Napa Trip Day One: My friend and fellow naturalist, Roxanne and I, took Highway 113, and stopped in Davis for a little breakfast (breakfast sammich and coffee) and then we stayed pretty much on Highway 128 through Winters, past the Monticello Dam and around Lake Berryessa to the city of Angwin. At a market across the street from Pacific Union College, we met with some of my other naturalist class graduates: Pam, Patty, Elaine, and Deborah (who was the one who organized the group and hosted us at her home). It was so great to see them all again and to spend the day with them out in nature.
Just a short drive down the road from the market we went to the Pacific Union College Forest. According to the college website:
“The forested lands of Pacific Union College were once the winter camp of the Wappo tribe of California Indians, who enjoyed a bountiful supply of acorns. In 1843 the land became part of a Mexican land grant to George Yount. After the Mexican-American war, settlers used the redwoods to build homes and make grape stakes for vineyards.
Lumber was the primary industry on Howell Mountain until Edwin Angwin built his resort hotel in 1883. PUC purchased Angwin’s resort in 1909. Since then, the forest has supported the mission of the college by providing lumber for classroom buildings and residence halls, firewood for heat, and recreation in the ‘back 40’. In the 1950s, the biology faculty began to enrich student learning by studying native trees, shrubs, and wildlife.
Today the PUC Demonstration and Experimental Forest is protected by a conservation easement in partnership with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CalFire) and the Land Trust of Napa County. As such, it will always remain forest and provide learning opportunities for PUC students as well as 35 miles of recreational trails—for mountain biking, hiking, horseback riding—for students, college employees, and community members. Home to a nesting pair of Northern Spotted Owls, the rare Napa False Indigo, and some of the easternmost Coastal Redwood trees, the rich biodiversity of the PUC forest makes is especially valuable to conservationists and researchers. Our forest truly sets PUC apart and makes Angwin a unique and special place to live, learn, and grow.”
It was very chilly and breezy when we got to the forest, so we were all pretty much bundled up for the whole walk but that didn’t hamper our enthusiasm or exploration.
CLICK HERE for the full album of today’s photos.
Because of the part of the trail system we were on, we didn’t see a lot of fungi, but the lichens were everywhere and we also found some insects and a tiny, beautiful California Slender Salamander (Batrachoseps attenuates). These little guys are nearly-endemic to northern California and breathe through their skin (so we were careful not to handle it).The one we found was snuggled down into a hole under a log and wrapped around a stick. It’s hard to describe how small they are; most people mistake them for little worms…
According to Wikipedia: “…From May to October, aestivation is the norm for this species. Unlike other members of its genus, egg-laying occurs quite early, as soon as December in the southern part of its range. Oviposition is thought to occur primarily in the tunnels of other creatures, but clusters have commonly been found on moist surfaces beneath bark, rocks, or other types of forest detritus. Clutches contain approximately five to twenty individual eggs, but five to ten different females may use the exact oviposition site; in any case, hatching occurs around March or April, somewhat later in the extreme northern part of the range.”
Such neat little dudes.
As I mentioned, we saw a lot of lichen there that we don’t get to see in the valley. I’d been looking all over for some “Toy Soldier” and “Lipstick” lichen in Sacramento, and just wasn’t finding it anywhere. They’re both lichens that stand straight up and have red “lips” at the end of their stalks. There in the PUC forest, I found several specimens of both… and was surprised by how small they are. In books, you see photos of them and they look as big as your fingers, but they’re really quite tiny.
Along with those two, I also got to see live for the first time specimens of Beaded Tube Lichen, FishboneBeard Lichen, Crabseye Lichen, Speckled Greenshield, Farinose Cartilage Lichen, Mealy Pixie Cups and others.
We also found some great specimens of Woolly Birdsnest Fungus, which unlike the Common Birdsnests we see here, are taller and covered in fine hairs.
And we got to see some Candlesnuff Fungus, also called Carbon Antlers. These were very unobtrusive-looking little “antlers” that were stickling straight up from the ground around a burl. When Deb touched them, they spewed frost-looking smoky clouds of spores all around them. [[I was so busy watching Deb flick the antlers and video the spores, that I forgot to take photos myslef! D’oh! So, I hope she shares her video with everyone.]]
Here’s a little bit of a write upon it from Wikipedia: “Specimens found earlier in the season, in spring, may be covered completely in asexual spores (conidia), which manifests itself as a white to grayish powdery deposit. Later in the season, mature ascocarps are charcoal-black, and have minute pimple-like bumps called perithecia on the surface. These are minute rounded spore bearing structures with tiny holes, or ostioles, for the release of sexual spores (ascospores).”
So, what we were seeing was the release of the asexual spores. How fascinating is that?! The fungus has two ways of reproducing: asexually and sexually. Nature tries everything.
As for mushrooms, there weren’t a whole lot on the part of the trail we traveled, but we did find a few specimens of ones like Cowboy’s Handkerchief, Milky Caps and Slippery Jacks. (Who names these things? Hah!)
I figured we walked from about 9:30 am to 2:00 pm, taking a break once for snacks. I hadn’t carried any food into the woods with me (it was all sitting in the back of the car). I wasn’t really hungry at all but Elaine shared her tea with me, and Deb gave me part of her PB&J sandwich which I thought was super-sweet of them.
I liked Elaine’s idea of taking hot tea out into the forest with you. Seems very “Downton Abbey” to me…except that I’d have to carry the tea myself instead of having servants carrying it and setting it up for me – along with petit fours and cucumber sandwiches – further up the trail. How fun would THAT be! I need to organize something like that sometime… (Where’s my Publishers Clearinghouse money!?)
I’d very much like to go to the PUC forest again sometime, and maybe attack some of the other trails. There’s supposed to be an area where there are young Redwood trees, and wetter more riparian habitat. It’s just that lo-o-o-o-n-g drive back and forth. The gals said, though, that the hotel in Winters is finally finished and that’s kind of at the halfway point between here and Napa, so that might help.
After our walk, Elaine, Pam and Patty all went back to their respective abodes, but Roxanne and I did an overnight visit at Deb’s place. Her house is very cozy and lovely, filled with art and craftwork, some of it done by her and her mom. Her mother does pottery, so there were example of her work in the plates, bowls and trays used throughout the house. And Deb does really incredible work with gourds. You can see some of them here.
The first thing we did when we got to Deb’s was sit around the kitchen table with our cellphones and cameras, and piles of field guides, and tried to make a list of everything we’d see that day. It was so much fun being surrounded by people who get as excited about identifying a “new-to-me” lichen as I do, pouring through the books, comparing photos and notes. I loved it! These ladies are so “my tribe”. Hah!
Species List For Both Days:
- Acorn Woodpecker, Melanerpes formicivorus
- American Robin, Turdus migratorius
- Arundo, Giant Reed, Arundo donax
- Bay Laurel Tree, Laurus nobilis
- Beaded Tube Lichen, Hypogymnia apinnata
- Big-headed Ground Beetle, Scarites subterraneus [black, shiny, large mandibles] ??
- Black Cobweb Spider, Steatoda capensis
- Black Jelly Roll fungus, Exidia glandulosa
- Brewer’s Blackbird, Euphagus cyanocephalus
- Bright Cobblestone Lichen, Acarospora socialis [bright yellow, on rocks]
- Bufflehead Duck, Bucephala albeola
- California Black Oak, Quercus kelloggii
- California Pipevine, Dutchman’s Pipe, Aristolochia californica
- California Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma californica
- California Slender Salamander, Batrachoseps attenuates
- Canada Goose, Branta canadensis
- Candlesnuff Fungus, Carbon Antlers, Xylaria hypoxylon [upright, branched, white with a layer of spores; spores release at a touch]
- Canyon Live Oak, Quercus chrysolepis
- Chamise, Adenostoma fasciculatum
- Cinder Lichen, Aspicilia cinerea
- Coastal Woodfern, Dryopteris arguta [pointed leaves, two rows of spore sites]
- Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus
- Common Crow, Corvus brachyrhynchos
- Common Gold Cobblestone Lichen, Pleopsidium flavum [bright yellow]
- Common Gray Disk Fungus, Mollisia olivascens
- Common Jelly Spot fungus, Dacrymyces stillatus
- Common Merganser, Mergus merganser
- Conifer Mazegill, Gloeophyllum sepiarium
- Cowboys Handkerchief, Waxy Cap Mushroom, Hygrophorus eburneus
- Coyote Brush, Baccharis pilularis
- Crabseye Lichen, Ochrolechia subpallescens [creamy colored lichen with white-rimmed pale orange/pink apothecia on trees]
- Crampball Fungus, Daldinia concentrica
- Dark-Winged Fungus Gnat, Bradysia sp.
- Dendroalsia Moss, Dendroalsia abietina [long curling moss on trees]
- Double-Crested Cormorant, Phalacrocorax auratus
- Douglas Fir Tree, Pseudotsuga menziesii
- Dusky Tile Lichen, Lecidea Lichen, Lecidea fuscoatra [black rimmed apothecia on rocks]
- Ear-leaf Lichen, Normandina pulchella [green leaf-like on rocks]
- Eastern Fox Squirrel, Sciurus niger
- Farinose Cartilage Lichen, Ramalina farinacea [like Oakmoss but very thin branches]
- Fishbone Beard Lichen, Usnea filipendula [hairy eyeballs]
- Fluffy Dust Lichen, Pacific Fluffy Dust Lichen, Lepraria pacifica
- Fremont’s Cottonwood, Populus fremontii
- Fringed Wrinkle Lichen, Tuckermanopsis americana [pale green, brown fringes, on trees]
- Globular Springtail, Ptenothrix marmorata
- Goldback Fern, Pentagramma triangularis
- Gray lungwort, Lobaria hallii [gray to green, with soredia on surface]
- Gray Pine, Pinus sabiniana
- Great Blue Heron, Ardea Herodias
- Great Egret, Ardea alba
- Green Shield Lichen, Flavoparmelia caperata
- Green Trichoderma Mold, Trichoderma viride
- Herre’s Ragged Lichen, Platismatia herrei
- Hidden Goldspeck Lichen, Candelariella aurella [small, scattered, yellow, on rocks]
- House Finch, Haemorhous mexicanus
- Ink Lichen, Placynthium nigrum [pitch black, fine grained]
- Interior Live Oak, Quercus wislizeni
- Lace Lichen, Ramalina menziesii
- Lipstick Powderhorn, Cladonia macilenta
- Lung Lichen, Lobaria anthraspis
- Mealy Pixie Cup, Cladonia chlorophaea
- Milky Cap, Hemimycena hirsute [tiny white mushrooms with distant gills]
- Mistletoe, American Mistletoe, Big Leaf Mistletoe, Phoradendron leucarpum
- Mistletoe Gall, caused byMistletoe haustorium growing on a tree
- Mourning Cloak Butterfly, Nymphalis antiopa
- Mourning Dove, Zenaida macroura
- Non-biting Midges, Family: Chironomidae
- Northern Flicker, Colaptes auratus
- Oakmoss Lichen, Evernia prunastri
- Oleander Aphid, Aphis nerii
- Orange Bonnet Mushroom, Mycena acicula
- Pacific Madrone Tree, Arbutus menziesii
- Pigeon, Domestic Pigeon, Columba livia domestica
- Pin-cushion Sunburst Lichen, Polycauliona polycarpa
- Pink Elongated Springtail, Podura sp.
- Pink Honeysuckle, California Honeysuckle, Lonicera hispidula
- Ponderosa Pine, Pinus ponderosa
- Poor Man’s Slippery Jack, Suillus fuscotomentosus [sort of looks like a bolete]
- Powderhorn Lichen, Common Powderhorn, Cladonia coniocraea
- Powdery Sunburst Lichen, Xanthoria ulophyllodes [yellow, leafy, rare on rocks but does sometimes appear on them]
- Red-Shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus [heard]
- Red-Tailed Hawk, Buteo jamaicensis
- Red-Winged Blackbird, Agelaius phoeniceus
- Rove Beetle, Quedius sp. [red-orange] ??
- Ruby-Crowned Kinglet, Regulus calendula
- Scaly Rustgill Mushroom, Gymnopilus sapineus
- Shield Lichen Parmelia sulcata [gray foliose lichen on trees]
- Sidewalk Firedot Lichen, Xanthocarpia feracissima [bright orange, on rocks]
- Silky Piggyback Mushrooms, Asterophora parasitica
- Slime Mold, Carnival Candy Slime Mold, Arcyria denudata
- Slime Mold, Honeycomb Coral Slime Mold, Ceratiomyxa fruticulosa
- Slime Mold, Insect Egg Slime Mold, Badhamia sp. [early stages of plasmodium]
- Slime Mold, Spotted Trichia Slime Mold, Trichia botrytis
- Soaproot, Amole, Chlorogalum pomeridianum ssp. pomeridianum
- Speckled Greenshield, Flavopunctelia flaventior
- Stonewall Rim Lichen, Lecona muralis [ pale green/gray thallus with rose/tan apothecia gathered in the center; color can be quite variable]
- Stonewall Rim Lichen, Protoparmeliopsis muralis [tan, pebbled with leafy edges, orange-tan apothecia]
- Striped Skunk, Mephitis mephitis [road kill, saw 5]
- Sulphur Tuft Fungus, Hypholoma fasciculare
- Tan Nipple Lichen, Thelomma santessonii [gray/tan, deep holes in the structures]
- Tanoak, Tanbark Oak, Notholithocarpus densiflorus
- Toy Soldiers, Cladonia bellidiflora [stalks are crusty, heads are split with red faces]
- Toyon, Heteromeles arbutifolia
- Trembling Crust Fungus, Merulius tremellosus [with guttation]
- Turkey Tail Fungus, Trametes versicolor
- Turkey Vulture, Cathartes aura
- Velvety Tree Ant, Liometopum occidentale
- Western Gray Squirrel, Sciurus griseus
- White Leaf Manzanita, Arctostaphylos viscida ssp. viscida
- Winter Moth, Operophtera brumata [larvae, green inchworm with orange head]
- Woolly Bird’s Nest Fungus, Nidula niveotomentosa
- Wooly Foam Lichen, Stereocaulon ramulosum [like Oakmoss but very crusty with small brown apothecia at the end of the branches]
- Yellow-Billed Magpie, Pica nuttalli