Frost’s Bolete, Apple Bolete (Exsudoporus frostii)
This year, we had a double puffball event in our yard. When I noticed them they were smaller than baseballs and then were visibly larger every day. Finally B picked one and ate it, after a brief “Alas, poor Yorick” moment, and then there was one. Last photo with a slice removed, to show its solid interior, with the slice like a piece of soft cheese or a delicate wedge of memoryfoam pillow.
Giant Puffball (Calvatia gigantea)
I was sitting at my desk when my attention was drawn by sudden movement outside. This turtle had just walked through the yard and when it came to the edge, where there’s a wall and a two-foot drop, it just took a
flying leap tumble down to the driveway. Turtle parkour! At first I thought it might be injured, but it straightened its tunic and kept going. They’re surprisingly leggy and fast when in motion. Reminded me of this:
Presumably it was on an egg-laying mission.
I was visiting my mom in Charleston, Illinois and looked out the window to see this snapping turtle motoring down the driveway at high turtle speed. Presumably it had laid eggs (somewhere in the yard? in the plowed field behind the house?) and was on its way back to the creek across the street. The neighbors came out to see what I was photographing. One of them was mowing his yard with a small end-loader. He came over, scraped the leeches off the turtle, picked it up by the tail and hauled it off to the creek. The turtle was pretty mad about this change in plans and got in some good snaps, but this way she didn’t have to cross the street. (I have since read that you shouldn’t pick them up by the tail because it can damage the spine and tail. Safest way for turtle and person is to grab the carapace above the back legs.)
Snappers are known for their angry attitude, biting jaws and the fact that their heads can really extend and snake around for snapping you! They snap to defend themselves because they are too big to hide in their shells. In the north, they mature at 15-20 years and apparently can live over 100 years. Adults have few predators (besides humans) but almost everything likes to eat the eggs and hatchlings. Incubation time is 9-18 weeks, depending on how warm the weather is… so Mom’s neighborhood should be watching for hatchlings starting in early July.
Common Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina)
The only actual wildflower I’ve seen blooming is the skunk cabbage, but there are other signs of spring. The herons are back on their nest. And this robin had a bit of a bath! It looked so happy, dunking itself and flittering its wings. A blue jay shouldered its way in and this little one hopped out, but as soon as the jay had its drink and left, the robin popped back in.
The nice thing about a hilly backyard is, you can be lying in bed considering waking up, and still see a coyote trot by.
It went out of sight, and then came back and surveyed the prospects from the front yard, but it was morning rush hour so that road was not crossable. It wisely turned and went to the backyard again and disappeared.
They have their pups in mid-April so this is a time when they’re territorial about their dens, and apparently they are often show themselves more at the this time, just to make it clear to you. However, I think this one was just passing through. I wonder why. Glad to see it looking so healthy. Sorry the woods are less and less and it has to concern itself with things like crossing Central Avenue at rush hour.
Heard the peepers first on the night of April 10, coming from the Charles River, only a week later than last year, even though spring feels so late this year. Then today went for a good listen. It was silent at a pond that still had snow on it, but frog party-town at the adjacent one that gets more sun… It’s peepers and wood frogs — wood frogs are the ones that make a clacking sound. So good to hear some spring!
This year we were members of the Powisett Farm CSA and we loved it. When the season was over we signed up for winter shares, which was about 4 pickups in November and December. People would ask what could we be getting in mid-December?! This was the last share: squash and beets, carrots and sweet potatoes, parsnips and garlic, potatoes and kale, turnips and radishes, kohlrabi and celeriac, cabbage and onions and hot peppers! Love that place!
Look at this bizarre little fungus, like black sausages standing on end. In spring, they’re covered with a white powder (the spores). Part of the latin name, polymorpha, means it can take many forms, but it’s often in this club shape. Belongs to the same class of fungus as morels and truffles, but these are inedible. Common to eastern North America.
Dead Man’s Fingers (Xylaria polymorpha)