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