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Newts, turtle sex, and a morel-munching salamander

We had a good, drenching rain on Friday night, prompting me and Althea to spend a lot of time in the woods searching for oddities over the next few days. We weren’t disappointed.

Eastern Newt (Notophthalmus viridescens)
Althea tries to figure out what these two Common Box Turtles (Terrapene carolina) are up to
A bunch of blonde morels surround our forest altar to Morchella, a tribute to fortunate foraging. I did the same with black morels I found the previous day and found the blondes almost immediately the next morning. Morchella smiles upon such offerings.
Black morels pay tribute to Morchella.
We found this Eastern Red-backed Salamander on a blonde morel (morchella americana) that we foraged over the weekend. We released him back into the wild …
Dwarf Larkspur (Delphinium tricorne)
Long-spurred Violet (Viola rostrata)
Black-and-gold Flat Millipede (Apheloria virginiensis)


Feral Bends Forest Farm Leaf Litter Phenology Journal

A spring walk through a riot of wildflowers …

Althea and I spent several hours yesterday morning stomping around Feral Bends Forest Farm to see what’s happening in the understory. Long story short: It’s stunning. Here are a few photos.

There are large white trillium (Trillium grandiflorum) everywhere, and some are becoming pink as they age.
Althea with a large white trillium.
Parts of the woods are carpeted in mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum) and they’re blooming.
Dwarf Larkspur (Delphinium tricorne)
Wild Geranium (Geranium maculatum)
Wild Geranium (Geranium maculatum)


Fire pink (Silene virginica)
I’m finding fire pink (Silene virginica) in multiple locations. It really pops.
Blue Phlox (Phlox divaricata)
Blue Phlox (Phlox divaricata) is everywhere. I never get tired of seeing it.
Woodland Stonecrop (Sedum ternatum)
Woodland Stonecrop (Sedum ternatum)
Rattlesnakeweed (Hieracium venosum)

Inspired by the Athens Conservatory’s Bluebell Preserve along the bikeway, Laura-Sue and I planted some Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica) above the creek area where we plan to locate a bench. It’s already a location with a lot of trillium and other wildflowers.

I love the way beech trees cling to the dry, sandy soil on the southwestern slope of the ridge. Feral Bends was heavily logged a few decades ago and they left behind most of the beech. At first

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, I saw that as a bad thing, but I’ve grown to love beech trees …


A morel shrine that we’ve created long the ridge. Laura-Sue is working on a scheme to create altars to forest deities throughout Feral Bends.
During my walk, I found another specimen of the crane-fly orchid (Tipularia discolor). It doesn’t flower till late summer.
And a reminder that nature is metal. Not sure who this squirrel pissed off, but whatever it was basically ate his face and left the rest to rot. He’ll make good fertilizer for the mayapple and wildflowers surrounding him.
Feral Bends Forest Farm Leaf Litter Uncategorized

The emergence of Showy Orchis (Galearis spectabilis)

We’re finding a lot of native orchids on our forest farm, which we’ve started referring to as Feral Bends Forest Farm. Among them is the Showy Orchis (Galearis spectabilis). The photos below trace the progress of one specimen that we’ve been watching since we first noticed it on April 10 …

April 10
April 11
April 12
April 14
April 14
April 18
April 19
April 20
April 24
April 25
April 26
April 28