Trail Walkers Walk, 12-10-19

Today I spearheaded the first “guided trail walk” for the Effie Yeaw Nature Preserve. Rachael, the volunteer coordinator, is hoping to have a different guide each month, and use the walks to train the trail walkers while also sharing their knowledge and expertise with others in the group. 

Start Time: 7:30 am
Start Temperature: 44ºF
End Temperature: 49º F
Weather: Overcast, foggy
Total Hours in the field (includes travel time): 3
Miles Walked: 2
Number of Individual Species Noted Today: 46

Today’s group was small but therefore also easily manageable.  It was volunteers Pattie and Mike, Rachael, Mary M. (“The Other Mary”) and me.  The Other Mary brought me a bag of dried persimmon rounds which she’d picked form her own trees and dehydrated herself.  How nice!

Patti said she recognized my name and my photos from my posts to the Sacramento Region California Naturalists Facebook group page.  Both she and Mike are also “Star Trek” fans! And they both liked the new limited CBS series “Star Trek: Discovery” – especially the mycelial network and the Tardigrade (both of which have counterparts right now on Earth). 

            “…In real life, mycelium of belowground fungi connect plants and trees together, and have even been shown to communicate with each other. Mycelium can transport nutrients between different plants or trees, and real-life Paul Stamets has the called the real-life mycelial network ‘Earth’s natural internet’…” 

And the Tardigrade exists as microscopic creatures called “water bears” on the planet.  

Mike also expressed an appreciation for the book “The Hidden Life of Trees”, by Peter Wohlleben, which is one of my all-time favorites as well. So, needless to say, I took to Mike and Patti right away.  Hah!

As usually happens when I’m leading a walk (rather than walking on my own), I’m looking for specific things and talking a lot, so I didn’t get as many photos as I normally might on a walk like this one.  I was kind of disappointed in the fact that I’d forgotten to bring my cell phone with me, so I couldn’t get super-macro shots of the slime molds with my phone attachment.  That’ll teach me.

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos from today.

We did see quite a few species of birds including California Quail, Northern Flickers, and a Ruby-Crowned Kinglet among others.  And I was able to point out a few of the more obvious fungi like the Turkey Tail, False Turkey Tail, Mazegill, Splitgill, Horsehair Mushrooms and jelly fungi.  For me, the best finds, though, were the slime molds.  We found White Honeycomb, Wolf’s Milk and White-Gray Button Slime Molds, most of them on the underside of fallen logs and branches.

Pleated Ink Cap, Parasol Ink Cap, Parasola plicatilis. The “dust” that you see on the cap is actually the remnants of a universal veil that covered the whole mushroom when it was in the ground.

Along the trails we found little disks made of wood with sayings written on them like: “Be gentle with yourself”, “You’re beautiful”, and “Be-leaf in yourself”. We wondered if they were part of a group effort or done by an individual. 

Rachael had to leave after about 2 hours because she had a meeting to get to, and The Other Mary left around the same time because she was starting to ache from the walk, so Patti, Mike and I were left to our own exploring selves for the last hour. 

Everyone thanked me for leading the walk.  Rachael said she didn’t know that the wild turkeys we see weren’t natives.  As part of the initial portion of the walk I asked everyone what they could tell us about the turkeys, and the information shared wasn’t very detailed so I told them about the native species being hunted to extinction and the introduction of the Rio Grande and Merriam’s Wild Turkeys in the late 1890’s and early 1920’s.

Horsehair Mushroom, Gymnopus androsaceus
Russet Toughshank, the “Weed Mushroom”, Gymnopus dryophilus

Rachael asked if I would do a fungus walk in January, and Mike said the biggest take-away from the walk today was to “change your perspective”. He usually looks “up” seeking out birds and larger fauna; it had never occurred to him, he said, to look “down” at all of the tiny life right under his feet. Patti said that what I’m doing in my retirement and with my naturalist class graduates is a “great legacy” that may impact the world for years to come.  What a kind and generous thought.

As I said, we walked for about 3 hours and then I headed home. 

Species List:

  • Barometer Earthstar fungus, Astraeus hygrometricus
  • Bewick’s Wren, Thryomanes bewickii
  • Black Jelly Roll fungus, Exidia glandulosa
  • Brown Jelly Fungus, Jelly Leaf, Tremella foliacea
  • California Quail, Callipepla californica
  • Chinese Pistache Tree, Pistacia chinensis
  • Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus
  • Coral Slime Mold, White Honeycomb, Ceratiomyxa fruticulosa
  • European Starling, Sturnus vulgaris
  • False Turkey Tail fungus, Stereum hirsutum
  • False Turkey Tail fungus, Stereum ostrea
  • False Turkey Tail, Ocre Stereum, stereum ochraceoflavum
  • Golden Crowned Sparrow, Zonotrichia atricapilla
  • Great Blue Heron, Ardea herodias
  • Green Shield Lichen, Flavoparmelia caperata
  • Horsehair Mushroom, Gymnopus androsaceus
  • House Sparrow, Passer domesticus
  • Mallard duck, Anas platyrhynchos
  • Mazegill Fungus, Daedalea quercina
  • Meadow Mushroom, Agaricus campestris
  • Mine Fungus, Fibroporia vaillantii
  • Mower’s Mushroom, Haymaker Mushroom, Panaeolus foenisecii
  • Northern Flicker, Colaptes auratus
  • Nuttall’s Woodpecker, Picoides nuttallii
  • Oak Titmouse, Baeolophus inornatus
  • Oakmoss Lichen, Evernia prunastri
  • Ocre Spreading Tooth Fungus, Steccherinum ochraceum
  • Orb-Weaver spider, [web]
  • Pleated Ink Cap, Parasol Ink Cap, Parasola plicatilis
  • Puffball Fungus, Bovista californica [leaves tiny pallid to buff-colored scales over a dull-brown, papery endoperidium; spores released via a small, raised apical pore; gleba brown in age, elastic; subgleba and sterile base absent]
  • Red-Shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus
  • Rio Grande Wild Turkey, Meleagris gallopavo intermedia
  • Ruby-Crowned Kinglet, Regulus calendula
  • Russet Toughshank, the “Weed Mushroom”, Gymnopus dryophilus
  • Sheet-web spider, Family: Linyphiidae [web]
  • Split Gill Fungus, Schizophyllum sp.
  • Split Porecrust, Schizopora paradoxa
  • Spotted Towhee, Pipilo maculatus
  • Sulphur Shelf Fungus, Western Sulphur Shelf Fungus, Laetiporus gilbertsonii
  • Turkey Tail Fungus, Trametes versicolor
  • Turkey Vulture, Cathartes aura
  • White-Breasted Nuthatch, Sitta carolinensis
  • White-Crowned Sparrow, Zonotrichia leucophrys
  • White-Gray Button Slime Mold, Physarum leucopus [Spores pale violet-brown, distinctly warted, 8-10 µm diam. Plasmodium white, often tinted with blue, green, or yellow.]
  • Witches Butter Jelly Fungus, Tremella mesenterica
  • Wolf’s Milk Slime Mold, Lycogala epidendrum