I had a flying squirrel buzz over my shoulder at speed a few years back in Pemberton. I was surprised as I'd lived in the area my whole life and never saw one. If it didn't land on a tree close by where I was able to see it myself I'd have thought it to be a bat.
Prior to visiting Smithville this afternoon, I stopped at Whispering Pines to check on that bumpy little fungus. It had begun to break down.
As mentioned earlier, it was sitting on its own by the trailhead. The wood in the bottom left corner is the edge of the parking area.
I wonder if this is a form of "earthball" of the genus Scleroderma? Looking through pictures of fungi online in the last few days, that seemed to be the closest match. Scleroderma cepa is listed among common fungi of NJ on the New Jersey Mycological Association website. That's my totally uninformed guess.
I haven't gotten to the best part. While I was checking out the fungus, another vehicle arrived. I was joined by two other folks, one of them who turned out to be none other than stiltzkin! The number of NJPB members who I've had the honor of meeting instantly doubled! We had a brief, impromptu, two member plus one guest meeting, then I headed to Mount Holly.
It was very nice to meet you in person! On the way back from Chatsworth I remembered your post, so a friend and I stopped to check out the mystery fungi. When I saw someone right at the trailhead taking a picture, I thought: what are the chances? Great timing.
My guess would be just as uninformed as yours, but I think Scleroderma looks about right. It became much clearer that it is a puffball/earthball fungus after it popped open.
There are more of them nearby along the trail. They blend in very well with pebbles.
And here is a similar one - probably a different species - that I saw maybe an hour before we met up, in the Parker Preserve.