Friday, June 13, 2014
I always come here when leading my mid to late May field trips that launch from NettieBay Lodge. Everyone revels in the ambiance of the wide open spaces filled with stunted pines and overtopped by Big Sky. The rich reverb song of the "jack pine warbler" rings out, and many other avian musicians contribute to the soundscape. The guttural croaks of common ravens. Ethereal whistles created by courting upland sandpipers drift down from the ether. The lovely flutelike melodies of hermit thrushes - yes, they breed in this stuff! - issue from the pines. Sparrows cannot be missed: song, vesper, field, clay-colored, Lincoln's, chipping, and from older tracts of pines, white-throated sparrows whistle their mournful tunes.
Not a bad place to be, if you are into birds.
Lichens are composites of two separate organisms - an alga (or cyanobacteria) and a fungus. Collectively they join in a mutualistic relationship and live together as one. The lichen's name is derived from the fungal species, which in this case (if I am correct with the identification) is Cladonia cristatella. The algal component is Trebouxia erici. The common name stems from the brilliant red fruiting bodies, or apothecia, which resemble the red caps that British troops wore during the American Revolution.
Not too many lichens can lay claim to this level of showiness.