The Coral Spot was New For Me, 01-10-19

I got up a little before 7 o’clock this morning and was out the door by 7:30 am to go to the American River Bend Park with friend and fellow naturalist, Roxanne. 

Start Time: 8:00 am
Start Temperature:
43º F
End Time:
1:30 pm
End Temperature:
48º F
Partly cloudy
Total Hours in the field (includes travel time):
6 hours
Kilometers Walked:

When we arrived at the park and were driving in, Roxanne spotted a very healthy looking coyote on the side of the road.  There was a woman walking along that same area, and rather than standing still so we could get photos of the coyote, she tried keeping pace with the car… and kept scaring the coyote. It ran up ahead of us and tried to hide behind a knoll, but once more the woman scared him out.  Eventually, he crossed the road in front of the car and then trotted off into the hills. I was able to get a few photos of him then, but by that time he was fairly distant from us.  I got a few shots, but could have gotten more, I think if that woman hadn’t (albeit unintentionally) interfered.

Coyote, Canis latrans

Past the biking intersection, we pulled off into the first turnout on the left and got out of the car to start scouting for fungi.  We didn’t have to go far.  Within a few feet of the car was a large stand of Honey Fungus at the base of a tree.  Around other trees we also found stands of Sulphur Tuft (a kind of poisonous mushroom)with a sulfur yellow tinge to it. [The crowded adnate gills of the Sulphur Tuft are initially sulfur yellow, becoming olive-green and progressively blackening as the spores ripen.]

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

Around here, we also came a fairly nice grouping of Bleeding Mycena, Mycena haematopus. I didn’t think to pull up and squeeze any of these guys, but there’s supposed to be a purple juice that comes out when the mushroom’s flesh is squeezed–especially in the base of the stem. 

Bleeding Mycena, Mycena haematopus

We followed a bachelor group of Wild Turkeys into a field on the opposite side of the road, and as we were getting photos of them, we noticed there were also several Turkey Vultures in the tree above them (and some other turkeys in the tree next to the vultures’ tree).  One of the vultures lifted its wings into the “heraldic pose” and another one did a wing-stretch for us that showed off its white underwing.  The turkeys were “strutting” and chasing one another, all a part of settling their hierarchy.

Turkey Vulture, Cathartes aura

We then started look diligently for more fungi, and while we were doing that we could hear Red-Shouldered Hawks yelling at each other from the trees.  I was able to get a few shots of one of them before he flew away.  

One of the first things that caught my eye were little pinks dots covering several leafless twigs and branches (which might have been Buckeye, but I was so enamored with the spots that I wasn’t paying attention to the substrate. Naughty bad.)  I took some establishing shots with my camera, then attached the macro lens to my cellphone to get a closer look at them.  I was surprised by what I saw:  little pale pink tufts amid brighter pink (almost red) forms that looked like raspberries.  They were gorgeous!

I thought, at first, that they were some form of slime mold, but after I got home, I did more research and reached out some of the folks in the Slime Mold Identification group on Facebook, and they directed me to a fungal plant pathogen called “Coral Spot”, Nectria cinnabarina.  It usually attacks broadleaf trees (including Buckeyes in California) and is made up of a complex of four distinct species.  The pale pink blobs are the asexual condial stage of the fungal complex (borne externally to the cells that produce them), and the raspberry blobs are the fertile ‘perfect’ stage.  (So, they go from the pale blobs to the rapsberries.)  Sooooo interesting. I’d never seen or heard of anything like them, so, this was a fun find.

We also found some green mold that we hadn’t seen before.  I researched it when I got home and asked some of my naturalist graduates for help with an ID, and settled on Green Trichoderma Mold, Trichoderma viride,  a fungus and a biofungicide.  It reproduces asexually through mitosis and is the anamorph of Hypocrea rufa, its teleomorph, which is the sexual reproductive stage of the fungus and produces a typical fungal fruiting body. The taxonomy of this mold has changed a LOT, so I’m not sure if this is the most currently accepted name. A closely related species, Trichoderma reesei, is used in the creation of “stonewashed jeans”.

Green Trichoderma Mold, Trichoderma viride

In that same area we found several different species of crust fungi, some nice polypores. Hair Mold, and some pretty, colorful lichens.  The Hair Mold, Phycomyces nitens , looks white when it’s fresh but if you look closer you can see its tiny yellow asexual sporangia that turn black when they go to spore. This mold is interesting because it’s also highly phototropic (its heads follow the direction of the sun as it moves across the sky. )

…Phycomyces was the second organism, after us, known to require a vitamin. …There are two main kinds of fruiting bodies, called macrophores and microphores, which differ in size, development and behavior. The spores disperse efficiently when they adhere to passing animals or are eaten by them…”

When we were done in that field, we crossed back toward where the car was park and found more Honey Fungus and polypores.

Then we drove further into the park toward the camping area, and I had Roxanne stop the car in the road when I spotted a huge Common Ink Cap Mushroom, Coprinopsis atramentaria, and some of its “children”.  It was the biggest specimen of that mushroom I’d ever seen.  Very photo worthy. 

Common Ink Cap Mushroom, Coprinopsis atramentaria

In that same field, I was also surprised to see lots and lots of Palomino Cup Fungus, Peziza repanda.  I’d never seen them in that particular field before, so it was fun to see them there.  Each one is a different shape depending on how it grows up through the grass, so I got dozens of photos of them.

Palomino Cup Fungus, Peziza repanda

Then we continued on to the camping area, and found some nice-looking Barometer Earthstars, Astraeus hygrometricus.  We also got views of the American River and could see a few bird species in and around the water including some Common Mergansers and Goldeneye ducks, a Double-Crested Cormorant, and a little Spotted Sandpiper(without its breeding spots).

We walked for almost five hours (!) and then headed home. 

Species List:

  1. Acorn Woodpecker, Melanerpes formicivorus [heard and saw lots]
  2. Artist’s Conk, Ganoderma brownie
  3. Audubon’s Warbler, Setophaga coronata auduboni
  4. Barometer Earthstar fungus, Astraeus hygrometricus
  5. Black Jelly Roll fungus, Exidia glandulosa
  6. Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans
  7. Bleeding Mycena, Mycena haematopus 
  8. Brown Jelly Fungus, Jelly Leaf, Tremella foliacea
  9. California Buckeye Chestnut, Aesculus californica
  10. California Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma californica
  11. Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus [scat]
  12. Common Goldeneye, Bucephala clangula
  13. Common Ink Cap Mushroom, Coprinopsis atramentaria
  14. Common Merganser, Mergus merganser
  15. Coral Spot [pathogen], Nectria cinnabarina  
  16. Coyote Brush, Baccharis pilularis
  17. Coyote, Canis latrans
  18. Double-Crested Cormorant, Phalacrocorax auratus
  19. Dryad’s Saddle, Hawk’s Wing, Polyporus squamosus
  20. Fairy Ring Mushroom, Scotch Bonnet, Marasmius oreades
  21. False Turkey Tail fungus, Stereum hirsutum
  22. False Turkey Tail fungus, Stereum ostrea
  23. Fool’s Funnel, Clitocybe rivulosa [white mushroom with funnel shaped stipe]
  24. Gem-Studded Puffball, Common Puffball, Lycoperdon perlatum
  25. Giraffe’s Spots Fungus, Peniophora albobadia
  26. Gold Dust Lichen, Chrysothrix candelaris
  27. Golden Shield Lichen, Xanthoria parietina
  28. Gray Veiled Amanita, Amanita porphyria [large gray/brown mushroom with white gills]
  29. Green Shield Lichen, Flavoparmelia caperata
  30. Green Trichoderma Mold, Trichoderma viride
  31. Hair Mold, Phycomyces nitens  
  32. Hoary Lichen, Hoary Rosette, Physcia aipolia
  33. Honey Fungus, Ringless Honey Fungus, Armarilla tabescens
  34. Honey Fungus, Armillaria mellea
  35. Horsehair Mushroom, Gymnopus androsaceus
  36. Interior Live Oak, Quercus wislizeni
  37. Jelly Spot Jelly Fungus, Dacrymyces chrysospermus
  38. Millipede, Gosodesmus claremontus [light, semi-flat backed]
  39. Millipede, Ptyoiulus impressus  [dark, rounded back]
  40. Nematode
  41. Netted crust fungi, Byssomerulius corium, a kind of resupinate fungus, lays flat on the substrate
  42. Northern Flicker, Colaptes auratus
  43. Nuttall’s Woodpecker, Picoides nuttallii
  44. Oak Titmouse, Baeolophus inornatus [glimpses]
  45. Oakmoss Lichen, Evernia prunastri
  46. Pacific Tree Frog, Chorus Frog, Pseudacris regilla [heard]
  47. Palomino Cup Fungus, Peziza repanda
  48. Pleated Ink Cap, Parasol Ink Cap, Parasola plicatilis
  49. Pleated Marasmius, Red-Thread Mushroom, Marasmius plicatulus
  50. Red-Shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus
  51. Rio Grande Wild Turkey, Meleagris gallopavo intermedia
  52. Shrubby Sunburst Lichen, Polycauliona candelaria
  53. Splitgill Fungus, Schizophyllum sp.
  54. Spotted Sandpiper, Actitis macularius
  55. Spotted Towhee, Pipilo maculatus [heard]
  56. Star Moss, Syntrichia ruralis
  57. Sulphur Tuft Fungus, Hypholoma fasciculare  [The crowded adnate gills of the Sulphur Tuft are initially sulphur yellow, becoming olive-green and progressively blackening as the spores ripen.]
  58. Sunburst Lichen, Xanthoria elegans
  59. Toothed Crust Fungus, Basidioradulum sp.
  60. Turkey Tail Fungus, Trametes versicolor
  61. Turkey Vulture, Cathartes aura
  62. Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
  63. Western Redbud, Cercis occidentalis
  64. White Alder, Alnus rhombifolia
  65. White-Breasted Nuthatch, Sitta carolinensis [heard]
  66. Witches Butter, Tremella mesenterica
  67. Yellow Fieldcap, Bolbitius titubans
  68. ?? Light gray bands on trees, lichen

    IDed after the original post
  69. Silky Pinkgill, Entoloma sericeum [dark brown mushroom with brown gills; gills start out grey, turn pink then brown]
  70. Common Cavalier, Melanoleuca polioleuca [grey/brown mushroom with white gills]