This guy might be the great-grandchild of the first squirrel I saw cooling himself on a path in Dunn Woods in 90 degree weather. They flatten out their chests, bellies, and groins on the shaded bricks, which conducts the “coolth” from the concrete and dirt half a foot below.
After a long Aug-Sept draught, we got soaking rain last week, and as a result a few puffballs (Lycoperdon pyriforme) appeared on a rotting log laying just to the east of the Observatory. These are edible as long as the interior flesh is white. They turn greenish-yellow to dark olive-brown with age, then puff out their olive green spores once they dry out.
Here is a video of pyriforme in February which show how they spread their olive colored spores.
This has been a very dry spell for Indiana, as July is the wettest month of the year, but it generally comes in some big storms, which we just have not had yet. So the earth is very dry, and as a result, this solitary cardinal flower in the northeast quadrant of the woods has started to wilt.
Is this Trametes Gibbosa, lumpy bracket fungus, or Trametes elegans? Gibbosa, being a bit hairy, often sports an algae surface, as is evident in the photo below. But the pore surface is more irregular like elegans, and it is native to Indiana, whereas gibbosa is an import from Europe.
Coprinopsis atramentaria, and Inky Caps in general, encompass the group formerly known as coprinoid fungi, but which in 2002 were divided into 4 different species (The Shaggy Mane, Coprinus comatas, remained as the type species for Coprinus, in the Family Agaricaceae, while the others were dropped into the Psathyrellaceae Family as Coprinellus, Coprinopsis, and Parasola.)
The common feature that had early mycologists convinced they should all be in the same species was that they all fit the description of “inky cap”, delequising quickly into a black liquid as a methodology for distributing spores.
The ones in the picture above were found in the grass behind Bryan Hall, and are known as the common inky cap, Coprinopsis atramentaria, aka Tippler’s Bane. Inky caps contain a chemical named coprine, which inhibits the body’s ability to break down the acetaldehyde which results from drinking alcohol. This can make you feel very puny, do not drink and eat the otherwise edible inky cap family! (Symptoms include facial reddening, nausea, vomiting, malaise, agitation, palpitations and tingling in limbs, and arise five to ten minutes after consumption of alcohol.)
This tiger swallowtail was sunning on the path to the north of Dunn Woods. It is a male and perhaps was looking to the woods for a mate, they lay eggs on tulip poplar, ash and magnolia trees, all of which are found in Dunn Woods. It occurs throughout the eastern U.S. south of Vermont, and it is the state butterfly of Alabama, Delaware, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. The butterfly is named for the 4 tiger stripes on each wing, and the females can display spots of red and blue at the trailing edge of their wings.
Meripilus giganteus is a white rot polypore that is fruiting around an old beech stump near the observatory, annually in June. They are mildly sour, but edible when young, as are these specimens. It take a while, the they do stain black after being handled. They cause a white rot (meaning they eat the lignans in the tree), perhaps that have something to do with their staining behavior?
Meripilus giganteus, black staining polypore
Meripilus giganteus, black staining polypore
Meripilus giganteus, just starting to show black staining
The eastern box turtle, Terrapene carolina, has found a home in Dunn Woods. I found one crossing a path in the woods back on September 2015. I thought at the time that it may have been a transient, but I think I was wrong. Box turtles generally stay within a mile or so of their hibernation nest, even though a DNR study done in Morgan-Monroe and Yellowwood forests in 2010-11 found a transient individual who traveled 5 miles in a straight path. But in general they stick to their neighborhoods
So imagine my surprise when last night while riding home, I found not one, but two box turtles on the main path running through the woods. I imagined that they were siblings,
I heard the distinctive and insistant call of a pileated woodpecker, (Dryocopus pileatus) in Dunn Woods today. I am relatively sure that is what I heard, as I pulled out my phone and opened Merlin Bird ID, and listened to the various other calls of other peckers: red-bellied, red-headed, downy and hairy woodpeckers, as well as the flicker. The call of the flicker was the only one that came close to the raucous call of the pileated, a repeated ki-ki-ki-ki-ki-ki-ki-ki. I made the call for pileated woodpecker over the flicker by the habitat. Dunn Woods has quite a few trees that have died since the big winds in 2011 when so many maples were downed. Dead standing trees are a cafeteria for pileated (and other woodpeckers), but flickers prefer to eat in more open habitats, walking on the ground to scare up ants and beetles with their curved beaks.
Pileated Woodpecker, Dryocopus pileatus
Pileated woodpeckers have been in Bloomington for many years. Before the property on Curry Pike became Cook Inc, it was a large beech grove, and everyone seemed to know that the woodpeckers nested there. So no one was surprised to see one in town working on an old silver maple. When that property was logged, I think the larger group dispersed around town, but I have no proof.
Over a decade ago I noticed that there were pileated woodpeckers in Winslow Woods park, they have been nesting in the many beech tree cavities in the park. I remember seeing them silhouetted against the sunset while I was working in community garden, and the sound of them calling in mature beech forest that covers that sinkhole rich park.
So it is easy to see why there was one in the woods today. There are quite a few large dead trees that make q buffet of carpenter ants and other insects for the peckers to eat. A lot of trees (a majority of them hard maple) were lost in the decimating winds of 2011. But these trees most likely died from draught stress in the years that followed, and they are still standing and providing food and shelter for the woodpeckers of Dunn woods.
Erigeron philadelphicus, aka Daisy fleabane, Philadelphia fleabane, or common fleabane, is native to North America and is commonly found along roadsides, in fields, and in open forest like Dunn Woods. It is a member of the aster family, is easy to spot as it is has multiple flower heads, and it is often a foot to two feet tall with colorful pink-white flowers with hundreds of florets surrounding a bright yellow center. The name comes from the folk belief that the dried plant would repel fleas.