Long July Day in the Woods

I took the Friday off before July 4th and spent the entire day hiking in the woods around Little Sewickley Creek.   It was an awesome day, until I nearly broke my toe, but even then I still had a great time even if the last mile or so to my car was painful.  The woods are alive right now and are so green with all the plants and trees full of life.

Trail - 
One of my favorite sections of trail, this particular stretch passes by one of the "grandfathers" of the forest that I tell my nephews about.  This particular "grandfather" is an extremely large Tuplip Poplar tree with a diameter that must be 10 to 12 feet across.  Just out of view on the trail ahead is a great spring where my nephews have spent many a day "hunting" salamanders while playing in the muddy water.

Orange Mycena (Mycena leaiana) -
Orange Mycena is one of my favorite mushrooms.  The orange caps and stems really stand out against the drab brown of the forest floor and on some overcast days, can even "glow" because of how bright the orange really is.

Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa) - 
Typically Wild Bergamot is more purple, but this specimen was closer to being white then anything.  Either it was past its prime and starting to fade or it was just an anomaly.  Either way, it is a pretty flower that in my experience is a favorite of Hummingbird moths.

Common Chicory (Cichorium intybus) - 
Common Chicory is not native to our area and is considered by some as an invasive.  Howerver I think its bluish-white blossoms are very pretty and late on sunny days, they will actually close to protect the delicate petals from the sun's heat.

Rosy Russula (Russula rosea) - 
I typically only find one or two specimens of Rosy Russula in a given area, but on this hike I encountered a section of woods where they were literally growing everywhere.  There were probably 50 or 60 individual Rosy Russulas within a few steps of each other.  I've never seen that many in one place; it was pretty interesting to see.

Scarlet Tanager (Piranga olivacea) - 
Even though this is the greatest picture, Scarlet Tanagers are one of my favorite songbirds.  Their bright red plummage with their contrasting black wings   are very beautiful in my opinion.  Interestingly, the males only turn red in the spring for mating, otherwise both sexes are a dark mustard like color the rest of the time.

Hemlock Varnish Conk (Ganoderma tsugae) - 
I stopped by the Hemlock Varnish Conks to see how they were doing and I was surprised to find a few new ones that were just hitting their prime.  They really are a striking conk and I've even read that they are made into candies in China.  Although I can't imagine that they taste very good, but they do have medicinal uses.

Great Spangled Fritillary Butterfly (Speyeria cybele) - 
Great Spangled Fritillary Butterflies were all over this flowering bush.  I did not recognize the type of bush it was and unfortunately I didn't think to get any photographs of it since I was so focused on the butterflies.  Normally Great Spangled Fritillary Butterflies don't let me get very close but they were so focused on feeding on the pollen and nectar of the flower blossoms that I think they didn't even notice me.

Fungus Beetle (Megalodacne heros) - 
This is the second time I've photographed a Fungus Beetle and this photograph was taken in pretty much the same exact location as the first one.  And the both times the Fungus Beetles were on a Hemlock Varnish Conk.  It must be one of their favorite foods.

Daylily (Hemerocallis fulva)
Daylilies are not native to our area and are believed to have escaped from landscaped flower gardens into the wild.  Either way, they are very beautiful and I don't see many of them, so I'd say they are not necessarily an invasive or nuisance species.

Little Sewickley Creek Backwater -
I photographed this backwater several times of the winter so I thought I'd share a picture of it during the height of the summer when it is covered in duckweed (Lemna minor).  Duckweed is really quite beautiful when it blankets the backwater and I recently read that it is one of the smallest flowering plants in the world.

More Pictures:

Brown Fly Agaric (Amanita regalis)

Orange Mycena (Mycena leaiana)

Day Lily (Hemerocallis fulva)

Wooded Forest