All posts by The Chubby Woman

Mary K. Hanson is an author, nature photographer and Certified California Naturalist living with terminal cancer.

The Two-Horned Galls Seem Early, 02-12-20

I got up a bit after 7:00 this morning and headed out to the Effie Yeaw Nature Preserve for my weekly volunteer trail walking gig there. It was about 47° when I got there and about 62° when I left, so I only needed to wear my light jacket (and actually took that off about halfway through my walk). I got to the preserve right around 8:00 am.

The first thing I noticed was that I didn’t the pair of Red-Shouldered Hawks at the nest they were building in a tree at the head of the main trail.  I don’t know if I just missed them, or if they’ve chosen somewhere else to nest… I saw and heard Red-Shouldered Hawks all over the preserve today, so they’re out there.

Red-Shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus

I also heard a lot of male California Quails “chi-ca-going” at each other, so I tried to track them down.  One sounded like it was near the riverside but I couldn’t see it. Another was calling from the scraggly undercover near an oak tree ahead of me on the trail, so I waited for him. He eventually came out with one female, and they ran up the trail then into the rocks by the river… so I got butt-shots of them, but nothing face forward. Still, I got hear and see them which is always a treat. They’re such funny, pretty little birds with their dingle-ball headgear.

CLICK HERE for the album of photos.

I also watched some Common Mergansers, a male and a female, fishing in the river with wither faces in the water.

I got to see quite a few deer – at one point, I was able to count 21 of them disbursed on either side of the trail.  Most of them were in places where they were backlit by the rising sun, so… not as many good photos as I was hoping for. Most of the deer are shedding their winter coats and look a bit “choppy” all over.

Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus,doe

Rachael, the volunteer coordinator at the preserve, told me the bucks were losing their antlers already.  But that seemed early to me (they can usually keep them through March); and I’ve seen lots of bucks who still have them – even today . Deborah Dash, one of my naturalist class graduates, recently posted a photo from one of her walks that looks like a male that just shed his antlers… so, I don’t know. It still seems early to me.

Everything in Nature is screwed up by Climate Change, though, and the fact that we’ve had some days in the 70’s here in February is symptomatic of that, I think.

I was also able to find maybe a dozen of the galls of the Two-Horned Gall Wasp on the Live Oak trees, and those seemed to be too early, too.  I hope the tiny larvae inside the galls don’t freeze when the temperature drops down to “normal” again.

Gall of the Two-Horned Gall Wasp and a larvae of the Crown Whitefly

As I walked along, I could hear the members of bachelor groups of Wild Turkeys fighting with one another. They have to set the hierarchy in place before the mating season starts, and fights can get pretty aggressive. The fights I heard were over before I got to the birds, so I missed those, but I was still able to get some photos of some of the individual males.

I also saw some Jackrabbits today.  Seems like “forever” since I’ve seen them. They’re the heralds of Spring to me.

Black-Tailed Jackrabbit, Lepus californicus

I walked for about 3 ½ hours and then headed home.

Species List:

  1. Acorn Woodpecker, Melanerpes formicivorus
  2. Bark Rim Lichen, Lecanora chlarotera [looks like Whitewash Lichen but has apothecia]
  3. Bewick’s Wren, Thryomanes bewickii
  4. Bird Hoverfly, Eupeodes volucris
  5. Black Jelly Roll fungus, Exidia glandulosa
  6. Black-Tailed Jackrabbit, Lepus californicus
  7. California Ground Squirrel, Otospermophilus beecheyi
  8. California Mugwort, Artemisia douglasiana
  9. California Quail, Callipepla californica
  10. California Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma californica
  11. California Towhee, Melozone crissalis
  12. Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus
  13. Dry Rock Pimple, Staurothele areolata
  14. Common Merganser, Mergus merganser
  15. Cream Narcissus, Narcissus tazetta
  16. Crown Whitefly, Aleuroplatus coronata
  17. Cumberland Rock-Shield Lichen, Xanthoparmelia cumberlandia
  18. Eastern Fox Squirrel, Sciurus niger
  19. Farinose Cartilage Lichen,  Ramalina farinacea [like Oakmoss but very thin branches]
  20. Gold Dust Lichen, Chrysothrix candelaris
  21. Golden Crowned Sparrow, Zonotrichia atricapilla
  22. Golden Shield Lichen, Xanthoria parietina
  23. Great Horned Owl, Bubo virginianus
  24. Green Shield Lichen, Flavoparmelia caperata
  25. Hoary Lichen, Hoary Rosette, Physcia aipolia
  26. Ink Lichen, Placynthium nigrum [pitch black, fine grained]
  27. Interior Live Oak, Quercus wislizeni
  28. Jack-o-Lantern, Western Jack-o-Lantern, Omphalotus olivascens
  29. Mallard duck, Anas platyrhynchos
  30. Miniature Lupine, Lupinus bicolor
  31. Mistletoe, American Mistletoe, Big Leaf Mistletoe, Phoradendron leucarpum
  32. Mourning Dove, Zenaida macroura
  33. Netted Crust Fungus, Byssomerulius corium
  34. Oakmoss Lichen, Evernia prunastri
  35. Olive Tree, Olea europaea
  36. Periwinkle, Vinca major
  37. Pin-cushion Sunburst Lichen, Polycauliona polycarpa
  38. Red-Shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus
  39. Rio Grande Wild Turkey, Meleagris gallopavo intermedia
  40. Shrubby Sunburst Lichen Polycauliona Candelaria
  41. Slime Mold,  Spotted Trichia Slime Mold, Trichia botrytis
  42. Soap Plant, Wavy Leafed Soaproot, Chlorogalum pomeridianum
  43. Spotted Towhee, Pipilo maculatus
  44. Stonewall Rim Lichen, Lecona muralis
  45. Strap Lichen, Western Strap Lichen, Ramalina leptocarpha
  46. Sunburst Lichen, Xanthoria elegans
  47. Two-Horned Gall Wasp, Dryocosmus dubiosus 
  48. Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
  49. White-Crowned Sparrow, Zonotrichia leucophrys

Spring is Starting to Awaken, 02-10-20

The winds died down a bit today, so I went out to the American River Bend Park to look for lichens.  It was 45° when I got to the river, and 64° when I got back home.

I had gone looking for lichens so I could get more detailed photos of them. I saw about 20 different species, including some on the Buckeye Trees. The mature Buckeye trees are just starting to get their new leaves, and baby Buckeye trees seems to be sprouting up allover the place.

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

I came across a California Pipevine plant that was overloaded with flowers.  Each flower looks like a chubby Calibash pipe, and there were literally hundred of flowers on just this one plant. 

The flowers are pollinated by fungus gnats (Mycetophiladea) which are attracted by the scent. The gnats enter the “mouth” on the top of the flower, and bang around inside the flower’s belly transferring pollen to the receptive female stigma. I found one of the flowers with gnats inside of it (and one at the mouth), and held it up to the sunlight to see their shadows flitting and bumping around.

The other cool thing of the walk, for me, was coming across a herd of about six Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, all bucks, all still in their antlers.  One of them had antlers that were almost taller than his legs were long.  He was very impressive.

Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus

I walked for about 3 hours and then headed back home.

Species List:

  1. Bark Rim Lichen, Lecanora chlarotera [looks like Whitewash Lichen but has apothecia]
  2. Bewick’s Wren, Thryomanes bewickii
  3. Blessed Milk Thistle, Silybum marianum
  4. Blue Elderberry, Sambucus nigra cerulea
  5. Boreal Button Lichen, Buellia disciformis [pale gray to bluish with black apothecia on wood]
  6. Brown-Eyed Shingle Lichen, Pannaria rubiginosa [on trees]
  7. California Buckeye Chestnut, Aesculus californica
  8. California Pipevine, Dutchman’s Pipe, Aristolochia californica
  9. Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus
  10. Creeping Moss, Conardia compacta
  11. Crescent Frost Lichen, Physconia perisidiosa [green or gray green on trees/wood]
  12. Dryad’s Saddle, Hawk’s Wing, Polyporus squamosus
  13. Farinose Cartilage Lichen,  Ramalina farinacea
  14. Frosted Rim Lichen, Lecanora caesiorrubella [light gray with light gray apothecia on wood]
  15. Common Sunburst Lichen, Xanthoria parietina [yellow-orange, on wood/trees]   
  16. Giraffe’s Spots Fungus, Peniophora albobadia                                                          
  17. Gold Dust Lichen, Chrysothrix candelaris
  18. Golden Shield Lichen, Xanthoria parietina
  19. Gouty Stem Gall Wasp, Callirhytis quercussuttoni
  20. Green Shield Lichen, Flavoparmelia caperata
  21. Hoary Lichen, Hoary Rosette, Physcia aipolia
  22. Hooded Rosette Lichen, Physcia adscendens [hairs/eyelashes on the tips of the lobes]
  23. Hooded Sunburst Lichen, Xanthomendoza fallax [leafy, yellow-orange, on trees]
  24. Ink Lichen, Placynthium nigrum [pitch black, fine grained]
  25. Lace Lichen, Ramalina menziesii
  26. Oakmoss Lichen, Evernia prunastri
  27. Pin-cushion Sunburst Lichen, Polycauliona polycarpa
  28. Powdered Ruffle Lichen, Parmotrema arnoldi [gray, has soredia or eyelashes/hairs on the thallus, on trees]
  29. Rio Grande Wild Turkey, Meleagris gallopavo intermedia
  30. Rusty Bog Moss, Sphagnum fuscum [reddish-brown slender stalks, on trees]           
  31. Shrubby Sunburst Lichen, Polycauliona Candelaria
  32. Strap Lichen, Western Strap Lichen, Ramalina leptocarpha
  33. Toothed Crust Fungus, Basidioradulum sp.
  34. Turkey Tail Fungus, Trametes versicolor
  35. Velvety Tree Ant, Liometopum occidentale
  36. Western Shield Lichen, Parmelia hygrophila [blue-gray, foliose, dull insidia on leaves]
  37. White Horehound, Marrubium vulgare

Cosumnes, Staten and Woodbridge, 02-08-20

I got up at 6:00 am and was out the door by about 7:00 am to go to the Cosumnes River Preserve with my friend Roxanne.   On the way there we hit a patch of dense fog, but then drove out of it again after just a few miles.

We saw a lot of hawks along the roadside in the trees, on the fences and upon the telephone poles, mostly Red-Tailed Hawks, but a few Red-Shouldered Hawks, too.  We had gone out looking for any Sandhill Cranes that might still be lingering in the area.

At Cosumnes, we didn’t see any cranes, but we did get to see a variety of waterfowl including Coots, Northern Shovelers and Pintails, Greater Yellowlegs and Killdeer.  At the boardwalk we stopped briefly in the parking lot to walk around the pond where an obliging Great Egret posed for us in a tree. 

Great Egret, Ardea alba

The best shot for me, though, was of a Wilson’s Snipe, the first one I’d seen this year. He was lingering near the edge of the pond, and I managed to get a few photos of him before he walked up into the overgrowth and disappeared.

Wilson’s Snipe, Gallinago delicata

Then it was down the freeway a bit to Staten Island Road.  We got luckier there as far as the Sandhill Cranes went, but many of them were pretty far from the road, so photo taking was a bit “iffy”. As we were approaching Staten Island Road, we saw a large flock of the cranes feeding in a field and stopped to look at them. I counted about 113 birds nearest to the road, and then may another 60 further away. Wow.  That was one of the largest flocks I’ve seen on the ground.

Sandhill Cranes, Grus canadensis

There were lots of Brewer’s and Red-Winged Blackbirds out there along with flocks of House Finches on the fence lines (and we think some Purple Finches, too.)  At one wetter spot we saw small flocks of tiny Dunlins poking around in the mud, then taking to wing with a flash of white as the whole little flock turned to the sunlight in tandem. And at another point, Roxanne spotted a White-Tailed Kite hovering, kiting over a field. They’re such beautiful birds, like feral angels.

The wild mustard, charlock and cheeseweed are starting to come up and flower. The heralds of spring. Oh, and I spied some Tundra Swans in the distance.  The last hangers-on for the season, I think.

A fuzzy photo of Tundra Swans, Cygnus columbianus, in the distance

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

We then decided to continue up the freeway a bit to the Woodbridge Ecological Preserve to see if there were any cranes there.  We didn’t see any on the preserve itself (what little you can see of it without a guide), but further down the road there was another turnout with small flocks of the cranes on either side of the road.  The best photos I got of birds at the preserve were of obliging Mockingbirds, some of them fluffed up against the chilly breeze.

And I also got some close-ups of some Coyote Brush Bud galls, and several different kinds of lichen on the wood railings on some of the fences. A new one for me was Cottonthread Lichen, Leprocaulon americanum. It’s green and kind of mealy looking to the naked eye, but when you get in close, you can see it’s made up of short “twisted threads” that kind of look like carpet.  Very cool.

Cottonthread Lichen, Leprocaulon americanum

By the time we were done at Woodbridge, we decided to head back to Sacramento.  When we got to Elk Grove, we stopped off at The Flaming Grill Café.  After lunch we continued back to Sacramento and I got home around 2:00 pm

Species List:

  1. American Kestrel, Falco sparverius
  2. American Pipit, Anthus rubescens
  3. American Robin, Turdus migratorius
  4. American Wigeon, Anas Americana
  5. Audubon’s Warbler, Setophaga coronata auduboni
  6. Black Angus Cattle, Bos Taurus var. Black Angus
  7. Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans
  8. Black-Necked Stilt, Himantopus mexicanus
  9. Boxelder, Box Elder Tree, Acer negundo
  10. Brewer’s Blackbird, Euphagus cyanocephalus
  11. Bufflehead Duck, Bucephala albeola
  12. Cackling Goose, Branta hutchinsii
  13. California Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma californica
  14. Canada Goose, Branta canadensis
  15. Cheeseweed Mallow, Malva parviflora
  16. Cinnamon Teal, Anas cyanoptera
  17. Coast Live Oak, Quercus agrifolia
  18. Common Crow, Corvus brachyrhynchos
  19. Common Sunburst Lichen Xanthoria parietina
  20. Cottonthread Lichen, Leprocaulon americanum [mealy, short threads on wood/trees]
  21. Coyote Brush Bud Gall midge, Rhopalomyia californica
  22. Coyote Brush, Baccharis pilularis
  23. Crescent Frost Lichen, Physconia perisidiosa [green or gray green on trees/wood]
  24. Downy Woodpecker,  Dryobates pubescens [shorter bill]
  25. Dunlin, Calidris alpina
  26. European Starling, Sturnus vulgaris
  27. Fishpole Bamboo, Phyllostachys aurea
  28. Gadwall duck, Mareca Strepera
  29. Golden Shield Lichen, Xanthoria parietina
  30. Great Blue Heron, Ardea herodias
  31. Great Egret, Ardea alba
  32. Greater White-Fronted Goose, Anser albifrons
  33. Greater Yellowlegs, Tringa melanoleuca
  34. Green-Winged Teal, Anas carolinensis
  35. House Finch, Haemorhous mexicanus
  36. Interior Live Oak, Quercus wislizeni
  37. Jointed Charlock, Wild Radish, Raphanus raphanistrum
  38. Killdeer, Charadrius vociferous
  39. Mallard duck, Anas platyrhynchos
  40. Narrowleaf Cattail, Cattail, Typha angustifolia
  41. Northern Mockingbird, Mimus polyglottos
  42. Northern Pintail, Anas acuta
  43. Northern Shoveler, Anas clypeata
  44. Oak Apple Gall Wasp, Andricus quercuscalifornicus
  45. Red-Shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus
  46. Red-Tailed Hawk, Buteo jamaicensis
  47. Red-Winged Blackbird, Agelaius phoeniceus
  48. Ruddy Duck, Oxyura jamaicensis
  49. Sandhill Crane, Grus canadensis
  50. Snow Goose, Chen caerulescens
  51. Tree Swallow, Tachycineta bicolor
  52. Tundra Swan, Cygnus columbianus
  53. Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
  54. Western Meadowlark, Sturnella neglecta
  55. White Alder, Alnus rhombifolia
  56. White Tailed Kite, Elanus leucurus
  57. White-Crowned Sparrow, Zonotrichia leucophrys
  58. Wilson’s Snipe, Gallinago delicata

Napa Trip Day Two, 02-05-20

Once we got the car loaded, my friend Roxanne and I were off again back toward Sacramento.  [[ CLICK HERE for the write up on Day One.]]

We took Highway 128 again and stopped three times along the way to look at the lace lichen on the trees and walk a little bit along Putah Creek.  At the first stop, where we were looking at the lichen, Roxanne realized that under the leaf litter, all over the area, was a huge crop of Sulphur Tuft mushrooms.  The mycelial web underground that supported them must have been huge!

Then we stopped briefly at the Monticello Dam and got a look at the Glory Hole. Water wasn’t flowing into it, but it was nice to see Lake Berryessa so full just the same.  We saw quite a few Robins there and some midges lighting along the rock retaining wall.  From a geological standpoint, the rock formations all around that area are quite impressive.  Lots of layers, all tipped up onto their side by plate tectonics.

“…Most of Northern California’s bedrock is part of just three large bodies: the granite of the Sierra, the metamorphic rocks of the Coast Range, and the sedimentary rocks of the Central Valley. All three are parts of one entity: a former subduction zone. Picture the Pacific seafloor plate being carried eastward against the North American continental plate and plunging underneath it—subduction…” READ MORE HERE.

Male midge. (The males have fluffy antennae)

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

At the third stop, along Putah Creek at one of the fishing turnoffs, we were “harassed” by a Mourning Cloak butterfly that at first seemed to want to avoid us, but then followed us all over the place and landed in conspicuous sots where we were able to get a lot of photos of it. 

And we saw our first Pipevine of the season in full bloom. The pipevine gets its flowers first and then leave follow. Each blossom is like a fat Calabash pipe. Here’s an interesting article on the plant.

California Pipevine, Dutchman’s Pipe, Aristolochia californica

We actually have an endemic subspecies of Pipevine Swallowtail butterfly in Sacramento County that would go extinct in just one season if the pipevine disappeared.     

The Mourning Cloaks are interesting, too, in that they estivate (like hibernation but in the hotter months) over the late summer, wake up in the fall and winter to feed, and then mate in the spring.  Some of them migrate; some don’t. Females lay their eggs all the way around the stems of willows, cottonwood trees, and other host plants, and when the babies emerge, they form a communal web around themselves and feed together until they’re bigger and stronger and able to go off on their own. In their butterfly stage, they don’t like nectar and feed instead on tree sap and rotting fruits and berries.  The caterpillars are black with black spikes and a row of bright red spots down the back.

The big deal to me at this stop was the number of different lichens on the boulders there. I found Stonewall Rim, Ink Lichen, several different kinds of Cobblestone lichen, Tan Nipple Lichen, Sidewalk Firedot Lichen and others. They were all relatively small (in comparison to the substrate) but really showed off under the macro attachment on my cellphone.

When we got into Winters, we stopped briefly for some extra coffee, and then continued on to Sacramento. I got to the house right around 2:00 pm. 

Species List from Both Days:

  1. Acorn Woodpecker, Melanerpes formicivorus
  2. American Robin, Turdus migratorius
  3. Arundo, Giant Reed, Arundo donax
  4. Bay Laurel Tree, Laurus nobilis
  5. Beaded Tube Lichen, Hypogymnia apinnata
  6. Big-headed Ground Beetle, Scarites subterraneus [black, shiny, large mandibles] ??
  7. Black Cobweb Spider, Steatoda capensis
  8. Black Jelly Roll fungus, Exidia glandulosa
  9. Brewer’s Blackbird, Euphagus cyanocephalus
  10. Bright Cobblestone Lichen, Acarospora socialis [bright yellow, on rocks]
  11. Bufflehead Duck, Bucephala albeola
  12. California Black Oak, Quercus kelloggii
  13. California Pipevine, Dutchman’s Pipe, Aristolochia californica
  14. California Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma californica
  15. California Slender Salamander, Batrachoseps attenuates
  16. Canada Goose, Branta canadensis
  17. Candlesnuff Fungus, Carbon Antlers, Xylaria hypoxylon [upright, branched, white with a layer of spores; spores release at a touch]
  18. Canyon Live Oak, Quercus chrysolepis
  19. Chamise, Adenostoma fasciculatum
  20. Cinder Lichen, Aspicilia cinerea
  21. Coastal Woodfern, Dryopteris arguta [pointed leaves, two rows of spore sites]
  22. Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus
  23. Common Crow, Corvus brachyrhynchos
  24. Common Gold Cobblestone Lichen, Pleopsidium flavum [bright yellow]
  25. Common Gray Disk Fungus, Mollisia olivascens
  26. Common Jelly Spot fungus, Dacrymyces stillatus
  27. Common Merganser, Mergus merganser
  28. Conifer Mazegill, Gloeophyllum sepiarium
  29. Cowboys Handkerchief, Waxy Cap Mushroom, Hygrophorus eburneus
  30. Coyote Brush, Baccharis pilularis
  31. Crabseye Lichen, Ochrolechia subpallescens [creamy colored lichen with white-rimmed pale orange/pink apothecia on trees]
  32. Crampball Fungus, Daldinia concentrica
  33. Dark-Winged Fungus Gnat, Bradysia sp.
  34. Dendroalsia Moss, Dendroalsia abietina [long curling moss on trees]
  35. Double-Crested Cormorant, Phalacrocorax auratus
  36. Douglas Fir Tree, Pseudotsuga menziesii
  37. Dusky Tile Lichen, Lecidea Lichen, Lecidea fuscoatra  [black rimmed apothecia on rocks]
  38. Ear-leaf Lichen, Normandina pulchella [green leaf-like on rocks]
  39. Eastern Fox Squirrel, Sciurus niger
  40. Farinose Cartilage Lichen,  Ramalina farinacea [like Oakmoss but very thin branches]
  41. Fishbone Beard Lichen, Usnea filipendula [hairy eyeballs]
  42. Fluffy Dust Lichen, Pacific Fluffy Dust Lichen, Lepraria pacifica
  43. Fremont’s Cottonwood, Populus fremontii
  44. Fringed Wrinkle Lichen, Tuckermanopsis americana [pale green, brown fringes, on trees]
  45. Globular Springtail, Ptenothrix marmorata 
  46. Goldback Fern, Pentagramma triangularis
  47. Gray lungwort, Lobaria hallii  [gray to green, with soredia on surface]
  48. Gray Pine, Pinus sabiniana
  49. Great Blue Heron, Ardea Herodias
  50. Great Egret, Ardea alba
  51. Green Shield Lichen, Flavoparmelia caperata
  52. Green Trichoderma MoldTrichoderma viride 
  53. Herre’s Ragged Lichen, Platismatia herrei
  54. Hidden Goldspeck Lichen, Candelariella aurella [small, scattered, yellow, on rocks]
  55. House Finch, Haemorhous mexicanus
  56. Ink Lichen, Placynthium nigrum [pitch black, fine grained]
  57. Interior Live Oak, Quercus wislizeni
  58. Lace Lichen, Ramalina menziesii
  59. Lipstick Powderhorn, Cladonia macilenta
  60. Lung Lichen, Lobaria anthraspis
  61. Mealy Pixie Cup, Cladonia chlorophaea
  62. Milky Cap, Hemimycena hirsute [tiny white mushrooms with distant gills]
  63. Mistletoe, American Mistletoe, Big Leaf Mistletoe, Phoradendron leucarpum
  64. Mistletoe Gall, caused byMistletoe haustorium growing on a tree
  65. Mourning Cloak Butterfly, Nymphalis antiopa
  66. Mourning Dove, Zenaida macroura
  67. Non-biting Midges, Family: Chironomidae
  68. Northern Flicker, Colaptes auratus
  69. Oakmoss Lichen, Evernia prunastri
  70. Oleander Aphid, Aphis nerii
  71. Orange Bonnet Mushroom, Mycena acicula
  72. Pacific Madrone Tree, Arbutus menziesii
  73. Pigeon, Domestic Pigeon, Columba livia domestica
  74. Pin-cushion Sunburst Lichen, Polycauliona polycarpa
  75. Pink Elongated Springtail, Podura sp.
  76. Pink Honeysuckle, California Honeysuckle, Lonicera hispidula
  77. Ponderosa Pine, Pinus ponderosa
  78. Poor Man’s Slippery Jack, Suillus fuscotomentosus [sort of looks like a bolete]
  79. Powderhorn Lichen, Common Powderhorn, Cladonia coniocraea
  80. Powdery Sunburst Lichen, Xanthoria ulophyllodes [yellow, leafy, rare on rocks but does sometimes appear on them]
  81. Red-Shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus [heard]
  82. Red-Tailed Hawk, Buteo jamaicensis
  83. Red-Winged Blackbird, Agelaius phoeniceus
  84. Rove Beetle, Quedius sp. [red-orange] ??
  85. Ruby-Crowned Kinglet, Regulus calendula
  86. Scaly Rustgill Mushroom, Gymnopilus sapineus
  87. Shield Lichen Parmelia sulcata [gray foliose lichen on trees]
  88. Sidewalk Firedot Lichen, Xanthocarpia feracissima  [bright orange, on rocks]
  89. Silky Piggyback Mushrooms,  Asterophora parasitica
  90. Slime Mold, Carnival Candy Slime Mold, Arcyria denudata
  91. Slime Mold, Honeycomb Coral Slime Mold, Ceratiomyxa fruticulosa
  92. Slime Mold, Insect Egg Slime Mold, Badhamia sp. [early stages of plasmodium]
  93. Slime Mold, Spotted Trichia Slime Mold, Trichia botrytis
  94. Soaproot, Amole, Chlorogalum pomeridianum ssp. pomeridianum
  95. Speckled Greenshield, Flavopunctelia flaventior
  96. Stonewall Rim Lichen, Lecona muralis [ pale green/gray thallus with rose/tan apothecia gathered in the center; color can be quite variable]
  97. Stonewall Rim Lichen, Protoparmeliopsis muralis [tan, pebbled with leafy edges, orange-tan apothecia]
  98. Striped Skunk, Mephitis mephitis [road kill, saw 5]
  99. Sulphur Tuft Fungus, Hypholoma fasciculare 
  100. Tan Nipple Lichen, Thelomma santessonii [gray/tan, deep holes in the structures]
  101. Tanoak, Tanbark Oak, Notholithocarpus densiflorus
  102. Toy Soldiers, Cladonia bellidiflora  [stalks are crusty, heads are split with red faces]
  103. Toyon, Heteromeles arbutifolia
  104. Trembling Crust Fungus, Merulius tremellosus [with guttation]
  105. Turkey Tail Fungus, Trametes versicolor
  106. Turkey Vulture, Cathartes aura
  107. Velvety Tree Ant, Liometopum occidentale
  108. Western Gray Squirrel, Sciurus griseus
  109. White Leaf Manzanita, Arctostaphylos viscida ssp. viscida
  110. Winter Moth, Operophtera brumata [larvae, green inchworm with orange head]
  111. Woolly Bird’s Nest Fungus, Nidula niveotomentosa
  112. Wooly Foam Lichen, Stereocaulon ramulosum [like Oakmoss but very crusty with small brown apothecia at the end of the branches]
  113. Yellow-Billed Magpie, Pica nuttalli

Napa Trip Day One, 02-04-20

Napa Trip Day One: My friend and fellow naturalist, Roxanne and I, took Highway 113, and stopped in Davis for a little breakfast (breakfast sammich and coffee) and then we stayed pretty much on Highway 128 through Winters, past the Monticello Dam and around Lake Berryessa to the city of Angwin. At a market across the street from Pacific Union College, we met with some of my other naturalist class graduates: Pam, Patty, Elaine, and Deborah (who was the one who organized the group and hosted us at her home). It was so great to see them all again and to spend the day with them out in nature.

Me (right) with Pam on the trail. Obviously, I didn’t take this photo.

Just a short drive down the road from the market we went to the Pacific Union College Forest.  According to the college website:

“The forested lands of Pacific Union College were once the winter camp of the Wappo tribe of California Indians, who enjoyed a bountiful supply of acorns. In 1843 the land became part of a Mexican land grant to George Yount. After the Mexican-American war, settlers used the redwoods to build homes and make grape stakes for vineyards. 

Lumber was the primary industry on Howell Mountain until Edwin Angwin built his resort hotel in 1883. PUC purchased Angwin’s resort in 1909. Since then, the forest has supported the mission of the college by providing lumber for classroom buildings and residence halls, firewood for heat, and recreation in the ‘back 40’. In the 1950s, the biology faculty began to enrich student learning by studying native trees, shrubs, and wildlife.

Today the PUC Demonstration and Experimental Forest is protected by a conservation easement in partnership with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CalFire) and the Land Trust of Napa County. As such, it will always remain forest and provide learning opportunities for PUC students as well as 35 miles of recreational trails—for mountain biking, hiking, horseback riding—for students, college employees, and community members. Home to a nesting pair of Northern Spotted Owls, the rare Napa False Indigo, and some of the easternmost Coastal Redwood trees, the rich biodiversity of the PUC forest makes is especially valuable to conservationists and researchers. Our forest truly sets PUC apart and makes Angwin a unique and special place to live, learn, and grow.”

You can get a map of the trails here.

It was very chilly and breezy when we got to the forest, so we were all pretty much bundled up for the whole walk but that didn’t hamper our enthusiasm or exploration. 

CLICK HERE for the full album of today’s photos.

Because of the part of the trail system we were on, we didn’t see a lot of fungi, but the lichens were everywhere and we also found some insects and a tiny, beautiful California Slender Salamander (Batrachoseps attenuates).  These little guys are nearly-endemic to northern California and breathe through their skin (so we were careful not to handle it).The one we found was snuggled down into a hole under a log and wrapped around a stick.  It’s hard to describe how small they are; most people mistake them for little worms…

California Slender Salamander, Batrachoseps attenuates

According to Wikipedia: “…From May to October, aestivation is the norm for this species. Unlike other members of its genus, egg-laying occurs quite early, as soon as December in the southern part of its range. Oviposition is thought to occur primarily in the tunnels of other creatures, but clusters have commonly been found on moist surfaces beneath bark, rocks, or other types of forest detritus. Clutches contain approximately five to twenty individual eggs, but five to ten different females may use the exact oviposition site; in any case, hatching occurs around March or April, somewhat later in the extreme northern part of the range.”

Such neat little dudes.

As I mentioned, we saw a lot of lichen there that we don’t get to see in the valley.  I’d been looking all over for some “Toy Soldier” and “Lipstick” lichen in Sacramento, and just wasn’t finding it anywhere.  They’re both lichens that stand straight up and have red “lips” at the end of their stalks.  There in the PUC forest, I found several specimens of both… and was surprised by how small they are.  In books, you see photos of them and they look as big as your fingers, but they’re really quite tiny.       

Toy Soldiers, Cladonia bellidiflora

Along with those two, I also got to see live for the first time specimens of Beaded Tube Lichen, FishboneBeard Lichen, Crabseye Lichen, Speckled Greenshield, Farinose Cartilage Lichen, Mealy Pixie Cups and others.

Lung Lichen, Lobaria anthraspis

We also found some great specimens of Woolly Birdsnest Fungus, which unlike the Common Birdsnests we see here, are taller and covered in fine hairs.

Woolly Bird’s Nest Fungus, Nidula niveotomentosa

And we got to see some Candlesnuff Fungus, also called Carbon Antlers.  These were very unobtrusive-looking little “antlers” that were stickling straight up from the ground around a burl.  When Deb touched them, they spewed frost-looking smoky clouds of spores all around them.  [[I was so busy watching Deb flick the antlers and video the spores, that I forgot to take photos myslef!  D’oh!  So, I hope she shares her video with everyone.]] 

Here’s a little bit of a write upon it from Wikipedia: “Specimens found earlier in the season, in spring, may be covered completely in asexual spores (conidia), which manifests itself as a white to grayish powdery deposit. Later in the season, mature ascocarps are charcoal-black, and have minute pimple-like bumps called perithecia on the surface. These are minute rounded spore bearing structures with tiny holes, or ostioles, for the release of sexual spores (ascospores).”

So, what we were seeing was the release of the asexual spores.  How fascinating is that?!  The fungus has two ways of reproducing: asexually and sexually.  Nature tries everything.

As for mushrooms, there weren’t a whole lot on the part of the trail we traveled, but we did find a few specimens of ones like Cowboy’s Handkerchief, Milky Caps and Slippery Jacks.  (Who names these things? Hah!)

Poor Man’s Slippery Jack, Suillus fuscotomentosus

I figured we walked from about 9:30 am to 2:00 pm, taking a break once for snacks.  I hadn’t carried any food into the woods with me (it was all sitting in the back of the car). I wasn’t really hungry at all but Elaine shared her tea with me, and Deb gave me part of her PB&J sandwich which I thought was super-sweet of them. 

I liked Elaine’s idea of taking hot tea out into the forest with you. Seems very “Downton Abbey” to me…except that I’d have to carry the tea myself instead of having servants carrying it and setting it up for me – along with petit fours and cucumber sandwiches – further up the trail. How fun would THAT be!  I need to organize something like that sometime… (Where’s my Publishers Clearinghouse money!?)

I’d very much like to go to the PUC forest again sometime, and maybe attack some of the other trails. There’s supposed to be an area where there are young Redwood trees, and wetter more riparian habitat.  It’s just that lo-o-o-o-n-g drive back and forth.  The gals said, though, that the hotel in Winters is finally finished and that’s kind of at the halfway point between here and Napa, so that might help.

After our walk, Elaine, Pam and Patty all went back to their respective abodes, but Roxanne and I did an overnight visit at Deb’s place.  Her house is very cozy and lovely, filled with art and craftwork, some of it done by her and her mom.  Her mother does pottery, so there were example of her work in the plates, bowls and trays used throughout the house.  And Deb does really incredible work with gourds.  You can see some of them here.

Roxanne at the table web Deb and me, noshing of fruit and veggies while we research what we saw today.

The first thing we did when we got to Deb’s was sit around the kitchen table with our cellphones and cameras, and piles of field guides, and tried to make a list of everything we’d see that day.  It was so much fun being surrounded by people who get as excited about identifying a “new-to-me” lichen as I do, pouring through the books, comparing photos and notes.  I loved it!  These ladies are so “my tribe”. Hah! 

CLICK HERE for Day Two.

Species List For Both Days:

  1. Acorn Woodpecker, Melanerpes formicivorus
  2. American Robin, Turdus migratorius
  3. Arundo, Giant Reed, Arundo donax
  4. Bay Laurel Tree, Laurus nobilis
  5. Beaded Tube Lichen, Hypogymnia apinnata
  6. Big-headed Ground Beetle, Scarites subterraneus [black, shiny, large mandibles] ??
  7. Black Cobweb Spider, Steatoda capensis
  8. Black Jelly Roll fungus, Exidia glandulosa
  9. Brewer’s Blackbird, Euphagus cyanocephalus
  10. Bright Cobblestone Lichen, Acarospora socialis [bright yellow, on rocks]
  11. Bufflehead Duck, Bucephala albeola
  12. California Black Oak, Quercus kelloggii
  13. California Pipevine, Dutchman’s Pipe, Aristolochia californica
  14. California Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma californica
  15. California Slender Salamander, Batrachoseps attenuates
  16. Canada Goose, Branta canadensis
  17. Candlesnuff Fungus, Carbon Antlers, Xylaria hypoxylon [upright, branched, white with a layer of spores; spores release at a touch]
  18. Canyon Live Oak, Quercus chrysolepis
  19. Chamise, Adenostoma fasciculatum
  20. Cinder Lichen, Aspicilia cinerea
  21. Coastal Woodfern, Dryopteris arguta [pointed leaves, two rows of spore sites]
  22. Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus
  23. Common Crow, Corvus brachyrhynchos
  24. Common Gold Cobblestone Lichen, Pleopsidium flavum [bright yellow]
  25. Common Gray Disk Fungus, Mollisia olivascens
  26. Common Jelly Spot fungus, Dacrymyces stillatus
  27. Common Merganser, Mergus merganser
  28. Conifer Mazegill, Gloeophyllum sepiarium
  29. Cowboys Handkerchief, Waxy Cap Mushroom, Hygrophorus eburneus
  30. Coyote Brush, Baccharis pilularis
  31. Crabseye Lichen, Ochrolechia subpallescens [creamy colored lichen with white-rimmed pale orange/pink apothecia on trees]
  32. Crampball Fungus, Daldinia concentrica
  33. Dark-Winged Fungus Gnat, Bradysia sp.
  34. Dendroalsia Moss, Dendroalsia abietina [long curling moss on trees]
  35. Double-Crested Cormorant, Phalacrocorax auratus
  36. Douglas Fir Tree, Pseudotsuga menziesii
  37. Dusky Tile Lichen, Lecidea Lichen, Lecidea fuscoatra  [black rimmed apothecia on rocks]
  38. Ear-leaf Lichen, Normandina pulchella [green leaf-like on rocks]
  39. Eastern Fox Squirrel, Sciurus niger
  40. Farinose Cartilage Lichen,  Ramalina farinacea [like Oakmoss but very thin branches]
  41. Fishbone Beard Lichen, Usnea filipendula [hairy eyeballs]
  42. Fluffy Dust Lichen, Pacific Fluffy Dust Lichen, Lepraria pacifica
  43. Fremont’s Cottonwood, Populus fremontii
  44. Fringed Wrinkle Lichen, Tuckermanopsis americana [pale green, brown fringes, on trees]
  45. Globular Springtail, Ptenothrix marmorata 
  46. Goldback Fern, Pentagramma triangularis
  47. Gray lungwort, Lobaria hallii  [gray to green, with soredia on surface]
  48. Gray Pine, Pinus sabiniana
  49. Great Blue Heron, Ardea Herodias
  50. Great Egret, Ardea alba
  51. Green Shield Lichen, Flavoparmelia caperata
  52. Green Trichoderma MoldTrichoderma viride 
  53. Herre’s Ragged Lichen, Platismatia herrei
  54. Hidden Goldspeck Lichen, Candelariella aurella [small, scattered, yellow, on rocks]
  55. House Finch, Haemorhous mexicanus
  56. Ink Lichen, Placynthium nigrum [pitch black, fine grained]
  57. Interior Live Oak, Quercus wislizeni
  58. Lace Lichen, Ramalina menziesii
  59. Lipstick Powderhorn, Cladonia macilenta
  60. Lung Lichen, Lobaria anthraspis
  61. Mealy Pixie Cup, Cladonia chlorophaea
  62. Milky Cap, Hemimycena hirsute [tiny white mushrooms with distant gills]
  63. Mistletoe, American Mistletoe, Big Leaf Mistletoe, Phoradendron leucarpum
  64. Mistletoe Gall, caused byMistletoe haustorium growing on a tree
  65. Mourning Cloak Butterfly, Nymphalis antiopa
  66. Mourning Dove, Zenaida macroura
  67. Non-biting Midges, Family: Chironomidae
  68. Northern Flicker, Colaptes auratus
  69. Oakmoss Lichen, Evernia prunastri
  70. Oleander Aphid, Aphis nerii
  71. Orange Bonnet Mushroom, Mycena acicula
  72. Pacific Madrone Tree, Arbutus menziesii
  73. Pigeon, Domestic Pigeon, Columba livia domestica
  74. Pin-cushion Sunburst Lichen, Polycauliona polycarpa
  75. Pink Elongated Springtail, Podura sp.
  76. Pink Honeysuckle, California Honeysuckle, Lonicera hispidula
  77. Ponderosa Pine, Pinus ponderosa
  78. Poor Man’s Slippery Jack, Suillus fuscotomentosus [sort of looks like a bolete]
  79. Powderhorn Lichen, Common Powderhorn, Cladonia coniocraea
  80. Powdery Sunburst Lichen, Xanthoria ulophyllodes [yellow, leafy, rare on rocks but does sometimes appear on them]
  81. Red-Shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus [heard]
  82. Red-Tailed Hawk, Buteo jamaicensis
  83. Red-Winged Blackbird, Agelaius phoeniceus
  84. Rove Beetle, Quedius sp. [red-orange] ??
  85. Ruby-Crowned Kinglet, Regulus calendula
  86. Scaly Rustgill Mushroom, Gymnopilus sapineus
  87. Shield Lichen Parmelia sulcata [gray foliose lichen on trees]
  88. Sidewalk Firedot Lichen, Xanthocarpia feracissima  [bright orange, on rocks]
  89. Silky Piggyback Mushrooms,  Asterophora parasitica
  90. Slime Mold, Carnival Candy Slime Mold, Arcyria denudata
  91. Slime Mold, Honeycomb Coral Slime Mold, Ceratiomyxa fruticulosa
  92. Slime Mold, Insect Egg Slime Mold, Badhamia sp. [early stages of plasmodium]
  93. Slime Mold, Spotted Trichia Slime Mold, Trichia botrytis
  94. Soaproot, Amole, Chlorogalum pomeridianum ssp. pomeridianum
  95. Speckled Greenshield, Flavopunctelia flaventior
  96. Stonewall Rim Lichen, Lecona muralis [ pale green/gray thallus with rose/tan apothecia gathered in the center; color can be quite variable]
  97. Stonewall Rim Lichen, Protoparmeliopsis muralis [tan, pebbled with leafy edges, orange-tan apothecia]
  98. Striped Skunk, Mephitis mephitis [road kill, saw 5]
  99. Sulphur Tuft Fungus, Hypholoma fasciculare 
  100. Tan Nipple Lichen, Thelomma santessonii [gray/tan, deep holes in the structures]
  101. Tanoak, Tanbark Oak, Notholithocarpus densiflorus
  102. Toy Soldiers, Cladonia bellidiflora  [stalks are crusty, heads are split with red faces]
  103. Toyon, Heteromeles arbutifolia
  104. Trembling Crust Fungus, Merulius tremellosus [with guttation]
  105. Turkey Tail Fungus, Trametes versicolor
  106. Turkey Vulture, Cathartes aura
  107. Velvety Tree Ant, Liometopum occidentale
  108. Western Gray Squirrel, Sciurus griseus
  109. White Leaf Manzanita, Arctostaphylos viscida ssp. viscida
  110. Winter Moth, Operophtera brumata [larvae, green inchworm with orange head]
  111. Woolly Bird’s Nest Fungus, Nidula niveotomentosa
  112. Wooly Foam Lichen, Stereocaulon ramulosum [like Oakmoss but very crusty with small brown apothecia at the end of the branches]
  113. Yellow-Billed Magpie, Pica nuttalli

First Visit to Tanzanite Park, 02-01-20

I got up around 6:30 am and was out the door by 7:30 to head out with friend and fellow naturalist Roxanne to Tanzanite Park in the Natomas area of Sacramento.  We’d never been there before, but were going to see if we could find the Vermilion Flycatcher that’s been visiting the park over the past month or more.

Weather: Super foggy then clearing to sunny skies
Total Hours in the field (includes travel time): 3.5 hours
Start Time: 8:30 am
End Time: 11:30 am
Start Temperature: 44º F
End Temperature: 59º F
Miles Walked: 1.5

We first had a leisurely breakfast at Hot Off the Griddle, and then headed over to the park.  We were hoping the fog would have lifted a bit by then, but no… It took another 90 minutes or so for the fog to rise and dissipate. We didn’t see the Vermilion Flycatcher, but did meet another pair of birders who were looking for it, too. 

This is the guy we were looking for and didn’t find. [This is not my photo]

And we got the chance to walk almost the full length of the park and keep a look out for other birds.  The first things we saw were crows, geese and gulls.  I actually think that some of the geese we saw were Cackling Geese (smaller kind-of twins of the Canada Geese, they have a shorter bill). 

It was foggy to begin with, so a lot of my initial photos were through the fog and focusing on the dew on some of the plants and spiderwebs.  Once it started to clear a bit, I was able to get better photos of the birds.  Some of them were so far away or so elusive that it was still a little difficult to get the images I wanted sometimes. Some of the dew images turned out to be rather interesting, though, so I couldn’t complain.

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

We were both surprised by the number of Audubon’s Warblers we saw all over the park. They seemed to be everywhere. Roxanne got to see her first Belted Kingfisher.  It was flying back and forth across the pond, and sometimes chased Green Herons from the trees.

A male Audubon’s Warbler, Setophaga coronata auduboni

It worried me that there piles and tins filled with rotting moldy bread set out for the birds.  Some of the crows and geese were eating the stuff; it couldn’t possibly have been good for them.  I wanted to create an interpretive sign for the park telling people what kind of HEALTHY food they can put out for the birds, and why bread (especially moldy bread) is horribly bad for them.  I wonder if I can get a grant for that?

Being so close to residences, too, it was upsetting to see the amount of trash in the water: plastic bottles, plastic bags, shopping carts.  Humans are such pigs. It’s embarrassing.

The trash in the water impacted on quite a few photos like this one of a Snowy Egret, Egretta thula

We walked for about 2 hours and then headed back home.

Species List:

  1. American Coot, Fulica Americana
  2. Audubon’s Warbler, Setophaga coronata auduboni
  3. Belted Kingfisher, Megaceryle alcyon
  4. Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans
  5. Brewer’s Blackbird, Euphagus cyanocephalus
  6. Bristly Oxtongue, Helminthotheca echioides
  7. Cackling Goose, Branta hutchinsii
  8. California Gull, Larus delawarensis [dark eye, red spot on bill, yellow legs]
  9. California Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma californica
  10. California Sycamore, Platanus racemose
  11. Canada Goose, Branta canadensis
  12. Common Crow, Corvus brachyrhynchos
  13. Common Juniper, Juniperus communis
  14. Common Merganser, Mergus merganser
  15. Crepe Myrtle, Lagerstroemia indica
  16. Double-Crested Cormorant, Phalacrocorax auratus
  17. Eurasian Collared Dove, Streptopelia decaocto [heard]
  18. European Starling, Sturnus vulgaris
  19. Great Blue Heron, Ardea herodias
  20. Great Egret, Ardea alba
  21. Green Heron, Butorides virescens
  22. Jeffrey Pine, Pinus jeffreyi
  23. Killdeer, Charadrius vociferous
  24. London Plane Tree, Platanus × acerifolia
  25. Mallard duck, Anas platyrhynchos
  26. Mistletoe, American Mistletoe, Big Leaf Mistletoe, Phoradendron leucarpum
  27. Mourning Dove, Zenaida macroura
  28. Northern Flicker, Colaptes auratus
  29. Northern Mockingbird, Mimus polyglottos
  30. Pied-Billed Grebe, Podilymbus podiceps
  31. Red-Winged Blackbird, Agelaius phoeniceus
  32. Seven-Spot Ladybeetle, Coccinella septempunctata [Introduced Species]
  33. Sheet Weaver Spiders, Family: Linyphiidae [webs]
  34. Snowy Egret, Egretta thula
  35. Western Redbud, Cercis occidentalis
  36. White Sweetclover, Melilotus albus
  37. White-Crowned Sparrow, Zonotrichia leucophrys
  38. Yellow-Billed Magpie, Pica nuttalli