Vultures and Shrooms at the River Bend Park, 11-20-16

I got out of bed around 7:30 am and headed over to the American River Bend Park for a walk, I’d gone mainly to see if there were any signs of fungi out yet – and there were a few – but mostly I got photos of Turkey vultures who all decided to sit up in the trees over the trail and “vulch” at people. Hah!  The coyote brush is still in bloom all along the river trail, and I also found several snowberry plants with their fat white berries just waiting for the birds to eat them.

CLICK HERE to see the full album of photos.

Among the fungi I found Deer Shield, Inky Cap, Haymaker and Veined Parasol mushrooms, and both yellow and brown jelly fungus, among others.  It needs to get a lot wetter before we really see a profusion of ‘shrooms here.

Along the way, I saw some Golden-Crowned Sparrows trying to eat the see clusters off of the old start thistle, but the stems were water-logged and wouldn’t support the birds’ weight. So the birds would fly up the side of the plant, and the plant would bend over to the ground, and they’d eat the seeds off the ground.  Smart little things.

I also saw a Great Blue Heron steal something that looked like a salmon skeleton from a Turkey Vulture on the bank across the river from where I was standing.  I tried to get some video, but I can’t control the iris on this camera when it’s recording – it picks a setting by itself – so the heron was “washed out”… but the Vulture turned out fine.  Weird.  And frustrating.

On the river I saw several Common Mergansers (all females), a female Goldeneye, some Mallards, and a few pairs of Bufflehead ducks.  They’re very shy, though, and wouldn’t let me get too close. I also saw a Double-Crested Cormorant sharing his rock with a couple of Ring-Billed Gulls.

I walked for about 3 ½ hours and then headed home, stopping at BelAir along the way to get some chili for lunch.  It just sounded good…

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Mary K. Hanson is a breast cancer survivor who, at age 61, took coursework to become a Certified California Naturalist. The author of “The Chubby Woman’s Walkabout”™ blog, Ms. Hanson has also written nature-based feature articles published in regional newspapers, authored over ten books, including her "Cool Stuff Along the American" series of guide books, and has had her photographs featured in books, articles, calendars, on the American River Parkway Foundation’s Instagram stream, and even the White House blog. This year Ms. Hanson is helping to launch and teach a new Certified California Naturalist course through Tuleyome, in partnership with the University of California and the Woodland Library, so members of the public can themselves become certified as naturalists in the state. All of the photos seen on her website were taken by Ms. Hanson herself (unless noted otherwise) with moderate- to low-end photographic equipment more easily affordable to the everyday nature enthusiast. She also occasionally leads photo-walks through the American River Bend Park for the public and is sometimes available for public speaking.