The Forest Floor in Early Autumn

Autumn’s answer  to Spring wildflowers is fruiting bodies! They arrive in myriad shapes, sizes and colors, often without warning and, literally, overnight. Aside from being easy on the eyes, many are mycorrhizal. They colonize tree roots, forming a mutually beneficial or symbiotic relationship.

The Spring ephemerals thrive in a narrow window of opportunity, capturing light before it is filtered and blocked by the dense, new foliage of deciduous trees and shrubs. In contrast, Autumn fungi respond to warmth, moisture and organic substrates, independent of light.

Puffballs and coral fungi are favorite groups and they’ve been underfoot on most of my walks. Other notable encounters include the Fairy Cup fungus, American Caesar’s mushroom, Amanita mushrooms, and Chicken of the Woods bracket fungus.

 

Photos by NB Hunter (late September and early October). © All rights reserved.

 

The Great Outdoors in September, 2018

There are seasons, and then there are seasons within seasons. The final three weeks of summer that define the month of September provide vivid proof of the latter.

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Banded Woolly Bear caterpillar, the larval stage of a tiger moth

Sulphur butterflies probing for nutrients in the wet, trampled soil of a cow pasture

Chicken of the Woods fruiting body (fried in butter by the landowner after I captured it alive!)

Monarch caterpillar feeding on Common Milkweed

A “fresh” Monarch nectaring on New England Aster (a September staple) in a weedy meadow

A good crop of Red Oak acorns has this squirrel busy all day long!

A young cottontail, now about half the size of its parents

Gray Dogwood, a favorite fuel of migrating birds like robins and catbirds

Most bucks rub their antlers free of dried velvet during the first three weeks of September, an event triggered by decreasing day length and increased testosterone

Foraging wildlife in a hay field in fading light (September 18 – the same date and location as the previous image)

Lastly, a message from my friend’s milk house kittens: Thanks for visiting!!!

Photos by NB Hunter (September, 2018). © All rights reserved.