A Walk at Gristmill, 11-30-21

I woke up around 4:00 this morning with a dream in my head, and wrote it down before going back to bed. Then I got up around 6:00 AM, fed the dog his breakfast, and got myself ready for a walk at the Gristmill Access to the American River. I wasn’t expecting to see much, but I really needed the exercise, so out I went.

The American River as seen from the Gristmill access point.

The first thing I saw when I drove into the area was a Western Gray Squirrel munching on an acorn in a Tree of Heaven tree, Ailanthus altissima. The trees are invasive (from China), but this time of year they sport some really beautiful color. I got still shots and a video clip of the squirrel.

I was able to find some specimens of fungi including Rosegill mushrooms, Yellow Fieldcaps, and Common Fieldcaps, among others. I also found some Cytospora Canker, Cytospora chrysosperma. I thought at first I was seeing Orange Hobnail Canker, but closer inspection revealed that rather than hard little knobs, I was seeing curling strings — typical of Cytospora.

Under the caps of some of the mushrooms I found some tiny mites and fungus gnats. I was looking for springtails, too, but didn’t find any.

I wasn’t really looking for lichen today, but saw some really nice specimens I couldn’t pass up.

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

Saw and heard quite a few birds, but the funniest sighting was seeing a European Starling sitting up, haughty, in its tree… and it was totally oblivious to a White-Breasted Nuthatch climbing up the side of the tree right next to it.

I could hear Nuttall’s Woodpeckers in the trees around me, and even caught a glimpse of one, but I couldn’t get any photos of it because it moved too fast. A Downy Woodpecker was more cooperative, and let me get some good shots before it took off.

I also found one of the best “stick birds” I’d ever seen. It looked like a turkey sitting down on a stump.

I walked for about 3½ hours and then headed home. This was hike #88 in my annual hike challenge.


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Species List:

  1. Belted Kingfisher, Megaceryle alcyon
  2. Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans
  3. Blue Elderberry, Sambucus nigra cerulea
  4. Bufflehead Duck, Bucephala albeola
  5. California Quail, Callipepla californica [heard]
  6. California Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma californica
  7. Candleflame Lichen, Candelaria concolor [bright yellow-orange]
  8. Common Fieldcap Mushroom, Agrocybe pediades
  9. Common Goldeneye, Bucephala clangula
  10. Crow, American Crow, Corvus brachyrhynchos
  11. Cytospora Canker, Cytospora chrysosperma [bright orange fruiting body, looks like frozen dodder]
  12. Dark-Winged Fungus Gnat, Bradysia sp.
  13. Downy Woodpecker, Picoides pubescens
  14. European Starling, Sturnus vulgaris
  15. Farinose Cartilage Lichen,  Ramalina farinacea [like Oakmoss but very thin branches]
  16. Fremont’s Cottonwood, Populus fremontii
  17. Frosted Rim-Lichen, Lecanora caesiorubella [white with white apothecia]
  18. Fungus Gnat, Family: Mycetophilidae [mosquito-like]
  19. Giraffe Spots, Peniophora albobadia [flat, brown w/light rim]
  20. Green Shield Lichen, Flavoparmelia caperata
  21. Hooded Rosette Lichen, Physcia adscendens [hairs/eyelashes on the tips of the lobes]
  22. Interior Live Oak, Quercus wislizeni
  23. Linopodes Mite, Linopodes sp. [tiny translucent spidery-looking thing with very ling front legs]
  24. Liquid Ambar, American Sweetgum, Liquidambar styraciflua
  25. Mallard Duck, Anas platyrhynchos
  26. Mistletoe, American Mistletoe, Phoradendron leucarpum
  27. Mourning Dove, Zenaida macroura
  28. Northern Flicker, Colaptes auratus
  29. Nuttall’s Woodpecker, Picoides nuttallii
  30. Oak Apple, California Gall Wasp, Andricus quercuscalifornicus
  31. Pale Brittlestem Mushroom, Candolleomyces candolleanus
  32. Pin-Cushion Sunburst Lichen, Polycauliona polycarpa [bright orange, apothecia, close, piled]
  33. Red-Legged Mite, Penthaleus sp.
  34. Rio Grande Wild Turkey, Meleagris gallopavo intermedia
  35. Shrubby Sunburst Lichen, Polycauliona candelaria
  36. Snowy Egret, Egretta thula
  37. Speckled Greenshield Lichen, Flavopunctelia flaventior
  38. Tree of Heaven, Ailanthus altissima
  39. Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
  40. Western Gray Squirrel, Sciurus griseus
  41. Western Ragweed, Ambrosia psilostachya
  42. White Horehound, Marrubium vulgare
  43. White Stubble Rosegill, Volvopluteus gloiocephalusi [white or gray mushroom, slick cap with colored center, pale pink to gills, papery volva]
  44. White-Breasted Nuthatch, Sitta carolinensis
  45. Yellow Fieldcap Mushroom, Bolbitius titubans
  46. ?? Half-Cup Fungus with no gills, Stereum sp.
  47. ?? Shredded wood pulp