Borrego Springs, CA

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Dead man’s finger

Today was one of those days filled with a variety of experiences.  I was up early to get ready to lead the last refuge tour to see cranes for the year.


Luckily, it was a good tour and we were able to observe 5 Mississippi sandhill cranes, and 8 greater sandhill cranes, along with an adult bald eagle.  A good day in my birding book.  It seems most of our normally sighted pairs have moved off to begin breeding activities.


Back at headquarters, more purple martins have moved in and are beginning to claim rights to the six gourds  that they’ll use for nesting.  They’re testing out various apartments to see which one suits each pair best. 

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These birds nest in colonies, and are very beneficial to man, as they catch many many insects on the wing; such as pesky mosquitoes.  Smile  I also enjoy their bubbly chattering as they careen about the skies.


Back at the rigs this afternoon, I decided to move the (so far unused) portable fire ring over to the cement slab that is beyond my site.  It had been located between two of the other sites.  In order for some of us to use it, we had to march through and sit in front of other’s sites.  Now, it’s in a location accessible to all without infringing on anyone’s front yard.  I’m not sure how this will go over with those two sites, but since they’re leaving soon, and I’ll be here for another two months, they’ll just have to deal with it.  I could say more about this situation, but I think I’ll hold my tongue for now.

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Since it was a rather balmy evening, we all decided to have an impromptu cookout.  One couple was gone for the evening, but the rest of us enjoyed cooking out and sharing tales.  (That’s my rig in the background behind Emma)  It’s been quite a while since I’ve enjoyed a campfire, and I’m looking forward to more of them during the rest of my stay here.  I do like cooking over an open fire.

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Just before I got the fire going, I took Emma for a walk and noticed a red fungus breaking through the forest floor (left).  As we walked a little further, the specimen on the right appeared.  After talking to Jay, I found out this fungus is called Dead man’s finger.  It has a very putrid smell, and I guess that’s what attracts all the insects to it.  One of those brightly colored but kind of yucky things in nature.  The one on the right is as big as your index finger.


I have tomorrow off, and need to do mundane chores for the week.  I’m thinking if the weather holds, Emma and I will go exploring on Monday.


Thanks for stopping by…. talk to you later,  Judy


  1. are you sure you didn't move that fire pit from my backyard to that spot? I had one just like it when we left home and now I'm wondering if it's still there, wonder woman that you are!

    did you know that Parsons, KS proclaims itself to be the purple martin capitol of the world, or something? they used to anywho when we were going back and forth w/ our sons for college days...

    don't forget to make bread and pie fillings for dessert sometimes at the campfires!!!

  2. Hmmm...looks like another appendage other then a finger..hehe

    There's nothing better then cooking a meal over an open fire!! Enjoy!!

  3. I have to agree with Merikay that by the looks of things, the "finger" is misnamed. ;)

    Good job on moving the fire pit--it certainly sounds more fair to let everyone have access to it. I didn't realize that purple martins nested in gourds. I always learn something when I read your blog.

  4. Wow! You are such a bundle of knowledge, even beyond birds! I was surprised to read about Dead Man's Finger - we have those too here in our yard in Florida. I had never seen them before. OMG they smell horrible. Our little chihuahua, 3 lb. Buddy, loves to eat them when they pop up. We dig them out of the ground and throw them away. He hasn't gotten sick from them, but he has had very, very bad breath.

  5. I'm thinking you are experiencing some early signs of Spring over there in your neck of the woods.

  6. Camp fires are the best!!! Dead man's finger, huh? I've never seen one, thanks for sharing.

  7. I, too, love martens! They always look like they are having such a good time. I love gourd birdhouses and gave away my collection when I was getting rid of all my "stuff." that was hard.

    Ew! those dead man's fingers are creepy!

  8. One of my best memories of my Dad was his love for the purple martins--he had two condos and was so careful to take the condos down every year and clean out the old nests, store them for the winter and put the condos back up in the spring.

  9. Those purple martins are beautiful. And they eat mosquitoes!!!!! I love them. And the finger definitely needs to be renamed.

    But I am curious as to the rest of the story about the fire ring. Sure glad you moved it.

  10. You ladies and your imagination! I never for a minute would have thought of, or even suggested another appendage. Besides, it's too big for a toe!

  11. Purple Martens are one of my favorite birds, thanks for the pictures!
    I had a laugh at the comments about the "finger" hahaha. Great imaginations there!

    I too am curious about the fire ring story. Hmm...

    Love campfires myself!


  12. I like the gourds as nesting houses. I've seen it before and had forgotten about it. Gourds are plentiful around here, so perhaps I should try a few in the yard. I'm actually in a migration area, very close to the summer habitat for Purple Martins, so I mighn't get them, but perhaps something else.

    And that "finger".... I think it's probably good that words escape me!! chuckle!

  13. Very interesting fungus. We love fires too, but these old people have been keeping us pretty busy. We did sneak in one campfire, but we love them too. Really love the s'mores that go along with campfires.

  14. Looks like I was loving campfires a little too much in that last comment.... :)

  15. We have a campfire everyplace we camp..if a burn ban isn't in effect!..that's what makes camping FUN!!
    McGuyver made a 2 level condo with at least 20 "apartments" for the Martins here...it's still in the top of the garage, never used....And all we really had to do is get a couple gourds and drill a hole..go figure...

  16. Ok, about 35 years ago, a friend was getting married and we "girls" gave her a bachelorette party. We were to bring something suggestive, but it had to be organic in nature. I ran across the "Dead Man's Finger" in the woods, and potted it up in a clay pot like a potted plant! At the time, I had no idea what it was! Thanks for the "fungus among us" lesson today and for the memory!

  17. Oh how I miss my campfires. Once we head back home I hoping for lots of them. Dead man's finger?? I'm with some of the other posters looks strangely like a different appendage. :)

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