May 19, 2016
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.
May 16, 2016
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.
Daisy Fleabane, Erigeron philadelphicus
May 13, 2016
These little guys are pretty common, but so small as to go un-noticed unless you are looking closely. They grow in groups on leaf litter in most Indiana woodlands, and are amazingly beautiful in their symmetry. M. rotula is genetically related to the much larger Scotch bonnet, aka the fairy ring mushroom, Marasmius oreades.
Collared parachute mushroom, Marasmius rotula-The sectioned cap looks a bit lit a parachute explaining half the name
Collared parachute mushroom, Marasmius rotula
Collared parachute mushroom, Marasmius rotula-The gills do not attach to the stem (stipe), but rather terminate in a thin collar that surrounds the stipe, giving it the second part of its common name.
Collared parachute mushroom, Marasmius rotula-They are all small, with caps from 3/16″ to 3/4″ (5-20 mm) wide.
May 12, 2016
The tulip poplars are blooming now (mid-May), and they have really beautiful flowers that fall on the forest floor. the tulip poplar is the state tree of Indiana, Kentucky and Tennessee. Most tulip poplars (also known as tulip tree, American tulip tree, tuliptree, whitewood, fiddle-tree, and yellow poplar) grow quite tall, with very few branches until the top quarter of the tree. It grows quickly, and very straight and tall (said to be the tallest hardwood on the east coast), and as such is a valuable timber tree.
Dunn Woods has several tulip poplars, and they have done a good job of seeding the open areas in the woods left by the big winds of 2011. The few maples that survived have also produced quite a few seedlings, followed by locust and redbud.
Tulip Poplar, Liriodendron tulipifera
From Wikipedia: “Liriodendron tulipifera is generally considered to be a shade-intolerant species that is most commonly associated with the first century of forest succession. In Appalachian forests, it is a dominant species during the 50–150 years of succession, but is absent or rare in stands of trees 500 years or older.”
So it is not a surprise that it is, along with the maples, it is among the first hardwoods to show up in the forest succession.
I took a walk through the woods today, and noted that the maples are about 50% of the new tree growth. The other three in order were, tulip tree, redbud and black locust. I saw no beech saplings, but I am sure there are some there, just not near the paths. I think it would be a good piece of research to catalog the numbers and approximate locations of the saplings emerging in the woods and follow the succession year to year, decade to decade.
May 5, 2016
Even though the weather has been cool this week, all the ephemerals have bloomed and are now gone. The cutleaf toothwort leaves have turned yellow and the later blooming may apple flowers have dropped their sepals, exposing the tiny fertilized fruits to grow larger over the next month. The spring beauties seemed to keep blooming longer than any other flowers. The white trout lilies lasted longer than the yellows, but they were both done within two weeks. The salt and pepper came and went early, and the larkspur disappeared. The dicentra (squirrel corn) specimens I found disappeared in just a couple of days.
A few days after posting this I walked through the woods, and found the the Prairie Trillium was still blooming, so it seems it is the longest lasting ephemeral. The trout lilies have gone and their leaves are turning yellow.
Prairie Trillium in early May
Butterweed, a member of the aster family, is the dominant non-emphemeral spring flower in the woods at this time, and I expect it to keep blooming through May, then it will disappear. Butterweed seems to prefer the southern half of Indiana, Illinois, and Ohio, but it is moving north with the effects of global warming.
Butterweed, Packera glabella
Butterweed, Packera glabella