Mostly Deer and Fungi

"Spike Buck". © Copyright 2016, Mary K. Hanson. All rights reserved.
“Spike Buck”. © Copyright 2016, Mary K. Hanson. All rights reserved.

I slept in a little bit and got up about 7:15 am.  I put a load of laundry into the washer and then got myself ready to head out to the American River Bend Park to look for fungus.  I was nice outside: in the 50’s (my favorite temperature to walk in).

As I was driving in to find a parking spot that was close to the nature trails, the first thing I see is two huge mule deer bucks standing between the trees, preening and doing their morning stretches.  One was a 3-pointer and the other was a 4-pointer.  I was the only person in that part of the park at the moment, so I stopped on the side of the paved path and watched them for about 10 minutes.  Such gorgeous boys!  I saw other younger bucks and some does further along my walk.

Where the trail goes along the river I was disgusted to see a lot of trash dumped around the rocks where I usually see birds resting in the river.  No birds were on the rocks today, but there was a round cooler, bottles and garbage everywhere.  Some humans are such pigs…  I took photos and sent them to the rangers at the park.

I did see birds elsewhere along the trail, of course, including some Turkey Vultures, Western Bluebirds, and a handsome Red-Shouldered Hawk.

I also found some buckeye chestnuts that were starting to plant themselves in the ground and already had their first set of new leaves staring to show.  When the trees are “newborn”, then stems and leaves pink and reddish-purple… and it’s at this stage that they’re the most poisonous.  Even though the mule deer have something of a natural immunity to the poison in the chestnuts, they don’t eat them when they’re at this stage.

Along the way, I found quite a few different kinds of mushrooms and fungi: Haymaker, Purple Core, Ink Cap, Sweetbread and Red Thread mushrooms; black, yellow and brown jelly fungi; some small samples of slime molds; False Turkey Tail, Polypore, and Split Gill fungi; and some young puffball fungi.  The biggest surprise though was coming across an area where there were literally thousands of large Palomino Cup fungi littering the ground.  These kind of fungi usually don’t wake up until there’s a hard frost and then they show themselves for a short while.  I’d found one or two in previous years, so this huge crop was kind of startling.  Some of the cups were bigger than my fist.  They start out in a tight cup shape and then expand and flatten out as they age.  Some were rich blonde color, and others (younger ones) were pale peachy-blond.  The majority of them were still as the “cupped” stage and filled with rain water… so there were gnats and other small insects milling around them, especially when the clouds broke up and the sunlight was reaching the forest floor.  I took loads of photos of them, and a short video showing how many there were in that one area.  I always wonder, when I come across stuff like this, if other people had found the same thing and found it as fascinating as I did (or did they even know what they were looking at)…

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I walked for 3½ hours and then headed back home.

Nature Picture Challenge 3/7: Jack-in-the-Pulpit

© Copyright 2016, Mary K. Hanson. All rights reserved.
© Copyright 2016, Mary K. Hanson. All rights reserved.

Nature picture challenge: 3/7 post a photo every day for one week, and invite a new person each day. This is the inner workings of a large Jack-in-the-Pulpit flower. At the base of the long dark purple spadex you can see “hairy”-like things and then a rounded bulge below that. The hairs are a natural “insect trap” that hold small insects down in the gullet of the flower to assist in pollination; and below the hairs are the “male” part of the flower. Deeper down in the flower is the female part of the flower that, when fertilized, grow into seeds. After the hood of the Jack-in-the-Pulpit flower dies off, the female part is exposed — and goes to seed. The seeds start off green and then turn scarlet. Cool. huh?  Today I will challenge and choose Natalie Carrier.