My Fungus Article and Photos

Nice to see my photos and article on fungi and lichen show up in the Daily Democrat newspaper!

Aaannnnd, it just showed up in the Lake County News.


4-Hour Walk at the River Bend Park

The dogs got me up around 6:30, so I did my morning ablutions stuff and headed out to the American River Bend Park for my walk.  It was super foggy in Sacramento, but when I crossed the Watt Avenue off-ramp, it was almost clear.  Tried out my new hiking/walking shoes, and they seemed to be able to survive the dirt and the wet of the park.  There still isn’t a lot of fungi out yet, but I got some photos of deer and several birds… and it was cool (about 48º) and quiet there; a nice walking environment.  There was a young mule deer who seemed to be following me around; it seemed like every time I looked up, he was within sight.  I finally just walked out toward him to get some close up photos and he let me get to within about 10 feet of him before he turned to walk away.  He had an “ow-ee” over one eyes and a gash in his neck behind his left ear (along with a considerable amount of hair raked off); I wonder if he got them fighting with the more mature bucks over females…  Or if maybe some big predator (coyote or mountain lion) had tried to get a hold of him…

At another point, I encountered a doe with her yearling, and it looked like the doe had the mumps; her cheeks were totally pooched out!  I’d never seen that before.  It was like she ate a bunch of bees or something and they stung her.  I wonder if she just had a big mouthful of food or if she was having an allergic reaction to something.  It looked soooo odd!

I looked the swollen face thing up online when I got home, and several different things can cause it – and none of them are good news for the deer.  “Bottle Jaw” is caused by flukes or worms in the deer’s system (that may be able to be cured with a de-wormer); the lumps are soft and movable.  “Lumpy Jaw” is caused by an infection in the jaw; tissue fills with puss and distends.  Then there’s “Food Impaction” which occurs when the deer eats something that cuts the inside of the cheek open.  Rather than healing up, the wound remains open and fills with more food debris as the deer eats until the whole mass forms a hard ball in the deer’s face that it can’t get out or swallow…  I was concerned, so I sent some of the photos to the park rangers via email and told them where I’d seen the deer.  I hope they can help her.

As I was walking, I also came across a tree where the Acorn Woodpeckers had drilled two nesting holes, and I watched as they flew back and forth from that tree to their “granary tree” (an old scag they’d plugged full of acorns), pulling acorns out of the granary tree and dumping them into the nest holes.  Hah!  They’re so funny to watch.  I tried to get video of them dumping the acorns into the nest-holes, but every time I lifted my camera up to zoom in on the front of the hole, the birds spooked and flew off.  Fussy little birds!  I did manage to get a photo of one of the bird’s butts hanging out of the tree, though.

I walked for almost 4 hours today (and my back and joints felt it!)  But it was a good walk!

Mostly Sulphur Shelf and Bucks

Saturday, around 11 o’clock I headed over to the American River Bend Park for a walk.  I didn’t take the dog with me because I wasn’t sure if we’d get rained on or not and I didn’t want him getting wet and cold…  Everything was pretty soaked there, but it didn’t rain while I was walking.  Saw lots and lots of Sulphur Shelf Fungus; it seemed to be everywhere.  And a lot of teeny-tiny mushrooms popping up all over the place, but nothing big yet.  At least the spores a waking up with the rains.  When I was photographing some of the mushrooms, I looked up to find a young spike bull Mule Deer sitting in the grass in front of me.  He’d situated himself behind a treefall, so people walking or driving by on the paved path couldn’t see him unless they walked out to where I was fungus-hunting.  He let me get to within about 15 feet of him before he stood up and walked off.  I also saw a Red-Shouldered Hawk and got a few photos of him while he shook his feathers out, some woodpeckers, and a group of Turkey Vultures sitting on the river bank.  Heading back to the car, I came across another young spike bull (with slightly longer spikes than the first one)… and there were two big adult bucks with him.  All of them were following after a pair of does, who were ignoring them.  They’re such handsome things.  One of them came right out to the edge of the road where I was standing taking pictures, but then high-tailed it out of there when a truck drove up behind me.  I stepped out the driver’s way and he grinned when he passed me: it’s a nature-lover-connection-thing… I walked for almost three hours (which is pretty much my limit), and then headed home.



And here’s a very short video of two of the more mature bucks:

Fall Colors and Lots of Birds

It was partly cloudy, a little breezy and chilly outside (about 46º); nice for walking… We went over to William Land Park and walked through the WPA Rock Garden and around the two larger duck ponds.  I was surprised to see that some of the shrubs and roses bushes in the garden are still blooming, and while in there I came across a caterpillar I’d never seen before.  I looked it up when I got home.  I was a Red-Humped Caterpillar Moth caterpillar (Schizura concinna).  Apparently the little critters are considered “pests” because they can skeletonize Liquidambar trees, nut trees and cherry trees when they hatch and are really hungry; and they’re seemingly immune to a lot of different insecticides.   In the fall, the mature caterpillars are getting ready to shut down for the year.  They drop to the ground, spin cocoons around themselves, and then stay there (buried slightly underground or among debris) until the spring.  The moths are rather nondescript, and can lay up to 200 eggs.  The caterpillar I saw was sitting on a twig with its butt up in the air.  Apparently, this is a normal stance for them, and when disturbed they can spray attackers like a skunk!  Good thing I didn’t bother it, huh?

There was some fall color around the ponds that was pretty, and we got to see all the usual suspects like Scrub Jays, Grayleg Geese, Chinese Geese, Canada and Cackling Geese, Mallard ducks and all the weird hybrid ducks around the water.  There was a Great Egret in one of the ponds.  I didn’t see it at first because it was hiding behind one of the fountains; then it peeked out and posed for me for a few minutes.  I also got shots of a Northern Flicker, and several shots of a small group of bird fighting over one of the sprinkler towers.  (It was still oozing water and they all wanted to drink from it.)  One of them was a red House Finch, and the others I think were a kind of Goldfinch with bright white-and-black bands on their wings and tails.    In the larger of the two ponds, we came across one pair of Wood Ducks (a male and a female).  Usually, the brightly colored males are very shy, but this guy let me get some close ups of him while his girlfriend watched…  The dog and I walked for about 2 hours and then headed back home.

Fog at the River Bend Park

I got up about 6:30 this morning and headed out with the dog to the American River Bend Park.  It was SUPER foggy all the way there, but luckily traffic was very light.  I’d gone looking for fungi, but didn’t see a lot.  It’s not really wet enough yet.  I did see some little blobbies of slime mold, jelly fungus, and leafy-looking moss.  There were also quite a few fog-laden spider webs that were pretty… and oddly enough I found a Pipevine Swallowtail caterpillar!  That was weird!  They’re usually seen around April, not NOVEMBER.  Man, was he confused!  Oh, and I did come across a whole swath of Barometer Earthstars in one area… along with a couple of Death Angel mushrooms.  As we were heading back to the car we saw three huge male Mule Deer with their full rack of antlers.  Soooo handsome!  They all seemed to be following after a single doe.  She must’ve been hot… but kind of stuck up.  She only let one of the boys anywhere near her…  The dog and I walked for about 3 hours and then headed back home.  The sun started to burn through the fog at the park just as we were getting ready to head out, but in Sacramento is was still completely overcast and foggy…