I didn't have a lot of time on Sunday so I spent most of my hike simply wandering around the creek and one my favorite tributaries. While out I did come across hundreds of small orangish-tan mushrooms, that I believe are Chanterelles, although I'm not positive on my identification but they seem to fit the descriptions I read. And Yellow Ironweed is finally here and soon it will be in full bloom along with my other favorite, Purple Ironweed.
I only saw a few Yellow Ironweed plants while out, but it's still early and if this season is anything like last year, there should be a lot blooming soon. Yellow Ironweed is more commonly known as "Wingstem," but since there is a purple Ironweed in our area too, I prefer to call it Yellow Ironweed.
It's weird to me how often I find butterflies on the ground on sand bars and gravel beds along the stream. Apparently they are attracted to damp surfaces and I often see them with their proboscis (straw-like appendage for drinking) in the sand, which looks like they are extracting moisture from. Male Eastern Black Swallowtail butterflies have yellow spots instead of white and both sexes have the distinctive "swallow-like" tail.
I've been running into Beech Aphid Poop Eater fungus (Scorias spongiosa) for years now, but this is the first time I've seen the actual Beech Aphids. Interestingly, their "poop" is actually a sugar-rich excretion known as a "honeydew exudate," which is what the fungus eats. The Aphids reminded me of ants in their movements, as they marched in lines along the branches and leaves seemingly in some sort of chaotic organization with each assigned to their tasks.
This is my first attempt to identify Chanterelles, so I am only 90% confident in my identification. This year I've literally hiked past 1000s of them and most of those were along the trails that I frequent. If they are in fact Chanterelles, I've read that they are a "choice edible," but I'm not confident enough in my identification to try to eat them. And even though I talk about the edibility of plants and mushrooms from time to time, I would NEVER eat anything that I was not 100% certain about especially since Chanterelles have poisonous look-alikes.
Just after photographing these Rubber Cup fungi a few weeks ago, a guy happened by and his 2 dogs proceeded to trample all over then lay down on top of the Rubber Cups I was photographing. So I was excited to see they were still there when I stopped at the same log to take a break and eat my orange. And even though they are still there, they're looking a little past their prime... but cool nonetheless.
There's a slight chance I've misidentified this mushroom and it's simply a much larger Golden Chanterelle (Cantharellus cibarius). But given its size and proximity to a dead tree stump, I'm pretty sure it is a Jack O Lantern. I've read that in low light conditions, Jack O Lanterns give off a bluish-green bioluminescence, using a compound called Luciferin, which is the same compound that Fireflies use to light their tails.