Fungi and Critters at the River Bend Park on Saturday

Brown Jelly Fungus. © Copyright 2016, Mary K. Hanson. All rights reserved.
Brown Jelly Fungus. © Copyright 2016, Mary K. Hanson. All rights reserved.

I got up around 7:00 this morning and headed over to the American River Bend Park for my walk.  Rain was threatening and it was cold, but I wanted to see if the fungi had started to wake up there yet.  With a week’s worth of rain, I figured something should be showing itself by now.  And I wasn’t disappointed.

Although the full array of fungi weren’t out yet, I did come across some really beautiful specimens of jelly fungus and my favorite “Purple Core” mushrooms (a kind of Blewit), along with other mushrooms, lichens, mosses, and some polypore fungi.  I also came across a kind of ink cap mushroom I hadn’t seen before: the Pleated Inkcap (Parasola plicatilis), a kind of decomposer.  So that was cool.

At one point, I stopped on the trail to get a photo and this little Chihuahua on one of those retractile leashes came up and started yapping at me.  His owner, an older lady who walking with a female friend, reeled him in and said, “Stop barking.  She’s trying that a picture of that… yellow… stuff.”  And I got the opportunity to do my naturalist thing, telling the lady it was a kind of jelly fungus, from the genus Tremella, called “Witch’s Butter” and it was 60% water.  She ooo’ed a little bit and said, “My husband just thought it was a mushroom.”  Mare: 1, Hubby: 0.  Hah!

The big buckeye chestnuts woke up with the rains, too, and I found several of them that were sending out their long tap roots looking for a place to grow.

Along the river bank, I also got to see a variety of birds: Robins, Turkey Vultures (some posing on the top of a tree), Starlings in their breeding plumage, Acorn Woodpeckers, Goldeneye Ducks, Canada geese,  a Spotted Sandpiper (without its spots), a Greater Yellowlegs, an alder tree full of tiny Lesser Goldfinches, and a Belted Kingfisher.  At one spot I also saw a Great Blue Heron and a small Green Heron fishing in the shallows, and a Great Egret trying to challenge a Turkey Vulture for a tidbit of leftover salmon.  (I got a little video of that encounter.) Took lots of photos.

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I got so “involved” with my photo-taking, by the way, that I lost track of time and ended up walking for about 4 hours.  That’s really beyond my limit and with the cold and damp, my bones were really aching by the time I got back to the car.  Just as I got in and closed the door, the rain started.  Good timing!

I headed home, and collapsed with the dogs.  Took some Aleve, had a sammich, and napped for about an hour, then worked for a bit on my journaling and my second American River Book.