It's been raining a lot lately, so the following pictures are from my past few weeks in the woods. Even though the weather has been wet, one thing I've noticed over the years that animals rarely expect to see people in the woods on bad days which lets me get closer than normal. Also, the fungi come out during rainy periods, so I got a few good ones recently.
The creek is up from all the rain and is reaching from bank to bank. The water was surprisingly cold, but refreshing with all the heat and humidity as of late. This is one of my favorite sections of the creek, where it grows broad but gets very shallow.
Milkweed is an interesting specimen. Most people know it for its seed pods that contain downy, feather-like seeds and the milky-white sap that the plant exudes, but the plants also have beautiful flowers that bloom a few months before it seeds.
As I said above, one thing about rainy periods in the forest is the fungi that erupt from the forest floor in all sorts of colors and interesting shapes. I was hiking up out of a steep gully when ran into this beautiful cluster of trumpet shape mushrooms growing among some moss.
Very similar to one of my favorite fungi (Turkey Tails), Violet Toothed Polypores (Trichaptum biforme) have beautiful pastel-like lavender outer margins that fade into soft whites further in. Interesting, Trichaptum abietinum, a very closely related species, is nearly identical although T. abietinum grows on dead conifers whereas T. biforme grows on deciduous trees.
Another fungi that only makes its appearance during wet seasons, this Finger Jelly (yellow fingers in center of pic) was growing on the same log as the Violet Toothed Polypores above. The log was laying across a small tributary of Little Sewickley Creek not very high above the water level and may very well get washed away next heavy rain.
Hen of the Woods is very similar to Chicken of the Woods (Laetiporus sulphureus), but is more grey and white than the L. sulphureus' bright pink and yellow colors. Both are considered a "choice edible" by mushroom hunters although I've only tried L. sulphureus and it had a very "earthy" flavor. Interestingly, Hen of the Woods is native to both North America and northeastern Japan.
Commonly found in coniferous forests or around beech trees, these small red-capped mushrooms standout against the forest floor. I've even found Rosy Russulas in my yard as they are quite abundant. It is also one of the few species that I can remember the scientific name for.
This is the female Ebony Jewelwing Damselfly. Males are very similar only they don't have the white dots on their wings and the body is a bright, emerald green. Damselflies are actually a "helpful" species, since they eat a wide variety of insects, including mosquitoes, flies, and gnats.