Wednesday, May 5, 2010

May is Morel Month

Yesterday when I parked my Prius at the Chippewa State Trail, I noticed a man who seemed to be looking for something on the ground in a young stand of aspen across the road from the recently burned patch of prairie.  Curious, I waited until he returned to his pickup.  I went over and asked:  what were you looking for?

Morels, he said.  I'm a morel hunter and May is morel month. We found some big ones when we were laying cable along the road the other day.  Now's the time to look for them.

Maybe we'll get lucky and see some today, I said.

But I spent most of my walk on the trail, looking up - and the Blue-gray Gnatcatchers buzzing in the treetops picking at insects in the new leaf canopy.   No morels there (or along the trail).  But I did get some great looks at the gnatcatchers.

This morning, after spotting our first of the year (FOY) Baltimore Oriole and Rose-breasted Grosbeak at our bird feeders, Tom and I joined our friends Andrea, Rocco and Skylar for a ride across the river through Weaver Dunes in Kellogg, MN.  Rocco wanted to see turtles.

While I didn't expect to see any reptiles - it was too cold and windy - I was confident that with 5 pairs of eyes, we'd surely see something to make the trip worthwhile.

And we did.

Great looks at Lark Sparrows, bluebirds and Chipping Sparrows.

But it was when we stopped to look at Hoary Puccoon, that Rocco made my day.

He had wandered ahead of us, along the shoulder of the dirt road through the dunes.   Then he stopped and bent over, close to the ground.

Hey, he shouted back at us - look at this!  A mushroom!

Morchella -  morel 
Finding our first morel was unexpected.  But, we quickly learned, once you find one, finding several more is relatively easy.

If you want to learn more about Wisconsin mushrooms, take a look at the Wisconsin Mycological Society website.

If you want to eat some - head over to Muscoda, Wisconsin for the 38th Annual Morel Mushroom Festival (May 15 and 16).

Before calling it a wrap, we stopped off for an ice cream cone at the creamery in downtown Nelson, Wisconsin (population 395).   As we got back into the van, Andrea spotted a FOY Gray Catbird, sitting on a bare branch - right in front of us. 

Ten minutes later, we pulled in to our driveway, and we spotted another FOY - a Ruby-throated Hummingbird at our feeders.

A perfect end to a great day along the Lower Chippewa River.

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