A Surprising Lack of Fungi, 12-27-19

Up at 6:00 am to get my dog Esteban fed and pottied and myself ready to go to Lake Solano Park with mt friend and fellow naturalist Roxanne. It was clear and 36°F outside when Roxanne and I left the house around 7:00 am. Before going to the park, we stopped at the Putah Creek Café in Winters for breakfast. 

Start Time: 8:30 am
Start Temperature: 40ºF
End Temperature: 49º F
Weather: Clear, sunny and cool with a slight breeze
Total Hours in the field (includes travel time): 6.5 hours
Kilometers Walked: 3
Number of Individual Species Noted Today: 54

We got to Lake Solano Park around 8:30 am, and it was about 40°F when we arrived; clear, crisp and a little breezy.  I  was worried the gates wouldn’t be open yet. (They used to open them at 9:00. I always thought it was stupid to restrict access to the park at 9:00, because right across the street is a campground, and it was ridiculous, in my mind, to make the people who had paid for camping to wait until 9 o’clock to access the park.) But the gates were open when Roxanne and I got there, and the apparently new signage said they open at 8:00 am now. 

I was hoping to see waterfowl and fungi at the park, and although we saw quite a few bird species, we didn’t see much in the way of fungi…or lichen for that matter.  I’d never noticed before that the park was nearly devoid of lichen on the trees, but it was very obvious today, and I wondered about it.  The park sits right alongside Putah Creek and includes a mix of oaks, pine trees, black walnut trees, alders, Box elders and sycamores. I’d supposed because of the variety of trees and the proximity to a water source, different kinds of lichen and fungi would be in abundance, but I was wrong.  We saw very little lichen, and less than a handful of fungi… And most of what we did find was on fallen sticks and limbs on the ground.

Pinwheel Mushroom, Tetrapyrgos nigripes

I wonder what is inhibiting the lichen and fungal growth there.  Is it TOO close to the water source? Is there contamination from the surrounding farms? Does the park rangers’ use of herbicides in the park kill the lichen and the mycelium?   

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

We were also hoping to see the resident Screech Owl.  Folks who had been to the park last week had posted photos of him, but he wasn’t visible today.  Maybe he was down inside his tree; it WAS kind of cold out there in the early hours and there was that little breeze that made the air feel colder than it was.

We DID get to see a lot of Bufflehead ducks and Common Goldeneyes, Great Egrets and Snowy Egrets and some Great Blue Herons, lots of funny Acorn Woodpeckers, and several pairs of Phainopeplas.  That’s the only bird whose general call I can do fairly well (it’s one note), so I was able to call out some of the males and got a few good photos of them.  They’re always fun to see; kind of “punk” looking.  And we heard and saw some California Quail. 

A juvenile male Phainopepla, Phainopepla nitens

We also came across some of the resident peafowl.  One young male, who hadn’t gotten his long trailing tail feathers in yet, was displaying in front of a female, oblivious to the fact that he had nuthin’ to show her.  She was not impressed and just walked away. And the Acorn Woodpeckers were all over the park, moving acorns back and forth between their granary trees.

Acorn Woodpecker, Melanerpes formicivorus , female

 As far as the fungi went, we found some oyster mushrooms on a couple of trees, some of the everyday Mower’s Mushrooms, and some Black Jelly Roll fungus… Along with the Black Jelly Roll, we saw something that I think was another kind of slime mold, maybe Comatricha nigra.  We found it on the end of a couple of different dead-fall branches, and on one of them it was adjacent to Black Jelly Roll fungus, Exidia glandulosa

Slime mold (Comatricha sp. )

There was also a tiny-tiny snail shell next to one outcropping that we could only see when I attached the macro lens to my cellphone.  That attachment is a boon when I’m researching slime molds and other minutia in the field, but I’d really like to get a powerful microscope (with a camera attachment) to see more of the details on these teeny things.

Oh, and speaking of slime molds I found a good resource for ID-ing them at the Eumycetozoan Project database.  Sometimes just being able to see photos of them in advance help me to more easily see them and identify them when I’m out in the field.            

Roxanne and I walked for about 4½ hours and then headed back to Sacramento.

Species List:

• Acorn Woodpecker, Melanerpes formicivorus
• American Wigeon, Anas americana
• Arundo, Giant Reed, Arundo donax
• Audubon’s Warbler, Setophaga coronata auduboni
• Belted Kingfisher, Megaceryle alcyon [heard]
• Black Comatricha Slime Mold, Comatricha nigra
• Black Jelly Roll fungus, Exidia glandulosa
• Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans
• Box Elder Tree, Acer negundo
• Broadleaf Cattail, Bullrush, Typha latifolia
• Broadleaf Mistletoe, Phoradendron macrophyllum
• Bryum Moss, Bryum capillare
• Bufflehead, Bucephala albeola
• Bushtit, American Bushtit, Psaltriparus minimus
• California Buckeye Chestnut, Aesculus californica
• California Quail, Callipepla californica
• California Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma californica
• Canada Goose, Branta canadensis
• Cliff Swallow, Petrochelidon pyrrhonota [nests]
• Common Crow, Corvus brachyrhynchos
• Common Goldeneye, Bucephala clangula
• Double-Crested Cormorant, Phalacrocorax auratus
• Gold Dust Lichen, Chrysothrix candelaris
• Golden Crowned Sparrow, Zonotrichia atricapilla
• Gray Pine, Pinus sabiniana
• Great Blue Heron, Ardea Herodias
• Great Egret, Ardea alba
• Greater Yellowlegs, Tringa melanoleuca
• Green Shield Lichen, Flavoparmelia caperata
• Himalayan Blackberry, Rubus armeniacus
• Hoary Lichen, Hoary Rosette, Physcia aipolia
• Hooded Merganser, Lophodytes cucullatus
• Indian Peafowl, Pavo cristatus
• Mower’s Mushroom, Haymaker Mushroom, Panaeolus foenisecii
• Northern Flicker, Colaptes auratus [heard]
• Northern Mockingbird, Mimus polyglottos
• Nuttall’s Woodpecker, Picoides nuttallii [heard]
• Oak Titmouse, Baeolophus inornatus
• Oyster Mushroom, Pleurotus ostreatus
• Phainopepla, Phainopepla nitens
• Pied-Billed Grebe, Podilymbus podiceps
• Pinwheel Mushroom, Tetrapyrgos nigripes
• Red-Shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus
• Red-Tailed Hawk, Buteo jamaicensis
• Red-Winged Blackbird, Agelaius phoeniceus
• Ruby-Crowned Kinglet, Regulus calendula
• Slime mold (maybe Lamproderma arcyrioides or Lamproderma scintillans)
• Snowy Egret, Egretta thula
• Song Sparrow, Melospiza melodia
• Spotted Towhee, Pipilo maculatus
• Toyon, Heteromeles arbutifolia
• Tule, Common Tule, Schoenoplectus acutus
• Western Gray Squirrel, Sciurus griseus
• White Alder, Alnus rhombifolia
• White-Breasted Nuthatch, Sitta carolinensis