August 25, 2018 [LINK / comment]

Beautiful days to enjoy nature

The weather for the last few days has been just perfect, almost making me wish I still rode a bicycle. (I certainly could use the exercise.) After attending to chores, late on Thursday morning I went for a brief but vigorous hike along the Falls Hollow trail, located a few miles east of Augusta Springs on Route 254. Birds were predictably scarce given the time of year, though I did glimpse a probable Worm-eating Warbler and a Broad-winged Hawk. The only other birds I saw were an Eastern Wood Pewee, a Ruby-throated Hummingbird, and some Tufted Titmice and Black-capped Chickadees. But the venture was worth it, as I saw in abundant assortment of mushrooms! That kept me busy with the camera.

Mushroom Montage 23 Aug 2018

Mushrooms: Species yet to be determined...

As I returned along the trail, I came across an older fellow with a big bag and plastic bucket full of reddish-brown fungi, which he called "Leatherback" mushrooms. He almost insisted that I take some home with me to try, and I obliged him. I did a quick Internet search (wikipedia), and confirmed that the Lactifluus volemus are not only edible but are a tasty species that can be used in casseroles. I fried a few, carefully tested a small amount one night, and then had a meal-sized portion this evening. No problem (so far)! smile

On Friday morning I went to Bell's Lane, which was pretty quiet at first, just a Brown Thrasher hiding in the bushes and a few Hummingbirds that I photographed. (The latter are not included in the montage below.) It seemed to get busier after about 11:00, however. A juvenile Goldfinch just north of the Ford farm entrance was making alarm calls as I approached (photo at lower right), and its father came to help. I also glimpsed a Yellow Warbler and saw a family of E. Phoebes nearby; I think the photo here (left) is of a juvenile. By the beaver pond I was startled to see a female Orchard Oriole close by. At first I wasn't sure what that bright yellow bird was! There were one or two Kingbirds mixed in with the hordes of swallows (Tree, N. Rough-winged, and Barn), as well as a Kingfisher and Green Heron in the distance. I also saw (and heard) two Red-tailed Hawks.

Birds Montage 24 Aug 2018

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: House Finch (M), Orchard Oriole (F), American Goldfinch (juv.), Belted Kingfisher, Brown Thrasher, Eastern Phoebe (juv.), and Eastern Kingbird. (August 24, 2018) Several other photos can be seen on the Wild Birds yearly photo gallery page.