Today I found this Marbled Orbweaver while working at Dorsey's Knob Park. What a beauty!
A few nights ago I spotted this moth caterpillar crawling near a dusk to dawn light at Dorsey's Knob Park. It's called "The Neighbor," Haploa contigua. I've never actually seen an adult of this species.
Exploring Along the Mon River Trail
Yesterday morning I explored the Mon River Trail between Morgantown and Uffington in Monongalia County. The weather was cool and overcast as I walked along the Monongahela River searching for recently arrived migratory ducks.
It didn't take long before I confirmed my suspicions that the recent weather had been far to pleasant to prompt any migrating ducks to put down on the river. At least I did spot a Double-crested Cormorant sitting on a log.
With no migratory ducks to study, I turned my attention to the plants growing along the trail. I spotted several American Bladdernut shrubs, which was a new species for me. In addition, I saw some alders growing on the steep riverbank. One alder in particular caught my attention because bright white pieces of fluff adhered to one of its branches. The "fluff" is actually a protective covering produced by Wooly Alder Aphids. I poked around one of the pieces of fluff until I could see several aphids sucking sap from the alder.
After hiking over a mile, I arrived at one of my favorite spots along this section of the trail. A picturesque waterfall is nestled deep within a steep rocky ravine.
Although the overhanging rocks appear like they could break off and come crashing down at any moment, I decided to chance a quick excursion into the danger zone to photograph some liverworts that grow on the damp stone wall. This particular species is called Snake Liverwort, Conocephalum conicum.
The sandstone rocks in front of the waterfall provide homes to several species of lichens. One of my favorites is the Smokey-eye Boulder Lichen. Magnification is needed to actually see the "smokey eyes." If you have a smart phone handy, just zoom in with the camera and take a picture.
Near the lichens is a large decomposing log of some hardwood species. I've walked past this log many times before and never gave it much thought. Yesterday, something colored bright yellow on the log caught my attention. I'm a novice when it comes to mushroom identification, but I believe that this is a species of Jelly Fungus. I suspect that it might be Witches Butter, but I don't know for sure.
By the time I got back to my car, I had covered over four miles out and back. What follows is the list of species that I identified on this walk.