I got up around 7:30 this morning and by 8:15 was out the door headed to the Effie Yeaw Nature Preserve. My former co-worker Nate Lillge was leading a hike there for Tuleyome. It was 46ºF when I arrived, and Nate was already there, in the parking lot, waiting for his hikers: Alice and Amy. It was a perfect day for walking, though, mostly sunny skies and temperatures that got up to about 57ºF before we left.
Start Time: 8:30 am Start Temperature: 46ºF End Temperature: 57º F Weather: Mostly sunny Total Hours in the field (includes travel time): 3.5 hours Kilometers Walked: 3.75 Number of Individual Species Noted Today: 54
Nate walks a lot faster than I do, so I was lagging behind a lot, and there were several times when he just stopped and waited for me to catch up. Each time, I brought up something with me, like a twig with lichen on it, or different kinds of fungi, or an example of Sudden Oak Death on a tree we passed. Because we were moving so quickly, I didn’t get anywhere near as many photos as I normally would on a walk there but the exercise was good.
We got to see several deer, including one of the big bucks (a four-pointer), but mostly we saw and heard a variety of birds: Spotted Towhees, Golden-Crowned Sparrows, Black Phoebes, Turkey Vultures, Wild Turkeys, Northern Flickers, Canada Geese (flying overhead), Lesser Goldfinches, a Ruby-Crowned Kinglet, Nutthall’s Woodpeckers, Acorn Woodpeckers, Red-Shouldered Hawks… the usual suspects.
We walked for about 2 ½ hours and then headed back to our respective homes. It was really nice to see Nate again; I’ve been missing him and Bill.
Today I spearheaded the first “guided trail walk” for the Effie Yeaw Nature Preserve. Rachael, the volunteer coordinator, is hoping to have a different guide each month, and use the walks to train the trail walkers while also sharing their knowledge and expertise with others in the group.
Start Time: 7:30 am Start Temperature: 44ºF End Temperature: 49º F Weather: Overcast, foggy Total Hours in the field (includes travel time): 3 Miles Walked: 2 Number of Individual Species Noted Today: 46
Today’s group was small but therefore also easily manageable. It was volunteers Pattie and Mike, Rachael, Mary M. (“The Other Mary”) and me. The Other Mary brought me a bag of dried persimmon rounds which she’d picked form her own trees and dehydrated herself. How nice!
“…In real life, mycelium of belowground fungi connect plants and trees together, and have even been shown to communicate with each other. Mycelium can transport nutrients between different plants or trees, and real-life Paul Stamets has the called the real-life mycelial network ‘Earth’s natural internet’…”
And the Tardigrade exists as microscopic creatures called “water bears” on the planet.
Mike also expressed an appreciation for the book “The Hidden Life of Trees”, by Peter Wohlleben, which is one of my all-time favorites as well. So, needless to say, I took to Mike and Patti right away. Hah!
As usually happens when I’m leading a walk (rather than walking on my own), I’m looking for specific things and talking a lot, so I didn’t get as many photos as I normally might on a walk like this one. I was kind of disappointed in the fact that I’d forgotten to bring my cell phone with me, so I couldn’t get super-macro shots of the slime molds with my phone attachment. That’ll teach me.
CLICK HERE for the full album of photos from today.
We did see quite a few species of birds including California Quail, Northern Flickers, and a Ruby-Crowned Kinglet among others. And I was able to point out a few of the more obvious fungi like the Turkey Tail, False Turkey Tail, Mazegill, Splitgill, Horsehair Mushrooms and jelly fungi. For me, the best finds, though, were the slime molds. We found White Honeycomb, Wolf’s Milk and White-Gray Button Slime Molds, most of them on the underside of fallen logs and branches.
Along the trails we found little disks made of wood with sayings written on them like: “Be gentle with yourself”, “You’re beautiful”, and “Be-leaf in yourself”. We wondered if they were part of a group effort or done by an individual.
Rachael had to leave after about 2 hours because she had a meeting to get to, and The Other Mary left around the same time because she was starting to ache from the walk, so Patti, Mike and I were left to our own exploring selves for the last hour.
Everyone thanked me for leading the walk. Rachael said she didn’t know that the wild turkeys we see weren’t natives. As part of the initial portion of the walk I asked everyone what they could tell us about the turkeys, and the information shared wasn’t very detailed so I told them about the native species being hunted to extinction and the introduction of the Rio Grande and Merriam’s Wild Turkeys in the late 1890’s and early 1920’s.
Rachael asked if I would do a fungus walk in January, and Mike said the biggest take-away from the walk today was to “change your perspective”. He usually looks “up” seeking out birds and larger fauna; it had never occurred to him, he said, to look “down” at all of the tiny life right under his feet. Patti said that what I’m doing in my retirement and with my naturalist class graduates is a “great legacy” that may impact the world for years to come. What a kind and generous thought.
As I said, we walked for about 3 hours and then I headed home.
Puffball Fungus, Bovista californica [leaves tiny pallid to buff-colored scales over a dull-brown, papery endoperidium; spores released via a small, raised apical pore; gleba brown in age, elastic; subgleba and sterile base absent]
Red-Shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus
Rio Grande Wild Turkey, Meleagris gallopavo intermedia
Ruby-Crowned Kinglet, Regulus calendula
Russet Toughshank, the “Weed Mushroom”, Gymnopus dryophilus
Sheet-web spider, Family: Linyphiidae [web]
Split Gill Fungus, Schizophyllum sp.
Split Porecrust, Schizopora paradoxa
Spotted Towhee, Pipilo maculatus
Sulphur Shelf Fungus, Western Sulphur Shelf Fungus, Laetiporus gilbertsonii
Turkey Tail Fungus, Trametes versicolor
Turkey Vulture, Cathartes aura
White-Breasted Nuthatch, Sitta carolinensis
White-Crowned Sparrow, Zonotrichia leucophrys
White-Gray Button Slime Mold, Physarum leucopus [Spores pale violet-brown, distinctly warted, 8-10 µm diam. Plasmodium white, often tinted with blue, green, or yellow.]
I was about 20 minutes early for a meeting a the Effie Yeaw Nature Preserve, and I got a few photos while I was waiting. I take my camera and cell phone with me everywhere I go.
Start Time: 9:00 am Start Temperature: 45ºF End Temperature: 48º F Weather: Overcast, foggy, sprinkling rain Total Hours in the field (includes travel time): 2 Miles Walked: 0.25 Number of Individual Species Noted Today: 8
Start Time: 8:00 am Start Temperature: 49ºF End Temperature: 61º F Weather: Bright, sunny, clear Total Hours in the field (includes travel time): 4.5 Miles Walked: 3
I got up around 7:30 this morning, and after giving Esteban his breakfast and letting him outside for potty, I headed over to the American River Bend Park. It was about 49º when I got there, and the skies were mostly sunny. We’re in between rainstorms, so I was hoping to be able to get some decent photos before the heavy rains came in tomorrow.
I stopped first at the first turnout after the main gate because I saw a Red-Shouldered Hawk sitting out in one of the trees there. I got a few photos of him before he flew off and kept walking for a short distance to see if I could find any indications of beavers along the riverbank. (The beavers come up to get to the cottonwood trees when the river swells.) I didn’t see any beaver sign, but I dd get to see lots of spider webs decorated with clinging rain drops and a fat fawn sitting in the grass with his mom. I also heard a Great Horned Owl but couldn’t catch sight of it.
The Coyote Brush was in bloom (mostly the female plants), and I even found some wild grapes still hanging from the vines there. I stopped exploring, though, when I came across the tent of a homeless person. I didn’t want to intrude on “his” space, so I went back to the car and then drove further into the park.
As I was going along the main road (which wasn’t as full of puddles as I expected it to be considering all the rain we’ve had lately) I caught sight of some deer and a Black-Tailed Jackrabbit. The rabbit took off before I could get photos of him, but the deer were somewhat obliging. It was a small herd of mostly females, one or two fawns, a spike buck and the big 5-pointer buck I normally see over at the Effie Yeaw Nature Preserve. I hadn’t seen him at Effie Yeaw the last time I was there and wondered if he’d crossed the river to get into the River Bend Park, and apparently he had! I was glad to see him. He’s such a handsome thing. Later, I saw him and his harem a few more times as I was walking.
I also caught sight of what looked like a big stand of Honey Fungus under one of the trees. I couldn’t park where I was on the road, so I continued up to the area where the restroom facility and camping area is, and then slowly made my way back on foot to where I’d seen the mushrooms.
In several places steam was rising off the trunks of the trees as the morning sun hit them. It was like seeing the forest breathe. So neat.
Not a great many species of mushrooms are awake yet, but the mosses and lichen were all “fluffed out” from the rains and there was lots of crust fungi and Turkey Tail fungus out showing off. I saw some great specimens of Black Jelly Roll fungus, Brown Jelly Fungus and Lace Lichen as well. And I also found some Barometer Earthstars.
When I got back to the Honey Fungus, I found large stands of them on both sides of the road, one species, Armillaria mellea, on one side of the road and another, Armarilla tabescens, on the other side of the road. I thought that was interesting. [A. mellea has an annulus Armillaria mellea around the neck of the stipe (a felty ring around the stem), and A. tabescens doesn’t.]
The individual mushrooms themselves were large, 4- and 5-inches across the cap, and the groups covered 2 or 3 feet of ground, so they were impressive. On one of the patches of the Armillaria mellea, I also saw tiny white larvae crawling around them, so I got out the macro attachment for my cellphone and took some close-up photos and video of them. When I got home, I was able to identify them as the larvae of Flat-footed Flies, Melanderomyia sp. I don’t remember ever seeing those before, so I was excited to have gotten the images.
Across the road, some of the ringless Armarilla tabescens mushrooms had Dark-Winged Fungus Gnat, Bradysia sp., larvae on them – and that’s what I normally see infesting old mushrooms. They’re easily differentiated from the all-white fly larvae by their shiny black heads.
I knew that today’s weather was perfect for termite migrations, so I kept an eye out for them, and was eventually rewarded by finding three separate colonies sending their winged agents off to form new colonies. The winged termites aren’t very strong fliers, so it’s relatively easy to see them and to follow their flight paths back to the colonies.
All of the colonies were emerging from the wooden fence posts along the road. Because they usually emerge en masse from their mounds and don’t fly very well, they’re easy pickings for the birds. I saw one Oak Titmouse just sitting on top of one of the fence posts gobbling up the termites as they came up into the sunlight. The bird flew off when I approached, so the insects got a little bit of a reprieve from predation while I was there. [[When I posted photos of the termites on my Facebook page, some of my fellow naturalists said they’d also spotted them today, so… it WAS a perfect day for termites, I guess.]]
Start Time: 7:30 am Start Temperature: 54ºF End Temperature: 61º F Weather: Overcast, no rain Total Hours in the field (includes travel time): 4 hours Miles Walked: 3.5 Number of Individual Species Noted Today: 47
I got up around 7:30 am and headed out to the Effie Yeaw Nature Preserve. I REALLY needed to get outside and walk. My car, Vincenzo, is still in the shop today, so Melissa let me borrow her car. It was 54º at the river and overcast. The cloud cover all day but we didn’t get any rain.
I only got periodic glimpses of the deer at the preserve, but there were a lot of different bird species around, the lichens were all fluffed up from the rains, and the fungi are starting to make an appearance like the crust fungi, jelly fungi and some spent Barometer Earthstars,
I get excited about weird things… like the first slime mold sighting of the season! Woo-hoo! I found a small specimen of Red Tube Slime Mold (Stemonitis fusca), also called Brown Tube Slime Mold or “Birthday Cake”. It starts out pure white, then the tubes lengthen and stand up on threads and the whole group turns red or pink or burgundy. Then as the mass goes to spore, it all turns brown and disintegrates into “dust”. ((The “Birthday Cake” variation of this slime mold retains light-colored tops of each of the stems, so it looks like frosting on top of a Red Velvet cake.)) You can see a video of how this slime mold forms at: https://youtu.be/A0__v5nMGaI
I saw a lot of evidence of mole activity on and around the trails, and one spot where it looked like a coyote had dug into the ground trying to get one of them.
I also found a Jerusalem Cricket in one of the puddles on the trail. It was dead, drowned, and I wondered if it had been driven there by Horsehair Worm parasites. I took photos of the cricket but didn’t cut it open to see if there were any worms in its brain or body.
In the river I tracked a huge, well-traveled, worn out Chinook Salmon in the shallows along the bank. There were gulls and Turkey Vultures sitting along the river waiting for the fish to die.
I ended up walking for about 3 hours and then headed back home.