Beautiful days to enjoy nature
The weather for the last few days has been just perfect, almost making me wish I still rode a bicycle. (I certainly could use the exercise.) After attending to chores, late on Thursday morning I went for a brief but vigorous hike along the Falls Hollow trail, located a few miles east of Augusta Springs on Route 254. Birds were predictably scarce given the time of year, though I did glimpse a probable Worm-eating Warbler and a Broad-winged Hawk. The only other birds I saw were an Eastern Wood Pewee, a Ruby-throated Hummingbird, and some Tufted Titmice and Black-capped Chickadees. But the venture was worth it, as I saw in abundant assortment of mushrooms! That kept me busy with the camera.
As I returned along the trail, I came across an older fellow with a big bag and plastic bucket full of reddish-brown fungi, which he called "Leatherback" mushrooms. He almost insisted that I take some home with me to try, and I obliged him. I did a quick Internet search (wikipedia), and confirmed that the Lactifluus volemus are not only edible but are a tasty species that can be used in casseroles. I fried a few, carefully tested a small amount one night, and then had a meal-sized portion this evening. No problem (so far)!
On Friday morning I went to Bell's Lane, which was pretty quiet at first, just a Brown Thrasher hiding in the bushes and a few Hummingbirds that I photographed. (The latter are not included in the montage below.) It seemed to get busier after about 11:00, however. A juvenile Goldfinch just north of the Ford farm entrance was making alarm calls as I approached (photo at lower right), and its father came to help. I also glimpsed a Yellow Warbler and saw a family of E. Phoebes nearby; I think the photo here (left) is of a juvenile. By the beaver pond I was startled to see a female Orchard Oriole close by. At first I wasn't sure what that bright yellow bird was! There were one or two Kingbirds mixed in with the hordes of swallows (Tree, N. Rough-winged, and Barn), as well as a Kingfisher and Green Heron in the distance. I also saw (and heard) two Red-tailed Hawks.