Fungi, Frost and a Few Birds

I’m on a holiday break until January 2, 2017.  Today, I was up  at around 7:00 am.  It was 32° outside, and there was a heavy frost on the rental car; ice was even keeping the door shut.  I had a splitting headache but was getting a bit stir crazy, so I went over to the American River Bend Park to see what the river was looking like (in its high-water state) and to look for birds and fungi…  I got to see a little bit of everything, and walked for almost 4 hours.

CLICK HERE to see the photos.

When I got there, there was icy fog and frost still lingering around, and it was pretty frigid.  But as I walked, things warmed up and it was about 56° when I left the park.  Saw the usual mushrooms and jelly fungi, and a couple of nice-looking barometer earthstar (that “puffed” for me when I pinched it).

The water level in the river was still quite high; the “islands” I usually see on my walks there were completely submerged, and water had obliterated whatever shoreline there was.  The trail I walk is about 10 feet above the river, and usually I can see gravel, boulders and trees between the trail and the waterline.  Today, the water was right up against the wall of the shallow cliff the trail sits on top of…  The water was moving really quickly, too, which meant there weren’t many ducks or other birds trying to maneuver in it.  I did get to see some Common Goldeneye ducks diving in the shallows, but no birds out in the main part of the river.  I DID see a huge branch go floating by, though.

Among the other birds I saw were Acorn Woodpeckers, Northern Flickers, some Bewick’s Wrens, Scrub Jays, a male Belted Kingfisher, Black Phoebes, a few Yellow-Rumped Warblers, a tiny Hermit Thrush, and a very cooperative female Nutthall’s Woodpecker who let me take photos of her for about 5 minutes.

I still had the headache throughout the walk and by the end of it was actually feeling a little nauseated, so I quit and headed back home, getting there a little after 11:30 am.

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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.