The Slime Mold Was My Favorite, 02-18-23

I got up around 7:30 AM and had some breakfast before heading out for a walk at the Effie Yeaw Nature Preserve. I hadn’t been out there in “forever”, so I was anxious to see what was going on there. It was clear, sunny and chilly outside, around 42º F.

My friend Roxanne had been there and told me about how changed the landscape was there in the aftermath of the recent rains. Lots of trees were felled, shrubbery was chopped down, and flowering plants around the nature center were either cut down or completely culled. Everything looked either naked or totally messy. I’m assuming the work is continuing.

One of the trails I wanted to take was closed because of fallen/falling trees, so I had to take the trail that had steps to walk down. With my cancer and the pain in my left hip area, stairs are not really my thing, so I took a long time to navigate the less than a dozen wide, steep wooden steps. But I made it — yay! — and continued on through the preserve. I wasn’t looking for anything in particular and so kept my eyes open for just about anything.

Near the bottom of the staircase was a tree that caught my attention because there was some Giraffe Spot fungus on one part of its trunk. As I took photos of the Giraffe Spot, I saw there was also some bright pink Carnival Candy Slime Mold on another part of the trunk. In its fruiting body stage this slime mold starts outlooking like a collection of bright pink “bullets”, and as it goes to spore, it “unravels” and looks like cotton candy. This was the first slime mold I’ve seen this year.

Slime molds are fascinating to me because they start out like single-celled animals, gather together into mobile plasmodia, and end their lives like fungus – going to spore.

There were a lot of Wild Turkeys running, gobbling and strutting around; all bachelor groups showing off to one another and readying for battle in anticipation of the breeding season. I love their brilliant colors and sassy attitudes.

I could see and hear other birds, of course, but wasn’t able to get photos of all of them. I heard California Quails and Northern Flickers, for example but couldn’t catch sight of them, and with some other birds all I got were “butt shots” or “blur in flight” photos. The plight of every nature photographer, I know, but it’s still frustrating.

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

I spent a lot of time looking for lichens, and found about a dozen species but most of the specimens were dried out and shriveled. So that was a bit of a disappointment. There was one black lichen on rocks that I haven’t been able to identify yet.

I saw quite a few Columbian Black-Tailed Deer in different areas throughout the preserve, including does, bucks and yearlings. One 4-pointer buck was especially stunning; took my breath away when I saw him.

What was distressing to me was seeing a young man and what I assume was his girlfriend going off-trail and chasing down the bucks trying the grab their antlers. There are signs that clearly state that collecting anything from the nature area is prohibited (it’s illegal, and can be considered a form of “poaching” by the authorities). Obviously, the man and his girlfriend didn’t care about the rules.

I didn’t see it, but I heard the CRACK! when the antler of one buck the man was chasing, clipped a tree. The antler fell and the man retrieved it. When he tried chasing after other bucks, the girlfriend stood by the trail and hid the stolen antler in the grass so no one could see it. Eventually, when more people showed up in the preserve, the two gave up their pursuit. I turned the images and narrative over to the Executive Director of the preserve.

I walked for a little over 2½ hours and covered a s-l-o-w mile or so and felt pretty strong physically afterwards. It was a nice trip, and hike #5 in my #52HikeChallenge for the year.

Species List:

  1. Acorn Woodpecker, Melanerpes formicivorus
  2. Azolla, Water Fern, Azolla filiculoides
  3. Bark Rim Lichen, Lecanora chlarotera [looks like Whitewash Lichen but has apothecia]
  4. Bitter Wart Lichen, Lepra amara [like rim lichen; white with heavy white apotheca]
  5. Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans
  6. Bumpy Rim-Lichen, Lecanora hybocarpa [tan to brown apothecia]
  7. California Camouflage Lichen, Melanelixia californica [dark green with brown apothecia, on trees]
  8. California Camouflage Lichen, Melanelixia californica [dark green with brown apothecia, on trees]
  9. California Ground Squirrel, Otospermophilus beecheyi
  10. California Mugwort, Artemisia douglasiana
  11. California Quail, Callipepla californica [heard]
  12. California Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma californica
  13. Canada Goose, Branta canadensis [flyover]
  14. Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus
  15. Cumberland Rock-Shield Lichen, Xanthoparmelia cumberlandia [gray, brown apotheca]
  16. Eastern Fox Squirrel, Sciurus niger [rusty belly]
  17. Farinose Cartilage Lichen,  Ramalina farinacea [like Oakmoss but very thin branches]
  18. Fluffy Dust Lichen, Pacific Fluffy Dust Lichen, Lepraria pacifica [blue-green dust lichen]
  19. Giraffe Spots Crust Fungus, Peniophora albobadia
  20. Gold Dust Lichen, Chrysothrix candelaris
  21. Green Shield Lichen, Flavoparmelia caperata
  22. Hidden Goldspeck Lichen, Candelariella aurella [small, scattered, yellow, on rocks]
  23. Hoary Rosette Lichen, Physcia aipolia
  24. Hooded Rosette Lichen, Physcia adscendens [hairs/eyelashes on the tips of the lobes]
  25. Hooded Sunburst Lichen, Xanthomendoza fallax [with soredia]
  26. Italian Arum, Lords-and-Ladies, Arum italicum
  27. Mallard Duck, Anas platyrhynchos
  28. Mold, Green Trichoderma Mold, Trichoderma viride
  29. Mourning Dove, Zenaida macroura
  30. Northern Flicker, Colaptes auratus [heard]
  31. Nuttall’s Woodpecker, Picoides nuttallii
  32. Oak Titmouse, Baeolophus inornatus
  33. Oak, Interior Live Oak, Quercus wislizeni
  34. Oak, Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
  35. Oakmoss Lichen, Evernia prunastri [like strap but with soredia]
  36. Pin-Cushion Sunburst Lichen, Polycauliona polycarpa [bright orange, apothecia, close, piled]
  37. Poison Oak, Pacific Poison Oak, Western Poison Oak, Toxicodendron diversilobum
  38. Powder-Edged Speckled Greenshield,  Flavopunctelia soredica [soredia on the edges]
  39. Red-Shouldered Hawk, California Red-Shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus elegans [flyover]
  40. Rio Grande Wild Turkey, Meleagris gallopavo intermedia
  41. Ruby-Crowned Kinglet, Regulus calendula
  42. Shrubby Sunburst Lichen, Polycauliona candelaria
  43. Slime Mold, Carnival Candy Slime Mold, Arcyria denudata
  44. Smokey-Eyed Boulder Lichen, Porpidia albocaerulescens
  45. Sparrow, Golden-Crowned Sparrow, Zonotrichia atricapilla
  46. Speckled Greenshield Lichen, Flavopunctelia flaventior
  47. Split Porecrust Fungus, Xylodon paradoxus [crust fungus with split surface]
  48. Strap Lichen, Western Strap Lichen, Ramalina leptocarpha [without soredia]
  49. Swallow, Tree Swallow, Tachycineta bicolor [flyover]
  50. Towhee, California Towhee, Melozone crissalis
  51. Towhee, Spotted Towhee, Pipilo maculatus
  52. Turkey Tail Fungus, Trametes versicolor
  53. Turkey Vulture, Cathartes aura
  54. Wavy-Leafed Soap Plant, Chlorogalum pomeridianum
  55. Western Gray Squirrel, Sciurus griseus
  56. White Horehound, Marrubium vulgare
  57. Whitewash Lichen, Phlyctis argena
  58. Willow, Goodding’s Willow, Black Willow, Salix gooddingii
  59. Wren, Bewick’s Wren, Thryomanes bewickii
  60. ?? black lichen on rocks

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