Magpie Nests and Jack-o-Lanterns, 01-21-20

My Birthday Week: Day Three. I got up around 6:00 and was out the door around 7:00 am when my friend and fellow-naturalist Roxanne came to pick me up so we could go to the Johnson-Springview Park in Rocklin.  We hadn’t been there since last summer when we had a very successful gall hunt there.  We wanted to see what kind of lichen and fungi it might have to show us.

After breakfast, we finally got to the park around 8:30 or 9:00 am. As we walked around, we were surprised that there wasn’t a lot of lichen on the mostly now-bare trees, and not a whole lot of fungus either.  There’s a mixed oak forest there, and the back half of the park abuts Antelope Creek, so we figured we’d see more than we did.  Oddly enough, most of the mushrooms were found in the manicured lawn area at the front of the park. 

We found several stands of Jack-o-Lantern mushrooms which are deep orange in color with their gills running down the stipe (stem of the ‘shroom).  Their gills glow green in the dark, and they’re very poisonous mushrooms so they kind of live up to their spooky Halloween name. 

Jack-o-Lantern Mushroom, Omphalotus olearius

We also found some Bird’s Nest Fungus, which I always find fascinating no matter how often I find them.  I think just the fact that fungus grows to look like a nest with eggs in it is fascinating to me.

Birds Nest Fungus, Common Bird’s Nest Fungus, Crucibulum laeve. The little eggs are the “peridioles” and are filled with spores. Attached to each peridiole is a fine sticky thread called a “funicular cord”.The cords are coiled up inside a tiny “purse” on the back of the peridioles. When rain hits the nest, the peridioles are launched out and the cord is yanked out of its purse. The end of the cord is sticky and attaches to whatever the peridioles fly past (tree limbs, leaf litter, etc.)…and then the spores are released.

Two other finds of the day were seeing a pair of Yellow-Billed Magpies (which are endemic to the Central Valley of California; found here and nowhere else on earth) building their domed nest in the top of a tree.  As we looked around, we saw several other nests already near completion in nearby trees.  Once the domed roof is completed over the nest, of course, you can’t see anything inside of it, so the hatchlings are always obscured from view. Still, it’s fun and interesting to watch the birds work.

Magpie Nest Video:
CLICK HERE for the full album of photos from today

The other odd thing we came across was a Mourning Cloak Butterfly.  Mourning Cloaks are interesting because they hatch out in the spring, go through a flight and mating period, estivate through the hot summer months – [estivation is kind of like hibernation, but occurs in the hot months instead of the cold months] — and then emerge for a second flight in the fall.  What was especially interesting about the one we found, which had tucked itself under a log, was that it looked like its entire body and most of the underside of its wing were covered in black long-haired mold. 

A live Mourning Cloak Butterfly, Nymphalis antiopa, covered in what I think is Black Hair Mold, Phycomyces blakesleeanus.

When I first extracted the butterfly from the log, I thought it was probably dead, but then it started moving its feet and twitching, and opening and closing its wings, and we realized it was somehow still alive. (!)  The mold was so dark that it even obscured the butterfly’s eyes, so, at first I thought the eyes were gone and the thing was blind.

We took several photos of it from different angles  in the hopes of later being able to identify the kind of mold that was infesting it. Then it got enough strength pulled together to fly away up into the trees where we lost sight of it.  I was surprised it was able to fly at all.  Doing some research after I got home, I think the mold might have been something in the Phycomyces genus, maybe Phycomyces blakesleeanus, but I’m not sure.

California Angelwing Katydid, Microcentrum californicum [eggs]

Oh, and we also found some Katydid eggs today!  That was a cool find. Roxanne spotted them.

We walked for about 3 hours and then headed back to Sacramento.

Species List:

  1. Acorn Woodpecker, Melanerpes formicivorus [heard]
  2. American Plantain, Plantago rugelii [large plantain with rounded leaves]
  3. Beaver, American, Beaver, Castor canadensis [signs]
  4. Birds Nest Fungus, Common Bird’s Nest Fungus, Crucibulum laeve
  5. Black Hair Mold, Phycomyces blakesleeanus
  6. Black Jelly Roll fungus, Exidia glandulosa
  7. Blue Oak, Quercus douglasii
  8. Blue Slime Mold, Badhamia utricularis
  9. California Angelwing Katydid, Microcentrum californicum [eggs]
  10. California Ground Squirrel, Otospermophilus beecheyi
  11. Cavalier Mushroom, Melanoleuca melaleuca
  12. Ceramic Parchment Crust Fungus, Xylobolus frustulatus [brown with gold edges]
  13. Dark-Winged Fungus Gnat, Bradysia sp. [larvae]
  14. Deer Shield Mushroom, Pluteus cervinus
  15. Eurasian Collared Dove, Streptopelia decaocto [heard]
  16. Fairy Inkcap, Trooping Crumble Cap, Coprinellus disseminates [pale, almost white inkcap mushroom]
  17. False Turkey Tail fungus, Stereum hirsutum
  18. Gem-Studded Puffball, Common Puffball, Lycoperdon perlatum
  19. Gold Dust Lichen, Chrysothrix candelaris
  20. Golden Shield Lichen, Xanthoria parietina
  21. Green Shield Lichen, Flavoparmelia caperata
  22. Hair Ice Fungus, Exidiopsis effuse [not sure of this ID]
  23. Hoary Lichen, Hoary Rosette, Physcia aipolia
  24. Hooded Rosette Lichen, Physcia adscendens [hairs on the tips of the lobes]
  25. Hypoxylon Canker, Biscogniauxia atropunctata  [pathogen, white, on oak tree]
  26. Irregular Spindle Gall Wasp, Andricus chrysolepidicola [on Blue Oak]
  27. Jack-o-Lantern Mushroom, Omphalotus olearius
  28. Lyell’s Bristle-Moss, Orthotrichum lyellii [semi long panicles, dark with green ends]
  29. Meadow Slug, Badhamia utricularis  [short, fat, stubby slug]
  30. Mica Cap, Coprinellus micaceus [a kind of ink cap, pale tan cap]
  31. Miner’s Lettuce Claytonia perfoliata
  32. Mourning Cloak Butterfly, Nymphalis antiopa
  33. Mower’s Mushroom, Haymaker Mushroom, Panaeolus foenisecii
  34. Nematode, unidentified
  35. Oak Titmouse, Baeolophus inornatus
  36. Shrubby Sunburst Lichen Polycauliona candelaria
  37. Split Porecrust, Schizopora paradoxa
  38. Splitgill Fungus, Schizophyllum commune
  39. Spotted Trichia Slime Mold, Trichia botrytis
  40. Toothed Crust Fungus, Basidioradulum sp.
  41. White Parachute Marasmius, Marasmiellus candidus
  42. White Stubble Rosegill, Volvopluteus gloiocephalusi 
  43. Witches Butter, Tremella mesenterica
  44. Yellow Fieldcap, Bolbitius titubans
  45. Yellow Orb Sac Fungus, Orbilia sp.
  46. Yellow-Billed Magpie, Pica nuttalli
  47. ?? Fluffy fungus with gutation, Trichoderma sp.