Sunday was an absolutely beautiful fall day. I spent hours just wandering around the forest snapping photographs and pissing on Blue Jays. And even though there are very few wildflowers around now, the leaves are near peak so the forest is truly alive with color.
I am familiar with several varieties of cup fungi, but this is the first I've photographed Purple Cup fungus. I found this cluster growing on a dead American Beech tree (Fagus grandifolia) that had fallen across the creek. Even though the light in the woods was not the best, the deep hues of Purple Cup fungus really came through in my photographs.
American Beech are one of the earliest of the "mast" producing trees to start dropping their nuts so it wasn't surprising to find this husk laying on a fallen tree. The light shining through the husk and its finger-like protrusions made for a cool picture.
Turkeytail mushrooms are one of my favorite mushrooms and the variety of colors they display is simply amazing. Plus they seem to become even more colorful during the winter months; I've taken photographs of Turkeytails with blues and greens, reds, oranges, and purples, and many, many more other colors.
Scaly Pholiota is an interesting looking mushroom. The small scales on its cap and stem make them look like a tower from a medieval castle to me. I found these specimens growing on a fallen log along one of my favorite tributaries of the creek and they really look like they're in their prime right now.
This Black Cherry tree looked as though someone had shot a few shotgun slugs into its trunk a couple of years ago. The holes left from these wounds were oozing cherry sap and had a few small insects fluttering about. I smelled the sap to see if I could smell cherry, but any odor was faint at best.
I saw a lot of Wood Ducks on Sunday while out hiking, probably 20 to 30 individuals in several different groups along the creek. They typically took off long before I got within camera range, but this group stuck around long enough for me to at least get a few pictures. Both the males and females are visible, with the males having the much more colorful plumage, especially around the head.
I found this, and several other Yellow Jackets, feeding on Beech Aphid poop that had accumulated on some leaves on the forest floor. The Beech Aphid Poop Eater fungus (Scorias spongiosa) has already started to digest much of the Beech Aphid poop sugars and is visible in the background as the black spongy mass.
This Bald Faced Hornet was also feeding on the sugary poop of the Beech Aphids, but was much more shy than the Yellow Jackets and flew away at the slightest movement of my camera. A close relative of Yellow Jackets, only lacking the yellow color, Bald Faced Hornets are a type of "paper wasp" which are best known for their large, football-shaped paper nests, which they builds in the spring to rear young.
Most Coral fungi are castle-like structures about the size of a baseball or softball, but others are very small finger-like protrusions, like these White Green Algae Coral. The log itself actually does have a bit of algae that is necessary for this type of Coral fungus and while some are forked, typically most do not have branches and are simply white stalks.