Great Egret

Great Egret

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

The colours, they are a-changing

That isn't really news, if one takes even a casual look around the landscape these days. Even after a short time, the changes can be dramatic.

I have been to Rondeau a couple of times over the last week, and this is what looking north on Rondeau Road just north of Gardiner Ave looked like the first time.

Four days later, it looked like this.

Bennett Avenue showed a similar trend.

Not a lot of difference in the four days compared to the previous set from a couple of kilometres south at Gardiner Ave.

Here is a dry slough south of Bennett Ave. The very large tree on the right is a Silver Maple and is just a bit more than a metre in diameter.

The roads can still be a magnet for reptiles and amphibians, as they soak up the sun beating down on the pavement. I've seen a few dead ones in the last couple of weeks. Fortunately this Northern Ribbon Snake was crossing on a less travelled portion of the road system, and on a rainy day when there was less traffic and the pavement wasn't warm to hold it on the pavement.

I came across this large cluster of a bracket type of fungus known as Chicken of the Woods. It is present all year around, but the fruiting bodies on rotting logs are most noticeable in the late summer and early fall.

Rotting logs are great for other things as well. Salamanders love them.

Red-backed Salamander

I noted this attractive,, small, grayish white spider clinging to the underside of a piece of rotting wood. I haven't determined what kind it is yet.

Harrison Trail is fun to explore, sometimes for the scenery....

 ...and sometimes there are other things!

This is a stinkhorn fungus. It is something you often will smell before you see it. In fact I smell them regularly in the late summer and early fall, but I seldom see them. The breezes can carry their odour for a ways, and one can't always follow the wind currents upwind to find the offending fungus. I didn't actually find the stinkhorn that I was smelling on this trip....this photo was taken a couple of years ago. Some stinkhorns are orange, other species are more muted in colour.

The stinkhorn doesn't produce spores that are dispersed by wind currents as most fungi do. Instead, the tips of the fungus produce a distinctive, with the emphasis on 'stinct', odour that attracts flies that are normally attracted to decomposing things. When the flies walk around on the smelly tip of the fungus, the spores are transferred to their feet and delivered to the next thing that they walk around on.

Much more attractive are the berries of this Maple-leaved Viburnum (Viburnum acerifolium). The maple like leaves are obvious, and the blue-black berries are notable at this time of year. This shrub is not common, but regular in a few places along Harrison Trail and elsewhere in the park. It seldom grows more than 2 metres high.

Maple-leaved Viburnum

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