Lots Happening at the River, 02-08-21

I was feeling pretty good this morning, “ahead of the pain”, so I went on a walk at the American River Bend Park again. I went down different trails this time and got to see a wide variety of things.  It was 41° when I got there; just a bright, chilly, lovely morning.

I found quite a few different lichen including Rim, Sunburst, Camouflage, Hooded Rosette, Whitewash, Oakmoss, and others, and also found the crop of Mealy Pixie Cups. I’ve only been able to find those in one spot along the trail on a stump that sits slightly off to the side of the trail. The mosses were all out, bright green and fluffy, adding an extra dimension to the trees and landscape.

There still aren’t a lot of mushrooms out yet, but I did find Magpie Inkcaps, Hare’s Foot Inkcaps and some White Stubble Rosegill. Those are bright white with a thick, slick, shiny cap that feels heavy in the hand. Their gills have a very pale pink tinge that can fade as the ‘shroom ages.

White Stubble Rosegill, Volvopluteus gloiocephalusi

The Wild Turkeys were out strutting again, bachelor groups working on their hierarchies separate from the females for the moment. When they’ve hammered that out, it will be the highest ranking males that will get to mate with the females. 

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

I’m still seeing bucks with antlers, but also saw a couple of them that have lost theirs.  The deer shed their antlers every year and grow new ones from the spring and into the summer that harden and sharpen right before the rut at the end of the year.

Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus

In and near the river, I watched as a Snowy Egret paced a female Common Merganser duck along the shore. When the Merganser would catch something, the egret tried to steal it from her. This kind of behavior, called kleptoparasitism, is common in gulls, but I’d never heard of an egret doing this.

I also saw a lovely male/female pair of the Mergansers swimming in the water. They came pretty close to the shore where I was standing, and I got some nice photos of them. At one point, the male gave the female a “Salute” (stretch neck until bill points straight up), and called to her… I don’t think the female was impressed, though. She gave him a Threat gesture (lowering her head and jabbing out her bill) before they continued on. I think he wanted sex and she said no. Hah!

About the Mergansers, I was surprised to read in Cornell: “…As a top predator in aquatic food chains, this species has served as an indicator of environmental health both for contaminants (pesticides, toxic metals) and lake acidification…” The American River must be pretty healthy then; there are Mergansers all around it.

As I walked along the trail, I was startled by the sight of about five or six Turkey Vultures sitting on the side of the hill that looked down over the river. A few were also in the low branches of trees that looked out over the water. When I got close enough, I found Turkey Vultures sitting on rocks in the river and along the banks… I think the fishermen further upstream were dumping fish parts in the water after they caught and cleaned salmon.  Among the vultures was a Great Blue Heron who challenged some of them for their spot on the rocks.

Among other birds I encountered today were Dark-Eyed Juncos, Western Bluebirds, Nuttall’s Woodpeckers, Acorn Woodpeckers, Flickers and others. I walked for about 3 ½ hours before heading home.  This was walk #14 in my #52HikeChallenge.

Species List:

  1. Audubon’s Warbler, Yellow-Rumped Warbler, Setophaga coronata auduboni
  2. Bedstraw, Velcro Grass, Cleavers, Galium aparine
  3. Bewick’s Wren, Thryomanes bewickii
  4. Black Jelly Roll Fungus, Black Witches’ Butter, Exidia glandulosa
  5. Boreal Button Lichen, Buellia disciformis [pale gray to bluish with black apothecia on wood]
  6. Bumpy Rim-Lichen, Lecanora hybocarpa [tan to brown apothecia]
  7. California Buckeye Chestnut Tree, Aesculus californica
  8. California Camouflage Lichen, Melanelixia californica
  9. California Ground Squirrel, Otospermophilus beecheyi
  10. California Mugwort, Artemisia douglasiana
  11. California Pipevine, Dutchman’s Pipe, Aristolochia californica
  12. California Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma californica [heard]
  13. California Towhee, Melozone crissalis
  14. Canada Goose, Branta canadensis
  15. Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus
  16. Common Goldeneye, Bucephala clangula
  17. Common Merganser, Mergus merganser
  18. Common Sunburst Lichen, Golden Shield Lichen, Xanthoria parietina [yellow-orange,on wood/trees]
  19. Coyote Brush Stem Gall moth, Gnorimoschema baccharisella
  20. Coyote Brush, Baccharis pilularis
  21. Crow, American Crow, Corvus brachyrhynchos
  22. Dark-Eyed Junco, Junco hyemalis
  23. Eastern Fox Squirrel, Sciurus niger
  24. Fancy Frost Lichen, Physconia americana
  25. Foothill Shoulderband Snail, Helminthoglypta cypreophila
  26. Fremont’s Cottonwood, Populus fremontii
  27. Frosted Rim Lichen, Lecanora caesiorrubella [light gray with light gray apothecia on wood]
  28. Great Blue Heron, Ardea herodias
  29. Great Egret, Ardea alba
  30. Hare’s Foot Inkcap, Coprinopsis lagopus
  31. Hooded Rosette Lichen, Physcia adscendens [hairs/eyelashes on the tips of the lobes]
  32. Killdeer, Charadrius vociferous
  33. Magpie Inkcap, Common Inkcap, Coprinopsis picacea
  34. Mallard Duck, Anas platyrhynchos
  35. Mealy Pixie Cup, Cladonia chlorophaea
  36. Mealy Rim-Lichen, Lecanora strobilina 
  37. Northern Flicker, Colaptes auratus
  38. Nuttall’s Woodpecker, Picoides nuttallii
  39. Oak Titmouse, Baeolophus inornatus
  40. Oakmoss Lichen, Evernia prunastri [like strap but with soredia]
  41. Pale Oysterling, Crepidotus caspari [tiny, white, well-spaced gills]
  42. Pleated Inkcap, Parasola plicatilis
  43. Red-Shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus [heard]
  44. Ring-Billed Gull, Larus delawarensis [ black ring, light eye, yellow legs]
  45. Rio Grande Wild Turkey, Meleagris gallopavo intermedia
  46. Rosette Lichen, Physcia millegrana [dense grainy greenish with dark apotheca]
  47. Shrubby Sunburst Lichen, Polycauliona candelaria
  48. Silvery Bryum Moss, Bryum argenteum
  49. Snowy Egret, Egretta thula
  50. Speckled Greenshield Lichen, Flavopunctelia flaventior
  51. Spotted Towhee, Pipilo maculatus
  52. Strap Lichen, Western Strap Lichen, Ramalina leptocarpha [without soredia]
  53. Tall Psathyrella Mushroom, Psathyrella longipes
  54. Turkey Vulture, Cathartes aura
  55. Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
  56. Western Bluebird, Sialia Mexicana
  57. Western Gull, Larus occidentalis [spot on bill, pink legs, orange circle around eye]
  58. Western Sycamore, Platanus racemosa
  59. White Stubble Rosegill, Volvopluteus gloiocephalusi [white mushroom, slick cap with colored center, pale pink to gills, papery volva]
  60. White-Breasted Nuthatch, Sitta carolinensis
  61. Whitewash Lichen, Phlyctis argena
  62. Yellow Fieldcap Mushroom, Bolbitius titubans