Archive for January, 2015

White Mushroom

I seem to be developing a knack for finding things I can’t identify.


These mushrooms commonly grew in a low damp area on … I’m not sure on what kind of wood. I took the pictures  on November 30.


At first they looked to me like mushrooms that had curled inside-out as they aged.


And, as of this posting, I still have no idea what they are.

A Fungus and a Lichen

Before I get started on this blog, I want to say that I’m a highly visual person. I find photography quite frustrating! For some reason I just don’t understand or retain most of the information.


I was working in the yard this morning and took this picture of the mushroom and lichen with my Canon PowerShot. The sun hadn’t come around yet to hit the subjects.


I took this picture on January 9th and didn’t get around to starting the blog until this morning (14th). Obviously, this picture was taken in the sunlight. The colors in this and the above picture differ so much. I don’t use the automatic setting, because the pictures come out too light.


So, I took another picture after the hazy sunlight moved over to this side of the branch. All three of these pictures were cropped.


This shows the pores on the underneath side of the mushroom.

 I’ve had no luck identifying these mushrooms.

The lichen is a blister lichen (Physcia stellaris).

Cause For Celebration!

Fossil hunting offers a wide variety of possibilities.

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Trilobites shed their armor six to eight times during their life. This translates into finding their sheds (which are never common). Trilobite fossils are found in limestone, shale and dolomite in Illinois. Most of mine are from limestone.

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The oldest ones in Illinois come from Cambrian age rocks 500 million years old. Trilobites went extinct 250 million years ago.

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 Over years and years of fossil hunting, I found several partial trilobite fossils.  I never expected the possibility of finding a whole one.

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Then there, one sunny afternoon, on the the shale of a small outcrop, near the top of a hill, by a lake, lay this 7/8 inch trilobite.

My “whoop” echoed through the hills!


Keith, my son, went to a Sierra Club seminar on Paleozoic monsters recently. Joseph Drevian, from USGS, gave the program. He found a partial trilobite from the same outcrop where I found my whole one. Keith sent him a picture of the one I found.

My trilobite is from the Grove Church member of the Kincaid limestone, part of Elviran Stage Chester series of the Missisippi system. It is a proetid trilobite  named Paladin sp.

Boy, that’s a mouthful.


I searched and searched until I found pictures of the shale outcropping where I found the trilobite.


That’s my mother fossil hunting on the slope.


This last picture shows the whole shale area. Horses later moved their trail to down through the shale. Then a major flood in 2008 completely changed the landscape, and I haven’t been back since.

A Fox Sign

I had a couple of things to do in the backyard this morning. As usual, Buffy went with me. I started toward the catalpa tree and came to an area that smelled strong like skunk, only not skunk. It was fox. One had marked its territory in our backyard! Luckily, the smell finally dissipated.

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So, obviously, the foxes plan to den under the barn again. The above picture shows Buffy one evening two years ago, waiting for the foxes to appear.


From that look on her face, it was obvious she wanted me to help her evict them. Red foxes breed late January into February in southern Illinois. Gestation period is 51 days.

It’s looking good so far for the future possibility of little ones running around.

My fingers are crossed.

The Magic of Ice, Part 2

The ice’s imagination has no bounds.


I wonder if the creatures were involved in the designing?


It’s like magic happened overnight.


Will this life form swim away?


The myriad of designs in this section of the creek would be beyond comprehension without the picture.


Obviously, there are endless possibilities for ice compositions.


I think I walked up on a secret meeting of the ice spirits.


The characters and shapes in the ice differ with each freeze.

That’s why I always make an effort to visit this small creek when the conditions are right for ice.

… I wonder if they enjoyed me as much as I enjoyed them?

The Magic of Ice, Part One

Designs in ice always fascinate me. A recent cold spell created both dramatic and delicate designs.


The creek is a small wet-weather creek with a rocky bottom.


A closer look shows intricate designs within the designs.


Contributing shapes and the flow of the water seem to have quite an imagination.


A larger area makes a larger “canvas” for the masterpiece.


Nooks crowd designs within their confines.


Some look like they’d break just from the wind’s breath.


I haven’t decided what this figure resembles.


Ebb and flow, as the creatures create themselves.


I’ll post part 2 of this ice blog series on Wednesday, the 21st.

Fascinating Ice

There’s more to ice than just ice. I accidentally found a 2008 folder with 109 pictures from a serious ice storm. (Luckily, we didn’t lose power.)


My backyard turned into a sparkling display of the many possibilities of ice. This purple coneflower seedhead took on a completely different appearance.


Rosemary transformed into a dramatic composition.

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The fascinating thing about ice is how it distorts and reverses images. The blue sky overhead ends up reflected on the side of the ice.


I wonder if this is where the phrase “frozen in time” came from?


How can a uniform line of lumps form with very little underneath to create and hold them? They’re actually larger on the top side. Guess it was cold enough that the rain didn’t have time to move far after hitting the ice.


Simple beauty formed everywhere I looked.


The blue sky overhead and the red barn ended up reflected upside down in the ice … and the reflected snow made it look like a cloudy sky.


I can’t tell what kind of lichens this is inside the “ice drop.”


It’s been such a treat to relive the beauty of that ice storm.

Ice Impersonations

I usually head for the hills when the ice starts forming in a small rocky creek only four or five miles from our house. The water was touching the underside of the ice two days ago when I was here.


 It touched very little of the ice today. Intricate designs, combinations of sizes and shapes were vying for attention.


My attention immediately when to the right side where a friendly, 4-legged creature was showing interest in what looked like a young bird.

This is the prelude to two blogs of the ice that was in this creek. The first one will be posted Sunday the 18th and the second the following Wednesday.

A Yard Possibility

I get excited over the some of the strangest things. Here’s a good example.

Buffy and I took the kitchen scraps to the compost pile this morning.


I walked up to this first. It was completely dry, which was odd because it rained all day yesterday and until almost 10 p.m. last night.


A second “bundle” was next. It contained fibers, hair, synthetic batting and other “stuff.”


And the third contained more of the same. Then I noticed Buffy smelling along the side of the barn that’s above the ground.

We went in, and I started studying in my Mammals of Illinois book. To shorten the story:

Our habitat isn’t right for raccoons.

 It’s too early for groundhogs. They don’t breed until late February or in March. I only saw a fox in the yard twice last year. A groundhog lived under the barn for 2 months, at least. It would stick its head out in the evening and watch me working in my flower gardens.

This leaves foxes. They are monestrous — meaning they have only a single estrous cycle per year. They breed late January and February. Gestation lasts about 51 days. So the young are born late March or in April here in southern Illinois. Today is January 12.

I figured the hair and fibers etc. in the pictures were remnants of when the groundhog was under the barn, and a fox removed them.

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Here’s two pictures of when they had their den under the barn in 2012. There were 4 kits.

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So, now I wait and hope they’re going to raise their young under the barn again.

Collection of Fungi

The Grandmother Tree

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This maple was my favorite tree friend. The tree had been dead a long time and went down during a strong summer storm in 2002.

Buffy and I went for a hike to walk off the holiday overeating. We walked down to the creek on my rural property, which included walking by the Grandmother Tree.


The tree didn’t exactly look dead with all the moss, lichens and mushrooms growing on it. Recent rains rehydrated the brown jelly fungi (Exidia recisa).


Oyster mushrooms (Pleurotus ostreatus) grew in clumps on the slowly decaying tree.


I didn’t think to check the underside for pores of this and the the mushroom below. False turkey tail mushrooms (Trametes versicolor) are smooth underneath.


I think they both are false turkey tail mushrooms.

Turkey tail mushrooms have pores underneath.


Puffballs grew in clumps.


I wasn’t able to identify these tiny mushrooms.


I have no idea what this is. “Black crust” came to mind. It does describe it, but it doesn’t resemble what I found when searching online for possible “black crust.”


Small globules of witches’ butter (Temella mesenterica) grew in one area along the side of the tree.


Names aren’t always needed for my enjoyment. I often (like now) find it quite frustrating to search for and not find names.

Besides, none of the above know what they are either.