Vacation Day 13: The American River Bend Park

DAY 13 OF MY VACATION.  Up at 7:30 this morning. The sky was totally overcast all day and temperatures were in the 50’s and 60’s…and we’re supposed to have rain on and off for about a week now.  I hope this bodes well for the rest of the fall/winter seasons: lots of rain to soak in, feed the plants, rivers and streams…and wake up all of those fungi spores.

Because of the morning traffic, the 30 minute drive to the American River Bend Park took a little over an hour and I arrived there just a few minutes after 9:00 am.  It was overcast and sprinkling all the while I was there, but I had remembered to bring an umbrella so the wet wasn’t an issue… in fact, the weather had kept away a lot of people, so it was super-quiet at the park, and you could hear every bird-peep and leaf-rustle. I love it when it’s like that.

CLICK HERE to see the full album of photos.

At one point along the trail, I could see “something with white lines on it” in the river, so I trained my camera on it and zoomed in.  It was a Great Blue Heron fishing near the shore. I hurried up the trail, hoping all the while that it didn’t catch sight of my and fly off.  But it was really very cooperative, and gave me a few different angles from which to photograph it.  As I was taking pictures of the heron, two little Killdeer and a Spotted Sandpiper all flew up on the rocks around the heron, so I was able to get some shots of them, too.  Of course, they’re so tiny and I was such a distance from them that I wasn’t able to get much detail in the photos, but still… It’s always fun to spot wildlife.

Across from where the heron was, there was a kind of sandbar-type “island” in the middle of the river, and I saw two deer walking along the shore of it, munching on riverside plants.  At that part of the river, they’re able to wade across pretty easily – even the yearlings – because the water isn’t terribly deep (even though it is very fast moving.)

In another area, I saw something bright and convoluted sitting on top of a chunk of an oak tree that had recently been felled.  As I approached it, I realized it was some Sulphur Shelf Fungus in its early stages.  I was kind of surprised to see growing out of such freshly cut wood.  Wow, some spores work FAST!  I posted a photo of one specimen of the fungus on Facebook through my cell phone, and Monica posted in return: “Ha! I would scrape this off, but you take a picture if it. That’s my definition of Naturalist.” Hahahahahaha!  In other areas, I also came across some first-of-the-season mushrooms, some large puffball fungi, and a handful of Earth Stars.  I tried to get the bellies on the Earth Star fungi to “puff” for me, but their spores were too wet and just sat there in a brown mass.

I had gone to the park not expecting to see much of anything – just to get outside — so even though I didn’t get a whole lot of photos, I was pleased with what I had – and I liked the exercise.  Walking in the rain in the forest is always nice – even when my shoes get soaked and my old feet start to complain.  I was out there for about 3 hours and headed back to the car.

Posted by

Mary K. Hanson is an author, nature photographer and Certified California Naturalist living with terminal cancer.