On the Search for Fungus and Bugs…

I am still fighting this heinous cold-that-will-not-die.  This is what, the end of week three?  Yeah, it started around the 2nd and is still hanging on…  Sigh.  I got up about 7 o’clock but didn’t head out with the dog until around 8:30 am, so I had time for a hot shower, a little breakfast, and some journaling first.  We went out to the American River Bend Park again.  There still isn’t much in the way of fungus out there yet; it’s too dry.  But we did get to see two different Yellow Jacket queens overseeing the building of their new hives.  One was in the fallen stump of a tree, and another was in an old hole in the ground.  At the tree stump, the queen was sitting right above the “door” and she had two sentries watching the entrance so no interlopers could get in.  At the hole in the ground, the queen rushed inside just as I approached it, and then her soldiers came out to defend the place.  I didn’t hang around either spot for very long, but I did manage to get a little video of each one.

Here’s one of the wasp videos: http://youtu.be/uW5ndSpNgEI

And here’s the other one: http://youtu.be/FlUJAVBbJnw

We also came across a big Jerusalem Cricket sitting on the ground.  I was taking photos of it when two ladies came up to ask what I was doing.  I told them I was looking for bugs and fungus, and they kind of chuckled.  One of them had a little dog about Sergeant Margie’s size and while the dogs checked each other out, the ladies said they were from the local chapter of the California Native Plants Society.  They have entomologist-lead walks through the river park and around Folsom Lake every Friday, they said, and invited me to come along.  I had one of my business cards with me, and handed it to them and they both lit up.  “We know Tuleyome!  You folks do such good work!”  And they both said they knew Bob and Glen (some of our Board members who also serve the CNPS).  So, anyway, I’m hoping to be able to hook up with them again over the holidays and join them for some of their walks.  Small world, huh?  (When I got home, I looked up the Sacramento Valley chapter of the CNPS and joined up.  Tah-dah!  It’s kind of like a Christmas present to myself. )

…And a Pink Caterpillar…

The dog and I were out the door a little before 9:00 and we headed over to the WPA Rock Garden and duck pond for our walk.  Because we were out sort of “late” there were a lot of people in the garden (mostly folks getting their family photos taken for the holidays; a lot of “ugly sweaters”), but Sergeant Margie and I were generally able to skirt around them.  Everything in the garden was “dewy”, so I got quite a few shots of the water droplets on leaves and flowers.  I also came across a rose-colored caterpillar that I think is the caterpillar of a White-Blotched Herterocampa Moth (Heterocampa umbrata); very pretty.   At the duck pond I got some good photos of the duck, including one that had a definite “dog’s face” on its beak; I’ll add a picture of that in the album here.  We walked around for about 90 minutes and then headed home.

‘Shrooms, Bucks and Birds!

I slept in a little bit today and didn’t get up until about 7:30.  The dog and I were the out the door before 8:00 and headed over to the American River Bend Park for our walk.  I wanted to go there because I wanted to see if the rains from earlier in the week had awakened the fungi in the park yet.

There weren’t a lot of ‘shrooms out yet, but I did come across some large outcroppings of common “Honey Mushrooms”, and some Sulfur Shelf Fungus.  The best encounters during our walk, though, involved critters.  As we were walking along, I spotted a troop of does bouncing through the grass, and stopped to try to get some photos of them.  They were obscured by brush for the most part and out of range, so I was kind of frustrated by that… until I saw the huge buck following after them.  He walked right out into the open, about 20 feet from me, looked right at me, and took several steps in my direction.  He was sooo gorgeous!  I just stood still (and Sergeant Margie got real quiet and stood at my heels), and shot as many photos of him as I could while he was there.  I noticed that there was another doe a few feet behind him, and for a while it looked he couldn’t decide which direction he wanted to go in — after the harem of does, or back to the solitary one — and I took some video of him while he was deciding.  Finally, he turned away and walked off through the grass — with the solitary doe bouncing after him.  A few minutes later, I saw a prong-buck (one with just a single-point on his antlers; which meant he was less than 2 years old) walk by, heading in the same direction as the harem…

We also got to see a lot of jack rabbits, and watched a flock of Scrub Jays going after an Acorn Woodpecker who was stealing acorns from “their” tree.  And then I spotted a pair of Western Bluebirds; a little male and a female.  The male was showing the female a nest hole he’d found for her and she popped in and out checking it out.  They are such pretty little birds: this shock of brilliant blue with a peach-colored chest and shiny black eyes.  Too cute!

So, even though I didn’t get to see a lot of fungus, I did get to see a lot of lovely critters… and that made my morning!   The dog and I walked around the area for about 2 hours and then headed back to the car.

And he’s a short video of the buck: http://youtu.be/pgyT2314iRo