River Bend Day 2, 03-18-20

Up at 6:45 am on this totally overcast, chilly and rainy morning. No vertigo today.  I got Esteban fed and pottied and then headed out to the American River Bend Park again but this time with my friend and fellow naturalist Roxanne.  She wanted to see the owls’ nest and get some fresh air and exercise.

This is a photo Roxanne took of my while I was photographing mushrooms.

It rained for the first hours or so we were out there, but then the rain tapered off, so we didn’t get too wet – except for our shoes.  I’d brought my umbrella with me and used it when needed, but then I accidentally left it behind somewhere along the trail.  D’oh!  By the time I realized that, I was too tired to go back and look for it, so, I hope that someone else finds it who really needs it.

We started our walk near where the owls’ nest is.  The mother owl was on a different side of the nest today than she was yesterday, so there was a slightly clearer view of her.  She didn’t look too thrilled about sitting in the rain, and we couldn’t see her owlets.  I assumed that she was shielding them from the wet and cold.

Great Horned Owl, Bubo virginianus,mamain the rain.

In that same area, we found a large flock of Wild Turkeys, including a pair of leucistic females.  The males were in full strut, wings down, tails fanned, snoods extended.  Some of them were snorting under their snoods, too.  A kind of “tsk!” sound. 

At one point, we also saw some of the males fighting: jumping up and kicking one another with their spurs, chasing each other, gobbling harshly.  I think there were rival “gangs” of males there running off guys who didn’t belong on the main group’s stomping ground. I couldn’t tell if the males were avoiding or ignoring the leucistic females, but all of the females were pretty much ignoring the males.  No one got down into a crouch while we were there.

There aren’t a lot of wild flowers up yet, but we did see some Blue Dicks and some Hillside Woodland Star, but that was about it. We DID come across, however, what I think was an Oracle Oak tree.  I’d passed that tree dozens of times and never really paid attention to it until today. Oracles are a cross between a Black Oak and an Interior Live Oak.  Both trees are considered “red oaks”, based partly on the color of their wood and what the interior of their acorns look like.

Oracle Oak, Quercus × moreha

Lots of Destroying Angel mushrooms all over the place, and some Black Jelly Roll fungus.  On one of the pipevine plants, Roxanne found a flower overflowing with fungus gnats.  The gnats are one of the major pollinators of this plant, so that was fun to see.  I got a video snippet of them emerging. 

Dark-Winged Fungus Gnats, Bradysia sp., emerging from the blossom of a California Pipevine plant, Aristolochia californica

Oh, and we found a crop of Compressed Elfin Saddle mushrooms, Helvella compressa.  They look like dark brown fortune cookies mounted on white sticks.  Very cool.

CLICK HERE to see the full album of photos.

Roxanne also found two other things I’d never seen before.  The first one was Curling Moss, also called Bonfire Moss, Funaria hygrometrica. It was made up of stingy bits of plant material laid out in stiff curls.  Rox joking referred to it as “river scrubbie”. Hah! 

The other thing she found was a Tussock Moth cocoon covered in newly hatched caterpillars.  I’ve found the cocoons all over the place before, along with the mature caterpillars, but I’d never seen the caterpillars at this early stage.  The mother moth lays her eggs on top of the cocoon from which she emerged and then covers them with a sort of self-hardening foam that protects them until they hatch.  Each caterpillar was totally black and covered in sparse long hairs.  There were about 30 of the tiny things occupying the exterior of a cocoon that was about an inch long.

We walked for about 4 ½ hours before heading back home. 

Species List:

  1. Acorn Woodpecker, Melanerpes formicivorus
  2. Audubon’s Warbler, Setophaga coronata auduboni
  3. Bark Rim Lichen, Lecanora chlarotera [looks like Whitewash Lichen but has apothecia]
  4. Barometer Earthstar fungus, Astraeus hygrometricus
  5. Bedstraw, Velcro Grass, Cleavers, Galium aparine
  6. Bewick’s Wren, Thryomanes bewickii
  7. Bittercress, Hairy Bittercress, Cardamine hirsuta
  8. Black Jelly Roll fungus, Exidia glandulosa
  9. Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans
  10. Black Walnut, Eastern Black Walnut, Juglans nigra
  11. Blessed Milk Thistle, Silybum marianum
  12. Blue Dicks, Dichelostemma capitatum
  13. Brown Jelly Fungus, Jelly Leaf, Tremella foliacea
  14. Bufflehead Duck, Bucephala albeola
  15. Bur Chervil, Anthriscus caucalis
  16. California Camouflage Lichen, Melanelixia californica
  17. California Ground Squirrel, Otospermophilus beecheyi
  18. California Manroot, Bigroot, Marah fabaceus
  19. California Mugwort, Artemisia douglasiana
  20. California Pipevine Swallowtail butterfly, Battus philenor hirsuta
  21. California Pipevine, Dutchman’s Pipe, Aristolochia californica
  22. California Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma californica
  23. California Towhee, Melozone crissalis
  24. Canada Goose, Branta canadensis
  25. Click Beetle, Limonius canus 
  26. Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus
  27. Common Crow, Corvus brachyrhynchos
  28. Common Fiddleneck, Amsinckia menziesii
  29. Common Goldeneye, Bucephala clangula
  30. Common Merganser, Mergus merganser
  31. Common Vetch, Vicia sativa
  32. Coyote Brush Stem Gall moth, Gnorimoschema baccharisella
  33. Curling Moss, Bonfire Moss, Funaria hygrometrica
  34. Dark-Winged Fungus Gnat, Bradysia sp.
  35. Destroying Angel Mushroom, Amanita ocreata
  36. Dove’s-foot Crane’s-Bill, Geranium molle
  37. Eastern Fox Squirrel, Sciurus niger
  38. Elfin Saddle, Compressed Elfin Saddle, Helvella compressa
  39. European Starling, Sturnus vulgaris
  40. False Turkey Tail fungus, Stereum Ostrea
  41. Farinose Cartilage Lichen,  Ramalina farinacea [like Oakmoss but very thin branches]
  42. Fluffy Dust Lichen, Pacific Fluffy Dust Lichen, Lepraria pacifica
  43. Giraffe’s Head Henbit, Henbit Deadnettle, Lamium amplexicaule
  44. Giraffe’s Spots Fungus, Peniophora albobadia
  45. Gold Dust Lichen, Chrysothrix candelaris
  46. Golden Crowned Sparrow, Zonotrichia atricapilla
  47. Great Horned Owl, Bubo virginianus
  48. Green Shield Lichen, Flavoparmelia caperata
  49. Hillside Woodland Star, Lithophragma heterophyllum
  50. Hoary Lichen, Hoary Rosette, Physcia aipolia
  51. Hooded Rosette Lichen, Physcia adscendens [hairs/eyelashes on the tips of the lobes]
  52. House Wren, Troglodytes aedon
  53. Interior Live Oak, Quercus wislizeni
  54. Lace Lichen, Ramalina menziesii
  55. Lesser Goldfinch, Spinus psaltria
  56. Mazegill Fungus, Daedalea quercina
  57. Mealy Pixie Cup, Cladonia chlorophaea
  58. Miner’s Lettuce, Claytonia perfoliate
  59. Mourning Dove, Zenaida macroura
  60. Northern Flicker, Colaptes auratus
  61. Oak Apple Gall Wasp, Andricus quercuscalifornicus
  62. Oakmoss Lichen, Evernia prunastri
  63. Oracle Oak, Quercus × moreha
  64. Petty Spurge, Euphorbia peplus
  65. Poison Oak, Pacific Poison Oak, Western Poison Oak, Toxicodendron diversilobum
  66. Red Phanerochaete pathogen, Phanerochaete sanguinea
  67. Red-Tailed Hawk, Buteo jamaicensis [heard, saw in flight]
  68. Rio Grande Wild Turkey, Meleagris gallopavo intermedia
  69. Ruptured Twig Gall Wasp, Callirhytis perdens
  70. Santa Barbara Sedge, Carex barbarae
  71. Shepherd’s-Purse, Capsella bursa-pastoris
  72. Shingle Moss, Neckera pennata
  73. Shrubby Sunburst Lichen, Polycauliona candelaria
  74. Split Gill Fungus, Schizophyllum commune
  75. Spotted Towhee, Pipilo maculatus
  76. Star Moss, Syntrichia ruralis
  77. Stem Rust Fungus, Puccinia evadens [on Coyote Brush]
  78. Stinging Nettle, Urtica dioica
  79. Strap Lichen, Western Strap Lichen, Ramalina leptocarpha
  80. Streambank Springbeauty, Miner’s Lettuce, Claytonia parviflora [small]
  81. Sunburst Lichen, Xanthoria elegans
  82. Termite, Reticulitermes sp.
  83. Tree Swallow, Tachycineta bicolor
  84. Turkey Tail Fungus, Trametes versicolor
  85. Turkey Vulture, Cathartes aura
  86. Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
  87. Velvety Tree Ant, Liometopum occidentale
  88. Western Bluebird, Sialia Mexicana [caught a glimpse of one]
  89. Western Redbud, Cercis occidentalis
  90. Western Tussock Moth, Orgyia vetusta
  91. White Horehound, Marrubium vulgare
  92. White-Breasted Nuthatch, Sitta carolinensis
  93. Whitewash Lichen, Phlyctis argena
  94. ?? Tiny mushrooms on twig
  95. ?? A kind of crust fungus