Friday, 15 March 2019

March Mosses

March Break is almost over, and since I haven't posted in a couple weeks thought I'd get something out. I spent most of the week working on my "moss game". I think I improved it, but with all the new stuff I learned the more I felt less confident in my knowledge! That is all part of learning however, and I am looking forward to acquiring more info on the subject!

I explored a variety of habitats these past few days. Everything from bogs, to lawns, to cliff faces (though due to icy conditions, I couldn't explore the rocks too extensively!).

 Here are some of my favourites from the past week, some identifications are still tentative. I saw and collected much more, but mosses are incredibly hard to ID, and most require a microscope. In my case, I have a plastic toy microscope from "Toys R Us" that I got about a decade ago when I was a budding scientist in first grade (many fond memories of examining mosquito larvae and onion skins!)

Sessile Grimmia (Schistidum apocarpum)

Red Beard-Moss (Bryoerythrophyllum recurviostrum)

Tetraphis Moss (Tetraphis pellucida)

Prairie Peatmoss (Sphagnum palustre)

Girgensohn's Peatmoss (Sphagnum girgenshonii)

Magellan's Peatmoss (Sphagnum magellanicum)

Russow's Peatmoss (Sphagnum russowii)

Northern Peatmoss (Sphagnum capillifolium)

Bog Haircap Moss (Polytrichum strictum)

Brown Peatmoss (Sphagnum fuscum)

Waxyleaf Moss (Dicranum polysetum)

Anomodon Moss (Anomodon attenuatus)

Tangled Thread Moss (Hygramblystegium varium)

Wavy Starburst Moss (Atrichum altercristatum)

Ribbed Bristle Moss (Orthotrichum anomalum)

Hedwig's Fringeleaf Moss (Hedwigia ciliata)

Brachythecium laetum

Common Pocket Moss (Fissidens taxifolius)

Pleated Foxtail Moss (Brachythecium salebrosum)

Thursday, 28 February 2019

Recent Happenings

Last post I predicted that the first Red-winged Blackbird of the season would show up last weekend. That has not happened yet! I suspect within the next week I will see the first, hopefully by March Break at least! February 29th is the latest date I have seen them arrive in the neighborhood (for as long as I have been keeping tabs anyways). Still have a chance to "tie" that, but looks as though we will be pushing the arrival further into March!

Last weekend I took advantage of the nice weather and went out to one of London's ESAs (Environmentally Significant Areas). I was intending to scout out a spot I suspected had Mudpuppies and that I could potentially return to at night. Alas, I found that the water was just too deep, cold, and fast moving to carry out said operation with any success. Perhaps if I had waders (which I don't because they don't make them in my size!)

I did note a few other things in the shallower parts, such as some aquatic plants and river mussels.

Plain Pocketbook (Lampsilis cardium)

Giant Floater Mussel (Pyganodon grandis)

I found a neat genus of moss, Fontinalis, which attaches itself to rocks submerged underwater. I found a couple other species of moss that were submerged, however I was unable to ID them (as of yet anyways, grabbed a couple samples!).

Fontinalis dalecarlica

Fish were surprisingly scarce. I only caught one, and in addition saw another one which narrowly escaped my net, which was likely a Central Stoneroller.

Rainbow Darter (Etheostoma caeruleum)

I explored the forest a little bit too.

White Ash (Fraxinus americana)

Choke Cherry (Prunus virginiana)

Common Buckthorn (

Rhamnus cathartica)

This is Oriental Bitterswee(Celastrus orbiculatus). It is similar to the American Bittersweet (Celastrus scandens) I found last week, however it is an invasive species.

I found a nice Butternut tree (Juglans cinerea).

Unfortunate for the tree, but interesting for me was the presence of Butternut Canker (Sirococcus clavigignenti-juglandacearum). Butterut Canker is a fungus that (I am pretty sure anyways) will eventually kill the tree.

There were a number of small insects taking advantage of the warmer weather, including many stoneflies. I am pretty sure they are of the species Allocapnia maria.

Of course, I am always on the lookout for interesting fungus.

Coryne Dubia

Crystal Brain (Exidia nucleata)

Jelly Spot (Dacrymyces stillatus)

On a side note, my friend Nathan just started a blog. Currently he is documenting his attempt at a Waterloo county big year. Go check it out here!

Thursday, 21 February 2019

Thursday Tidbits

School was cancelled today, so I went out on a hike to enjoy the nice weather. My destination of choice for today was Fanshawe Lake in London. 

My main focus today was plants, but found a couple other things as well. Lots of migrant Horned Larks today, as well as a Pileated Woodpecker. Found this friendly little Striped Skunk, apparently unconcerned with me being less than 10 feet away. 

I am a newbie to winter tree ID, but here are a couple that I have been able to identify. I must say, it seems tricky (and is), but I could see how this could become addicting... 

Boxelder Maple (Acer negundo)

Butternut (Juglans cinerea)

Autumn Olive (Elaeagnus umbellata)

Basswood (Tilia americana)

Bitternut Hickory (Carya cordiformis)

Eastern Hop-Hornbeam (Ostrya virginiana)
American Hornbeam (Carpinus caroliniana)
I enjoy the challenge of mosses as well. Found a few species today.

Atrichum sp.

Sword Moss (Callicladium haldanianum)

Delicate Fern Moss (Thuidium delicatulum)
I am a person who is easily distracted, and today was no exception. I, of course, had to stop and look at some fungi and lichens!

Exidia recisa

Phomopsis sp.

Stump Puffball (Lycoperdon pyriforme)

Candelariella sp. (likely C. aurella)

Ceramic Parchment (Xylobolus frustulatus)

Splitgill Mushroom (Schizophyllum commune)

A few miscellaneous finds...

American Bittersweet (Celastrus scandens)

Red Bartsia (Odontites vernus)

Prickly Ash (Zanthoxylum americanum)

Unidentified tree disease (?)
A fun afternoon out, and got a good hike. Seems like a good place to visit in the future!

Oh, and just for fun, I'll make my prediction that the first Red-winged Blackbird of the season for the pond down my street will show up either tomorrow or Saturday. If I average out my spring arrival dates for that location, I get February 22, which, low and behold, is tomorrow. It is supposed to be warm the next few days, so maybe that'll give them a little extra push.