Friday, September 30, 2022

Crust Fungus

This is a white rot fungus, Irpex lacteus, a common wood-rotting fungus that is found throughout temperate regions. I found this one on the underside of a small twig lying on the ground in moist woods - it has one smooth side and one that is toothed, or pitted-looking. The brown criss-cross lines in the bottom right corner are pine needles (to give an idea of scale).

This is not something destroying your tree or shrub, it is cleaning up and recycling things that have already died, so there's no need to try and remove it.

Thursday, September 29, 2022

Armies of Planthoppers

I've been seeing hundreds of bugs flitting all over the lily pads as I float past in my kayak. They appeared to be little nits or flies that were moving too fast to be photographed and identifiable. Every time I approached a lily pad, they'd all scatter; that is, until I discovered that they'd scattered outwards onto my green kayak in droves. I was able to get close to a few next to me without alarming them.

They were colonizing my kayak - each one of those little black specks on my bow and sides in the pic below is a common water lily planthopper, Megamelus davisi, native to North America. They cover the waterlily pads like masses of flies at this time of year as they feed on the plant before it disintegrates.

Nymphs overwinter along the shore near water lilies, so it is important to maintain shoreline habitat. These bugs are an important food supply for frogs, wasps and flies. They produce 3 groups of hatchlings per year (to feed the frogs!)

I wasn't able to capture them on their plant of choice, but this is their preferred food source, with a view!

Wednesday, September 28, 2022


I came across this vegetated stump whilst out in a cove, and was curious to see that lily pads had been picked and were draped over the stump. I recall seeing completed muskrat winter larders for the first time last year, and wonder if this is one in the process of being stocked up?

The stems of these plants are incredibly tough and elastic-y, making them difficult to break off. It was quite a colorful scene to come upon on a dreary, overcast day that greets you with banks of cloud like this:

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Gorgeous Decay

Gilded leaf outline:

Fall converts summer's decline

To gorgeous decay.

Monday, September 26, 2022

Gregarious Mushroom

These glowing orange mushrooms on a dead pine caught my eye in the dark woods. I think they're called Xeromphalina campanella. They have these delightful little dimples in their centers. The genus name Xeromphalina means little dry navel.

I couldn't believe it when I read that this glorious mushroom is described as gregarious, i.e. they grow in dense clusters, as you can see below

The type of gills on the underside of their caps are called 'decurrent' because they extend down the stem a little, beyond where they're attached. You can sort of see this in my pic below

Common names for this species are: golden trumpet and the bell Omphalina. Another thing I discovered when reading about them, is that they have a 'fuzzy foot' ... I hadn't noticed this in the field, but was happy to see it turn up in one of my pics (see close up below).

It's widespread throughout the U.S.

Sunday, September 25, 2022

Surveyor's Neck

I've been squeezing in as many last-minute aquatic surveys as I can before the growing season is over, the weather (and water) turns too cold, and the lake level gets lowered too much to make kayaking feasible. Today was no exception - I started off with an exploratory paddle of a lily pad-covered cove that necessitated wading through sinking, stinky muck to get our kayaks launched and floating. Exquisite, isn't it though? Definitely worth getting mud into my wellies for!

Surveying at this time of year means I get cold quickly, because I'm constantly putting my hands into the water to reach for interesting things, and then the cold wind dries them off. And when your feet have got wet too, it starts to seep in after a while.

This time I got home with all my 'gear,' dried off, warmed up, and changed, only to have the desire to go back out again after lunch, this time staying out till 6:30 p.m. to harvest each and every possible naiad I could reach with my butterfly net. It's compelling!

I came home jubilant - 38 naiads removed on a day that seemed dismal and dreary, but the naiad signature is so distinct and blatant right now, that good light wasn't even needed. 

Oh, and now I know exactly why I've been getting headaches - I'm calling it surveyor's neck: from holding my head taut and erect as I scour the water for hours on end. Or is it kayaker's crick? Knowing the cause really helps endure the discomfort 😀!

Hope I can get that mud out of my socks!

Saturday, September 24, 2022

Friday, September 23, 2022

Not Mushrooms

These ghostly white plants may look like mushrooms, but they're actually regarded as flowering plants. They lack chlorophyll to photosynthesize, so they extract nutrients from fungi that, in turn, have got their nutrients from trees, making them parasitic.

Since they do not need sunlight to make food, they can grow in dark forest environments, but are indirectly getting the benefits of sunlight through their mycoheterotrophic relationship!

I love these alien looking plants!

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Tiger's Eye

I have a lot (no, a ton) of mushrooms coming up all over the yard, and some emanate aromas of old musty socks as I walk past. Most look familiar, and I thought this might be turkey tail until I stopped and checked - turkey tail is a shelf, or bracket, fungus growing along the trunks of trees and woody debris. This one was growing in the soil, which gave me pause. It sports eye-catching concentric rings. I asked for confirmation help in a mushroom ID group but haven't yet got a response.

I do think this is Coltricia perennis, the circumboreal tiger's eye fungus. When they grow close to each other, their caps fuse together. Here is the same group 3 days later

Their caps can become cup-like - they turn upwards, and their undersides are spongey, without gills (a bolete mushroom), as you can see from the sections I broke off.

They are able to extract carbs from the roots of nearby plants, and provide minerals to said plant in return. It does this without penetrating the roots, so is called ectomycorrhizal. Intriguing!

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Thrilled by an Aster

I am absolutely thrilled with the New England aster I bought from the Doyle Family Farm in West Newfield, Maine last year. What magnificence! Look at how well its doing:

So many beautifully formed buds! Exquisite!

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Pretty Aquatics

Look at how lovely this flat-leaved bladderwort (Utricularia intermedia) is in its natural habitat, floating in the currents, glowing in the sunlight beneath the water lilies. This plant has bladders on a separate stem, which is not visible in these photos.

I also spotted these delightfully fragile bladderworts drifting by

I don't know if this is the creeping (U. gibba) or the lesser bladderwort (U. minor) bladderwort (maybe they're both represented here) - either way, it's pretty spectacular.

Monday, September 19, 2022

Spot the Turtle

This delightfully colored Painted Turtle allowed me to get surprisingly close as it sunned itself in the late afternoon light - can you see it camouflaged amidst the early fall colors?

I stopped paddling, and let myself drift with the current, which took me so close to the beautiful creature, that I dared not make any adjustments. My own shadow got in the way of the photo, and all I could do was crouch slowly and duck down to get this next photo. They usually startle and escape into the water at the slightest hint of a disturbance, so I count myself lucky to have got this close (though I am snarling about my shadow!).

Sunday, September 18, 2022

Pillars of the Earth

What a statuesque pillar the remains of this Amanita muscaria (fly agaric) makes!

The caps had become slimy and were disintegrating.

This allowed me to appreciate the stalk's beauty and details, which can be hidden by drooping caps. Quite lacy and elegant, no?

The yellow pillars below are Clavulinopsis laeticolor, a coral mushroom, which is teeny by comparison - they are pictured here alongside green moss and pine needles.

They have rounded tips with no real shape or color differentiation within the column. It looks a lot like yellow clubs (for use by fairies when they have an uprising!) standing up above the moss. On no! I don't believe this ... further reading about these fungi described them as "fairy club fungus"! And I was just fooling around 😊

They are called saprobes - they use decomposing, dead or decaying organic material as food.

Saturday, September 17, 2022

Owlet Caterpillar

Cucullia convexipennis or calico pant caterpillar

Brown hooded owlet:

Larva feed on goldenrods,

Native to northeast!

Friday, September 16, 2022

Mini Monster

This phenomenally teeny tick is the nymph stage of a deer tick - it's about the size of a poppy seed: 1-1.5 millimeters, which is 0.06 of an inch! Here it is, magnified and zoomed in for your viewing pleasure!

Little monster! How does such a miniscule beast pack such a punch? I had 4 of them embedded in my skin, and would likely not have noticed them had it not been for the extreme itching their bite caused. I kept looking to see what was irritating my hands, and couldn't find anything that explained it, until I eventually focused in close enough to notice what looked like a speck of pepper between my fingers, and another, and another ...

My G.P. prescribed a once-off dose of prophylactic doxycycline to hopefully head-off Lyme disease, but oh dear! Two days later, I found yet another one embedded in my skin. Apparently the antibiotic is in my system for 72 hours, so another dose shouldn't be necessary. Just got to watch and monitor the bite site and symptoms. 

It's the price I pay for spending time on land and not on the water in my kayak!

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Zucchini Monster

Our friends dropped off an enormous zucchini that had been growing undetected amidst all the other vegetables in their garden. 

It weighed 9.4lbs! Here I am, cradling my new baby.

I've made a start on using it, but still have a substantial portion left. I sliced and braised it, then added cheese, which obviously (and intentionally) melted. Quite yummy. The skin seemed tougher than regular-sized zucchinis, a little closer to eggplant than I'd have expected. The seeds were larger and tougher, too. I scooped them out as one would with butternut or acorn squash.

I think Zucchini bread is next, and maybe a curry or casserole will benefit from the nutritious and non-carb thickening this vegetable/fruit will provide.

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Boardwalk Snowflakes

I found this beautiful, snowflake-y fungus growing on a damp part of our boardwalk whilst I was hanging my laundry. The only info I could get on this was that it is mycelium, from which mushrooms grow and fruit. Without the fruiting body, it's not possible to tell which it is. Well, I admired its structure and beauty anyway!

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Webs of Delight

Early morning dew,
Strung on loose gossamer threads - 
Captivating sight!

Monday, September 12, 2022

Spectacular Mushrooms

I only just noticed these eye-catching mushrooms beside my car in a parking area at one of our community beaches. I was passing the time as I waited to meet a friend, and thought I'd pick up the small bits of litter lying here and there beside the car - bottle caps, plastic tops, and tear-off strips to while away the time. I was rewarded by this fantastic display as I started focusing on the ground:

They're so gaudy! They look as if they're made of colored wax, or a piece of orange Gouda cheese with its bright red, waxy coating. These are called Amanita jacksonii, (the American Slender Caesar mushroom) and are a native to our woodlands.

They start off completely enclosed in the white base, which resembles a rounded egg appearing from the earth. The orange and red inner parts tear the egg open as it ascends and opens up, leaving behind the white base, known as the  - wait for it - .... volva!

You can see a small mound of earth pushed aside as this one emerged

Over a few days the rounded caps spread and open outward like an umbrella. Up close, there are striations on the red cap, and a lovely texture on the orange stalk.


Sunday, September 11, 2022

Perfect Outline

 A perfect sensitive fern leaf outlined by droplets after a perfect storm

Stop and count the raindrops!