Some Bluebird Love and the First Few Shrooms of the Season, 01-31-21

I got up a little after 7:00 this morning, and headed out to the American River Bend Park for a walk. My medication hasn’t arrived yet, so I was in a lot of pain. It was 37° when I got to the park – which seems to be the general morning temperature here lately – and got up into the low 60’s by the afternoon.

When I first got there, I was driving down the road, and found my way blocked by a small flock of male Wild Turkeys strutting and showing off to one another. I tried creeping the car forward to get them to move, and I think they thought the car was “strutting”, so they moved in further, collecting around near the bumper. I flashed my headlights and honked the horn at them, and they’d gobble-obble-obble! But wouldn’t move. Hah! I was there for about 10 minutes waiting for them to get interested in something else and move off the road.

Rio Grande Wild Turkey, Meleagris gallopavo intermedia

            Lots of birds around today.  There was a small flock of Bufflehead ducks on the water, males and females, but no one was doing any of their courtship stuff… I noticed that the Acorn Woodpeckers were taking full advantage of the windfall acorns after last week’s storm. Rather than pulling acorns off the trees, the birds were collecting them from the ground and poking them into their granary trees… When I was standing in the spot where I was seeing the woodpeckers, I also saw European Starlings, Dark-Eyed Juncos, an Audubon’s Warbler, White-Breasted Nuthatches, and little Oak Titmice all around me. I got photos of most of them, but the Juncos were being shy and kept themselves in the tall grass where I couldn’t focus on them.

There were also several pairs of Western Bluebirds around, and I saw and photographed one pair as they were checking out a nesting cavity together. I’m hoping to see more of that kind of behaviors as we go forward toward spring.

Western Bluebird, Sialia Mexicana, male

Near to where the bluebirds were doing house hunting, I also saw a male Nuttall’s Woodpecker looking for bugs in the bark of an oak tree. So, like I said, lots of birds!

I was less lucky with fungi. I only found some common brown Brittlestem mushrooms, bright Yellow Fieldcaps, and a few outcroppings of the Magpie Inkcap mushrooms.

The inkcaps are a species of mushroom disburses its spore in a sluice rather than as dry dust. The ‘shroom is so water-dense that as it ages it liquifies. All the “white stuff” on the cap is actually the residue of a veil that covered the mushroom when it was underground. I found some very fresh, newly “popped” specimens that haven’t opened up yet, and some where the cap was already liquifying and oozing toward the ground.           

I also came across a few Barometer Earthstars, and was able to get photos and a little video of how they puff out their spores.

I did get to see a couple of small herds of Columbian Black-Tailed deer, including one that was all bucks and one that was all does. In the bucks’ group there was a young spike buck, and a few larger ones, including 3- and 4-pointers. I haven’t seen the big 5-pointer buck, that has been around in previous years, at all, anywhere, this year. I don’t know what happened to him…  The in the doe-group was a matriarch and a young yearling. They were all sitting down in the grass, and got to their feet when I walked by – the matriarch putting herself between me and the younger does.  Just beautiful.

I walked for 3 hours, but it was slow going because of my pain. This was hike #11 in my #52HikeChallenge.

Species List:

  1. Acorn Woodpecker, Melanerpes formicivorus
  2. Audubon’s Warbler, Yellow-Rumped Warbler, Setophaga coronata auduboni
  3. Barometer Earthstar, Hygroscopic Earthstar, Astraeus hygrometricus
  4. Bufflehead Duck, Bucephala albeola
  5. California Camouflage Lichen, Melanelixia californica [dark green with brown apothecia, on trees]
  6. California Ground Squirrel, Otospermophilus beecheyi
  7. Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus
  8. Common Pin Mold, Mucor mucedo
  9. Dark-Eyed Junco, Junco hyemalis
  10. Eastern Fox Squirrel, Sciurus niger
  11. European Starling, Sturnus vulgaris
  12. Green Shield Lichen, Flavoparmelia caperata
  13. Hoary Rosette Lichen, Physcia aipolia [hoary, brown apothecia]
  14. Magpie Inkcap, Common Inkcap, Coprinopsis picacea
  15. Miner’s Lettuce, Claytonia perfoliate
  16. Nuttall’s Woodpecker, Picoides nuttallii
  17. Oak Titmouse, Baeolophus inornatus
  18. Pleated Inkcap Mushroom, Parasola plicatilis
  19. Red Edge Brittlestem Mushrooms, Psathyrella corrugis
  20. Red-Shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus
  21. Rio Grande Wild Turkey, Meleagris gallopavo intermedia
  22. Ruby-Crowned Kinglet, Regulus calendula
  23. Shrubby Sunburst Lichen, Polycauliona candelaria
  24. Western Bluebird, Sialia Mexicana
  25. Western Gray Squirrel, Sciurus griseus
  26. White-Breasted Nuthatch, Sitta carolinensis
  27. Yellow Fieldcap Mushroom, Bolbitius titubans