Nature Showed Us a Lot, 11-15-21

I got up around 6:30 this morning and got myself ready to go out to the Cosumnes River Preserve with my friend Roxanne. Roxanne had a new camera she’d gotten for her birthday, a Lumix, and she wanted to test it out.

Certified California Naturalist Roxanne, testing her new camera on photographing Red-Winged Blackbirds among the tules.

My cancer pain level was at about a 2 or 3 (instead of an 8 or 11), so I was hoping to do some real walking; I was hoping to make a mile — which I haven’t been able to do since my surgery on October 8th. We weren’t really looking for anything in particular; we really just wanted to get outside and moving so we were open to anything Nature wanted to show us. And she showed us quite a bit: birds, squirrels, lichen, galls, fungi, even a slime mold. Cool.

It was cool outside with some lingering fog and a dense overcast. Not really “cold” but I did need to wear my jacket while I was out of the car.

We took Franklin Road to Twin Cities rather than going along the freeway (because a lot of the freeway on/off ramps were closed for construction). At one cow pasture, we could see hundreds of birds flying overhead and collecting on the roof of the pasture’s hay barn. Starlings. Their noise was incredible.

A little further along the road, we saw a pair of ravens in the top of a tree. They were touching beaks, but I couldn’t tell if they were “kissing” or if one was feeding the other.  I know ravens are monogamous; maybe this was a male/female pair strengthening their pair bond.

Among the raptors, we saw Red-Tailed Hawks, Red-Shouldered Hawks, Kites, Kestrels and Northern Harriers, and some Turkey Vultures.

Among the smaller birds, we saw Savannah Sparrows, House Finches, White-Crowned and Golden Crowned Sparrows, Brewer’s Blackbirds, Red-Winged Blackbirds, Meadowlarks, Black Phoebes, and Magpies.

In some of the fields, we saw Sandhill Cranes (usually among flocks of Greater White-Fronted Geese that had settled onto the ground at their feet). There were also a few Snow Geese in the mix, some of them juveniles still in their “blue goose” coloring.

In the shallow waters we also saw Black-Necked Stilts, Least Sandpipers, Greater Yellowlegs, and Long-Billed Dowitchers and several Great Egrets. And among the ducks we saw were Green-Winged Teals, Cinnamon Teals, Mallards, Northern Pintails and Northern Shovelers… Oh, and American Coots.

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

We chanced across a few of the common, early season mushrooms including Meadow Mushrooms, Scurfy Twiglets, some kind of chanterelle, Yellow Fieldcaps, some tiny Oak Leaf Pinwheels (which I, at first, mistook for Horsehair Fungi), and some pretty little Peeling Oysterlings.  We weren’t really looking for them, so they were a nice surprise.

The slime mold we found was an almost-used-up specimen of Chocolate Tube Slime, Stemonitis splendens. It was right on the verge of going totally to spore. We found it on a stick laying by the road.

Checking out other sticks and stumps we found a variety of crust fungi, including some Giraffe Spot, and some really beautiful tooth fungi: one bright yellow orange, and one pure white with huge “teeth”.  There was also some bright green Trichoderma viride fungi thrown in the mix of things on the sticks.

Among the lichens we found were Green Shield, Common Sunburst, Hooded Rosette, and Western Strap Lichen. All of those are pretty common and visible almost everywhere in this area.

Common Sunburst Lichen, Golden Shield Lichen, Xanthoria parietina, and Hooded Rosette Lichen, Physcia adscendens [hairs/eyelashes on the tips of the lobes]

Because of the lingering fog and overcast, I was hoping to see some Orbweaver spider webs decorated with dew, but no such luck. We DID find sheet web and funnel webs with the droplets on them, however.

Grass reflected in dew drops on the web of a Sheet Weaver Spider, Family: Linyphiidae

We came across several Eastern Fox Squirrels, some of them foraging in the leaf litter, others pulling down twigs and leaves to make their dreys. They’re so accustomed to humans along the trail that they let us get pretty close to them before scurrying off.

Between the drive and the walking we did along the River Trail at the preserve, we were out for almost 6 hours! Although I was totally exhausted at the end of the walk (I hadn’t done that much in weeks), I was very happy and exhilarated that I was able to do it.  Nature heals.

This was hike #85 of my annual hike challenge.

Before going home, we stopped at Huckleberry’s restaurant in Elk Grove for a late breakfast-for-lunch lunch. Everything on the menu looked sooooo appetizing; whoever took the photos for that did an excellent job. I wanted to eat EVERYTHING. I ended up ordering the steak and eggs combo with potatoes and huckleberry tea. Ummm… And a bacon Bloody Mary, of course. Hah! Oh…and green fried tomatoes. Never had them before and they were super yummy. Both Rox and I noticed they featured catfish on the lunch menu, so we’ll need to go back soon and get some of that. I love catfish.

We got back home around 3:30 pm, so it was a long but very fun day. Thank you, Rox.  And thank you, too, to Melissa who kept an eye on Esteban all day.

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Species List:

  1. Alcoholic Flux bacteria, Foamy Canker, Slime Flux, Phytophthora sp. X other bacteria [white, brown or black ooze with a yeasty, sour beer smell.]
  2. American Coot, Fulica americana
  3. American Kestrel, Falco sparverius
  4. Ash Flower Gall Mite, Ash Key Gall Mite, Aceria fraxiniflora
  5. Belted Kingfisher, Megaceryle alcyon [heard]
  6. Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans
  7. Black-Necked Stilt, Himantopus mexicanus
  8. Black Walnut, Eastern Black Walnut, Juglans nigra
  9. Brewer’s Blackbird, Euphagus cyanocephalus
  10. Briar Rose, Sweet Briar, Rosa rubiginosa [rose hips]
  11. California Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma californica
  12. California Wild Grape, Vitis californica
  13. Chanterelle Mushroom, Cantharellus sp.
  14. Chocolate Tube Slime Mold, Stemonitis splendens
  15. Cinnamon Teal, Spatula cyanoptera
  16. Clustered Gall Wasp, Andricus brunneus
  17. Coast Live Oak, Quercus agrifolia
  18. Common Sunburst Lichen, Golden Shield Lichen, Xanthoria parietina [yellow-orange,on wood/trees]
  19. Cottonwood Petiole Gall, Poplar Petiole Gall Aphid, Pemphigus populitransversus
  20. Coyote Brush Bud Gall midge, Rhopalomyia californica
  21. Coyote Brush, Baccharis pilularis
  22. Crow, American Crow, Corvus brachyrhynchos
  23. Double-Crested Cormorant, Phalacrocorax auratus
  24. Dunlin, Calidris alpina
  25. Eastern Fox Squirrel, Sciurus niger
  26. European Praying Mantis, Mantis religiosa [flat body in adults; ootheca is like a football shape, most common one we see]
  27. European Starling, Sturnus vulgaris
  28. Flat-Topped Honeydew Gall Wasp, Disholcaspis eldoradensis
  29. Fremont’s Cottonwood, Populus fremontii
  30. Funnel Weaver Spider, Family: Agelenidae
  31. Giraffe Spots Crust Fungus, Peniophora albobadia
  32. Golden-Crowned Sparrow, Zonotrichia atricapilla
  33. Great Egret, Ardea alba
  34. Greater White-Fronted Goose, Anser albifrons
  35. Greater Yellowlegs, Tringa melanoleuca
  36. Great-Tailed Grackle, Quiscalus mexicanus [heard/glimpsed in parking lot]
  37. Green Shield Lichen, Flavoparmelia caperat
  38. Green Trichoderma Mold, Trichoderma viride
  39. Green-winged Teal, Anas crecca
  40. Hoary Rosette Lichen, Physcia aipolia [hoary, brown apothecia]
  41. Hooded Rosette Lichen, Physcia adscendens [hairs/eyelashes on the tips of the lobes]
  42. House Finch, Haemorhous mexicanus
  43. House Wren, Troglodytes aedon [nesting box]
  44. Interior Live Oak, Quercus wislizeni
  45. Jumping Oak Gall Wasp, Neuroterus saltatorius
  46. Killdeer, Charadrius vociferous
  47. Least Sandpiper, Calidris minutilla
  48. Mallard Duck, Anas platyrhynchos
  49. Marsh Wren, Cistothorus palustris
  50. Meadow Mushroom, Agaricus campestris [white, collared, pink/dark gills]
  51. Mediterranean Mantis, Iris Mantis, Iris oratoria [thin narrow ootheca]
  52. Mourning Dove, Zenaida macroura
  53. Mushroom Fungus, Syzygites megalocarpus
  54. Northern Harrier, Marsh Hawk, Circus hudsonius
  55. Northern Pintail, Anas acuta
  56. Northern Shoveler, Anas clypeata
  57. Oak Apple, California Gall Wasp, Andricus quercuscalifornicus
  58. Oak-Leaf Pinwheel Mushroom, Collybiopsis quercophila [tiny, on leaf litter]
  59. Ocre Spreading Tooth Fungus, Steccherinum ochraceum
  60. Orange Crust Fungus, Mycoacia sp.
  61. Peeling Oysterling Mushroom, Crepidotus mollis [small oyster mushroom on sticks/bark]
  62. Raven, Common Raven, Corvus corax
  63. Red Cone Gall Wasp, Andricus kingi
  64. Red-Shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus
  65. Red-Tailed Hawk, Western Red-Tailed Hawk, Buteo jamaicensis calurus
  66. Red-Winged Blackbird, Agelaius phoeniceus
  67. Rice, Oryza sativa
  68. Rio Grande Wild Turkey, Meleagris gallopavo intermedia
  69. Rough Cocklebur, Xanthium strumarium
  70. RRD, Rose Rosette Disease, Emaravirus sp. [excessive thorniness]
  71. Ruby-Crowned Kinglet, Regulus calendula
  72. Sandhill Crane, Grus canadensis
  73. Savannah Sparrow, Passerculus sandwichensis
  74. Say’s Phoebe, Sayornis saya
  75. Scurfy Twiglet Mushroom, Tubaria furfuracea [small, pale orange, wide gills]
  76. Seven-Spotted Lady Beetle, Coccinella septempunctata
  77. Sheet Weaver Spiders, Family: Linyphiidae
  78. Snow Goose, Chen caerulescens
  79. Spined Turban Gall Wasp, Cynips douglasii [summer gall, pink, spikey top]
  80. Spotted Towhee, Pipilo maculatus [heard]
  81. Stable Fly, Stomoxys calcitrans
  82. Strap Lichen, Western Strap Lichen, Ramalina leptocarpha [without soredia]
  83. Toothed Crust Fungus, Antrodia sp.
  84. Tule, Common Tule, Schoenoplectus acutus
  85. Turkey Vulture, Cathartes aura
  86. Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
  87. Water Hyacinth, Eichhornia crassipes
  88. Western Meadowlark, Sturnella neglecta
  89. White Ash Tree, Fraxinus americana
  90. White Tailed Kite, Elanus leucurus
  91. White-Crowned Sparrow, Zonotrichia leucophrys
  92. Willow Apple Gall Sawfly, Pontania californica
  93. Willow Bead Gall Mite, Aculus tetanothrix
  94. Yellow Fieldcap Mushroom, Bolbitius titubans
  95. Yellow-Billed Magpie, Pica nuttalli
  96. ?? moss on a downed log
  97. ?? oak with “sunburned” leaves
  98. ?? tiny insects on willow leaves