Saturday, November 26, 2011

I'm still alive!

I know it has been a while since I posted. I have no idea what I have been doing to prevent me from blogging. Apparently, I have been out of the habit. No matter. Here I am and with new pictures, too. 

Okay, I admit it, this is the same old subject matter- mushrooms.

Oyster mushrooms, specifically. They have been so abundant lately that I can't look out a window or 
walk to the car without seeing some.

I think the babies are particularly photogenic.

These were absolutely teeny-tiny.

I really like the ones that grow on the bottom of logs, too.

Do you know what I don't like about oyster mushrooms? 
The taste. 
I really, really want to like them, but I don't.
Maybe I am just cooking them wrong. I'll try them again soon, but as beautiful and easy to identify and abundant as they are, I SHOULD love them, but I don't.
Does anyone have any cooking tips for oyster mushrooms?

As I have said before, don't eat any mushroom you are even slightly unsure of. 
Safety first, people.

Hope you all had a good Thanksgiving (or good Thursday for those outside the U.S.).


Monday, October 17, 2011

Oyster Mushrooms

Lately, the weather has been really dry. We had one day of rain in the last couple of weeks, but it's still mighty dry. So there have been very few mushrooms to find when I have made my trips into the woods.

But there have been oysters. Lots of oysters.

 Pleurotus ostreatus is the Latin name for these lovely mushrooms.

They are all over this poplar log.

The "babies" are simply adorable.
To me, at least.

After noticing all the mushrooms springing forth from this log, I brought a jug of water for them. 
The creek the log is over is completely dry.

Oysters are supposed to be really tasty mushrooms, but after Hen-of-the-Woods, I wasn't impressed.
I'll try them again another time.

I know this is an obvious warning, but 

Stop by Lisa's Chaos to see what other macros this Monday brings. 
As always, click on any photos for an enlargement.


Friday, October 14, 2011

Glimpse into the World of Fairies

Okay, I didn't actually see any fairies, but I'm pretty sure they had been there.

Enjoy your weekend!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Grifola frondosa

Lately, I have been keeping a close watch on some lovely oyster mushrooms next to my driveway. I have even been watering them. This morning, I wandered outside, coffee in hand, to see how the oysters were coming along.

And then I spied it.
A small, fresh Hen of the Woods mushroom!

Can you see it?

These lovely mushrooms are also known as Maitake or Sheep's Head or (my favorite) 
the Dancing Mushroom.
But the Latin name is Grifola frondosa.

Can you see it now?

I just about fell off the log on which I was standing!

I've bought Hens at an Asian grocery in a nearby city and even at a large Whole Foods-type grocery.
They are DE-lish-us! And expensive. Like $30 per pound expensive.

But today, I found a 31 ounce Hen BY MY DRIVEWAY.
I'm still kind of in shock.

The best part is that they are perennial. So it will probably show up by this particular oak next year and the year after and so on.

Oh, and the other best part is that Dancing Mushrooms are used medicinally as well.
According to,
Grifola frondosa is,
"One of the most medicinally active of all common wild mushrooms, Maitake has well-demonstrated immuno-boosting and anti-microbial (anti-bacterial and anti-viral) properties, as well as anti-tumor activity against breast, colorectal, liver, lung and prostate cancers, and leukemia. As if that weren't enough, it also shows considerable potential as an antihypertensive, as a blood-sugar moderator, and as a cholesterol reducer. Additionally, it is reputed as being beneficial for the lungs and respiratory system, as a stress reducer, and even as an anti-Candidiasis (yeast infection) agent."
Other sites mention its use against HIV. 
How cool is that?

Thankfully, I'm not currently dealing with serious health issues, but my common cold seems virtually gone now. I don't know if it is the anti-viral properties of the mushroom or 
that I am still absolutely giddy about finding it!

Either way, I now know why they call it the Dancing Mushroom.
I could dance all day after finding it!

Hope you all are having as wonderful weekend as I am!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Critter of the Day

Today's Critter of the Day is an immature male Magnolia Warbler.

This adorable little guy collided with my living room window earlier this week.

At first, I didn't know what he was- except that he was a warbler. He definitely has an insect-eating beak.

They don't call them confusing fall warblers for nothing. My mom, expert birder that she is, thought he was a Magnolia Warbler despite him not looking quite like the book.
After a bit of searching online, I found a photo of a first year male.
It looked just like him!

Aren't the feathers on his back pretty?

After a few minutes resting in a cardboard box, he became restless. He flew almost as soon as I opened the box, but wasn't quite ready to fly into the woods. He posed for a few moments while he regained his bearings. I'm glad he did. I only wish the sun hadn't be so close to setting.
The light sure could have been better.

You can tell he is feeling better now.

This was my last glimpse before he flew away.

As always, you can click on any of the photos for a closer look.

Don't forget to
stop by
blogging from bolivia
to link up your own Macro Friday post!


                                                                  Camera Critters

Thursday, September 15, 2011

More Mushroomy Macros

It has been quite dry of late and, unfortunately, that means not many mushrooms about. I do understand that not all of my readers are fungi-philes, but I am. Ticks are the other problem I have had lately. It is impossible to go out into the woods without bringing in passengers. But we had some rain yesterday, and the days are shorter so the ticks are less of a problem. I'm looking forward to a wonderful autumn!

This particular mushroom I photographed a while ago at Land Between the Lakes.
It was growing right in the road.

At first I thought it was a rusty piece of metal.

Then I thought it was a puffball.

It is neither.
I strongly suspect it is a Pisolithus tinctorius, also known as
the dyemaker's puffball.

It is not a true puffball, merely a mushroom with a thin outer "skin" that disintegrates upon maturity.

When immature it can be used to dye wool.
Once I got home and looked it up I wished I had taken more pictures of it or even collected it.
Maybe I'll find one again sometime.

Have a super weekend!

Don't forget to
stop by
blogging from bolivia
to link up your own Macro Friday post!


Thursday, August 18, 2011

I've done it!

I have finally done it!

I have finally 100% positively identified a mushroom!

My mother came over to my house carrying a bunch of mushrooms she found growing on freshly mowed grass owned by the city. She collected them all!
What a good mother I have!

As soon as I saw them, I knew I had seen them in a book recently.
I also strongly suspected that they were poisonous.

I was right.

So, without any further delay, let me introduce you to Chlorophyllum molybdites
or as it is more commonly known, Green-Spored Lepiota.

It is also the mushroom in America that is responsible for more poisonings
than any other.
Symptoms include severe intestinal discomfort, vomiting, and diarrhea
with fairly rapid onset.

Pretty to look at, but not to eat!

The cap is from 3 to 10 inches across, which is impressively large to me.

The young ones look like golf balls on a stick.
The Green-Spored Lepiota is a large mushroom frequently found in grassy areas in late summer.

The spores are a dingy olive green which on these older mushrooms was easy to
see even without doing a spore print.

You may even have some in you yard right now. Sometimes they even grow in fairy rings.
Hope you enjoy looking!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Macro Friday at LBL

Yesterday was a beautiful day. And, and this is the significant part, it wasn't miserably hot! It was a very welcome change.

The kids, Nana, and I took a little trip to Land Between the Lakes. We went to our favorite lake access and had a picnic. We even splashed in the water a bit and participated in the most fantastic toddler activity- throwing rocks into the water. That alone would have been worth the trip, but we also ventured to the Nature Station which is another favorite spot.

There were butterflies everywhere.
This male Eastern Tiger Swallowtail was practically posing for me.

The Ruby-throated Hummingbirds were more abundant than I have ever seen.
They were EVERYWHERE! Do I have wonderful pictures? Sadly, no. But it was still a thrill to see.

The local Red-bellied Woodpeckers were even drinking from the hummingbird feeders. I had never seen that before.

Back in Shakerag, the squirrels and raccoons drink from the hummer feeders.

The biggest thrill of the day however, came as we were heading home. About a half mile from the Nature Station, in our lane of the road, we came upon a Rattlesnake! I'm unsure of the specific species, but my best guess is a Timber Rattlesnake.

So, those of you who are not fans of snakes,
go no further!

He (or she) was just sitting in the road, presumably sunning.
At first, I thought someone had run over him, he was so still.

My goal was to get him off the road and get a few photos.
He was really reluctant to leave the road.

He was on a curve on a hill, so I considered him to be in a fair amount of danger of being hit by a car.

So, I did what any normal, typical housewife would do,
I poured water on him to get him to move.

Well, this did make him move alright, into a striking pose with his tail rattling.

Yes, the rattling sound is just like in the movies.
That was the point when I backed away. Being almost bitten by a snapping turtle is one thing; being bitten by a rattler miles and miles from medical assistance is something quite different.

I love how this subtantial snake just disappears into nothing in just a bit of weeds.
He was about three feet long.

As always, you can click on any of the photos for a closer look.

Don't forget to
stop by
blogging from bolivia
to link up your own Macro Friday post!


Monday, August 8, 2011

Macro Monday

I've been absent a bit lately.
Our whole family has been travelling abroad for the last two weeks.

Actually, I have hardly left Shakerag. And what's more, I have hardly left the house! It's just been too hot and humid to do anything.
So, no blogging, no photo-taking, no nuthin'.

Yesterday, I braved the heat, humidity, and ticks to take a walk in the woods.

A very small toad crossed my path. He was about half an inch long.

Yes, I irritated him.

He really didn't seem that bothered by the flash. I didn't like the way it turned out with the flash,
but the light was low enough almost all my flash-less shots were blurry.
It was my looking at him that he seemed to object to most.

Mushrooms, on the other hand, don't mind me bothering them at all.
These were even smaller than the toad.

It was humid enough that my glasses fogged up on me several times. I came in covered in sweat and teeny ticks.
But it really was nice to get out into the woods again.
It was especially nice after a shower.

Happy Monday!
I'm linking to Macro Monday at Lisa's Chaos.
Stop by and see what macros you can see today!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Macro Friday

It has been another unusually hot week in Shakerag. The other morning I found this snail on the glass outside my livingroom. It is harder than I expected to identify him. I know he's a mollusk and gastropod and terrestrial, but other than that I am drawing a blank.
Does anyone know a good website for identifying snails of the eastern U.S.?

Okay, so once again, I have to give the spider warning.

Spider photos follow!

The next critter is a bit more familiar. She's a Black Widow. There are several species of Black Widows. They are a type of cobweb spider which means they don't make pretty, intricate webs. Their webs are messy, but strong.
The silk of Black Widows is stronger than that of most other spiders.

They are usually solid black except for bright red markings that frequently resemble an hourglass on the underside of her abdomen. This is highly variable.

These visible markings are on her back.
I may have to turn her over and see what that side looks like.

Here she is posing with her egg sac. A single female Black Widow can have up to eight egg sacs in a single year.
Most of the young don't survive to hatch due to cannibalism.

Black Widow females pick a spot and stay there waiting for food and mates to come to them. Above, you can see the remains of one of her meals.

The females are poisonous even to critters as big as humans.

The males don't bite or even eat as adults. They are much smaller and nondescript.
I have never seen a male Black Widow.

As always, you can click on any of the photos for a closer look.

Don't forget to
stop by
blogging from bolivia
to link up your own Macro Friday post!