Field Photo Friday!!

•06/03/2011 • Leave a Comment

In today’s post I have included several pictures from the Birkhead Mountain Wilderness Area, within the Uwharrie National Forest. My wife and I spent this past Memorial Day weekend backpacking an 8 mile section of trails within this Wilderness Area. The Uwharrie N.F. is located Northeast of Charlotte with a ranger station in Troy, NC. Operated by the U.S. Forest Service this land is primarily used for recreational activities including OHV, horseback riding, biking, and hiking. The Birkhead Mountain Wilderness Area is solely reserved for hiking and camping. Below are a few pictures taken while we were backpacking. I hope to include a post later with more details of our trip including more photos and information.

This little guy was spotted on the way to the trailhead on the street across from Science Hill Church in Asheboro, NC. We swung back around and took him off the road so that he wouldn’t get squished. This is the first E. Box Turtle we have seen in North Carolina!

The images above and below are some pictures of the trail system. The two pictures were taken on Robbins Branch Trail.

This last photo was our final stop before hiking out to the trailhead. Surrounded by these beautiful rocks we took a break, laying out a blanket  to relax. This spot was the only location along the trails that had such a large outcropping of rocks.

The first stop we made to take lunch was just on the other side of a creek along Hannah’s Creek trail. While packing up I noticed this butterfly flying around and couldn’t help but notice that it had an affinity for my wife. It kept circling around her and landing either on her head or back. This Hackberry Emporer is a first find for us and proved both to be beautiful and entertaining.

References:  

USDA Forest Service (Uwharrie National Forest)
USDA Forest Service (Birkhead Mountain Wilderness Area)
Herps of North Carolina (Eastern Box Turtle)
Butterflies of North Carolina 
 

Field Photo Friday!

•05/27/2011 • Leave a Comment

Another short post with photos that are less field oriented. This porcupine was seen while my wife and I hiked a section of the North County Trail through Hiawatha National Forest in Western Michigan. I remember that this was a fantastic trip, long, but still very beautiful and rewarding.

Ultimately, it would be great to spend more time up north as we have family and most of our friends still live in the area. Unfortunately, when we spend time up north it is mostly consumed with family time. At some point I would love to hike a larger section of this trail. This, like other large cross-country trails (i.e. Appalachian Trail and Continental Divide Trail) allow an opportunity to see more of the amazing landscapes across the United States while connecting multiple states together, preserving large stretches of habitats and ecosystems. Since we have moved to North Carolina, I hope to spend time in the Smokies hiking along the Appalachian Trail. Until then I will settle for local state parks, wilderness areas, and national forests that provide an alternative to extended trails.

References:

Hiawatha National Forest
http://www.fs.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsinternet/!ut/p/c5/04_SB8K8xLLM9MSSzPy8xBz9CP0os3gjAwhwtDDw9_AI8zPwhQoY6IeDdGCqCPOBqwDLG-AAjgb6fh75uan6BdnZaY6OiooA1tkqlQ!!/dl3/d3/L2dJQSEvUUt3QS9ZQnZ3LzZfMjAwMDAwMDBBODBPSEhWTjBNMDAwMDAwMDA!/?ss=110910&navtype=forestBean&navid=091000000000000&pnavid=null&cid=null&ttype=main&pname=Hiawatha%20National%20Forest%20-%20Home 
 
North County Trail (official site)
http://www.nps.gov/noco/index.htm
 
North County Trail Organization
http://northcountrytrail.org/
 
 
 
 
 

Field Photo Friday!

•05/20/2011 • Leave a Comment

This is going to be another simple post. I hope to post a series of pictures pertaining to these Song Sparrow hatchlings later in the week. Until then have a great weekend!

Field Photo Friday!

•05/13/2011 • Leave a Comment

Have a Happy Friday the 13th!!

Field Photo Friday!

•05/06/2011 • Leave a Comment

Today’s post is going to be a simple one. Can you pick the critter out? It was hidden on this bald cypress as I was checking traps at Sherburne Wildlife Management Area, Louisiana.

Did you find it? It’s on the lower third of the picture/trunk. This little guy is a Thamnophis proximus (Western Ribbon Snake). I would have passed him up if it weren’t for the PVC trap that I had on this tree.

Here’s a closer look. As a field collecting goes these guys are particularly difficult as they can squeeze out of traps, are partially arboreal, and are rather quick.

Field Photo Friday!

•04/29/2011 • Leave a Comment

This is going to be a simple post including just a few pictures of Pseudacris crucifer, the Spring Peeper that is to most, the signature of a returning spring. Photos are all individuals I captured during fieldwork in Sherburne Wildlife Management Area in Louisiana.

I was particularly amazed at the variations of pigmentation and complexity found in the “crucifix” on each individuals back.

Patterns of the cross varied from the dark ink blotting found in the first individual, to the light, almost absent, cross of the individual above and below.

I hope these few pictures have shown some of the detail and beautiful colorations in these little treasures.

Field Photo Friday!

•04/22/2011 • Leave a Comment

This post is a bit of a throwback of pictures taken while my future wife and I went exploring around the trails of DeSoto National Forest just south of Hattiesburg, Mississippi. On this particular trip, like many, we hiked along a trail tending to veer off in search of things of interest. For my wife, it tends to be artistic pictures of trees, flowers, and natural landscapes. However, for me it tends to be a distraction in birding, flipping logs and rocks, and a general curiosity for critters hiding around the next corner. On this particular trip we found this jewel of a fungus. It was detected by its foul carrion smell and bright red-orange color.

This beauty is Clathrus columnatus also known as the Columned Stinkhorn. Belonging to the Clathraceae family this group of stinkhorns is characterized by it’s branched stems and lattice-work structures. Along with Phallaceae, a related group, these fungi disperse spores in a foul but interesting way. The odor emitted by these fungi attracts flies and other insects at which time the insects either eat pieces of the fungus or end up covering their legs in spores. Thus, the spores are defecated or spread when the insects land propagating and dispersing the stinkhorn.

As I was doing some investigating about this species I came across a particularly interesting incident that took place on October 31, 1889. In the Botanical Gazette published in 1890 there is a story from Professor Gerald McCarthy of Raleigh, North Carolina in which he describes several hogs dying from ingesting a fungus. He states that the fungus “…grows in patches in oak woods and openings and is greedily sought after and eaten by hogs who are generally killed by it within 12 or 15 hours.” Investigation of the specimen sent proved to be that of C. columnatus Bosc. The description later goes on to inquire as to whether other hogs in the Southeast have a fondness for this species too. An interesting idea and I would be curious if this is a common occurrence within farm animals, particularly swine. Below is the Botanical Gazette with the above mentioned quote on page 45.

References:

Mushroom expert website
      http://www.mushroomexpert.com/phallaceae.html 
Coulter, J.M., Barnes, C.R., and Arthur, J.C. 1890. Poisonous action of Clathrus            
      columnatus. Botanical Gazette v. 15 :45-46.
Coker, W.C., Couch, J.N. 1928. The Gasteromycetes of the Eastern United States and
     Canada. Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina Press. 
Marshall, N.L. 1904. The Mushroom Book: A Popular Guide to the Identification and Study
     of our Commoner Fungi, with Special Emphasis on Edible Variates. New York:New
     York. Doubleday, Page and Co. pg.124.