Sunday, September 22, 2013

The cycle of life...

Ripper and I were walking when he ran up a power line right of way where we don't usually go.  I followed and noticed a distinctly disagreeable odor along the way.  Above me the sound of the ponderous beating of wings.  I poked around and, sure enough, found the remains of a deer.  

A Black Vulture, Coragyps atratus.  In Central America Black Vultures hang around town, much as crows do here.  I'm not sure why the difference in behavior.  Less persecution?  

Perched in a tree, nervously.

A few of the several dozens that were hanging about and, no doubt, feeding on the carcass.  The white wing tips of Black vultures is especially visible on one bird on the left.  

In their haste to withdraw a few feathers lost.

Not for the squeamish.  A young deer under the forest canopy.It was probably found by Turkey Vultures., one of the few bird species that use their sense of smell to locate carrion.  Black Vultures will follow them to
a hidden meal.  The population of vultures and Common Crows probably benefit by the advent of the automobile which leaves in its wake a treasure of gastronomical delights in the form of road kill.  The birds do us a service by removing the offal from the roadside.  

 Speaking of bad odors, here in one of my favorite native plants, Little Brown Jugs, hexastylis arifolia.  
An attractive evergreen plant that hides its jug shaped flowers in the leaf litter.  The flowers exude an odor similar to rotting flesh to the attract flies as pollinators.  (I have not noticed the odor, neither have I put a flower to my nose)

This mushroom was about 8" across.

Someones been nibbling.

An Eastern Box Turtle, Terrepene carolina.  This common terrestrial turtle has been known to live 138 years.  The Box Turtles are remarkable in that using their hinged lower shell plate (plastron) they can completely close their shell about themselves.  They grow to 5"-8" and have a territory of 2.5 to 12.5 acres.  They are omnivores and eat fruit, mushrooms, insects, worms.  If removed from their territory they reportedly will cast about trying to find their way home.  As attractive and mild mannered as they are, please do not try to keep one as a pet.  It is misery for the animal.  Better to make your yard friendly to wildlife, and avoid running over them with your car.  I move turtles off the road in the direction they were headed.

Lady's Tresses