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Foraging New Jersey – Late Summer Mushrooms!

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Despite sporadic rains the late summer mushroom harvest has been tremendously strong. I’ve been finding Hen of the Woods (Grifola frondosa) and Chicken of the Woods (Laetiporus sulphureus) in great quantity. Others species have also been abundant including Oysters (Pleurotus ostreatus), Ringless Honey Mushrooms (Armillaria tabescens), Aborted Entoloma (Entoloma abortivum), Bears Tooth (Hericium) and Cauliflower (Sparassis) mushrooms.  Each of these when properly identified and if found fresh can be a primary ingredient in many a delicious meal.

 

 

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Wetland Habitat Restoration

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This is an exciting time of year for nature lovers as spring flowers make their grand appearance. At my workplace, we have been making efforts to enhance a wetland habitat with native plantings surrounded by fenced deer exclosure.  Our goal is to try and reintroduce some of the players or species that once made up the winning team of a healthy wetland forest ecosystem.  In time, the restoration will act to provide better access to nature for both people and wildlife.

The native plants chosen are adapted to the wetland soils and understory of the mature forest currently present. As they regenerate they will create an additional floor and shrub layer within the habitat.  This provides important feeding and nesting areas for many bird and insect species and rewards us with a healthier functioning ecosystem.

Vernal Pools in Northern NJ

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Went out to explore a vernal pool complex and found Jefferson, Slimy and Spotted Salamanders as well as Bullfrog tadpoles, Green frog tadpoles and adults, a few eastern newts and some Predaceous Diving Beetles.  Calling were spring peepers and a lone leopard frog.  My favorite picture of the bunch is the eastern newt stuck in the green slime.

If your interested in learning more about vernal pools, specifically the dates at which things are happening an excellent list serve to join is vernal pool on yahoo groups.

Finding Dusky Salamanders in a Creek

David Alexander is author of the Buzz Into Action & Hop Into Action Science Curricula.  He specializes in making nature accessible to people and wildlife.  You can follow him at www.natureintoaction.com

Howling Woods Farm – Wolf Hybrids

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Took a trip to visit the wolves at Howling Woods Farm in Jackson, NJ.  http://www.howlingwoods.org/

Howling Woods Farm is a breed-specific animal shelter that rescues and places domestic bred wolves, wolfdog hybrids and northern breeds.   Visitors can schedule a chance to interact with the wolves on weekends and learn from their staff/volunteer educators.

Lucky for Natalia and I, Mike, the owner brought out a frozen deer carcass to feed the hungry pack.  We had the chance to see their pack behavior as the lead dog took control and enjoyed his share before allowing the others to feed.

“If you are not the lead dog the view never changes”.

Trout Fishing on the Flatbrook

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Fishing on the Flatbrook is where you can often find my girlfriend Natalia and I in the Spring and Fall.  NJ Fish and Wildlife stocks select rivers, lakes and ponds with brown, rainbow and brook trout.  Fees from fishing licences make this possible and some fish may manage to survive late into the season allowing year-round trout fishing opportunities while many others lets be honest are there specifically for catch and keep not catch and release.  We enjoy roasting trout over a campfire opened up with a stick or pan fried.  I keep some seasoning in my tackle box just for this reason or reach out for some wood sorel for a little wild edible trail nibble flavoring.

Porcupine at High Point

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While hiking around High Point State Park we came across a porcupine way up in a tree likely nibbling the branch tips.  After reading about this behavior, I learned that a study was done to x-ray the skulls of porcupines at a natural history museum and it turned out many had skull fractures from occasionally falling out of the trees in their efforts to get the tastiest tips.

Porcupine in Tree at High Point State Park, NJ

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