The Week In Pictures: November 21-30

The rains are here! Keep coming!

Three stages of inky cap growth: umbrella, star and SLIME!

Leaf tattoo on concrete.

The rich fall hue of a maple leaf resting in rosemary.

I spent Thanksgiving in Austin, TX. We found these tracks under a rock ledge near Hamilton Pool (which is an incredible place). Ringtail, we believe! Ringtails are in the same family as raccoons (Procyonidae). Notice the cat-like appearance of the track as well as the shape and large size of the heel pad. Ringtails have five toes on both front and hind feet, but because toe 1 (the innermost toe) on the hind foot is small, it rarely shows up in tracks. As a result, it is easy to confuse ringtail tracks with domestic cat tracks. According to Mark Elbroch’s Mammal Tracks & Sign, ringtails often explore cavities and overhangs (like the one we found these tracks in).

Left: Unidentified rodent tracks near Hamilton Pool outside of Austin, TX. They were in the size range for squirrel tracks. Later in the day, we saw what my cousin referred to as “rock squirrels” in the vicinity. Right: The light scrape of hair/fur near the possible squirrel tracks.

A beautiful unidentified turtle found on the shores of Lake Travis, just outside of Austin, TX.

Left: Coyote tracks found in the mud along the Pedernales River. Right: Fox tracks found farther down the trail, also along the Pedernales River.

Back home in Sebastopol: two beautiful skunk digs. Can you spot the skunk track in the dig on the right?

This is AMAZING. When we first saw this beetle, we thought it was being attacked by mites. The beetle barely moved, and when it did, it moved very slowly. Further research, however, indicated that this is actually a mutual relationship. The beetle is a carrion beetle and the mites are, well… mites (of the genus Poecilochirus, supposedly). Carrion beetles lay their eggs in dead flesh. Their larvae consume raw flesh, as well as the larvae of flies who have also come to feed. This explains why we found this beetle where we did: near the deer remains I referenced in last week’s Week in Pictures. The mites hitch a ride on the carrion beetle to carcasses, where they feed on the eggs and larvae of flies. A bit more info here.

Left: Beautyberries along the trail near Hamilton Pool. Right: A beautiful deer track in the sand near my sit spot in Sebastopol, after a night of good rain.

The moon is moving towards full!