WiseAcre Gardens

north of the adirondacks – wildflowers & perennials that survive winters colder than my wife's feet

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Posted by WiseAcre on Mar 14th, 2011

A Pileated Woodpecker to begin with

Mar 14

…followed by deer and a Stewy ending.

Pileated Woodpecker – Dryocopus pileatus

Pileated Woodpecker

A pair of Pileated Woodpeckers has claimed the woods in front of the house as part of their territory. They stay together year round defending their space so I’m guessing this is the same pair I saw last year. They’ve made several appearences this winter but this is the only decent photo I’ve been able to get so far. They are flighty and take off as soon as I step out the front door. I usually curse the Basswoods but since they’re attracting these woodpeckers I’m having a change of heart. I suspect their actual nesting / roosting site is in the woods across the road. Every time I’d disturbed them they headed in that direction. Too bad, the land there is posted and off limits to me.

Pileated woodpeckers are about as big as they come, at least woodpecker wise in North America. If you’ve never seen one before their size will surprise you when you do. If you spot a OMGTABFW (oh my goodness that’s a big freaking woodpecker) it’s most likely to be a Pileated.

I guess when my grandpa called me a little peckerhead he must have been thinking of the smaller sap sucker.

Dryocopus pileatus

Down the road a group of deer were out in a hayfield. I was surprised to find so much of the snow melted the last day or so. I live in a wooded bowl on the north side of a hill and the sun doesn’t quite have the strength to melt snow at home yet.

deer in the hayfield

The ice jam may have been flushed downriver but if you look between the trees you’ll see a few remains on the far shore.

deer browsing by the river

Downtown Morley Traffic Jam
I just wanted to photograph the ice on the river bank but catching a Deere running down the road made the photo worth posting.

Morley -  Grasse River - Ice

Stewy was waiting for me at the end of the driveway when I returned home. So was the snow.

Stewy the Cat

My outing wasn’t over yet. Dog wanted to go for a hike and we took off out back. But that’s a subject for another post. I don’t want to mix my lichens and deer up.

Posted by WiseAcre on Mar 13th, 2011

finds at Stillwater

Mar 13

Hemlock Varnish Shelf – Ganoderma tsugae

One of the freakest fungi around here (IMO) is the Hemlock Varnish Shelf mushroom. What makes it freaky is the unpredictable shapes it can grow into. One may look like a perfectly normal shelf mushroom while the next may look like a mutated appendage growing from a stump. On not so uncommon occasions alien sprouts can be seen emerging from the forest floor.

As the name implies – Hemlock Varnish Shelf mushrooms grow on Hemlock trees. They are annual but many will over winter in good shape. The normal shelf shapes are most likely to over winter well. This one is typical – in other words it’s a bit of an odd shaped shelf growing on a Hemlock.

hemlock varnish shelf mushroom - Ganoderma tsugae

A look at the underside reveals the pore surface.

hemlock varnish shelf mushroom - pore surface

To see other shapes this mushroom forms – go to a post from last June – Fungus Fun .
The photos on that post show the ‘varnish’ finish on the upper surface. It also depicts some measures you may have to undertake if alien sprouts show up in your area.

I did make it to the Middle Branch of the Grasse River. This is a view looking across the river to the Stillwater Hunting Club. Most of the land along the river here is ‘private’ but the state does provide access to the river in some places along the dirt road where they run alongside each other.

Stillwater Hunting Club on the Middle Branch of the Grasse River

My son-in-law is a member so I got to cross the bridge as a guest. The club is about 30 miles south and 600 feet higher in elevation than home. Ya wouldn’t think such short distances would make much of a differece but I could feel winter’s grip was firmer, down here?, up here? There wasn’t much besides the river to photograph but I did manage to find the Wintergreen I went looking for.

Wintergreen – Gaultheria procumbens

Wintergreen - Gaultheria procumbens

This is a creeping evergreen shrub that spreads by underground stems capable of establishing fair sized colonies in the right conditions. In my observations it seems to prefer well drained sandy soil on the acidic side in the shade of mixed woods where Hemlocks are in the majority. As you can see the berries winter over in good shape.

Wintergreen - berry in snow

Yep, this is the original Wintergreen once used to flavor candies and gum. Crushing the leaves releases that old familiar smell and is a good cure for my cabin fever.

Last but not least was a bit of Lichen reaching out. I’ve already mentioned in previous posts this is the Lichen reproductive season. These weird erections are a type of reproductive structure built by the symbiotic partners, algae and fungus.


Posted by WiseAcre on Mar 11th, 2011

snow shrooms to a prickly pair

Mar 11

…another march madness episode.

Mushroom Madness

I didn’t think I could top finding mushrooms growing in a Feburary north country winter but photographing them in snow is a new high for me.

velvet foot mushroom in snow

I found these on the same Elm tree the Feburary batch was growing on.

Velvet Foot Mushroom – Flammulina velutipes

velvet foot mushroom in snow

I know it’s yellow but this is to the best of my knowledge:

Orange Jelly – Dacrymyces palmatus

orange jelly fungus

This too was a warm Febuary day discovery but I caught it growing this time. It’s on a dead Hemlock branch which makes me believe it is orange jelly but I wasn’t aware it grew like a slime mold. Doubts on the identity are now stuck in the cobwebs of my mind. Is this a slime mold or a mushroom? It certainly looks like snot.

orange jelly or slime mold?

Moss Madness

I love this rock. It’s about a quarter mile from the house but I swear someday I’m going to bring it home. It’s going to be tough to do. I need to find someone dumber than I to carry it.

Moss Rock Garden
moss rock garden

The Fire Moss is ‘blooming’.
As far as I’ve observed, fire moss is the first moss to form spore pods as the snow melts.

fire moss spore pods

sometimes it doesn’t wait for the snow to melt

spore pods emerging from snow

Ice Madness

I did make it to the river. Almost. I was kept at bay by the high water level. I’d guess it’s about 6 feet higher than normal.

grasse river ice in March

grasse river ice - mar 11, 2011
I have more ice photos but this is enough for today.

Porcupine Madness

This is actually the last shot I took of them. I wanted to open with an obvious pair of porkies.

pair of porcupines

The first photo I took is not very revealing. It only shows the tip of the second porcupine’s tail.

Not a snuggle bunny

Tomorrow I’m headed to Lampson Falls on the Grasse River. While I’m in the area I hope to find some wintergreen. I’d love to catch the red berries against the snow. (fingers crossed)

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