An Overcast Day at the Preserve, 02-28-19

Date: Thursday, 02-28-19
Time: 7:30 am to 10:30 am
Location: Effie Yeaw Nature Center, 2850 San Lorenzo Way, Carmichael, CA 95608
Habitat: Oak Woodland and riparian boundary
Weather: Overcast, 43° to 46°

Narrative: I headed out to the Effie Yeaw Nature Preserve for my trail walking right after I fed the dog his breakfast. I arrived about 7:30 am and it was 43° at the river. The first thing I saw when I got into the preserve was a Red-Shouldered Hawk just sitting on the lawn. It hadn’t caught anything (that I could see) and stood there, looking around for a short while, so I was able to get some photos and a video snippet of it before it flew off into the trees.

CLICK HERE for the album of photos.

After going down the wooden steps onto the Bluff Trail, I caught sight of a Western Gray Squirrel running along the trail with a mouth full of grass and twigs, so I followed it… and found where it was constructing its “drey” (squirrel nest). Dreys are different from other squirrel nests because they’re formed on the outside of a tree or cavity and built where several branches come together. ((If the squirrel’s nest is inside a tree or cavity, it’s called a “den”.)) If it continues to build there, walkers should be able to get some good views of the squirrel and its babies.

Lots of deer were out, including several small herds of does and their yearling fawns. I hung around one group for a while just watching a doe grooming her fawn. They’re so tender with their babies; it’s so relaxing to watch them. I also came across a couple of bucks, into two younger ones who were sparring for a little while. One or two of the does seem to be showing their pregnancies already. ((The gestation period is 7 months long so around 203 days.))

At one point along the trail, I saw two odd shapes in the top of a bare-branched tree. Because the sky was overcast, looking up into the branches everything was backlit, so it took a while for me to figure out what I was looking at: a pair of Wood Ducks (a male and female) looking for a place to nest.

I also came across more fungi today than I did on my walk with my naturalist student the other day. Puffball fungus, mushrooms, Elfin Saddles, and three different kinds of jelly fungus, including the nicest specimen of Witches Butter I’ve ever seen. I found a nice specimen of Trametes betulina, a kind of fungus that looks like Turkey Tail fungus (Trametes versicolor), but it has gills! It’s sometimes called the Multicolored Gilled Polypore or Mazegill. This is the first time I’ve seen it live and in such wonderful color. (I usually see it in its later stages when it’s just a bunch of hard weird gills.) Very cool.

Because it was early and overcast and a weekday, I didn’t see a lot of people, but had short interactions with those I did see: got to talk to one lady about Black-Tailed Jackrabbits and another about jelly fungi.

I walked for about 3 hours and headed back home.

Species List:

1. Acorn Woodpecker, Melanerpes formicivorus
2. Bewick’s Wren, Thryomanes bewickii
3. Black Jelly Roll fungus, Exidia glandulosa
4. Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans
5. Brown Jelly Fungus, Tremella foliacea
6. California Buckeye, Aesculus californica
7. California Ground Squirrel, Otospermophilus beecheyi
8. California Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma californica
9. California Sycamore, Platanus racemosa
10. California Towhee, Melozone crissalis
11. Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus
12. Deer Shield Mushroom, Pluteus cervinus
13. Eastern Fox Squirrel, Sciurus niger
14. Elfin Saddle, Helvella lacunosa
15. European Starling, Sturnus vulgaris
16. False Turkey Tail, Stereum ostrea
17. Gilled Polypore, Mazegill, Trametes betulina
18. Golden-Crowned Sparrow, Zonotrichia atricapilla
19. Green Shield Lichen, Flavoparmelia caperata
20. House Wren, Troglodytes aedon
21. Lords and Ladies, Naked Boys, Arum italicum
22. Nutthall’s Woodpecker, Picoides nuttallii (heard only)
23. Oak Titmouse, Baeolophus inornatus
24. Puffball fungus, Paltry Puffball, Bovista plumbea
25. Red-Shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus
26. Rio Grande Turkey, Wild Turkey, Meleagris gallopavo intermedia
27. Rock-Shield Lichen, Xanthoparmelia lavicola
28. Spotted Towhee, Pipilo maculatus, (heard only)
29. Turkey Tail fungus, Trametes versicolor
30. Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
31. Wavy Leaf Soap Plant, Chlorogalum pomeridianum
32. Western Gray Squirrel, Sciurus griseus
33. White Alder, Alnus rhombifolia
34. White-Breasted Nuthatch, Sitta carolinensis
35. Witches Butter, Golden Jelly Fungus, Tremella mesenterica
36. Wood Duck, Aix sponsa
37. Yellow Field Mushroom, Egg Yolk Fungus, Bolbitius vitellinus
38.
Russet Toughshank mushroom, Oak Lover mushroom, Gymnopus dryophilus

Fungus Walk with a CalNat Student, 02-24-19

Date: Sunday, February 24, 2019
Time: 8:00 am to 12:00 pm PST
Location: American River Bend Park, 2300 Rod Beaudry Dr, Sacramento, CA 95827
Habitat: Oak Woodland, Riparian, along the American River
Weather: 43° to 53°, overcast but not raining

Narrative: I’d scheduled a fungus walk at the American River Bend Park for my naturalist students with the understanding that even if no one wanted to come along, I’d still go on it myself. Students are allowed to use these extemporaneous walks I do (if they come along) as a substitute for a missed class or a missed field trip. The weather was chilly, but there was no rain.  I was joined by one of my male students, David D., who had never been to the park before – so it was all a new experience to him.

There weren’t as many different fungi out today as I was hoping there might be, but we did get to see some interesting specimens. We also saw some deer, several different species of birds, and got to see the early pipevine and manroot plants just starting to show themselves and bud out. David had fun climbing trees to get the photos he wanted, and was able to get quite a few really good close-ups with his cell phone.

We walked for about 4 hours before heading home.

CLICK HERE for the album of photos.

Species List:

1. Acorn Woodpecker, Melanerpes formicivorus
2. Belted Kingfisher, Megaceryle alcyon
3. Bewick’s Wren, Thryomanes bewickii
4. Black Jelly Roll fungus, Exidia glandulosa
5. Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans
6. Black-Tailed Jackrabbit, Lepus californicus
7. Brown Jelly Fungus, Tremella foliacea
8. California Black Walnut, Juglans californica
9. California Buckeye, Aesculus californica
10. California Pipevine, Dutchman’s Pipe, Aristolochia californica
11. California Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma californica
12. Canada Geese, Branta canadensis
13. Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus
14. Common Goldeneye, Bucephala clangula
15. Crust Fungus, Phlebia sp.
16. Crust Fungus, Stereum complicatum
17. Deer Shield Mushroom, Pluteus cervinus
18. Destroying Angel, Amanita ocreata
19. Dryad’s Saddle polypore fungus, Polyporus squamosus
20. Eastern Fox Squirrel, Sciurus niger
21. Elfin Saddle, False Morel, Helvella lacunosa
22. English Walnut, Juglans regia
23. False Turkey-Tail Fungus, Stereum hirsutum
24. Fremont’s Cottonwood, Populus fremontii
25. Great Egret, Ardea alba
26. Green Shield Lichen, common, Greenshield, Flavoparmelia caperata
27. Hoary Shield Lichen, Hoary Rosette Lichen, Physcia biziana
28. House Wren, Troglodytes aedon
29. Interior Live Oak, Quercus wislizeni
30. Lace Lichen, Ramalina menziesii, California State Lichen
31. Lemmon’s Rockcress, Boechera lemmonii
32. Manroot Vine, Bigroot, Wild Cucumber, Marah fabaceus
33. Miner’s lettuce, Narrow leaved miner’s lettuce, Claytonia parviflora
34. Mower’s Mushroom, Haymaker Mushroom, Panaeolina foenisecii
35. Mugwort, Artemisia vulgaris
36. Northern Flicker, Colaptes auratus, red-shafted
37. Nutthall’s Woodpecker, Picoides nuttallii
38. Oak Titmouse, Baeolophus inornatus
39. Oyster Mushroom, Pleurotus ostreatus
40. Red-Shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus
41. Red-Tailed Hawk, Buteo jamaicensis
42. Red-Tipped Photinia, Photinia × fraseri
43. Sunburst Lichen, Xanthoria parietina
44. Tiny unspecified Marasmius sp. Mushroom
45. Turkey-Tail Fungus, Trametes versicolor
46. Unidentified Russula sp. mushroom
47. Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
48. Western Bluebird, Sialia mexicana
49. Western Redbud, Cercis occidentalis
50. Western Tussock Moth, Orgyia vetusta, cocoons, pupal case
51. White Horehound, Marrubium vulgare
52. White-Breasted Nuthatch, Sitta carolinensis
53. Witch’s Butter, Golden Jelly Fungus, Tremella mesenterica
54. Yellow Fieldcap, Egg-Yolk Mushroom, Bolbitius vitellinus

Naturalist Class #3, 02-22-19

The Certified California Naturalist class that I teach for Tuleyome in Woodland, CA was jam-packed with things today. First we had a great presentation by Jenny Papka and her crew from Native Bird Connections. They came in from the Bay area to do the presentation for us which included live birds: a Peregrine Falcon, a Swainson’s Hawk and a Eurasian Eagle Owl. The talk was punctuated with interesting and informative stories and lots of props such as sample wings, eggs, pellets and other materials.

CLICK HERE for the album of photos.

Then we had a break during which the students wrote down some of the species they aw during the field trips and shared their field journals.  Our super volunteer, Roxanne, had purchased cookies to share with the class so those were gobbled up during the breaks.

After the break our co-instructor Nate did a presentation on how to enter observations into iNaturalist online, and I did a short presentation on how to enter hours into the University’s volunteer portal. Then co-instructor Bill went over Chapter 2 (geology), and I did a short half-hour of species identification with the class.  That’s a lot to cram into 4 hours! I was hoping, again, to get an all-class photo taken, but there just wasn’t time for it. I think I’m going to have to do that at the very beginning of the next class while we still have all of the students “captive” for a while. Hah!

I have to say, I’m loving how helpful and supportive Bill, Nate and Roxanne are being with the class. They provide so much valuable input for the students. It’s a great collaborative effort.

Went to See the New Okapi at the Zoo, 02-21-19

I headed over to the Sacramento Zoo with the hopes of being able to see their new okapi. When I got there, I realized that the electronic membership pass I had to get into the zoo had not transferred from my old phone to the new one, so, I had to go see the membership department to get that resolved. I also got a printed pass just in case the fix for the electronic one fails again.

As I mentioned, I’d come mostly to see the new okapi – which look like a cross between a zebra and a giraffe. Only one was out in the enclosure, but, wow, what a beautiful weird-looking animal. The coat is amazing; smooth, glossy, brown here, striped there. It’s tongue is so long it can lick its own eyeball.

Thursdays are “bone day”, so all of the big cats had cow bones to gnaw on. Coconut the baby Snow Leopard was out with his mom, Misha, hoarding all the bones for himself and pouncing on his mom whenever she came near them. I could watch those leopards all day; they’re so gorgeous. While I was there, an English couple with their two small children came up. The dad was enamored with the big cats and kept taking photos and video with his phone. As if they knew he was interested, Coconut and Misha put on a show for him, running and jumping around, rolling on the ground, leaping from rock to rock.

I asked the couple if they knew coconut’s story, and they said no, so I told them all about him (how he had swimmer’s legs when he was a cub and couldn’t walk, his physical therapy, the operation he had on his eyelids, etc.) I think the dad videoed that, but I’m not sure. The mom said, “Thank you so much for that!”, when I was done. What was funny about the whole thing was that while I was talking, the parents were totally enthralled – and behind them their kids were totally bored. “Can we go see the giraffes now?” they kept saying. Hahahaha!

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

The lions had bones, too, but the big male was generous and let the female eat what she wanted to. He’s feeling amorous right now, so I was figuring that any second the kids at the zoo would get an eye-full. They didn’t get that from the lions, but they did see some of that from the River Otters. Horney little dude kept chasing the dark female all over the place, and then one or the other of them would dance-poop all over the place. At one point, the male went right up to the glass wall of their enclosure, and put his hands on the glass, glaring at us humans. The “do you people mind?! I’m trying to get busy here!” was so obvious on his face that it made me literally laugh out loud.

All of the chimpanzees were out and crowded into the sun-shiny parts of their enclosure, so it was easy to get photos of them. They’d just been given branches of leaves and piles of grass with veggies hidden in them, so everyone was munching away or digging through the grass looking for tidbits. The orangutans were also out, but one was lying in a hammock so you could only see his fuzzy shoulder, and the other one was snuggled in her blankets in a little cave. So, not as many cool photo ops there.

At the kangaroos’ exhibit, they were all in the sun, too, and while I was photographing them, two of them decided to lay down and stretch out in a warm spot and scratch their butts and bellies. Animals. They crack me up.

Around 11 o’clock, I stopped to get some lunch from the café and ended up with a plate of veggie nachos (no beef) and a Sobe water. Then I made another round past my favorite exhibits – and skipped the reptile house – before heading out.

I stopped briefly at the middle pond at William Land Park (across the street from the zoo) and took some photos of the ducks, a couple of cormorants and a Great Egret hanging around the pond. I got home around 1:00 pm

A Walk with My Naturalist Students, 02-18-19

Date: Monday, February 18, 2019
Time: 7:30 am to 11:30 am
Temperature: 31° to 53°
Weather: Sunny, clear, breezy, cool
Location: Effie Yeaw Nature Center, 2850 San Lorenzo Way, Carmichael, CA 95608
Lat/Log: 38.6174656, -121.3115716

Narrative:  This walk was an impromptu walk for the Tuleyome CalNat course which I led.  We had 16 people, along with my co-worker Nate, Eric Ross (a former Tuleyome naturalist graduate, who’s now working to become a docent at Effie Yeaw), Mary Messenger (a volunteer “trail walker” at Effie Yeaw) and about a dozen students. One of the students also brought along a friend to participate in the walk. It was good group.

The first thing we saw when we entered the preserve was a trio of Eastern Fox Squirrels doing a ménage à trois thing right out there in front of God and everybody. Everyone joked that during the walk we witnessed instances of fornication, urination, evacuation, and mastication. Hah!

We saw lots of different fungi, identified quite a few plants and trees, saw several species of birds, and saw a lot of Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, including does and several bucks (including a spike buck, split-prong buck with only one antler, and some 4- and 5-pointer bucks. We got to see one of the larger bucks performing the “Flehmen Sniff” while he followed after a female. CLICK HERE for an article I wrote about the bucks and the sniff. CLICK HERE for the full album of the photos I took today. (When I’m leading a hike, I take far fewer photos than when I’m walking alone, but I get more”people” shots in the mix.)

We walked for about 4 hours and covered about 2½ miles.

Species List:

  1. Acorn Woodpecker, Melanerpes formicivorus
  2. Audubon’s Warbler, Setophaga auduboni auduboni, Yellow-rumped Warbler, “Butter Butt”
  3. Barometer Earthstar fungus, Astraeus hygrometricus
  4. Bewick’s Wren, Thryomanes bewickii
  5. Black Jelly Roll fungus, Exidia glandulosa
  6. Blue Elderberry, Sambucus cerulea
  7. Blue Oak, Quercus douglasii
  8. Brown Jelly Fungus, Tremella sp.
  9. California King Snake, Lampropeltis getula californiae
  10. California Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma californica
  11. Canada Geese, Branta canadensis
  12. Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus
  13. Common Jelly Spot fungus, Dacrymyces stillatus
  14. Common Merganser, Mergus merganser, female
  15. Coyote, Canis latrans
  16. Crust fungus, Phlebia sp., Stereum sp.
  17. Eastern Fox Squirrel, Sciurus niger
  18. Dark-Eyed Junco (Oregon morph), Junco hyemalis
  19. Eastern Fox Squirrel, Sciurus niger
  20. Elfin Saddle, False Morel, Helvella lacunosa
  21. European Starling, Sturnus vulgaris
  22. False Turkey Tail fungus, Stereum ostrea
  23. Gall of the California Gall Wasp, Andricus quercuscalifornicus
  24. Gall of the Live Oak Wasp/Gallfly, Callirhytis quercuspomiformis
  25. Gold Dust Lichen, Chrysothrix sp.
  26. Golden-Crowned Sparrow, Zonotrichia atricapilla
  27. Green Shield Lichen, Flavoparmelia caperata
  28. Interior Live Oak, Quercus wislizeni
  29. Lace Lichen, Ramalina menziesii, California state lichen
  30. Lesser Goldfinch, Spinus psaltria
  31. London Planetree, Platanus × acerifolia
  32. Mallard, Anas platyrhynchos
  33. Mourning Dove, Zenaida macroura
  34. Mugwort, Artemisia vulgaris
  35. Nutthall’s Woodpecker (sound only), Picoides nuttallii
  36. Oak Titmouse, Baeolophus inornatus
  37. Oakmoss Lichen, Evernia prunastri
  38. Red-Shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus
  39. Rio Grande Wild Turkey, Meleagris gallopavo intermedia
  40. Rock Shield Lichen, Xanthoparmelia sp.
  41. Spider, unidentified
  42. Spotted Towhee, Pipilo maculatus
  43. Sunburst Lichen, Xanthoria sp.
  44. Turkey Tail fungus, Trametes versicolor
  45. Turkey Vulture, Cathartes aura
  46. Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
  47. Western Redbud, Cercis occidentalis
  48. Western Sycamore, Platanus racemosa
  49. White Alder, Alnus rhombifolia
  50. White Horehound, Marrubium vulgare

CalNat Class, Week 2, 02-15-18

The Winter 2019 Certified California Naturalist class I’m co-teaching for Tuleyome in Woodland, CA with Bill Grabert, Nate Lillge and wonderful volunteer (and former class graduate) Roxanne Moger,  is now in its second week, and we’ve got a great group of students.

This week students got to hear from Nancy Ullrey, Executive Director of the Cache Creek Conservancy nature preserve who talked about the preserve and what volunteer opportunities there are available to the students.

CLICK HERE for the album of photos.  I’ll keep adding to it was the weeks go by.

Today, the class Painted Lady butterfly caterpillars were getting ready to form their chrysalises, and one of the Polyphemus Moth cocoons was vibrating so much we thought for sure it was going to hatch. This class is full, but we have another class coming up in the summer (June through August). For more information see Tuleyome’s website. Space is limited to 25 adult students.

Some of the sponsors and donors who have already provided funding or in-kind donations for the 2019 naturalist program include: the Sacramento Zoo Conservation Fund, Adventure Publications, Backcountry Press, Blademate, Cachuma Press, Christina Mann, Douglas Toys, Eric Newman, Folkmanis Inc., Forest Origins, Grayl, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Kendall Hunt Publishing Company, Lifestraw by Vestergaard, MIT Press, Nalgene, Naturegraph Publishers, Nature’s Way, Oberon Design, R.W. Morse Company, Sakura of America, Sneed Collard III and Bucking Horse Books, The Experiment Publishing, The Fit Life, The Strong Foundation, Waterford Press, Wetsox, Woodlink and Wild Republic. #CalNat