All posts by The Chubby Woman

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

Mostly Lichen on a Frosty Morning, 12-10-21

I got up around 7:00 am and headed out to the American River Bend Park again. It was 34ºF when I got there.  I went to a different part of the park today than I did earlier in the week — still seeking fungi. The area I chose went from oak forest to a grove of buckeye trees.

Buckeyes are notorious for being poisonous. “… It is toxic to all classes of livestock and wildlife. The bark, leaves, stems, fruits, and seeds all contain glycosidal compounds which cause haemolytic action on red blood cells and depress the central nervous system when ingested…” So, I wasn’t sure I’d see much of anything around them.  I did find quite a few lichen on the trees but no fungi there.

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

Because I wasn’t seeing much, I cut my walk short and only did 2 hours. My sister was really surprised when I came home so early. Hah!

This was hike #90 of my annual hike challenge.


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Species List:

  1. Bewick’s Wren, Thryomanes bewickii
  2. Boreal Button Lichen, Buellia disciformis [pale gray to bluish with black apothecia on wood]
  3. Bufflehead Duck, Bucephala albeola
  4. California Mycena, Mycena californiensis [red, like the Bleeding Fairy Helmet, but they bleed orange not red]
  5. California Pipevine, Dutchman’s Pipe, Aristolochia californica
  6. California Wild Grape, Vitis californica
  7. Collared Parachute Mushroom, Marasmius rotula
  8. Common Button Lichen, Buellia erubescens [small black dots on wood, by themselves or on a background of white, gray, etc.
  9. Crawfish Lichen, Ochrolechia parella
  10. Deer Mushroom, Western Deer Mushroom, Pluteus exilis [heavy, dark cap and white stipe and gills]
  11. Doveweed, Turkey Mullein, Croton setiger
  12. European Starling, Sturnus vulgaris
  13. False Turkey-Tail, Stereum hirsutum [thin, flattish, brown underside]
  14. Farinose Cartilage Lichen,  Ramalina farinacea [like Oakmoss but very thin branches]
  15. Frosted Rim-Lichen, Lecanora caesiorubella [white with white apothecia]
  16. Green Shield Lichen, Flavoparmelia caperata
  17. Hoary Rosette Lichen, Physcia aipolia [hoary, brown apothecia]
  18. Hooded Rosette Lichen, Physcia adscendens [hairs/eyelashes on the tips of the lobes]
  19. Horsehair Fungus, Gymnopus androsaceus [thin black stipe, on leaf litter]
  20. Interior Live Oak, Quercus wislizeni
  21. Lace Lichen, Ramalina menziesii
  22. Milk-White Toothed Polypore, Irpex lacteus
  23. Miner’s Lettuce, Claytonia perfoliate [primary leaves showing]
  24. Moss, Capillary Thread-Moss, Ptychostomum capillare
  25. Northern Flicker, Colaptes auratus
  26. Oak Titmouse, Baeolophus inornatus
  27. Pin-Cushion Sunburst Lichen, Polycauliona polycarpa [bright orange, apothecia, close, piled]
  28. Pleated Inkcap Mushroom, Parasola plicatilis
  29. Poison Pie Mushroom, Hebeloma crustuliniforme
  30. Powder-Edged Speckled Greenshield, Flavopunctelia soredica
  31. Rio Grande Wild Turkey, Meleagris gallopavo intermedia
  32. Rosy Navel Mushroom, Contumyces rosellus
  33. Shrubby Sunburst Lichen, Polycauliona candelaria
  34. Silky Pink Gill Mushroom, Nolanea sericea (Entoloma sericeum ssp. sericeum) [very dark brown cap with a nipple on top]
  35. Speckled Greenshield Lichen, Flavopunctelia flaventior
  36. Strap Lichen, Western Strap Lichen, Ramalina leptocarpha [without soredia]
  37. Tall Psathyrella Mushroom, Psathyrella longipes [tan cap that often splits, dark tan gills]
  38. Turkey Tail Fungus, Trametes versicolor
  39. Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
  40. Yellow Fieldcap Mushroom, Bolbitius titubans
  41. ?? Rim Lichens, Lecanora sp. [green interior on apotheca]

Looking for Fungi, 12-06-21

I got up around 7:00 this morning and headed over to the American River Bend Park for a walk.  It was a chilly and dampish 46º at the river. I actually do better in cool weather, so I was out for quite a while.

The American River asseen from the River Bend Park trail.

I was hoping to find some birdsnest or coral fungus but struck out on those (might not be wet enough yet). I did find some other fungi, however. I found my first Purple Core (Blewit) of the season. I was a young one and still had a lot of its lavender color. I also found several different kinds of inkcap, some Cavaliers, Sweetbread mushrooms, and Purple- Edged Bonnets (which were new to me).

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

At one point, I came across a Great Blue Heron on a rock in the river below the trail, and stopped to get photos of it. It was joined by Turkey Vultures, a Herring Gull, a couple of Double-Crested Cormorants, and a tiny Spotted Sandpiper.

They all played musical chairs among the stones while a Common Goldeneye watch them from the water.  Very cool. I was able to get still shots and a few video snippets.

I also saw a few deer, including a pair of yearling fawns with their mom that passed the road in front of my car as I was leaving the park. The mom was being harassed by a buck who was sniffing after her to see if she was in estrus. When they had all crossed the road and were on the driver’s side of my car, I heard the doe give a low bleat, and her fawns took off in different directions. 

I think the idea that the buck would kill the fawns is a myth, although if mom was in estrus the buck might deliberately chase the fawns away. The fawns I saw were big enough, I think, to fend for themselves, but their mom was still protective of them.

I was out for 4½ hours, so was pretty tired by the time I got home. This was hike #89 of my annual hike challenge.


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Species List:

  1. Acorn Woodpecker, Melanerpes formicivorus
  2. Audubon’s Warbler, Yellow-Rumped Warbler, Setophaga coronata auduboni
  3. Barometer Earthstar, Hygroscopic Earthstar, Astraeus hygrometricus
  4. Bewick’s Wren, Thryomanes bewickii
  5. Blewit Mushroom, Purple Core, Lepista nuda
  6. Bottlebrush Frost Lichen, Physconia detersa
  7. Bracket-Forming Polypore, Perenniporia sp.
  8. Bumpy Rim-Lichen, Lecanora hybocarpa [tan to brown apothecia]
  9. Bushtit, American Bushtit, Psaltriparus minimus
  10. California Buckeye Chestnut Tree, Aesculus californica
  11. California Towhee, Melozone crissalis
  12. Canada Goose, Branta canadensis
  13. Cavalier Mushroom, Melanoleuca sp.
  14. Chocolate Tube Slime Mold, Stemonitis splendens
  15. Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus
  16. Common Button Lichen, Buellia erubescens [small black dots on wood, by themselves or on a background of white, gray, etc.
  17. Common Goldeneye, Bucephala clangula
  18. Common Merganser, Mergus merganser
  19. Deer Mushroom, Western Deer Mushroom, Pluteus exilis [heavy, dark cap and white stipe and gills]
  20. Double-Crested Cormorant, Phalacrocorax auratus
  21. Dryad’s Saddle, Hawk’s Wing, Polyporus squamosus
  22. False Turkey-Tail, Stereum ostrea
  23. Farinose Cartilage Lichen,  Ramalina farinacea [like Oakmoss but very thin branches]
  24. Flocculose Inkcap, Coprinellus flocculosus
  25. Gem-Studded Puffball, Common Puffball, Lycoperdon perlatum
  26. Gold Dust Lichen, Chrysothrix candelaris
  27. Golden-Haired Inkcap Mushroom, Parasola auricoma
  28. Great Blue Heron, Ardea herodias
  29. Green Shield Lichen, Flavoparmelia caperata
  30. Hare’s Foot Inkcap Mushroom, Coprinopsis lagopus
  31. Herring Gull, Larus argentatus [spot on bill, gray legs, pale eye]
  32. Hoary Rosette Lichen, Physcia aipolia [hoary, brown apothecia]
  33. Hooded Rosette Lichen, Physcia adscendens [hairs/eyelashes on the tips of the lobes]
  34. Interior Live Oak, Quercus wislizeni
  35. London Plane Tree, Platanus × acerifolia
  36. Magpie Inkcap, Common Inkcap, Coprinopsis picacea
  37. Mallard Duck, Anas platyrhynchos
  38. Mealy Pixie Cup, Cladonia chlorophaea
  39. Milk-White Toothed Polypore, Irpex lacteus
  40. Moss, Wood Bristle-Moss, Lewinskya affinis
  41. Oakmoss Lichen, Evernia prunastri [like strap but with soredia]
  42. Pin-Cushion Sunburst Lichen, Polycauliona polycarpa [bright orange, apothecia, close, piled]
  43. Pleated Inkcap Mushroom, Parasola plicatilis
  44. Powder-Edged Speckled Greenshield, Flavopunctelia soredica
  45. Purple-Edge Bonnet Mushroom, Mycena purpureofusca [like little red Marasmius]
  46. Rio Grande Wild Turkey, Meleagris gallopavo intermedia
  47. Rosellinia Fungi, Rosellinia sp. [a plant pathogen, looked like cement; was hard like crampballs]
  48. Shrubby Sunburst Lichen, Polycauliona candelaria
  49. Speckled Greenshield Lichen, Flavopunctelia flaventior
  50. Spotted Sandpiper, Actitis macularius
  51. Strap Lichen, Western Strap Lichen, Ramalina leptocarpha [without soredia]
  52. Stubble Rosegill Mushroom, Volvopluteus gloiocephalus
  53. Sweetbread Mushroom, Clitopilus prunulus
  54. Telegraphweed, Heterotheca grandiflora [soft felted leaves, yellow flowers]
  55. Turkey Vulture, Cathartes aura
  56. Two-Horned Gall Wasp, unisexual gall, summer generation,  Dryocosmus dubiosus [small, green or mottled, on back of leaf along the midvein]
  57. Wolf’s Milk Slime Mold, Lycogala epidendrum
  58. ?? Mushroom with brown cap, tan gills and tan/brown stipe
  59. ?? Mushroom with dark brown cap, white gills and twisted stipe

Four Eagles in One Day, 12-03-21

I got up around 6:00 AM and after feeding Esteban his breakfast and letting him outside for potty, I got myself ready to spend the day out at the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge with my friend Roxanne.

It was horribly foggy in Sacramento, so much so that it was hard to see more than a car length or two in front of us. Roxanne did all the driving.(Thank you!) At one point, the fog was so heavy we were following the white line along the edge of the road, and accidentally went onto an off-ramp we didn’t want. Rox caught the error right away and was able to get back onto the freeway without a hitch.  Hah! 

The fog on I5 between Sacramento and Willowsin Glenn County.

The fog persisted for much of our drive, and we were worried that if it was that foggy at the refuge, we wouldn’t see anything.  But as we approached the refuge in Glenn County, we drove out of the fog into sunshine! Yay!

A Great Egret, Ardea alba, stands out among the wetlands.

Right from the parking lot, we were seeing birds: sparrows, Black Phoebes, Marsh Wrens and warblers, along with lots and lots of Red-Winged Blackbirds. We followed some Red-Tailed Hawks around the eucalyptus trees, and along the way found some owl/eagle pellets, Sulphur Shelf fungus, some lerps and eucalyptus galls. 

Nearer to the nature center, we were surprised to see some of the teasel starting to bloom already. The plants are so confused.

Then we came upon the field that usually houses the refuge’s vernal pools in the springtime. Right now, it was full of Killdeer running around and whining at one another. In among them were tiny American Pipits and grumpy looking Brewer’s Blackbirds.

The big surprise, though, was being able to see three Snipes in the golden-yellowed grass. The grass and the birds’ coloring camouflaged them so well, it was sometimes difficult to see them at all.

There were flocks of geese and ducks in the air above us almost all day. We were seeing mostly Snow Geese and Ross’s Geese today, but there were some Greater White-Fronted Geese thrown into the mix as well.

Among the ducks we saw Cinnamon Teals, American Wigeons, Northern Shovelers, and Green-Winged Teals, Northern Pintails, some Ruddy Ducks, Gadwalls, some occasional Buffleheads, Ring-Necked Ducks and Coots.  We got to see a large “vortex” of the Shovelers, and got to see a little bit of the courtship dance of the Gadwalls.

In one of the sloughs, we saw a couple of Common Gallinules.

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos (as soon as Amazon Website Services corrects their downed servers, grrrrrrrrr).

We saw raptors all along the auto tour route, mostly Red-Tailed Hawks, but we also saw an immature Red-Shouldered Hawk, an immature Cooper’s Hawk and… drum roll… FOUR Bald Eagles!

We spotted some of the eagles in what I call “the eagle tree” at a distance at first. The mature eagle’s bright white head made it extra visible.  We ended up seeing the one mature eagle and two immature eagles in the same tree, so we assumed it was probably a mom and her two offspring. These two younger eagles were about 2½ years old (based on their coloring). Further along the route, we saw one more immature eagle who was probably 3 or 3½ years old.       

The eagles don’t get their fully white head and tail until they’re 4 or 5 years old. The beak also changes color as they mature from steely gunmetal gray to bright yellow.

We were also seeing a lot of large mushrooms in the grass and along the berms around the ponds. I think they were all Stubble Rosegills.

We had left the house at 6:30 AM and got home by 3:00 PM. It was a long day folded up in the car, but we saw a lot and laughed a lot, so it was fun and the hours went by quickly.


Buy Me a Coffee!

Donate $5 to buy me a coffee so I have the fuel I need to keep exploring and bring more of nature to you. Thanks!

$5.00


Species List:

  1. American Coot, Fulica americana
  2. American Kestrel, Falco sparverius
  3. American Pipit, Anthus rubescens
  4. American Wigeon, Anas americana
  5. Audubon’s Warbler, Yellow-Rumped Warbler, Setophaga coronata auduboni
  6. Azolla, Water Fern, Azolla filiculoides
  7. Bald Eagle, Haliaeetus leucocephalus
  8. Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans
  9. Black-Necked Stilt, Himantopus mexicanus
  10. Black-Tailed Jackrabbit, Lepus californicus
  11. Brewer’s Blackbird, Euphagus cyanocephalus
  12. Bufflehead Duck, Bucephala albeola
  13. California Bordered Plant Bug, Largus californicus
  14. Cinnamon Teal, Anas cyanoptera
  15. Common Gallinule, Gallinula galeata
  16. Cooper’s Hawk, Acipiter cooperii
  17. Coyote Brush, Baccharis pilularis
  18. Eucalyptus Gall Wasp, Ophelimus maskelli [speckled; flat galls all over the leaf surface]
  19. Gadwall Duck, Mareca Strepera
  20. Great Blue Heron, Ardea herodias
  21. Great Egret, Ardea alba
  22. Greater White-Fronted Goose, Anser albifrons
  23. Green-Winged Teal, Anas carolinensis
  24. Hare’s Foot Inkcap Mushroom, Coprinopsis lagopus
  25. Interior Sandbar Willow, Salix interior
  26. Killdeer, Charadrius vociferous
  27. Lesser Goldfinch, Spinus psaltria
  28. Long-Billed Curlew, Numenius americanus [in a rice field in the Yolo Bypass area]
  29. Mallard Duck, Anas platyrhynchos
  30. Marsh Wren, Cistothorus palustris
  31. Mourning Dove, Zenaida macroura
  32. Narrowleaf Cattail, Typha angustifolia
  33. Narrowleaf Milkweed, Mexican Whorled Milkweed, Asclepias fascicularis
  34. Northern Pintail, Anas acuta
  35. Northern Shoveler, Anas clypeata
  36. Pacific Pond Turtle, Western Pond Turtle, Actinemys marorata
  37. Paper Wasp, Black Paper Wasp, European Paper Wasp, Polistes dominula
  38. Paper Wasp, Red Paper wasp, Apache Paper Wasp, Polistes apachus
  39. Pleated Inkcap Mushroom, Parasola plicatilis
  40. Raven, Common Raven, Corvus corax
  41. Red Gum Eucalyptus, River Redgum, Eucalyptus camaldulensis
  42. Red Gum Lerp Psyllid, Glycaspis brimblecombei [on eucalyptus]
  43. Red-Shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus
  44. Red-Tailed Hawk, Western Red-Tailed Hawk, Buteo jamaicensis calurus
  45. Red-Winged Blackbird, Agelaius phoeniceus
  46. Ring-Necked Duck, Aythya collaris
  47. Ross’s Goose, Anser rossii
  48. Ruddy Duck, Oxyura jamaicensis
  49. Sacred Datura, Jimsonweed,  Datura wrightii
  50. Salt Grass, Distichlis spicata
  51. Savannah Sparrow, Passerculus sandwichensis
  52. Snow Goose, Chen caerulescens
  53. Sulphur Shelf Fungus, Western Hardwood Sulphur Shelf, Laetiporus gilbertsonii
  54. Swamp Smartweed, Persicaria hydropiperoides [white, single stem]
  55. Tule, Common Tule, Schoenoplectus acutus
  56. Tundra Swan, Cygnus columbianus [in a rice field in the Yolo Bypass area]
  57. Turkey Vulture, Cathartes aura
  58. Western Kingbird, Tyrant Flycatcher, Tyrannus verticalis
  59. Western Meadowlark, Sturnella neglecta
  60. White Stubble Rosegill, Volvopluteus gloiocephalusi [white or gray mushroom, slick cap with colored center, pale pink to gills, papery volva]
  61. White-Crowned Sparrow, Zonotrichia leucophrys
  62. Wild Teasel, Dipsacus fullonum
  63. Wilson’s Snipe, Gallinago delicata

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.


Buy Me a Coffee!

Donate $5 to buy me a coffee so I have the fuel I need to keep exploring and bring more of nature to you. Thanks!

$5.00


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