The Deer Were Just Lovely, 12-16-20

I got up around 6:30 this morning and headed over to the American River Bend Park for a walk, hoping to see lots of lichen and the first fungi of the season. I was disappointed to see that all of my favorite haunts in the park had been “bulldozed” and “razed”: fallen trees and limbs removed (along with the fungi and micro-critters were making their home on and under them), grasses mowed down, plants pulled out, some fields overturned (decimating the earthstars)… Soooo sad. Stupid humans. There were gigantic blue trash bin everywhere that interfered with the view in some spots.

The photo of this Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus, doe is ruined by the sight of the big blue dumpster in the background.

When I drove into the horse-trailer area, I found that the fallen trees that are usually a great source of Witches’ Butter jelly fungus were all cut up and carried away. *Sigh* — But I did get a glimpse of a large, fat Black-tailed Jackrabbit bounding away from me through the grass.

It was foggy when I first got there, but the fog burned off after the sun had been up for a little while.


As bummed out as I was about not seeing the regular fungus and lichen stuff, I was very happy to see a small herd of deer which included several does, two bucks (3- and 4-pointers) and a young spike buck. I was able to get some buck-and-doe together photos, as well as single shots. They were such lovely creatures!

Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus

Looking more closely at my photos, I could see that one of the bucks was sporting wounds from a recent fight. A spot behind one of his antlers was torn open and there was dried blood in his hair, running down his neck. The injury didn’t seem to impair him; he was standing tall by the does, and staring down the other buck nearby. Sometimes jousts can be ugly.

Head injury to a 4-pointer Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus, buck

Then when I was walking along the trail that overlooks the river, I saw a Great Blue Heron, a male/female pair of Common Mergansers, a tiny Spotted Sandpiper and a Belted Kingfisher.  The water in the river is real low right now (for the spawning salmon) so there are a lot of exposed rocks for the waterfowl to sit on.

CLICK HERE for the full album of today’s photos.

On some rocks next to where the heron was, there was a pair of Common Mergansers, a male and female. A second female approached them, wanting to sit on the rocks, too, but the first one tried to scare her off by gaping at her. The second female just found a different nearby rock to sit on.

Female Common Merganser, Mergus merganser.

Male and female Common Mergansers a are good example of sexual dimorphism: their coloration and feathering is totally different. Females are a dirty buff-color with a white breast, and they have a crested rusty-red head. Males are black and white with a dirty buff-colored tail and a dark iridescent greenish head.

Common Mergansers, Mergus merganser: female on the left, male on the right.

As I headed back to my car, I saw some Western Bluebirds and a Red-Breasted Sapsucker (which I hardly ever get to see).

Red-Breasted Sap Sucker, Sphyrapicus ruber

I ended up walking for about 3½ hours.

Species List:

  1. Acorn Woodpecker, Melanerpes formicivorus
  2. Barometer Earthstar fungus, Astraeus hygrometricus
  3. Belted Kingfisher, Megaceryle alcyon
  4. Bewick’s Wren, Thryomanes bewickii
  5. Black Jelly Roll fungus, Exidia glandulosa
  6. Black-Tailed Jackrabbit, Lepus californicus
  7. Blue Elderberry, Sambucus nigra cerulea
  8. Brown Jelly Fungus, Jelly Leaf, Tremella foliacea
  9. Bryum Moss, Bryum capillare
  10. California Buckeye Chestnut Tree, Aesculus californica
  11. California Camouflage Lichen, Melanelixia californica [dark green with brown apothecia, on trees]
  12. California Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma californica
  13. California Towhee, Melozone crissalis
  14. Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus
  15. Common Merganser, Mergus merganser
  16. Common Sunburst Lichen, Golden Shield Lichen, Xanthoria parietina [yellow-orange,on wood/trees]
  17. Coyote, Canis latrans [scat]
  18. Crust fungus, Byssomerulius corium
  19. Dead Man’s Foot Fungus, Pisolithus arhizus
  20. Eastern Fox Squirrel, Sciurus niger
  21. European Starling, Sturnus vulgaris
  22. False Turkey Tail fungus, Crowded Parchment Fungus, Stereum complicatum
  23. False Turkey Tail fungus, Hairy Curtain Crust, Stereum hirsutum
  24. Farinose Cartilage Lichen,  Ramalina farinacea [like Oakmoss but very thin branches]
  25. Fremont’s Cottonwood, Populus fremontii
  26. Giraffe’s Spots Fungus, Peniophora albobadia
  27. Gold Dust Lichen, Chrysothrix candelaris
  28. Great Blue Heron, Ardea herodias
  29. Green Shield Lichen, Flavoparmelia caperata
  30. Interior Live Oak, Quercus wislizeni
  31. Lace Lichen, Ramalina menziesii
  32. Lesser Goldfinch, Spinus psaltria
  33. London Plane Tree, Platanus × acerifolia
  34. Mallard duck, Anas platyrhynchos
  35. Mistletoe, American Mistletoe, Big Leaf Mistletoe, Phoradendron leucarpum
  36. Nuttall’s Woodpecker, Picoides nuttallii
  37. Oak Titmouse, Baeolophus inornatus
  38. Poison Oak, Pacific Poison Oak, Western Poison Oak, Toxicodendron diversilobum
  39. Red-Breasted Sap Sucker, Sphyrapicus ruber
  40. Red-Shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus
  41. Rio Grande Wild Turkey, Meleagris gallopavo intermedia
  42. Shrubby Sunburst Lichen, Polycauliona candelaria
  43. Spotted Sandpiper, Actitis macularius
  44. Star Moss, Syntrichia ruralis
  45. Star Rosette Lichen, Physcia stellaris [on wood, hoary colored, black apothecia]
  46. Strap Lichen, Western Strap Lichen, Ramalina leptocarpha [without soredia]
  47. Sulphur Shelf Fungus, Western Hardwood Sulphur Shelf, Laetiporus gilbertsonii
  48. Tree-skirt Moss, Pseudanomodon attenuatus
  49. Turkey Vulture, Cathartes aura
  50. Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
  51. Western Bluebird, Sialia Mexicana
  52. White Alder, Alnus rhombifolia
  53. White-Breasted Nuthatch, Sitta carolinensis