Every spring I get out the field guides for wildflowers, butterflies, dragonflies and fungi, along with the birdsong CD's, to review and relearn things I thought I knew well last year. Many things I can remember, a few more each year (subject to Senior Moments of course). But sometimes I get lucky on a walk at the Nature Preserve, and something I've never seen before pops up. Then I get out all my field books (we could start our own nature bookstore), turning pages looking for a photo that matches the one I took. Sometimes I just have to send my photo to one of my friends who specializes.
The Woodland Fern Garden at Creasey Mahan Nature Preserve is lovingly planted with native species and exotic examples of the same kind of plant in many instances. However, the deep mulch is not only favored by many fern species, but by fungi galore. Here's one poking through the wood chips with a bright red stalk, and yes, it does look like what you are thinking. I think this is the Elegant Stinkhorn, which is supposed to, well, stink. If it did, I failed to notice it today, and continued on my walk.
Here's another odd sighting. I looked in the fungus book, but my nephew suggested it might be a slime mold. Ewwww!
Eastern Towhees have a very distinctive song. I must have heard at least 15 of them challenging each other through the brush. Some day we should ask an expert to run a census on the Towhees. I think we have more at Creasey Mahan than any other place I go birding.
Despite many grassy areas, we have never had any Meadowlarks at the Nature Preserve. Tuesday as I made the rounds of the Bluebird nestboxes, I heard Meadowlarks in two separate meadows! Not only did I hear them, but heard and photographed one! Woo-Hoo! Life is good.