by Melanie and Jim
We decided to take a different path for our walk. Normally, we just go out the front or back door and take one of seven or eight possible routes for our walk. This time, we drove two miles for new scenery. This was one of the last times to see the colors and leaves this beautiful. Rain is forecast and will bring down the leaves faster. This new location proved to be a gorgeous setting with tall stately trees and brown, yellow, and orange colors. Near the end of our walk, we got very excited about some large animal tracks in the mud and sand. Feel free to add your own observations about what is going on in your backyard.
The large dark brown honey locust seed pods were scattered on the ground in many areas. The honey locust is related to the pea plant. The honey locust has a defensive shield of 4-6″ long thorns along the trunk. It is one of the seven trees you will probably never climb.
A number of these were in a sunny patch. I believe it is called Datura. Sometimes it is called Angel’s Trumpets and Jimsonweed. These seed pods are quite well protected. Thanks to fellow blogger The Novice Gardener for helping ID this thing. I thought it might be a Castor Bean. Here is a quote about toxicity. Don’t eat them.
All Datura plants contain tropane alkaloids such as scopolamine, hyoscyamine, and atropine, primarily in their seeds and flowers. Because of the presence of these substances, Datura has been used for centuries in some cultures as a poison and as a hallucinogen.
Many of these rose hips were on the ends of the branches in a patch of wild roses.
Trees in this woods are twisted and bent. Here are some common examples.
No walk would be complete without some regurgitated rodents. There were several different ones in this collection of pellets.
Near the end of our walk, we crossed a bridge over this stream. It goes by the name of Clear Creek. During the heavy rains of spring and early summer, this turns into a deep and flooding river which is anything but clear.
Investigating the sand and mud along the banks, we found several large animal tracks along with those of raccoon, possum, and birds. Reports in recent years include sightings and the shooting of mountain lion only a few miles from here in Iowa. Our interest was peaked when we saw these. Are you any good at animal identification using their tracks? We went home and studied to find out what could make these. See if you can ID it. Offer your thoughts in the comments section.