June 28, 2010 [LINK / comment]

Shenandoah Mountain hike

In need of exercise and wanting to get as many migratory bird observations as possible before breeding season ends, I went for a hike on Shenandoah Mountain on Sunday. I was also hoping to get away from the high heat in the lowlands. At 3,000 feet elevation, it was slightly cooler than in the valley, but it was still rather warm. I hiked from the Confederate Breastworks overlook on Route 250 to the intersection of Jerry's Run Trail and Road Hollow Trail, a round-trip distance of just about three miles. Jacqueline and I have hiked to that trail crossing several time times previously, but we had never hiked between that spot and the overlook on Route 250. "Shenandoah Mountain" is actually a ridge that divides Augusta County from Highland County, and continues northeast to Reddish Knob, where Jacqueline and I went on June 19. Bird activity yesterday was pretty good, but there were a couple "target" species I missed, such as the Chestnut-sided Warbler. Here are the highlights of what I saw:

One of the male Indigo Buntings flew very close to me and made an ostentatious display in response to a bird call I made, apparently trying to defend his family. I was startled and very impressed! I caught glimpses of other birds, including probable warblers, but couldn't identify them for sure. In addition, I heard a Black and White Warbler, an Eastern Wood-Pewee, and a Yellow-throated Vireo. I stopped to cool my feet in Ramsey's Draft for a while on the way home, and I heard some Northern Parulas, but didn't see any. There was a crayfish in the stream, however, so I moved my toes away, just in case. It started raining just as I was leaving, and I felt tired but very satisfied from my outdoor excursion.

Fungus extravaganza

While the bird sightings were comparatively modest in number, I had great success in spotting and photographing mushrooms along the trail. Believe it or not, I saw all of the mushrooms in the montage below yesterday, and there were others that it does not even include! It has been a long time since I have seen such a wide variety of mushrooms, so I figured it's time to make a long-overdue update of the Mushroom photo gallery page. Most of the photos on that page are now of the same size, and some are enlarged or enhanced versions of older photos that I had previously posted. I have also added a few more photos from past years, and will probably add a few more in the near future, plus separate photos for each of the eight species shown in the montage.

A sampling of some of the mushrooms I saw on the mountain top yesterday. Species identification pending...