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Mushrooms in Lafayette County during drought

posted Dec 7, 2016, 5:15 PM by Katelynn Dillard

On 10/26/2016, I explored the woods (mixed ephemeral creek bed) around my house in Lafatette county in search of mushrooms.  On this day, I found PHELLINUS GILVUS, TRAMETES VERSICOLOR, TRICHAPTUM BIFORME, PANELLUS STIPTICUS, USTULINA DEUSTA, STEREUM SP. And a possible PLEUROTUS SP. - but I was not able to obtain a spore print so I’m not so sure of that ID. All of the mushrooms I found were growing out of dead/fallen trees; I suppose this was the case because the ground was so dry and the logs were the only place moist enough to sustain fungal fruiting.

December 7, 2016- Wall Doxey State Park

posted Dec 7, 2016, 5:04 PM by Aileen Pfarrer

Today I decided to take a break from studying to spend some time foraging for fungi in the state park. The past week has been quite rainy here in the north eastern part of Mississippi. The temperatures have been in the low forties. Upon entering the trail I did not notice any fungi right off the trail so I began walking through the forest off the trail. Soon I came across a species of fungi growing on a pine cone that I collected and would later identify as BAESPORA MYOSURA. I kept looking for fungi beneath the trees at Wall Doxey when I came across a fallen log with an abundance of LAETIPORUS SULPHERUS. I had already come across this same fallen log before while on a field trip with my mycology class but this time there were more fruiting bodies than before. I admired the growth and kept going in search of finding something I had not seen yet. Although I spent another hour out foraging in the state park I only came across a species of Amanita I had also found before while on a group field trip with mycology class. Amanita VIROSA is what the species of this fungi keyed out as when we discovered it in class and again today as I was going through what I had collected at Wall Doxey. As I was heading back to my car I found a fungi of the Russula genus (IMAGE 1) that I was unable to identify to species using a key. I have attached the photo of the Russula, so  feel free to leave a comment if you are familiar with the species. 

UM Mycology Finds Success in the Hunt at Wall Doxey

posted Dec 3, 2016, 9:20 AM by Meghan McNeill   [ updated Dec 3, 2016, 9:21 AM ]

For the UM Mycology class, this semester has been incredibly dry; and as you could imagine it’s rather difficult to find mushrooms in a drought.  There have been quite a few excursions thus far where literally no mushrooms were found, but this foray was different. We traveled 30 minutes north of Oxford to Wall Doxey State Park in Holly Springs; and it was rather magical. Not long after we got on the trail we found a beautiful, puffy AMANITA sp. and everyone was ecstatic. The trail we were on was in a mixed bottomland forest consisting of mostly oak and pine. It was incredibly moist from the rain a few days before, and mushrooms were aplenty. We walked on the trail for a bit, but quickly ended up deeper in the woods as our glances carried us from mushroom to mushroom.  We found POLYPORES, AMANITAS and JLLIES; some known, but many unknowns. We were observant, we were focused, and the hour we were out there quickly disappeared in the blink of an eye. It was the most enjoyable experience of the semester; not only because we found several different species, but because we were finally able to put the identification skills we have gained this semester to work.  In total, over a dozen species were collected and some have yet to be identified, and considering the most mushrooms that any one student had in their collection before going to Wall Doxey was around 20 or so, I’d say it was a pretty great day for this group of mycophiles.

Species found and identified include:

  •  Lycogala epidendrum, a slime mold fungi. When young, they appear a bright, almost neon pink
  • Laetiporus sulfurous, otherwise known as “Chicken of the Woods”, found on rotting hardwood. This particular specimen is young, and still in its knob-like form.
  • A jelly fungi was found on rotting conifer, due to its small size, it could be Tramella mesenterica, however due to its shape, it could also be Dacrymyces palmatus, a very similar jelly fungi.
  •  Baespora myosura, which was easily keyed out, due to its specificity of growing on coniferous pine cones. 
  • Chase found  a mature Amanita virosa, commonly known as the “Destroying Angel” while we headed back down the path towards the vans.

Post by Katelynn Dillard and Meghan McNeill

November 8, 2016 in Wall Doxey State Park, Mississippi- Marshall County.

posted Nov 29, 2016, 5:29 PM by Aileen Pfarrer   [ updated Dec 3, 2016, 10:25 AM ]

On November 8, 2016, the day preceding a steady rain in Oxford Mississippi and the surrounding area, I went on a mushroom foray in Wall Doxey State Park along with fellow mycology classmates. Personally, I collected and identified more species of fungi than I had all year. I very much appreciated the successful foray after the past few very dry weeks as a mycology student. Upon entering the damp forest, right off the trail, we noticed a mushroom of the Amanita genus. We discovered three more Amanita during the trip, two of which were keyed to AMANITA VIROSA and AMANITA BISPORIGERIA. As we entered the forrest further off the trail we discovered LAETIPORUS SULPHUREUS (IMAGE 1) and AURICULA AURICULA (IMAGE 2) . Later I discovered the species PLEUROTUS DRYINUS sprouting from the underside of a decaying log (IMAGE 3). We also found the species HYDROCYBE CHLOROPHANA. 

Image 1IMAGE 1




Perfect Weather for Mushrooming at Baileys Woods

posted Nov 29, 2016, 1:20 PM by Meghan McNeill

Following a nice, full day of rain, I decided to go out to Baileys Woods near the University Museum to see if the rain allowed new fungi to fruit. I was pleased to find the trail to be damp and muddy, the woods retaining the moisture from the day before. As I scanned the forest floor, I became discouraged and decided it was time to leave my search for fungi growing from the soil, and check the downed, rotting wood as we so routinely did in our dry semester of BISC 502, Mycology. I was very pleased to immediately find branches covered with jelly fungi, specifically Auricularia auricula. Per usual, most branches were blanketed in Stereum and Trametes, but it was nice to see some jelly fungi thriving in this dry season we have had. Luckily, on my way back to the car, I also collected an Amanita virosa, which I was pleased to find something other than bracket fungi, especially in the leaf-covered forest floor. 

Strawberry Plains Audubon Center Field Trip

posted May 10, 2016, 10:00 AM by Chyna-Rae Dearman

On Saturday April 30th, the Ole Miss Office of Sustainability sponsored a field trip to Strawberry Plains for about 20 students. When we arrived at the center, we were greeted by Mitchell who was to be our guide for the day. The weather was drizzly and overcast but not too troublesome for us. Mitchell took us on a small tour of the property, showing us the area where the hummingbird festival is held and pointing out a huge tree that had just fallen two days previous. We saw the structures that have been built for CHIMNEY SWIFTS to roost and nest in and Mitchell explained the importance of these structures for these birds that are not able to perch as most birds do. We walked through an open building that was once used for buying and selling cotton and learned about how Strawberry Plains was founded. The property was left in Audubon's care by the owner after her husband's death. We were able to go inside the antebellum home on the property which is now available to be rented for events. Afterwards, we visited the vernal pools on the property which are small pools that will dry up after the rainy season. Here, Mitchell used a net to try to scoop up small critters from the water. We were mainly interested in salamanders but we found CRAWFISH, DRAGONFLY LARVAE, and other water insects. We finally managed to capture a few juvenile SPOTTED SALAMANDERS. We followed this by a very delicious lunch provided by Living Foods and a presentation with a more in depth look at the history of Strawberry Plains. As we were on our way out, Mitchell took us a short way into the woods to show us a tree with very clear BLACK BEAR claw marks all over it which was very cool to see. It was a really fun and educational trip and now I am very interested in going out to volunteer at Strawberry Plains as they are always in need of helping hands!

Here is the e-bird checklist for the trip:

North side of Sardis Lake looking south

posted May 9, 2016, 4:35 PM by Robert Bramlett

It had been a pleasant day with nearly cloudless skies and a slight breeze to compliment the restless waves within Sardis. Over a dozen CHIMNEY SWIFT were overhead nearly all day going back and forth from tree to tree. I was with both my mother and step-sister outside of our cabin overlooking the lake, which was busy with the college semester coming to an end and mother's day. The property itself had experienced considerable reconstruction efforts after a house fire and with over a year of work a new house stood where an old cinder block cabin had been. But with reconstruction for all practical purposes being completed, life had gradually returned to the property. A lone RED EYED VIREO sang in the distance towards the northern woods which was eventually drowned out by a small congregation of FISHER CROW gathering on a nearby tree adjacent to the property. With such beautiful weather, the lake was sure to be busy and sure enough with such a large expanse of water there was something on the hunt along the shallows. An OSPREY made quick pass by the front of the property facing the water but soon was out of sight and likely looking for intently for some kind of meal. Several fishing boats and pontoon boats were out and even a lone sail boat with a crisp white sail had made it to the center of the lake with the breeze pushing it along. Eventually the forest surrounding the cabin and the trees leading to the lake broke into a harmony of various calls and shrills. The sharp upward trill of the NORTHERN PARULA, the rapid chip of the CHIPPING SPARROW, the bbzzzttt's of the fluttering BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER. All of it rang together into the background as is expected with such beautiful weather and that would likely continue into the summer. As we all sat quietly soaking up sunlight and fighting off the occasional mosquito, a bright red blur flew past us all and landed quietly in a low hanging branch of a nearby tree. Apon closer inspection the blur was a SUMMER TANAGER fresh with a new coat of feathers all vibrantly red. Eventually the singing of the birds began to slow and listening to the woods surrounding us the call of two EASTERN WOODPEEWEES going back and forth became apparent and listening even closer the call of the WHITE EYED VIERO became pronounced and began to come closer as we listened. For quite some time the calls of the vireo dominated everything else so we started to look closely for anything that may have escaped our notice. Sure enough next door a pair of NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRDS were in the neighbors yard searching for food. A lone mockingbird flew past them with an angry call and then disappeared. As we began to tire we gathered our drinks and sunglasses and then began to retire  inside to escape the sun and have a late lunch. As we began to walk back inside a small group of TURKEY VULTURE glided lazily above us and just as quickly disappeared into the tree line. Overall the birding was peaceful and made for a beautiful Mother's day that will always stay in memory.

White-eyed Vireo Mimicry and a Little Mystery (almost) Solved

posted May 5, 2016, 3:12 PM by JR Rigby   [ updated May 5, 2016, 3:53 PM ]

In a previous post last year I described the repertoire of a White-eyed Vireo individual who sang continuously for me for 45 minutes one morning at Rowan Oak. In that singing session he displayed 10 distinct song types. In response to that post a fellow birder commented, somewhat offhand, that when he moved to Mississippi from Florida he thought the White-eyed Vireos here all sounded strange. When I asked him to elaborate, he said that the vireos here seemed to all use these "gargly notes" that were absent among the Florida birds. 

"Gargly notes"? Hmmm. 

After some additional conversation I had a guess for what notes he was referring to. Listen for the laughing/chattering/stuttering sound in the middle of this White-eyed Vireo song, just before the "whine". LISTEN HERE

Hear it? It's sort of a rapid tut-tut-tut. That is apparently the sound my friend was referring to. First, kudos to my friend for noticing the qualitative difference these notes add to WEVI songs around here. But, why wouldn't WEVIs in Florida sing these notes too? Well, to begin with, not all WEVI songs incorporate these notes. So, maybe he is just mistaking the coincidence of his noticing it for the first time in MS for the absence of these notes in FL. That is a distinct possibility. 

Giving him the benefit of the doubt, though, what else could be the explanation? Well, it's a lesser known fact that White-eyed Vireos are mimics. In fact, their songs are chock full of mimicry. Hadn't you noticed? You can be forgiven for not noticing. Unlike the Northern Mockingbird (and many other mimics) WEVIs don't mimic the songs of other species. Instead they collect call notes from other species and weave them into the distinctive song that we associate with the White-eyed Vireo, full of ticks, whines, stutters, and all manner of rather unmusical phrases imbued with a very definite rhythm. 

So, supposing that this is a mimicked sound, the first thing to do would be to see what species that sound belongs to. Some of you who pay more attention to the calls of our resident breeding birds may recognize this call already, even if you can't quite put a name to it. It's one of the calls of the Wood Thrush. Here's the call given by it's "rightful owner": LISTEN HERE

At this point I have determined that the "gargly notes" are a Wood Thrush call that has been appropriated by White-eyed Vireos. I have also noted that my friend recognizes this sound as distinctive of Mississippi vireos relative to his central Florida White-eyed Vireos. 

This is where the story gets more interesting. Wood Thrushes don't breed on the Florida peninsula. They are neotropical migrants, spending our winter in southern Mexico and Central America. They migrate north to breed across much of the United States, excluding coastal Louisiana and the peninsula of Florida. I checked the WEVI songs posted on Xeno-Canto from Florida and indeed could not find one with the thrush call included in the songs (as of my perusal last year). This doesn't seal the deal by any means, but it suggests that perhaps my friend is right that the Florida birds lack these Wood Thrush notes. It's plausible if young WEVI learn the mimicked phrases of their songs primarily within their breeding range. If so, the birds hatched in Florida would be unlikely to pick up Wood Thrush song elements. I'm not sure anyone has investigated this. 

So, a little mystery (potentially) solved. 

Birding at Rowan Oak and Bailey's Woods Trails

posted May 4, 2016, 3:34 PM by Unknown user

Nishant Rout and Bronson Lang

May 3, 2016

On a cool Tuesday morning around 8:00, Dr. Hoeksema's ornithology class were prepared to depart to Sardis reservoir to do some birdwatching; however, not one, but both vans intended to take the class to the location did not start! Therefore, we had a change of plans and decided to all walk to nearby Bailey's Woods Trails off of the University Museum towards Rowan Oak and back. 

The air was filled with bird calls and sounds. As we entered Bailey's Woods, we met up with JR Rigby. We heard two CANADA GEESE flying up beyond the trees. We also got a close look at a RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER climbing a utility pole. We spotted a few BROWN-HEADED COWBIRDS, BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHERS, CAROLINA WRENS, BLUE JAYS, TUFTED TITMOUSES, as well as RED-BELLIED WOODPECKERS along the trail. We heard the numerous and colorful calls of vireos throughout the entire trek, even spotting some nimble WHITE-EYED, RED-EYED, and YELLOW-THROATED VIREOS.

When we got to Rowan Oak, we spotted two RED-TAILED HAWKS flying high up in the distance, seemingly engaged in a mating ritual. we also got a close look at a BROAD-WINGED HAWK that was being harassed by 2 BLUEJAYS. Dr. Hoeksema mentioned that the behavior from the bluejays towards the hawk was to warn others of its presence and to foil its element of surprise. A flock of CEDAR WAXWINGS in their usual area around the grounds of Rowan Oak were also spotted, along with a few BROWN THRASHERS. 

Overall, despite the mishaps that occurred before the trip, we all had a blast and arguably saw and heard more birds than we had in any of our previous birding trips. 

Here is the eBird checklist for the trip:

Birds, Fungi, and Quadrupeds Galore at Wall Doxey State Park

posted May 3, 2016, 8:07 PM by Braxton Dupuy   [ updated May 3, 2016, 8:12 PM ]

On May 1st just after lunch, my friends and I decided to venture out to the realms of Wall Doxey State Park with hopes that the dissipating rain clouds and the bluing of the sky would make for a memorable hike around the lake--and that, it was. From the start of the hike around the lake, the birds were noticeably more active than in the past couple of days. Common birds were immediately heard by their calls, including TUFTED TITMOUSE, NORTHERN PARULA, RED-EYED VIREO, NORTHERN CARDINAL, and BLUE-GREY GNATCATCHERS. Just around the lake's edge when walking around clockwise from the parking lot, one could distinctly hear a LOUISIANA WATERTHRUSH, which is the same location where I had first seen it rather than just hear its call. As we made our way into the wooded area, we found an assortment of fungi that we could not identify (but took pictures to ask Dr. H later), salamanders under logs, frogs and toads hopping from puddles, a mothering beaver, and even a pair of turtles in the bout of a courtship ritual. After all of these great finds, we continued onward with our birding, where we came across a couple SUMMER TANAGERS, a hammering RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER, followed by its family member--PILEATED WOODPECKER. It was a great day enjoying nature's pleasantry before the busy weeks ahead near the end of school. From this trip, I do want to emphasize to everybody to heed the dangers of ticks because I was bitten by a tick that transmitted the symptomatic rash of a Lyme-like disease. 

Other species seen:

Photos of the trip can be seen with the following links:

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