Assorted Bob Leaf Litter Phenology Journal

This is a shit post …

I woke at about 5 a.m., head swimming with a strange, detailed dream. I grabbed my phone and start recording the details before they could dissipate. Suddenly, my tapping was interrupted by a single, sharp noise, somewhere in the near woods. Owl? First thought. Then yips and yaps percolated up as a group of coyotes moved through, very close based on the cacophony rising into my cabin.

Scat I found recently on my trails. Perhaps coyote or fox ...
Scat I found recently on my trails. Perhaps coyote or fox …

Downstairs I could hear Althea snoring, oblivious to the intrusion. I made a note to exercise my fledgling tracking skills later when I took Althea out for her morning ramble. I’ve found scat recently that I’m pretty sure is coyote, maybe fox. I was hoping to find fresh samples to confirm the former, or maybe tracks. I recently attended Appalachian Understories’ Uncovering Animal Mysteries, where the incredible Joe Brehm patiently and expertly led a group of us along the Hocking River to identify signs of raccoon, fox, and other creatures.

After that workshop I ran home and dug out my barely used copy of Mammal Tracks & Sign by Mark Elbroch, determined to absorb as much of it as possible and start learning to track wildlife. As luck would have it, I found scat in two locations on my trail system in the following days, and based on the guidance in the book I suspect it’s coyote, possibly fox. I didn’t have a tape measure when I took the photos so it’s tough to tell for certain, but the animal fur in the scat makes it pretty clear it’s from one of those. Hearing coyotes this morning made me think I might be able to find a fresh sample to confirm, or maybe even prints that would help. But I was thwarted on both counts. No fresh scat. And there was a dusting of snow that was too diffuse to capture prints, and the ground was too frozen to retain them.

Scat I found recently on my trails. Perhaps coyote or fox ...
Scat I found recently on my trails. Perhaps coyote or fox …

Althea did manage to startle three or four white-tail who ran along the ridge trail above the north hollow, and she also alerted on (read: tried to consume) some scat on the trail that runs along a bench farther west down the hollow. I couldn’t ID what was left of it but if I had to guess, I’d say it probably was her favorite delicacy: raccoon poop.

A scarlet elf cup (Sarcoscypha coccinea) shouting for attention in the leaf litter. I love finding them on dreary winter days ... Every bit as cool as coyote poop.
A scarlet elf cup (Sarcoscypha coccinea) shouting for attention in the leaf litter. I love finding them on dreary winter days … Every bit as cool as coyote poop.
Leaf Litter MycoBob Phenology Journal Uncategorized

The rain delivers on its promises …

One of my favorite mushroom field guides is “All that the Rain Promises and More,” partially because it’s a great resource, even if the focus is on Western fungi, and mostly because the cover photo is awesome.

The rain made a few promises this week, and it delivered today. We had several days of relative warmth and rain, so I had high hopes when I went out to forage this morning. I was rewarded with this beautiful flush of oyster mushrooms on a downed poplar branch in Hermit Hollow.

I took a chance and left these guys, hoping they’ll get a bit larger over the next day or three while avoiding the rapacious white-tail deer who seem to be my main competitor for oysters.

I also came across a flush of what I believe are common bonnets.

On the non-fungi front, I found bones from the white-tail deer that died late last summer. They were covered in leaf litter so I suspect some predator/scavenger dug them up hoping for more than was there.

I also found some native orchids, putty root, hunkered down for the winter.

And finally, it looks as if the woodpeckers have been busy. In all, it was a great walk in the woods. If the deer leave my oysters alone I’ll be feasting on this this weekend.

Dog Bob Phenology Journal

Pileated Woodpeckers, Barred Owls, Turkey Vultures, and Space Karen


By Joshlaymon – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

After 3 years of only sporadic sightings, I’m hearing or seeing pileated woodpeckers now almost every time I go out. They’re either thriving or the logging next door is forcing them into more cramped quarters. Most likely the latter. I still get giddy like a little kid whenever one of the Woody Woodpecker Motherfuckers soars over. I’ve even seen a few pairs, presumably mated. The late-succession forest here is ideal for them. Plenty of snags to set up shop in.


During a recent hike, Althea ranged about 50 yards ahead of me on the logging road trail, close enough that I could see her blaze vest as she looked for something to harass. That’s when a large barred owl came flying from her direction toward me, alighting silently on a maple branch about 30 feet overhead. It’s the first good look I’ve gotten at this guy. I hear him often from up at the house, and I’ve seen some sort of raptor bolt from that location before, usually triggered by Althea’s chaos, but I could never tell if it was a hawk or an owl, though I was suspecting the latter because of how preternaturally quiet it was as it wove through the trees toward the creek. This time I got a good look at him as he scanned the nearby trees, blinking, and then looked down and noticed me grinning up at him. As he flew off, a few lines from Yeats fluttered into my head …

Like a long-legged fly upon the stream
His mind moves upon silence.

Yates was talking about Caesar, which is what I now call that barred owl.


Sydney was alarmed, looking into the forest that surrounds his room and croaking about a threat of some sort. Usually, it’s one of the red-shouldered hawks sitting in a tree waiting for a chance to pounce on a squirrel. But I couldn’t see anything. Sydney doesn’t do false alarms. Had to be something, which I discovered when I drove out 30 minutes later for groceries. A turkey vulture was dining on a dead squirrel on the road, and I’m certain Sydney could see him flying up into the trees each time a car came by.


I finally killed my Twitter account. Fuck Elon. Life is too short to spend time in a kingdom ruled by Space Karen. I’m taking Mastodon for a test drive and like it so far. It’s already a massive upgrade. No ads. No Space Karen. Lots of dogs.