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A splendid day!

 With the rest of week with rain in the forecast, I just had to get out. And today was just beautiful out. So off to the grasslands we went! 

The leaves of Pin Clover (Erodium cicutarium) were this colorful red.

And it was blooming. It is a non-native plant. According to Wikipedia "it is native to Macaronesia, temperate Eurasia and north and northeast Africa, and was introduced to North America in the eighteenth century, where it has since become naturalized, particularly of the deserts and arid grasslands of the southwestern United States".



Earthstar that had its rays enclosing the puffball part.





Bushy Bluestem (Andropogon glomeratus) along the creek. That is Gracie's orange in the background.




Tiny mushrooms.





Switchgrass on the dam of a pond was glowing!




We found more of the hairy cap moss (Pogonatum brachyphyllum). This is what our goal was today to find and we did. We found several populations. Yeah!





I will show you more of what we found tomorrow in the ditches and the creek. 

Until then...


Keep looking! 






Many colors for winter


Greenbriar  (Smilax bona-nox) in the winter loses a lot of its leaves, but some hang on. Some are subtle.



Others do the camo-like thing.


Others are like a rainbow of colors.


And then some hold onto there green. As a famous frog once said it is not easy being green and that is especially true for Greenbriar in the winter.





Mourning Dove feathers found in our woods. All the big feathers are tail feathers. The other small feathers are flank and belly feathers.


Since Judy asked about the tiny pine cone that Gracie couldn't be bothered with yesterday, here she is with two big pine cones!





Thought this was interesting article you might enjoy:

Mystery That Baffled Darwin Solved: Clever Strategy Some Flowers Use to Ensure Effective Pollination by Bees 



Keep looking!


 




Baby pine cone

This caught my eye in the driveway. A baby pine cone must have blown off in yesterday's wind.

It was about 15 mm (1/2"). So pretty. 

Closer yet.




I wonder how far this fluffy down feather got blown yesterday?



Leaf beetle (Chrysolina auripennis) was a surprising find today. Host plants for it are Beebalm (Monarda) species and Mountain Mint ( Pycnanthemum tenuifolium).



Keep looking!






 

Orange tack

 Here are the rest of the photos from yesterday's grasslands adventure.

Not sure why this orange tack was there but sure was bright. Maybe a surveyor or a researcher or maybe someone just had time on their hands??




The tentacles look like a snake skeleton. 





Blackland Thistle (Cirsium engelmannii).





Burl on Bur Oak.





Crust fungus.






This small mushroom was such a pretty brown.

The hyphae (the white stringy stuff) at its base was most interesting. Update: Claire made a comment that it might not be hyphae but "an insect or spider case. Reminds me of homes of jumping spiders that I've found."

And the gills were set off so pretty with the brown edges of the cap. 

Also of note was the stem was hollow.






I thought the plant was pretty, but Gracie had her eye on the stick.






Inland Sea Oats (Chasmanthium latifolium).





Thallose liverwort was colorful.





The wooden version of Gumby!



I thought this one look like the Grinch with a goatee.



Old mushrooms.



Here we climb out. Must be cool to see the water rushing down here in a rain.


Before we called it a day, we swung by Rucker’s Pond. Great Blue Heron, a Ring-necked Duck, a Yellowlegs and a Belted Kingfisher were present. 



How about that wind today! Our big gust was 39 mph. 
Wind started to die down a bit late afternoon.






Gracie was my anemometer.

That is the wind blowin' her tail!




Keep looking!







30 mph

 30 mph was our high wind gust this afternoon. That did not stop me from heading over to the grasslands. We were mostly in low areas so the wind was not bad. The bird highlight was when a we saw a Red-tailed Hawk come screaming overhead chasing a Cooper's Hawk. Cooper's quickly left the area.

I like to see the contrails like this. Kinda of interesting I think.





This was strange the way the bark had this "impression" going up it. My theory is maybe there use to be a vine there.

Close view of the line of bark. Even had a bit of lichen on it.





On this vine, the lichen had started to grow on it. Not sure if this vine is poison ivy or Virginia Creeper.




This unit gets prescribed burns on it fairly regularly.






The pattern on the bark was interesting. My guess was an elm. I don't know my trees very well so maybe someone out there can let me know what it is?? Update: I will go with Suzanne's input that this is an ash tree. Thanks Suzanne!





This weird growth was on a Hackberry.





Old mushrooms.





The moss was growing in the knot hole on a fallen log.





White Avens (Geum canadense) had pretty leaves.





Shelf fungus grew around the vine on the right.





The ever lovely shelf fungi doing their job.





I have a few more photos from today's grassland adventure that I will share tomorrow.


Keep looking!






























19 and plus...

 I decided to do my-before-lunch walk at 9am this morning and on a whim I decided to make a list of birds. It had been a long time since I had used ebird. I was pleasantly surprised on the ease of entering the species than what it use to be, after getting out of the location as Mexico instead of Texas LOL. Here is my list:


Curry Ranch

 

Jan 13, 2021
9:17 AM
0.75 miles
Traveling
All birds reported? Yes
51 Minutes
Comments: Submitted from eBird for iOS, version 2.3.1 Build 2.3.8 2 Turkey Vulture
1 Red-bellied Woodpecker -- male
8 American Crow
1 Northern Flicker -- Yellow shafted
1 Loggerhead Shrike
1 Blue Jay
1 American Robin
1 Golden-crowned Kinglet
2 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
2 Eastern Bluebird
5 Purple Finch -- 2 males at least 3 females
4 Savannah Sparrow
10 American Goldfinch -- in neighbor's field in a Bois D'arc
8 Dark-eyed Junco
8 Harris's Sparrow
1 LeConte's Sparrow
1 Song Sparrow
18 Western/Eastern Meadowlark
5 Northern Cardinal

 

Number of Taxa: 19

 

This bird is always on my list, but ebird does not have an entry for it.,..hmmm. It is nailed down (literally to the tree) to the rare species of Shovel Pileated Woodpecker.




Frost got on the boots this morning.

When I start out on the 9am walk, frost quickly dissipates as the sun hits it.

Heavy frost on the bluebird nestbox. I actually saw a bluebird checking out a box in my backyard.

The lichens really shine on the fence in the early morning because the frost had melted and left the pipe wet.

The afternoon walk bird count...

Curry Ranch
Jan 13, 2021
3:26 PM
Traveling
1.13 miles
49 Minutes
All birds reported? Yes
Comments: Submitted from eBird for iOS, version 2.3.1 Build 2.3.8
4 Black Vulture
4 Turkey Vulture
1 Red-tailed Hawk
1 Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
1 Blue Jay
7 American Crow
1 Hermit Thrush
2 American Robin
1 Vesper Sparrow
2 Savannah Sparrow
2 Song Sparrow
2 Western/Eastern Meadowlark
1 Yellow-rumped Warbler
5 Northern Cardinal
Number of Taxa: 14

 

Beside the birds that I put in the lists above I saw the following birds in Decatur and on our way home today:

At Judy's house:  30+ Pine Siskins, 20+American Goldfinches, and a Mockingbird 
Along Greenwood Rd, I saw Ring-necked ducks and other species that were too far away for me to ID. So today I saw a total of 26 species of birds. Not bad, eh.

Yesterday on the grasslands, I had a few good birds too.

Double-crested Cormorant at Rucker's Pond.





Blue Heron at Rucker's Pond.



Greater Yellowlegs at Rucker's Pond.



Great Blue Heron on Cottonwood Lake overflow side. On the the lake, I saw a couple of Pied-billed Grebes.

So a great frosty start to the day with the birds. 


Keep looking!