1-7 October 2002


Although Hurricane Isidore kept us from flying into storm-struck New Orleans for an ornithological conference the last week in September, the weather event had less of an impact on the Carolinas. Nonetheless, every bit of the four inches of precipitation the hurricane sent to Hilton Pond Center that week was more than welcome. A two-day rain percolated into the ground and undoubtedly was well received by roots of trees and shrubs that have suffered from our on-going Piedmont drought.

All text & photos © Hilton Pond Center

Green plants apparently weren't the only organisms that had been waiting for moisture. Early this week, in the aftermath of cooler temperatures and precipitation spun off from Isidore, the Center's "mushroom factory" went into full production, with fungi in almost every shape and hue appearing almost overnight all across the property. Their rapid growth and diverse colors were stunning, and we were happy to get down on all fours with the digital camera to capture photos of several.

Regrettably, we are not mushroom experts, so we sweat it out over moldy tomes and fungal field guides before conclusively identifying some of the less common species. This gave us the idea that some of you might enjoy--as we did-- having to go through the exercise of figuring out what these 'shrooms really are. Thus, in lieu of our usual text-and-photo essay, this week we're just going to include the photos.

The challenge is for you to try to identify these fungi by using field guides and the Internet--but NOT by asking some mushroom expert simply to tell you what they are. If you're game and want to participate in the Center's First Fun Fungi Quiz, e-mail us your answers, including an accepted common name for each fungus (with the scientific names and your reference sources as options).

Incredibly enough, all these fungi were growing over a distance of about 75 feet along just one of the Center's trails, as were several other species that aren't pictured here. Together, the photos document an amazing diversity of Piedmont fungi.

For the sake of the First Fun Fungi Quiz, the 'shrooms are numbered 1-6, from top to bottom as they appear on this page.

Here are a few hints to help out with your identifications.

  • #1, #5, and #6 are each only about one inch tall
  • The stipe in #1 is indeed translucent
  • All have gills except #4 & #6
  • #4 has a purplish-brown cast that is difficult to capture in a photo

And, of course, there is "fine print" for our quiz, as follows. You have until Monday, 14 October to submit your entry via e-mail; the entry must be in the inbox at EDUCATION when we check it that day at 5 p.m. EDT. If more than one person correctly identifies all six fungi using accepted common names, then correct scientific names will be tie-breakers. If there's still a tie at that point, we'll look at the quality and diversity of whatever references you may have provided. Then, if it's STILL judged to be a tie, we'll conduct a blind draw of all entries that make it to the final round.

The Piedmont Naturalist will serve as sole judge, and his decision will be final, unless someone somehow convinces him otherwise. The winner gets to brag and receives an exclusive, correctly sized, and highly coveted T-shirt by mail from Operation RubyThroat: The Hummingbird Project. (NOTE: You get only the shirt and not the handsome kid modeling it.)

The winner's name and correct answers will be posted with our "This Week at Hilton Pond" photo essay for 8-14 October. Every public or private school teacher that submits an entry from a K-12 class as a group will get a full-color First Fun Fungi Quiz poster to display on the bulletin board. (Should a K-12 class happen to win the quiz, they'll get a special certificate signifying such.)

If you're NOT interested in entering the Center's First Fun Fungi Quiz, it's okay. Just sit back at your computer and slowly scroll up and down the page, carefully examining each mushroom photo and marveling at these phenomenal organisms that spring forth from the soil when conditions are right. Better yet, go out for a stroll--in your backyard or the local woodlands--and see if you can find an assemblage of mushrooms that are as diverse as this selection of six that appeared as a gift from Hurricane Isidore to Hilton Pond Center.

All text & photos © Hilton Pond Center

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1-7 October 2002

Ruby-throated Hummingbird--7
American Goldfinch--2
Common Yellowthroat--1
Pine Warbler--1
Indigo Bunting--3
Red-eyed Vireo--7
Wood Thrush--2
Northern Cardinal--2
Gray Catbird--4
Swainson's Thrush--13
Downy Woodpecker--1
Gray-cheeked Thrush--7
Carolina Wren--1
Scarlet Tanager--2
Tufted Titmouse--1
House Finch--1
White-breasted Nuthatch--1
Brown Thrasher--3
Northern Mockingbird--5
Blue Jay--1

(with original banding dates)
None this week

All photos & text © Hilton Pond Center

This Week at Hilton Pond
is part of the

White-breasted Nuthatch
The bird caught this week was only
the 8th banded at the
since 1982

21 species
67 individuals

69 species
1,921 individuals

(since 28 June 1982)
123 species
41,640 individuals

--Swainson's Thrushes "bathing" in a thin film of water on a slab of concrete.

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Hilton Pond Center for Piedmont Natural History is a non-profit research & education organization in York, South Carolina USA; phone (803) 684-5852. Directed by Bill Hilton Jr., aka The Piedmont Naturalist, it is the parent organization for Operation RubyThroat. Contents of this Web site--including articles and photos--may NOT be duplicated, modified, or used in any way except with the express written permission of Hilton Pond Center. All rights reserved worldwide. To obtain permission for use or for further assistance on accessing this Web site, contact the Webmaster.