The stinkhorn fungi have made their reappearance in my front yard after the recent rains. There were quite a few more this time, popping up in the flower bed and lawn under the maple tree. This time I was able to photograph them immediately while they were intact, and thanks to the MushroomExpert.com site, I can now identify these definitely as Mutinus caninus. The spores from that first one must have been spread by the insects it attracts and the fungi have now colonized the area. Herb called my attention to these structures that look like a small egg partially buried in the ground. These are the first indication of the fruiting body of the fungi and form the covering for the tip.
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This morning I woke to a soft rain. I was downstairs fixing myself a cup of tea, looking out the kitchen window when I spotted a creature of reddish color under one of our cedars in the back yard. At first, without my glasses on, I took it to be our neighborhood ginger cat making his rounds, but a second glance told me it was too large for a cat. Could it be one of our resident foxes? Herb told me he has seen one out in the open (maybe the same individual?) on a few occasions during the day; one time he was lying in the shade in our neighbor's front yard on a very hot day.
I ran upstairs to get my glasses, and sure enough, it was a fox. He started to scratch himself furiously, turning around from time to time to bite whatever was tormenting him. After a good while of doing this, he lay down, but rest eluded him and he kept turning from side to side to scratch incessantly. I took some photos and sat down to read the morning paper.
After a while I got up to make my second cup of tea, and looked out again. A doe had come out of the woods to browse under our trees. I got the camera out again. The fox sat up to look at the deer, perhaps calculating whether he had a chance at it, and the deer looked back at the fox at the precise moment I snapped this shot.
After that glance, the deer went back to browsing unconcerned and left after a few minutes. The fox stayed under the tree for a bit longer and then he too left. Altogether he must have been in our back yard for some forty minutes or so. I don't think I've ever had a chance to observe a fox this closely for this long before.