Tuesday, April 29, 2008


My photo on top of the same subject as Kevin Sinks' below- his taken 10+ yrs ago? in minor park
One of my favorite photos is one by Kevin Sink of the blue river in Spring. I found it in Larry Rizzo's book, Kansas City Wildlands, on page 11. I wanted to re-shoot it this year ad ever since the redbuds bloomed Ive watched the river's conditions for height and turbidity. For the first time this season, the river had ideal conditions for re-shooting Sink's photo. I was not real sure where it was on the river, but knew of a similar location.
I went to where I recognized the two trees in the photo- in minor park. I waded across the river and scaled the hill on the other side. The photo was in my head, but I could only go from memory and havent seen it in several days- since I took the book out to try to find its location last week.
I found where I thought might be it, but it looked to crowded to be Sink's photo. I took the photo and wondered the park to fill up my CF.
Well, it turns out that I had found Sink's photo, but not exactly.
The redbud is being choked by a thicket of honeysuckle and the woods on the edge of the 'cliff' are crowded. Its too bad, but the area is is KCWILDLANDS schedule- theyve just focused their efforts on the other side of the river where the honeysuckle, iuonymous and garlic mustard are a greater threat. We'll get there eventually... I will be clearing this particular area before the end of the season so that I could re-try next year... hopefully earlier in the season, too!
I saw several very cool warbler birds. They appeared to be blk+w until one flew to a perch only a few yards away when I noticed the yellow on his breast. I think it may have been a yellow-throated warbler.


Its sunny and the world seems to be drying up! It was 65 degrees today- just PERFECT! The clouds floated over from some tropical paradise and highlighted the park's vast open space.
Verbena, Squawweed, false garlic and redbuds added just the right amount of color!
I found a large male five-lined and a juvi. Two morels under some brush in the saeger woods part.
Visiting the park today was exactly what I needed to chill out...It was so beautiful! I was able to just be. I watched the shadows float across the prairie and I, too, seemed to just float. No, there were no drugs involved.
I wondered in any direction my feet took me and was pretty tired by the time I returned to the parkinglot. It was so cool!

Rocky point Glades

Oyster Mushrooms are back! These edibles will likely only remain for a week or so before they dissapear until late fall/early winter.

I was over there several times over the past few days and decided it was finally time to empty my memory card. All of Swope Park is green and pink- the redbuds are a gorgeous sign of spring and a reminder of how beautiful our natural areas are after those long, bland winters.
Most of the wildflowers in the woods are still going strong and those on the glades are becoming more numerous and colorful everyday! The reptilian world is once again becoming active... found a black rat, two ringnecks, a *****wormsnake***** and a handful of five-lined skinks. One of the skinks was missing the better part of his tail and two others were getting their orange.

I saw blooming:
False rue anenome
squaw weed
rose verbena
spring beauty
wood sorrel
orange puccoon
some kind of cinquefoil?
Black Mustard, garlic mustard***bad and evil!***

Thursday, April 24, 2008

more 'shrooms..

Last night was a warm, wet one- just the kind that grow mushrooms. I went to a site I had not searched yet- An open, burned one (hint, hint) I found my first Morel immediately in a blackened spot that got full sunlight- others soon followed, but they were very scattered and I found only one cluster of them. The cluster grew out of a pile of woodchips and contained five mushrooms, of which I took three.

I found alot of giant, ugly ones too.. They were 4-8inches in diameter and were dark brown/red. I think that these are called FALSE MORELS and I left them alone. They were about as numerous as the Morels.

A tiny boxturtle shuffled through the vegitation under the trees at the edge of a field. He did not seem to mind me much- was only as big as an eisenhower $. I got infront of him and took some photos as he climbed a stick on the ground. It was a bit tall for him and His little face broke his fall on the other side. i found an anenome in the woods (different from the False Rue Anemone that Ive been finding) Click on the photo of the Morel for a cool close-up!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


I finally found one! Ive hiked all over the city an in all sorts of habitats, and finally found one! Unfortunately, I ran ran it over with the mower in OUR FRONT YARD in leawood, Ks. The shroom was growing along a garden row in the grass- the nearest tree is an old elm. I hit it with the wheel of the mower and broke it off of the ground. I think that this is what they call a Grey Morel... its about 1.3 inches tall and there were no others around.

good and bad to everything- Just as I had called off the search for the treasured fungi my hope in their discovery was renewed.

Isley Park woods

Isley park, in Excelsior Springs, is well know for it's spring flowers. I figured that this morning could very well be the last sun we'd get before the blooms begin to die off- The forecast calls for days of rain. I took the drive- it was the first time I'd visited the park in years.
I hiked up and down and side to side on the hill above the second shelter on Lover'slane. There is a lot of just about everything up, but the great majority of plants had no flowers. The Bloodroot appeared to have already bloomed and I found only 3 flowers (2.5)..
The higher I got on the hill, the more dutchman's breeches and bellworts were blooming, and the False Rue Anemones dominated the lower portions with the spring beauty. There were only a handful of toothwort's in flower and theye were scattered.
I kept an eye out for those damn Morels- I even got on my knees to search the bases of decaying logs and trees, but found no Morels... Maybe they've already come and gone with the bloodroot and just had a small enough crop that I never found one?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Minor Park and the Blue

Ive walked miles today and seen all sorts of springtime, but the sun felt so good on my skin and I decided that I hadnt had enough. Back to Blue river road and South.

The park appeared to be buzy at first- before I realized that all the commotion in the parkinglot was all about the tennis courts. This trail was muddy and very slick. The river is way high and more turbid than I think Ive ever seen it. It rushed through the lowest level of trees and tore at the mucky bank. I stirred up some cricket frogs near the water.

I have read all about the morel mushrooms and have decided that the park was my best bet- It had the sandiest soil and the elms, pines and maples that Ive read about. I hiked all over the park. I examined every dead log and under every pine tree.

The ground is carpeted with yellow, white and purple violets and False rue anemone. There are also flowering trout lilies and toothwarts, though they arent as common. I even stumbled on a Dutchman's breeches. It was small and pathetic-looking, but it was indeed a flowering dicentra!

I went to the Martha Truman tributary and turned back. There is a lot of new trash in the river-

I turned back and took the higher terrace back to the truck. I found a small thicket of pears- they are blooming and the flowers were absolutly everywhere! I flipped through a pile of rusted metal that had been dimped off the road and discovered a few ringnecks and some cool beetles.
The sun sank until it was hidden behind the trees on the other bank of the river, but I swear I can still feel it. The smell of dusk came about and chased me out of the brush. No morels, but some cool photos.

I did manage to find s small patch of whatever kind of 'shrooms these are. They were very hidden and were each about 1" tall... not morels.

I would love to fine the Morel mushrooms, but have never found them before, but once in a lawn behind lakesideNC. I would love some tips or just some feedback explaining what Im doing wrong.
Ive been told that they like N and S facing hills the warm day after a good rain and prefer sandy soils under or in dead or dying trees. I read that they could often be found in the same spots as mayapples, but have looked through my fare share of those! Please leave a comment if you have any advice for me !


It was actually just an extention of my Morel/flower expedition to Blue River Glades. I was also interested in photographing the service berry up close.
Found an odd bugtrap of some sort at the entrance- dont know anything about it.

Squaw Weed covers large patches throughout the glades.

Blue River Glades

noonish- The ground is still soggy and I fear the trail will be slick. Ive come half to see what was in bloom and half to try my luck with the morels. Blue river road is a gorgeous display of redbuds, pears and even some service berry.
One of the first things I notice- at the base of the hill (the entrance of the trail)- is some kind of lavender-colored phlox. I knelt down to photograph the flower when I realized just how many there were. Amongst them was an odd one that I recognized, but could not identify- I examined one of the strange green plants- there were several around. At the bent top of one I discovered a yellow, droopy flower. It was bellwort!
I peaked over the bluff onto the glade. It is incredible green compared to two days ago, when the redbud was only budding and the service berry were in full bloom. I immediately identified some yellow-eyed grass and pucoons. There are only a few small redbud on the glade-they are on the rocky bluff and are each only a few feet tall. There are others that light-up the woods above the glade,- they are huge and impressive in full bloom.
Some cool little peewee-lookin birds flew over. There were three and they seemed to stick together. On the second glade, there is verbena blooming. I found four large plants and a skimpy one. I wondered below the glades, too. There are acres of mayapples- which were only just popping up the day before yesterday. The poison ivy and virginia creeper are greening up.

This colourful tiger beetle was one of a handful that zipped about the bald spots on the glade... It is of a species that Ive never seen before (big deal!)he only allowed me to get within about four feet of 'em to take the photo before he 'poofed' into invisibilityGarlic Mustard is flowering on the hills above and below the glades.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Swope flowers

There is a north-facing hill across oldham from RPG- it can be accessed from shelter house #7, and hosts a huge amount of spring blooms. I found Spring Beauties, Toothwart, Trout lilly and Rue Anenomes in white and pink- the trilliums and mayapples are also up, though they have only buds. The service berry is in full-bloom and the redbud is close behind. The ferns and columbine are also up- on the limestone boulders.
I submitted the hill and found a pile of rocks. I approached the pile in hopes of finding a snake or skink to shoot, but found nothing that moved. Instead I found a mass of thick, strong web. I knew that the web belonged to a widow and looked around for her hammock.
The web of a black widow spider is made of the thickest, strongest individual strands I know to exist in the area. The strands are strung tight and feel unusually sticky when they are touched. The web is massive and without any noticable pattern or organization. They can be large- up to several feet in diameter, but tend to be fairly dense. In every web-usually on the edge- there is a small, much more dense part that leads to a small, open cocoon for the spider. The spider hides in the cocoon, which is set in or under a rock or pile of leaves that give her shade, and darts out when she senses any of the right vibrations from her web.
I left the web alone and found her little home under a rock. She was cradled by the hammock-like structure and shot out when I moved the rock above her. Once she was on the rock, I lifted her with a stick and set her away from the web to take some photos.. I found an even younger one, too!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Firemans Mem. Fossils

The bluffs behind the firemans Memorial on 87th+BlueRiver are loaded with all sorts of exciting fossils and minerals. It is frequently visited and used by rock clubs and for geology fieldtrips by UMKC. It is warm and very windy>
I immediately found a handful of ringnecks and two large skinks with orange faces- only got a glimpse of them, and I dont know what kind they'd be.

Branched coral, a small chrinoid stem and some kind of Brachiopod.
Exposed are many differesnt layers of limestones, shale and flint. The majority of fossils are in the eroded porion on top of the first level. Fossils are usually found clean and sitting on top of the grey dirt. More common ones include chrinoid segments, bryozoa, horn corals and mullusks.
Today I ventured further that I have ever before and discovered a huge chrinoid!Its about 2in long and the diameter of a penny!
(left) a small fossil found in shale- only a few mm in diameter.

The shale here is pretty interesting. It is often easy to peel away from other layers and will leave pathes of brown and blue crystals. If your luck enough, enen a smaller fossil will show its face! Ive heard many rumors that trilobites have been found in Swope's shale. Most of the rumors have been about a certain deopsite a hill of two south of BlueRiver glades that I have yet to check out.
(right) a small unknown fossil and pyrite on fragment of shale.
(below)When a shell is fossilized holding seawater, the minerals inside will form crystals and as long as the shell is airtight the crystals will survive until they are exposed.

I collected a small handful of rocks an a large one for the garden- left that small pyrite shale thing, though I knew when I reviewed the photos that I shoulda nabbed it! ...put the fossils in the truck and ventured back to those puddles below the rocks. The screams of a few species of frogs and toads make it sound like there is an army on the other side of the puddle in the cattails. Before I ever got to the origin of the noise, I started find pairs of American toads mating. I bothered one blob of toad for a few minutes and returned to the frog hunt.

I must have looked goofy crawling through the mud off of 87th!

I saw a single small, dark frog- couldnt catch it. I identified the calls from the toads and chorus frogs, but didnt recognise two others.