June 10 – snake sex and suchlike

I was watching the boys this afternoon, and I spent the first hour trying to herd them outside, on another pleasant, not-too-hot day.  My younger son mentioned something about finding ripe blueberries.  I was surprised, as I hadn’t seen any ripe ones, but, whaddaya know he was right!  Here’s the first ripe blueberry I’ve seen in the back yard this year.Image

most of the blueberries in the yard still look like this:

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A little later, I convinced them to take a walk in the soaking wet woods with me, to see if all the recent rain has brought out more mushrooms.  The first one we encountered was this, which I think is some type of Grisette , an attractive mushroom, but not a good one to eat.

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We weren’t finding many edible ones, until I spotted this little cluster of oysters up in a standing dead tree.  I had to put one of the boys on my shoulders to pick them, and unfortunately they were too buggy to eat.

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We also found a few fawn mushrooms, but by far the most interesting scene of the afternoon began when we spotted this handsome black snake slithering through the forest.  Image

We followed it for a little while while it crawled through the underbrush, then buried its head in what looked like a nest of some sort, or maybe some rodent’s hole.  It sat there for a couple of minutes, engaging in odd vibrations and wiggles.  Then the ground beneath the snake started moving, and…Image

…suddenly a second snake popped its head out of what actually had been some sort of underground snaky nest.  The two snakes got all wrapped up in each other.  For a moment, it looked like maybe they were fighting, but soon enough it became obvious that their intentions were more of the amorous sort.Image

The first snake gently bit the second one on the head, then they got all intertwined.  As odd as it sounds, it was actually kind of erotic.Image

close-up of the snakes’ entwined tails.  This is as much as I can show of what happened next– this isn’t that kind of blog, you know!Image

After that educational moment, I had some time on my own for the remainder of the afternoon.  I headed back out for some more ambitious, child-free explorations.  This cute orange ‘shroom was one of the first things I encountered.

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A little farther up the trail, I came across what I think is the first blewit of the season.  It looked generally right, and had the distinctive blewit smell, but the gills in the bottom weren’t exactly the color I remember.  I’m going to pass up eating this one until I am totally sure that it’s right.  No sense in getting ahead of myself, there will be plenty of blewits later in the season!Image

Another super-common mushroom I was finding everywhere, in vast quantities was this, which I think is a common funnel cap (clitocybe gibba), but I’m not totally sure.  I will have to do some more research to figure out what these are, because there are loads of them right now!

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also saw some more indian pipe, a bit bigger than the last ones I saw.  They are starting to become a bit more common in the woods, at least I saw a few clumps of them today.Image

I mostly wandered through the mature hardwood forest on the far side of the creek, an area that I explored more extensively during the winter, but haven’t been back to in months.  It’s a pretty nice part of our land.

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cool triple-holed tree

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delicate coral mushroom, one of several I found on a single log (and nowhere else in the woods)Image

It was hard to imagine how this delicate tree remnant could hold up through the many storms we’ve been having.  It looks as though I could blow it over with my own breath (but of course I didn’t) Image

Eventually, I wandered my way into the ‘beech grove’ part of our forest.  With the sun shining down through the canopy, it’s quite a lovely bit of woods.Image

These little dark mushrooms were cool in that you could see the little sack of mycelium that they were growing out of.  I’m not sure what they are.Image

More cute little mushrooms.  I’ve unfortunately misplaced my field guide, so I’m not able to ID most of these until I can find it.Image

Another Russula– this one was particularly impressive for its color and girth.

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I got home just before dinner, with dark skies and ominous rumbling off to the west.  I checked the weather before stepping out, and saw that we were under a flash flood warning, extreme thunderstorm warning, and tornado watch.  Yikes!  About half an hour later, we were hit with yet another violent spring storm, with lightning, high wind, and yet another inch of rain in less than half an hour.  The rain continued late into the night (although less intensely), so it looks like our wet wet week in Virginia is going to continue.

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