Kenneth Setzer

Combing Through Castellow Hardwood Hammock

Polydamas Swallowtail Butterfly

A couple weeks back I woke up with the usual sore back, only to bend down to feed our rabbit at the worst angle possible. I could not stand up thereafter, or put any pressure on my back or legs. It was scary. I swallowed a hardcore painkiller, and walked around the house like a centenarian (or a toddler with a full diaper).

Convinced by my father-in-law that Castellow Hammock would be chock-a-block with fungi after two days of rain, I relentingly packed my camera bag and hobbled carefully to the car.

I was not disappointed on our arrival at Castellow. I was greeted by a single Polydamas Swallowtail on a pipevine. These just never stay still, and I have a load of crappy photos of them to prove it. This time however, given the slight cold front, this friend stayed put long enough for a somewhat decent shot.

Given not just the recent precipitation, but the slight chill we were experiencing (‘shrooms seem to like it temperate more than tropical) there were fungi I had seen before, and a couple I hadn’t. I don’t know what these are, but the largest of them was easily smaller than a dime.

Unidentified fungi

One thing great about macro shots is the unexpected surprises you find. Here’s the same image cropped to 100%. I would love to know what that little critter is. It’s likely an immature version of something, making it extra hard to ID (for me anyway). What a fascinating world he/she inhabits!

Unidentified fungi and arthropod

Gelatinous Auricularia (Jelly Ear) Fungi

These ruddy hat-shaped creatures are called Jew’s Ear, Judas’s ear, or Jelly Ear fungi, and they are apparently edible (but do not take my word for it). I think they’d be like eating slimy, wet, mushy gummi bears.

In addition to the more commonly seen shelf/bracket fungi, and oyster fungi, I found a clump of Dead Man’s Fingers (Xylaria sp.) again. These clumps may be fairly common, but their near-black coloration makes them tricky to spot. I picked up one of the “fingers,” and keep it at home in a jar where it gives me the finger daily.

Dead Man's Fingers (Xylaria sp.)

I managed to fire off a few still life kind of shots of some old railroad ties getting reclaimed by nature. They sat off the trail, with their carbon and iron leeching back into the Earth.

Railroad Tie Decomposition

Connecting Plate

I’ll leave you with a stark-white snail shell, its mortal residue resting on a bed of moss. Not the worst place to meet one’s end:

Snail's Final Resting Place

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