The adventuresome life of a Great Pyrenees/Newfoundland dog in Northwestern Ontario

Posts tagged ‘Autumn’

Fungal Friday 5

Yesterday morning, on our way home from a very interesting walk (we made a new friend!), we were quite surprised to stumble across a Nuclear Power Facility for Ants!

I figure that if Ants have the technology to build huge (relatively speaking) cities underground, then they somehow need to produce energy to fuel them, right?

I figure that if Ants have the technology to build huge (relatively speaking) underground cities, then they somehow need to produce energy to fuel them, right?

I was a bit nervous about giving the structures a sniff, but Elizabeth explained that there was nothing radioactive about them. These are a type of mushroom commonly called ‘Puffballs’. Some two-leggers actually eat them!

According to our research, puffballs are only edible when they are in the immature stage, like this one.

According to our research, puffballs are only edible when they are in the immature stage, like this one.

We aren’t going to try them out this year. Elizabeth wants to learn more about them first.

When this particular species matures (we haven’t identified it properly yet because Elizabeth is too busy getting the garden in to do all the look-ups. SIGH… Dependable help is so hard to find!), it turns to a brownish-grey colour and develops a little hole in the top.

The spores are all inside the mature puffball. The hole allows the spores to escape and scatter whenever pressure is applied to the puffball surface. Poof! Like magic! BOL

The spores – what mushrooms have instead of seeds – are all inside the mature puffball. The hole allows the spores to escape and scatter whenever pressure is applied to the puffball surface. Poof! Like magic! BOL

Elizabeth told me that when she and her brother were two-legger puppies, they would stomp on mature puffballs to release a cloud of spores. She says you have to do it just right, otherwise you just squish the globe. The sport of puffball stomping. Who knew? I would try it myself, but I’m afraid I’ll just end up having a sneezing fit. My nose is a lot closer to the ground than theirs were even back then!

We are finding other weird and wonderful members of the fungi tribe on our woodland walks, too. They seem to like the cool, moist weather we’ve been having. We took some photos for you…

The first ones we found on our Sunday walk were quite strange. I didn’t even see them until Elizabeth noticed a bunch that I had knocked over while I trotted through a patch of Sphagnum Moss. The yellow colour caught her eye.

We think this is Clavulinopsis laeticolor. These are really small - the largest just two or three cm in height.

We think this is Clavulinopsis laeticolor. These are really small – the largest just two or three cm in height.

They were so odd looking that she took a few more photos:

Clavulinopsis laeticolor

Clavulinopsis laeticolor 2

Feeling that we needed to be a bit more scientific with our photos, I thought I’d leave a strand of my wool in the foreground for perspective.

Then we found some little white ones nearby. The things you begin to see when you start observing the forest floor!

Don't they look like a family heading out for a picnic on a Sunday afternoon? These were even smaller than the yellow ones!

Don’t they look like a family heading out for a picnic on a Sunday afternoon? These were even smaller than the yellow ones!

This slightly larger type looks thirsty to me. I think we’ve seen some larger mushrooms similar to this on other excursions.

I wish Elizabeth knew her mushrooms better. She says one day she'll start making a study of them...

I wish Elizabeth knew her mushrooms better. She says one day she’ll start making a study of them… For now, she just enjoys looking.

We will leave you with this pretty group:

These much larger mushrooms reminded Elizabeth of whirling dervishes. What on earth is a whirling dervish?  ~:o/=

These much larger mushrooms reminded Elizabeth of whirling dervishes. What on earth is a whirling dervish? ~:o/=

Winging Through Wednesday

With the shorter days and cooler temperatures, a lot of our summer flappers are disappearing. Elizabeth says they go south where it is warmer, brighter and there is still plenty of food crawling around for them to eat. We still have a few around, though, and of course there are some that stay with us all year. I asked Elizabeth if we could try to get some pictures of them for you to look at. You know… since there aren’t very many new flowers to show you.

Last year, the Robin family decided to try nesting on the house. They built a nest right over the spot where the telephone line meets the wall. The eggs hatched and their puppies fledged. For the most part, they were very well behaved youngsters. They only got rowdy when one of the parental units came with food for them.

Elizabeth took a photo of the robin chicks last year. I don't know why we didn't write about them then. Here they are, quietly awaiting their earthworm supper.

Elizabeth took a photo of the American Robin (Turdus migratorius) chicks last year. I don’t know why we didn’t write about them then. Here they are, quietly awaiting their earthworm supper.

 

The next day these little fellows were flying out of the nest. That was a very good thing, because the very night they were gone, a huge storm blew in. Five trees fell on the telephone and hydro lines, not breaking them, but pulling over the hydro pole. This in turn pulled the wires  the nest was built on right out of the wall! The nest fell to the ground.

This year, the Robins came back in the spring. They decided that maybe that spot wasn’t the best location for a nest. They built a bigger nest in a more sheltered place: right behind the attic fan cover, just under the eaves of the house. It was a smart place to build because the crows and jays were too big to rob the nest, and the fan’s motor drowned out the peeps of the babies. They were ultra secure there.

Papa Robin had a few anxious days when another male started hanging around the nest. Wouldn’t leave, even after Papa made a few threatening dives at the intruder. Elizabeth heard Mr. Robin at the bathroom window one morning and ran in to see what all the ruckus was about. It turns out his adversary was not another Robin, but rather his own reflection in the glass. Elizabeth shooed him away and he seemed after that to realise his mistake.

We saw one of the elder Robins with its juvenile the other day:

They look pretty cold, don't they. I think maybe this cold morning was enough to push them into following a warmer thermoclime south. They eat a lot of insects so, after a frost, food get scarce fast!

They look pretty cold, don’t they. I think maybe this chilly morning was enough to push them into following a warmer isotherm south. They eat a lot of insects so, after a frost, food get scarce fast!

By the way, our European readers will notice that what we call Robins here are a type of Thrush and not at all like European Robins. But the red breasts reminded immigrants of those little European flappers, and the name was passed on…

The Magpie has been back several times. It is still finding lots of grasshoppers to eat. It is extremely shy, however, so we have no new photos to show you.

We have other migrant insectivores that will be leaving very soon, too. Elizabeth captured one such on Sunday as it watched the surrounding area from a Paper Birch:

This Eastern Phoebe (Sayornis phoebe) is watching for lunch on the fly. BOL

This Eastern Phoebe (Sayornis phoebe) is watching for lunch on the fly. BOL

Not all flappers eat insects. Some eat other types of food that are only available in the summer.

This is a Chipping Sparrow (Spizella passerina). They are one of the first birds to come back in the spring. I think these seed-eaters follow the bird feeders North!

This is a Chipping Sparrow (Spizella passerina). They are one of the first flappers to come back in the spring. I think these seed-eaters follow the flapper feeders North!

Some flappers stay with us year round, though.

Elizabeth told me earlier this Summer that she was feeling sad. For almost a year, there have been no Nuthatches around. Nuthatches have a special place in Elizabeth’s heart for some reason. They seem to like her, too. As she was trying to get a picture of an elusive warbler of some sort, a Nuthatch flew in and landed right on Elizabeth’s backside! It stayed perched there for a few minutes, listening for insects. Then it, too, headed over to the more productive Paper Birch.

The Red-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta canadensis) is a pretty little bird...

The Red-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta canadensis) is a pretty little flapper. From its latin name, you can see that it must make a habit of sitting on Canadians.

It is also a voracious insect hunter.

It is also a voracious insect hunter.

It seeks them here, it seeks them there, it seeks those insects...

It seeks them here, it seeks them there, it seeks those insects…

everywhere!

everywhere!

They have specially adapted toes that allow them to climb up and down trees. In the winter, they find the insects sleeping just under the tree bark. I guess they hear the insects snoring.

While she was busy celebrating the return of her old friends (these little fellows can live for over seven years), someone else decided to join the party for at least long enough to discover whether there was any kibble on offer.

No kibble for the Kibble Snatcher family this time. And no. Cameras are not edible! Fly away, you silly clowns!

No kibble for the Kibble Snatcher family this time. And no. Cameras are not edible! Fly away, you silly clowns!

Season’s End

Things are changing on the Campbell ‘Estate’. It’s really beginning to feel like Autumn. I can almost smell it in the air. I get to smell a lot more air these days because I’m sleeping outdoors in my kennel again. I like it out there, but I also enjoyed nights in the two-legger house. Elizabeth’s bed has a more elevated view than mine, and a cuddle usually comes with that, too! She tends to get upset when I woof at night-time passers by though. Not so much when I’m out in my house. Pros and cons to everything…

Speaking of being able to smell autumn in the air, I understand that two-leggers are generally more visual creatures than nasal, so I got The Scribe to take some photos of some Autumn indicators for you this week (That’ll prove this isn’t all just up my nose!).

Autumnal Danger in the Woods

The other day, Elizabeth heard a strange noise in the woods behind the garden. It sounded like someone was snapping a lot of twigs running through the undergrowth. Alarmed (Is it a bear? How do I get safely back in the house from the garden?), she decided not to panic before calling to see if it was just me getting tangled up in some pursuit or another. I heard her and came to her from the other direction.

“What’s that, Stella? Who’s that in the woods?”

I couldn’t tell her without going to check it out. Into the forest I ran…

OUCH!

It was raining spruce cones and twigs.

We have many tall White Spruce on the ‘Estate’.

The Scribe took a photo so I could show you one of the noble White Spruce (Picea glauca) I am responsible for watching over each day in my role as Head of Security here.

The Scribe took a photo so I could show you one of the noble White Spruce (Picea glauca – it’s the tallest of the tall trees here) I am responsible for watching over each day in my role as Head of Security here.

I’m going to give you a closer look at the top of that tree. It isn’t dying and going brown…

those are seed cones up there!

Those are seed cones up there! Hundreds of them!

It’s a good idea to avoid the vicinity of these trees at this time of the year. Red Squirrels are away up there at the top, chewing through the twigs with cones. The noise we heard was the twigs falling through the tree branches and on down to the ground. The squirrels retrieve and run with the fallen cones to a station where they feel safe stripping them of the tree seeds inside!

Red Squirrels are very busy gathering in evergreen cones. They're very messy about collecting the seeds!

Red Squirrels are very busy gathering in evergreen cones. They’re very messy about collecting the seeds!

Squirrels are like me in a way. They like to find a big rock to work on. That way they can see all around. If danger comes along, they have plenty of time to dash to the nearest tree. They are very fast. I know, believe me!

Changing Colours

There's a lot of colour showing up in the woods now. These Bracken Ferns - Pteridium aquilinum look lovely in the morning sun.

There’s a lot of colour showing up in the woods now. These Bracken Ferns – Pteridium aquilinum look lovely in the morning sun.

Their colours change quickly from green through yellow to orange-brown. Then, before you know it, they're brown and crunchy underfoot!

Their colours change quickly from green through yellow to orange-brown. Then, before you know it, they’re brown and crunchy underfoot!

 

Shorter Days

Another thing we’ve been noticing is that bedtime seems to be coming significantly earlier now. And the nights are cooler.

On Saturday night, Elizabeth put me to bed, then she came outside again with her camera. She has decided to experiment a bit with her camera and taking pictures at night. There was a beautiful crescent moon on its way to bed, too. She took several photos, and made one into a poster with a little poem she wrote for it. I asked her to show it to you, just so you don’t think I’m the only poet in the family. She doesn’t write much in the way of poetry. She is trying to get more writing in general done, though. I thought putting some here might encourage her to do more!  ~;op=

Luna Falling mini

 

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