Saturday, November 27, 2010

Oh Christmas Fern: A Wildwood Carol

                                          Sing to the tune of Oh Christmas Tree:

                                          Oh Christmas fern, oh Christmas fern
                                          How evergreen your fronds!
                                          Oh Christmas fern, oh Christmas fern
                                          How evergreen your fronds!

                                           Your stocking toe reminds us
                                           That Santa always finds us.
                                           Oh Christmas fern, oh Christmas fern
                                            How evergreen your fronds!

 After most plants have turned brown and lost their leaves, you will find Christmas ferns (Polystichum acrostichoides) draping the west slope of Wildwood Park all during the winter months. The rich green fronds are easy to find among the dried brown leaves. 

The “stockings” with toes clinging in an alternating pattern along the stem are a sure clue that you have identified this plant correctly. 

 Christmas ferns remain green during all seasons. In April you can look for their “fiddle heads” uncurling above the green leaves. (On a violin, the "fiddle head" is called a scroll.)

In June begin looking on the undersides of the leaflets. When you find spores, you will know that the plant will reproduce and continue the plant’s life cycle. You may find spores though the fall perhaps as late as October. Christmas ferns are certain to keep you singing a song about Wildwood Park in all seasons!   

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Black-chinned Hummingbird at Claytor Lake

On November 8th at around 12:00 -noon- I was adding to & rearranging my feeder stations in my yard, I went back inside to get an indoor perspective on the new arrangement from my regular viewing area. Suddenly - I saw a Hummer hovering around the small dogwood tree which I had just taken a hummingbird feeder down from ! My binocs were handy and I viewed the bird for a short period of time before it flew away.

I thought it might be a late adult male Ruby-throated, but after further inspection it proved to be an ADULT MALE BLACK - CHINNED HUMMINGBIRD!!! According to the VA "Goldbook" this species has only been reported 4 times in the Commonwealth & only 2 of those were confirmed by VARCOM.
I immediately noticed that this hummingbird had a fully colored gorget (which made it an adult male), this quickened my pulse a bit more! I went outside & put the feeder back in its original location in the dogwood. The Hummer returned in about 10 minutes, landed, & fed from that feeder.

All have been seen & or reported from the coastal region of the state, none of which were adult males. This may very well be a regional record for an "Adult Male" of this species!

This beautiful little gem was here for 3 days & has not returned to my feeders - BOLO - Be on the look out - He just might show up in your yard soon!

Good Birding
Mark Mullins
Claytor lake, Va

2010 Saw whet banding collages

For a report about last year's visit: Saw-whet, 2009

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The New River Valley Mushroom Club Explores Wildwood Park

Here is a report on The New River Valley Mushroom Club's event at Wildwood Park [Radford, Virginia] on Sunday afternoon, Oct. 17th.

17 people gathered, with members from Pathways for Radford and BRDC as well as the mushroom club. We spent a lot of time together with all our books identifying specimens for Gary Cote's existing inventory of species found in the park. These are pictures of some of the mushrooms and people present. The mushrooms pictured were very tiny in reality, all standing at less than 3cm tall. It is amazing what oft-overlooked things can be found with 17 pairs of eyes trained onto the little details of this fascinating kingdom!

List of Species observed:

Coprinus comatus
the Shaggy Mane

Trichaptum biformis the Violet Toothed Polypore

Stereum complicatum Crowded Parchment

Daldinia concentrica Carbon Balls

Scutellinia scutellata the Eyelash Cup

Lycoperdon pyriforme the Pear-Shaped Puffball

Galerina autumnalis the Deadly Galerina

Auricularia auricula the Wood Ear

Polyporus squamosus Dryad's Saddle

Mycena luteopallens the Walnut Mycena

Steccherinum ochraceum Ochre Spreading Tooth

Dasyscyphus virgineus

Lepiota josserandii the Deadly Parasol

Coprinus atramentarius the Alcohol Inky Cap

Xylobolus frustulatus the Ceramic Fungus

-Becky Rader