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.
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.