ee-WYE), an hour’s drive northwest of Auckland city. It has a magnificent stretch of black volcanic sand and a nearby gannet colony that can be observed beautifully from simple platforms accessible from a set of steps ascending from the south end of the beach. There was light rain, but not too much wind, so the light was very good, even though rain gear was necessary. We went on fairly short notice and I was not able to get my best camera gear, but I had my little Olympus Tough G4—which, fortunately, is waterproof. I have been to Muriwai several times in the past and have been very fortunate in my photography of the gannets in flight—here is an example—but I was more limited in my capabilities during this visit, just the day before yesterday. I love this place and will return as often as I can!

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Menagerie Monday (9)

There is a fig tree in our garden, and the figs are ripening. They are not among our personal favorite fruits, but we have tried a few, and they are better than I remember from times past (especially in the form of Fig Newtons). But there are others who obviously hold them in high esteem, especially the resident Silvereyes (Zosterops lateralis). They appear soon after sunrise and have their way with the ripening figs until nearly dusk. They are about 2/3 the size of the average house sparrow (also plentiful here) and a real delight to observe.

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