Category Archives: Citizen Science

A Second Trip to Kenny Ranch, 01-22-20

My Birthday Week: Day Four. Happy birthday to me!  I got up around 6:30 this morning, got the dog fed and pottied, and then headed out with my friend Roxanne to Kenny Ranch in Grass Valley.  We had been there earlier in the month to go on the Mushroom Mosey, but the pace of that was too fast for me. I wanted to explore more and see what else we could find on our own.

Start Time: 7:30 am
Start Temperature: 41º F
End Time: 4:30 pm
End Temperature: 59º F
Weather: Partly cloudy with sunshine in the afternoon
Total Hours in the field (includes travel time): 9 hours
Miles Walked: 2.6

After stopping for breakfast, we got to Kenny Ranch around 9:00 am and took our time, looking at everything. I’d brought my cane along, and was glad I did.  Not only did it help me maneuver and support me where the ground was particularly uneven, we were also able to use it to overturn rocks and fallen logs to see what might be hiding underneath them. 

We found quite a few of the Rosy Short-Head Millipede (also called Cherry Millipedes), Brachycybe rosea, in varying degrees of color.  They rosy-up as they age, so we were seeing little white young ones up to bright pink adults. The babies feed on fungus.

Millipede, Rosy Short-Head Millipede, Brachycybe rosea. Presumably males and lots of offspring.

There’s a super interesting 56-page report on another Brachycybe species called “Natural History of the Social Millipede” by Victoria Louise Wong that cites how the males care for the eggs.  “Males exclusively cared for eggs, but care of juveniles was not observed. In one case, the clutches of two males became combined and they were later cared for by only one of the males.”   Most of the report is mind-meltingly technical, but I was still able to glean a lot of interesting information from it.

These little guys, for example, use a chemical defense mechanism.  Adults carry “isomers of the alkaloid deoxybuzonamine” in all but the first 4 segments of their bodies and the chemical is used to repel ants – a major predator of the millipedes.  Babies have the ports for the chemical secretion, but don’t have the chemical itself, so they need their dads to encircle and defend them when they’re young. So, a lot of the adult ones we saw might presumably have been the males.  [[There is also a B. californica species, too, but I haven’t been able to find any information on it.]]

As I was going through the photos of the millipedes, I noticed I’d also captured part of the plasmodium of Dog Vomit Slime Mold, Fuligo septica. I was so focused on the millipedes at the time that I didn’t even notice the slime mold until I got home.

In the bottom half of this photo you can see the bright yellow-orange tendrils of the plasmodium of Dog Vomit Slime Mold, Fuligo septica

CLICK HERE to see the full album of photos.

We checked out the old Tongue Galls on the alder trees at the beginning of the trail, and noticed that the male catkins on the trees were just starting to come out and color up. They were actually quite gorgeous: chartreuse  green with brilliant pink cross-hatching on them.

Male catkins of the White Alder, Alnus rhombifolia, tree.

There were so many different lichen, I went a little crazy trying to identify them all. I have a couple of field guides on them but they’re still difficult for me because they can look different when they’re reproducing than they do when they’re not. Among the new finds for me were the Stonewall Rim Lichen, Sagebrush Goldspeck Lichen, Yellow Map Lichen, Star Rosette Lichen and the Powderhorn Lichen.  Phew!  Lots.

Among the new mushrooms we found were the Aniseed Funnel Mushroom, Clitocybe odora, that smelled just like licorice, and some HUGE specimens of Shellfish-scented Russula, Russula xerampelina. Those were thick and leathery, red stained, and as big as my open hand. 

This time around, too, we noticed the silk and lichen lined doorways that lead to the dens of the California Turret Spider. So cool!

California Turret Spider, Antrodiaetus riversi

We noted the Mountain Misery plants growing everywhere along the trail and wondered how they had gotten its name.  It’s actually quite a pretty ferny-looking plant, and gets white flowers on it in the spring.  When I got home, I looked it up and found that, apparently, early settlers in California got their feet tangled in the stuff and it pissed them off.

“…Mountain Misery was named because of the sticky resin on all parts of the plant and its strong medicinal odor. Also called bear mat, the underground stems form a tangled mat of vegetation.”  

We didn’t see or hear many birds in the forest (only a few along the highway near the parking lot.  I thought that was weird.  The quiet forest was lovely, though, with the sounds of trickling and rushing water here and there along the way.

We’d actually taken what we thought was the shallower route this time around (and avoided the deep ravine by the irrigation ditch), but the trail seemed to go on “forever”.  After a few hours we sat down on some logs, caught our breath, and tried to figure out where we were in relationship to the parking lot where the car was.  Google maps told us to head south for 250 feet and then turn left.  We figured that was easy enough, so I got out my brother Mark’s compass (which my sister Melissa had given to me after Mark died) and found “south”, and we continued on down the trail for the 250 feet… There the trail dead-ended, and “left” was straight up the side of the mountain.  D’oh! 

I knew it was going to be super difficult for me to manage that climb so I sent Roxanne off ahead of me.  She’s got more mountain goat in her than I do and was able to make the climb easier than I could.  I kind of zig-zagged my way up the steep incline, trying to maneuver myself near trees where I could use them as helping hands and using my cane to steady myself. I made it, but it took me almost an hour. Phew!  When we got back to the car, I told Roxanne, “Once I sit down, I may not be able to get up again.”  Hah!  She was very encouraging and congratulated me on making the climb.  I. Never. Need. To. Do. That. Again.

We headed back to Sacramento, tired but satisfied with our findings, and got back to the house around 4:30 pm.  A long day, but a fulfilling one.

Species List:

  1. Alder Tongue Gall Fungus, Taphrina alni
  2. Amber Jelly Fungus, Exidia recisa
  3. Aniseed Funnel Mushroom, Clitocybe odora [smells like licorice]
  4. Beaked Twig Gall Wasp, Disholcaspis plumbella
  5. Bicolored Bracket Fungus, Gloeoporus dichrous [white with gray center]
  6. Black Oak Stem Gall Wasp, Zapatella davisae
  7. Bryum Moss, Bryum capillare
  8. Buckbrush, Ceanothus cuneatus
  9. California Black Oak, Quercus kelloggii
  10. California Turret Spider, Antrodiaetus riversi
  11. Canyon Live Oak, Quercus chrysolepis
  12. Collared Parachute Mushroom, Marasmius rotula
  13. Common Bird’s Nest Fungus, Crucibulum laeve
  14. Common Jelly Spot fungus, Dacrymyces stillatus
  15. Cricket, Arboreal Camel Cricket, Gammarotettix bilabatus
  16. Cumberland Rock-Shield Lichen, Xanthoparmelia cumberlandia
  17. Cushion Moss, Leucobryum sp.
  18. Dog Vomit Slime Mold, Fuligo septica
  19. False Turkey Tail fungus, Stereum hirsutum
  20. Fluffy Dust Lichen, Pacific Fluffy Dust Lichen, Lepraria pacifica [blue-green dust lichen]
  21. French Broom Gall Mite, Aceria genistae
  22. French Broom, Genista monspessulana
  23. Gem-Studded Puffball, Common Puffball, Lycoperdon perlatum
  24. Gilled Polypore, Trametes betulina
  25. Globular Springtail, Ptenothrix marmorata
  26. Golden Dwarf Mistletoe, Western Dwarf Mistletoe, Arceuthobium campylopodum
  27. Golden Floccularia, Floccularia albolanaripes
  28. Gray Pine, California Foothill Pine, Pinus sabiniana
  29. Hoary Lichen, Hoary Rosette, Physcia aipolia
  30. Horsehair Mushroom, Gymnopus androsaceus
  31. Incense Cedar, Calocedrus decurrens
  32. Long-tailed Silverfish, Ctenolepisma longicaudata
  33. Lyell’s Bristle-Moss, Orthotrichum lyellii  [semi long panicles, dark with green ends]
  34. Manzanita Leaf Gall Aphid, Tamalia coweni
  35. Millipede, Rosy Short-Head Millipede, Brachycybe rosea
  36. Mountain Misery, Chamaebatia foliolosa 
  37. Pale Brittlestem, Psathyrella candolleana
  38. Ponderosa Pine, Pinus ponderosa
  39. Powderhorn Lichen, Common Powderhorn, Cladonia coniocraea
  40. Queen Anne’s Lace, Wild Carrot, Daucus carota
  41. Rocktripe Lichen, Emery Rock Tripe,Umbilicaria phaea
  42. Rosy Saucer Lichen, Ochrolechia trochophora
  43. Sagebrush Goldspeck Lichen, Candelariella rosulans [yellow, on rocks]
  44. Shellfish-scented Russula, Russula xerampelina
  45. Silky Pink Gill Mushroom, Nolanea sericea (Entoloma sericeum ssp. sericeum) [very dark brown cap with a nipple on top]
  46. Smokey-Eyed Boulder Lichen, Porpidia albocaerulescens [white with black dots]
  47. Star Moss, Syntrichia ruralis
  48. Star Rosette Lichen, Physcia stellaris [hoary colored, black apothecia]
  49. Stonewall Rim Lichen, Protoparmeliopsis muralis
  50. White Alder, Alnus rhombifolia
  51. White Cup Fungus, Calyptella capula [no gills]
  52. White Leaf Manzanita, Arctostaphylos viscida ssp. Viscida
  53. Yellow Map Lichen, Rhizocarpon geographicum [bright yellow-green with dark spots]
  54. ?? Lichen, Family: Tephromelataceae

Magpie Nests and Jack-o-Lanterns, 01-21-20

My Birthday Week: Day Three. I got up around 6:00 and was out the door around 7:00 am when my friend and fellow-naturalist Roxanne came to pick me up so we could go to the Johnson-Springview Park in Rocklin.  We hadn’t been there since last summer when we had a very successful gall hunt there.  We wanted to see what kind of lichen and fungi it might have to show us.

After breakfast, we finally got to the park around 8:30 or 9:00 am. As we walked around, we were surprised that there wasn’t a lot of lichen on the mostly now-bare trees, and not a whole lot of fungus either.  There’s a mixed oak forest there, and the back half of the park abuts Antelope Creek, so we figured we’d see more than we did.  Oddly enough, most of the mushrooms were found in the manicured lawn area at the front of the park. 

We found several stands of Jack-o-Lantern mushrooms which are deep orange in color with their gills running down the stipe (stem of the ‘shroom).  Their gills glow green in the dark, and they’re very poisonous mushrooms so they kind of live up to their spooky Halloween name. 

Jack-o-Lantern Mushroom, Omphalotus olearius

We also found some Bird’s Nest Fungus, which I always find fascinating no matter how often I find them.  I think just the fact that fungus grows to look like a nest with eggs in it is fascinating to me.

Birds Nest Fungus, Common Bird’s Nest Fungus, Crucibulum laeve. The little eggs are the “peridioles” and are filled with spores. Attached to each peridiole is a fine sticky thread called a “funicular cord”.The cords are coiled up inside a tiny “purse” on the back of the peridioles. When rain hits the nest, the peridioles are launched out and the cord is yanked out of its purse. The end of the cord is sticky and attaches to whatever the peridioles fly past (tree limbs, leaf litter, etc.)…and then the spores are released.

Two other finds of the day were seeing a pair of Yellow-Billed Magpies (which are endemic to the Central Valley of California; found here and nowhere else on earth) building their domed nest in the top of a tree.  As we looked around, we saw several other nests already near completion in nearby trees.  Once the domed roof is completed over the nest, of course, you can’t see anything inside of it, so the hatchlings are always obscured from view. Still, it’s fun and interesting to watch the birds work.

Magpie Nest Video:
CLICK HERE for the full album of photos from today

The other odd thing we came across was a Mourning Cloak Butterfly.  Mourning Cloaks are interesting because they hatch out in the spring, go through a flight and mating period, estivate through the hot summer months – [estivation is kind of like hibernation, but occurs in the hot months instead of the cold months] — and then emerge for a second flight in the fall.  What was especially interesting about the one we found, which had tucked itself under a log, was that it looked like its entire body and most of the underside of its wing were covered in black long-haired mold. 

A live Mourning Cloak Butterfly, Nymphalis antiopa, covered in what I think is Black Hair Mold, Phycomyces blakesleeanus.

When I first extracted the butterfly from the log, I thought it was probably dead, but then it started moving its feet and twitching, and opening and closing its wings, and we realized it was somehow still alive. (!)  The mold was so dark that it even obscured the butterfly’s eyes, so, at first I thought the eyes were gone and the thing was blind.

We took several photos of it from different angles  in the hopes of later being able to identify the kind of mold that was infesting it. Then it got enough strength pulled together to fly away up into the trees where we lost sight of it.  I was surprised it was able to fly at all.  Doing some research after I got home, I think the mold might have been something in the Phycomyces genus, maybe Phycomyces blakesleeanus, but I’m not sure.

California Angelwing Katydid, Microcentrum californicum [eggs]

Oh, and we also found some Katydid eggs today!  That was a cool find. Roxanne spotted them.

We walked for about 3 hours and then headed back to Sacramento.

Species List:

  1. Acorn Woodpecker, Melanerpes formicivorus [heard]
  2. American Plantain, Plantago rugelii [large plantain with rounded leaves]
  3. Beaver, American, Beaver, Castor canadensis [signs]
  4. Birds Nest Fungus, Common Bird’s Nest Fungus, Crucibulum laeve
  5. Black Hair Mold, Phycomyces blakesleeanus
  6. Black Jelly Roll fungus, Exidia glandulosa
  7. Blue Oak, Quercus douglasii
  8. Blue Slime Mold, Badhamia utricularis
  9. California Angelwing Katydid, Microcentrum californicum [eggs]
  10. California Ground Squirrel, Otospermophilus beecheyi
  11. Cavalier Mushroom, Melanoleuca melaleuca
  12. Ceramic Parchment Crust Fungus, Xylobolus frustulatus [brown with gold edges]
  13. Dark-Winged Fungus Gnat, Bradysia sp. [larvae]
  14. Deer Shield Mushroom, Pluteus cervinus
  15. Eurasian Collared Dove, Streptopelia decaocto [heard]
  16. Fairy Inkcap, Trooping Crumble Cap, Coprinellus disseminates [pale, almost white inkcap mushroom]
  17. False Turkey Tail fungus, Stereum hirsutum
  18. Gem-Studded Puffball, Common Puffball, Lycoperdon perlatum
  19. Gold Dust Lichen, Chrysothrix candelaris
  20. Golden Shield Lichen, Xanthoria parietina
  21. Green Shield Lichen, Flavoparmelia caperata
  22. Hair Ice Fungus, Exidiopsis effuse [not sure of this ID]
  23. Hoary Lichen, Hoary Rosette, Physcia aipolia
  24. Hooded Rosette Lichen, Physcia adscendens [hairs on the tips of the lobes]
  25. Hypoxylon Canker, Biscogniauxia atropunctata  [pathogen, white, on oak tree]
  26. Irregular Spindle Gall Wasp, Andricus chrysolepidicola [on Blue Oak]
  27. Jack-o-Lantern Mushroom, Omphalotus olearius
  28. Lyell’s Bristle-Moss, Orthotrichum lyellii [semi long panicles, dark with green ends]
  29. Meadow Slug, Badhamia utricularis  [short, fat, stubby slug]
  30. Mica Cap, Coprinellus micaceus [a kind of ink cap, pale tan cap]
  31. Miner’s Lettuce Claytonia perfoliata
  32. Mourning Cloak Butterfly, Nymphalis antiopa
  33. Mower’s Mushroom, Haymaker Mushroom, Panaeolus foenisecii
  34. Nematode, unidentified
  35. Oak Titmouse, Baeolophus inornatus
  36. Shrubby Sunburst Lichen Polycauliona candelaria
  37. Split Porecrust, Schizopora paradoxa
  38. Splitgill Fungus, Schizophyllum commune
  39. Spotted Trichia Slime Mold, Trichia botrytis
  40. Toothed Crust Fungus, Basidioradulum sp.
  41. White Parachute Marasmius, Marasmiellus candidus
  42. White Stubble Rosegill, Volvopluteus gloiocephalusi 
  43. Witches Butter, Tremella mesenterica
  44. Yellow Fieldcap, Bolbitius titubans
  45. Yellow Orb Sac Fungus, Orbilia sp.
  46. Yellow-Billed Magpie, Pica nuttalli
  47. ?? Fluffy fungus with gutation, Trichoderma sp.

Trying out the Light box, 01-18-20

Roger Jones from the Bufferlands Regional San suggested I get a light box to help with some of my photo-taking. The box isolates the subject in a small space and illuminates it to bring out some of the detail.

I purchased one from by Puluz: a small,portable box that I can take out into the field if I want to, and ignite the LED strip with the same power pack I carry with me to augment my cellphone battery.

Today, I tried it out for the first time with some Honey Fungus I got from the backyard. I like the way the images turned out!

I think using a single subject, instead of a group, may set details out even more.

Birding Then Fungus Hunting, 01-14-20

I got to the Effie Yeaw Nature Preserve right around 7:30 am, and as I was walking in, I met Rich Howard, the gentleman who was going to lead a birding walk for us.  He’s a very personable man with tons of birding knowledge, and is able to share what he knows in a very giving way.  (He’s not a “know it all” snob kind of guy.)

Start Time: 7:30 am
Start Temperature: 40º F
End Time: 12:30 pm
End Temperature: 46º F
Weather: Mostly cloudy, occasional sunshine
Total Hours in the field (includes travel time): 6 hours
Kilometers Walked: 3

While I was walking over to where Rich was setting up his birding scope, another gentleman named Eric came up to me and asked if I was Mary Hanson.  I told him, yes, and he said he wanted to do a macro photography thing for the preserve’s blog on lichen but he didn’t know much about them, and he wondered if I’d be willing to join him and help him with identification.  I told him sure, and gave him my calling card so he could contact me later. 

My fellow naturalist and friend, Roxanne Moger, joined us and the rest of the small group, which also included Rachael Cowan the volunteer coordinator at the preserve, and we started walking.  Within the first few steps we saw almost 15 bird species, including a pair of Red-Shouldered Hawks, some Yellow-Billed Magpies, Mourning Doves, White-Breasted Nuthatches and Turkey Vultures.

Red-Shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus, female

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

I tried getting some photos through the birding scope, but found it difficult to do because everything was “backwards”. And it seemed like my camera had the same reach as the scope did, so, after a few tries at different locations, I decided it wasn’t worth the extra effort.

At one point, we could see two hawks circling over a tree where there was a known hawk nest that had been used for several season.  One of the hawks was a Red-Tailed Hawk, but the other hawk was more difficult to ID because it kept moving and was so far away. Rachel thought it might have been a Rough-Legged Hawk, Buteo lagopus, that migrate through this area in the winter, but she wasn’t certain.  If it WAS a Rough-Legged Hawk, that would have been a first for me.

The walk took us down the main path and then out toward river (where it’s very hard for me to walk because the rocky surface is so uneven). As knowledgeable and interesting as Rich was, I kept get distracted by the deer and lichen and fungi around us, and once we got to the river side, I bowed out (along with Rachael, her new volunteer and Roxanne).

Northern Flicker, Colaptes auratus, male, red-shafted

Roxanne and I then spent another 4 hours walking through the preserve looking at and photographing stuff.  I’ve been reading up a bit on lichen and wanted to see if I could locate and get pictures of some of the features I’d read about.  Not much luck in that regard, but we did find some interesting fungi and slime molds. 

While I was photographing some Red Thread Marasmius mushrooms, a group of 2nd graders and their docent came up and the docent asked me what I was doing.  I told her that Roxanne and I were doing the preliminary pass-through walk in anticipation of a fungus walk I’ll be doing with the docents next week. 
The woman said, “Oh, the one with Mary Hanson?” 
And I said, “That’s me!”  Hah! 

She then asked if I would talk a little bit about fungi to the second graders. (Eeew, gum-chewing ferrets!)  So I plucked up one of the little red mushrooms I was photographing and walked it over to the kids.  It’s hard for me to “dumb things down” for children, so I tried using analogies along with the “big words” to help them along.

Me with the 2nd graders. This photo is by Roxanne Moger.

I told them about the big tree-like structure of mycelium under the ground to which all fungi were connected, and told them that mushrooms, like the one I was holding, were like the apples on that tree. They were the fruit that held the “seeds”, the spores. Then I showed them some of the identifying features of the Marasmius: the red cap, the red stipe, the pale cream-colored gills where the spores were.  Some of the kids listened, some were distracted by shiny things, some were totally disengaged, and one said, “We saw bigger mushrooms over there.”  And I guess that’s pretty much par for 2nd graders… which is why I prefer teaching adults.

When the group had moved on, Roxanne and I continued to look for stuff, and we came across the first Pure Core Bluet, Clitocybe nuda (Lepista nuda), I’d seen so far this year. They’re a medium-size mushroom that is all lavender in color, including the cap, gills and stipe. Roxanne had never seen one before, so that was a cool first for her. 

Purple Core, Bluet, Blewit, Clitocybe nuda (Lepista nuda)

We also found what I think was a Bishop’s Cap, Coprinellus micaceus.  I’ll need to do more research to be sure, though.  It had a bell-shaped cap like an Ink Cap mushroom, but the surface was dry and kind of tan in color, and the stipe was heavier and more solid.

Roxanne had brought along a metal ruler, so we used that in some of the pix to get a better sense of scale in them. We also found a medium-sized mushroom with a bright yellow cap, thick stipe and sort of yellow-tan colored gills which Roxanne inadvertently unearthed when she stepped on part of it. Her step brought some of the rest of the mushroom to the surface; otherwise, we would have completely missed it.  It was “dry” and kind of heavy so I was thinking maybe it was a gilled bolete (Phylloporus), but I couldn’t find anything that really matched it in my field guides. Then I thought maybe it was a kind of Cortinarius, but it wasn’t at all slimy like those mushrooms are, so for the moment, I wasn’t sure what it was. A little more research and I think I found it: Yellow Knight, Man on Horseback, Tricholoma equestre.

Yellow Knight, Man on Horseback, Tricholoma equestre

As we were leaving the preserve, we came across another birder with his camera on a monopod, and we started talking about what we’d seen today.  He asked if we’d seen the Vermilion Flycatcher in Natomas, and we told him we hadn’t.  So, he told us it was in Tanzanite Community Park and he even got out his cellphone and showed us on Google Maps about where in the park it would probably be.  We thought that was so nice of him!  Neither of us had been to that park yet, so we’re looking forward to going there soon.

He also suggested we go to the Nimbus Fish Hatchery to see the waterfowl going after the scraps of salmon and steelhead in the water. So, we’ll probably check those out over the next few weeks.

After lunch, I finally got back to the house around 2:00 pm. 

Species List:

  1. Acorn Woodpecker, Melanerpes formicivorus
  2. Anna’s Hummingbird, Calypte anna
  3. Bewick’s Wren, Thryomanes bewickii
  4. Bishop’s Cap, Coprinellus micaceus
  5. Black Jelly Roll fungus, Exidia glandulosa
  6. Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans
  7. Brown Jelly Fungus, Jelly Leaf, Tremella foliacea
  8. Bushtit, American Bushtit, Psaltriparus minimus
  9. California Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma californica
  10. California Sycamore, Platanus racemose
  11. California Towhee, Melozone crissalis
  12. Canada Goose, Branta canadensis
  13. Coffeeberry, California Buckthorn, Frangula californica
  14. Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus
  15. Common Crow, Corvus brachyrhynchos
  16. Common Funnel, Infundibulicybe gibba
  17. Common Ink Cap Mushroom, Coprinopsis atramentaria
  18. Common Jelly Spot fungus, Dacrymyces stillatus
  19. Coyote Brush, Baccharis pilularis
  20. Eastern Fox Squirrel, Sciurus niger
  21. European Starling, Sturnus vulgaris
  22. Fairy Ring Mushroom, Scotch Bonnet, Marasmius oreades 
  23. False Turkey Tail fungus, Stereum complicatum
  24. False Turkey Tail fungus, Stereum hirsutum
  25. False Turkey Tail fungus, Stereum Ostrea
  26. Fluffy Dust Lichen, Lepraria finkii
  27. Garden Snail, Cornu aspersum
  28. Golden Crowned Sparrow, Zonotrichia atricapilla
  29. Green Shield Lichen, Flavoparmelia caperata
  30. Herring Gull, Larus argentatus [spot on bill, gray legs, pale eye]
  31. Honey Fungus, Ringless Honey Fungus, Armarilla tabescens
  32. Interior Live Oak, Quercus wislizeni
  33. Many-headed Slime Mold, Physarum leucopus
  34. Mourning Dove, Zenaida macroura
  35. Mushroom with gills connecting to stipe; dimple in cap, Arrhenia epichysium
  36. Nemadtode, unidentified
  37. Netted Crust Fungus, Byssomerulius corium
  38. Northern Flicker, Colaptes auratus
  39. Oakmoss Lichen, Evernia prunastri
  40. Pleated Ink Cap, Parasol Ink Cap, Parasola plicatilis
  41. Pleated Marasmius, Red-Thread Mushroom, Marasmius plicatulus
  42. Purple Core, Bluet, Blewit, Clitocybe nuda (Lepista nuda)
  43. Red-Shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus
  44. Red-Tailed Hawk, Buteo jamaicensis
  45. Rio Grande Wild Turkey, Meleagris gallopavo intermedia
  46. Rough-Legged Hawk, Buteo lagopus [ID not certain]
  47. Ruby-Crowned Kinglet, Regulus calendula
  48. Shrubby Sunburst Lichen, Polycauliona Candelaria
  49. Slime Mold, Trichia sp. [early white stage; each head on a stalk]
  50. Split Porecrust, Schizopora paradoxa
  51. Spotted Towhee, Pipilo maculatus
  52. Toothed Crust Fungus, Basidioradulum radula
  53. Turkey Tail Fungus, Trametes versicolor
  54. Turkey Vulture, Cathartes aura
  55. Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
  56. Western Gull, Larus occidentalis [spot on bill, pink legs, orange circle around eye]
  57. White Stubble Rosegill, Volvopluteus gloiocephalusi [white mushroom, slick cap with colored center, pale pink to gills, papery volva]
  58. White-Breasted Nuthatch, Sitta carolinensis
  59. White-Crowned Sparrow, Zonotrichia leucophrys
  60. Witches Butter, Tremella mesenterica
  61. Yellow Knight, Man on Horseback, Tricholoma equestre [large, heavy, yellow mushroom]
  62. Yellow-Billed Magpie, Pica nuttalli

The Coral Spot was New For Me, 01-10-19

I got up a little before 7 o’clock this morning and was out the door by 7:30 am to go to the American River Bend Park with friend and fellow naturalist, Roxanne. 

Start Time: 8:00 am
Start Temperature:
43º F
End Time:
1:30 pm
End Temperature:
48º F
Partly cloudy
Total Hours in the field (includes travel time):
6 hours
Kilometers Walked:

When we arrived at the park and were driving in, Roxanne spotted a very healthy looking coyote on the side of the road.  There was a woman walking along that same area, and rather than standing still so we could get photos of the coyote, she tried keeping pace with the car… and kept scaring the coyote. It ran up ahead of us and tried to hide behind a knoll, but once more the woman scared him out.  Eventually, he crossed the road in front of the car and then trotted off into the hills. I was able to get a few photos of him then, but by that time he was fairly distant from us.  I got a few shots, but could have gotten more, I think if that woman hadn’t (albeit unintentionally) interfered.

Coyote, Canis latrans

Past the biking intersection, we pulled off into the first turnout on the left and got out of the car to start scouting for fungi.  We didn’t have to go far.  Within a few feet of the car was a large stand of Honey Fungus at the base of a tree.  Around other trees we also found stands of Sulphur Tuft (a kind of poisonous mushroom)with a sulfur yellow tinge to it. [The crowded adnate gills of the Sulphur Tuft are initially sulfur yellow, becoming olive-green and progressively blackening as the spores ripen.]

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

Around here, we also came a fairly nice grouping of Bleeding Mycena, Mycena haematopus. I didn’t think to pull up and squeeze any of these guys, but there’s supposed to be a purple juice that comes out when the mushroom’s flesh is squeezed–especially in the base of the stem. 

Bleeding Mycena, Mycena haematopus

We followed a bachelor group of Wild Turkeys into a field on the opposite side of the road, and as we were getting photos of them, we noticed there were also several Turkey Vultures in the tree above them (and some other turkeys in the tree next to the vultures’ tree).  One of the vultures lifted its wings into the “heraldic pose” and another one did a wing-stretch for us that showed off its white underwing.  The turkeys were “strutting” and chasing one another, all a part of settling their hierarchy.

Turkey Vulture, Cathartes aura

We then started look diligently for more fungi, and while we were doing that we could hear Red-Shouldered Hawks yelling at each other from the trees.  I was able to get a few shots of one of them before he flew away.  

One of the first things that caught my eye were little pinks dots covering several leafless twigs and branches (which might have been Buckeye, but I was so enamored with the spots that I wasn’t paying attention to the substrate. Naughty bad.)  I took some establishing shots with my camera, then attached the macro lens to my cellphone to get a closer look at them.  I was surprised by what I saw:  little pale pink tufts amid brighter pink (almost red) forms that looked like raspberries.  They were gorgeous!

I thought, at first, that they were some form of slime mold, but after I got home, I did more research and reached out some of the folks in the Slime Mold Identification group on Facebook, and they directed me to a fungal plant pathogen called “Coral Spot”, Nectria cinnabarina.  It usually attacks broadleaf trees (including Buckeyes in California) and is made up of a complex of four distinct species.  The pale pink blobs are the asexual condial stage of the fungal complex (borne externally to the cells that produce them), and the raspberry blobs are the fertile ‘perfect’ stage.  (So, they go from the pale blobs to the rapsberries.)  Sooooo interesting. I’d never seen or heard of anything like them, so, this was a fun find.

We also found some green mold that we hadn’t seen before.  I researched it when I got home and asked some of my naturalist graduates for help with an ID, and settled on Green Trichoderma Mold, Trichoderma viride,  a fungus and a biofungicide.  It reproduces asexually through mitosis and is the anamorph of Hypocrea rufa, its teleomorph, which is the sexual reproductive stage of the fungus and produces a typical fungal fruiting body. The taxonomy of this mold has changed a LOT, so I’m not sure if this is the most currently accepted name. A closely related species, Trichoderma reesei, is used in the creation of “stonewashed jeans”.

Green Trichoderma Mold, Trichoderma viride

In that same area we found several different species of crust fungi, some nice polypores. Hair Mold, and some pretty, colorful lichens.  The Hair Mold, Phycomyces nitens , looks white when it’s fresh but if you look closer you can see its tiny yellow asexual sporangia that turn black when they go to spore. This mold is interesting because it’s also highly phototropic (its heads follow the direction of the sun as it moves across the sky. )

…Phycomyces was the second organism, after us, known to require a vitamin. …There are two main kinds of fruiting bodies, called macrophores and microphores, which differ in size, development and behavior. The spores disperse efficiently when they adhere to passing animals or are eaten by them…”

When we were done in that field, we crossed back toward where the car was park and found more Honey Fungus and polypores.

Then we drove further into the park toward the camping area, and I had Roxanne stop the car in the road when I spotted a huge Common Ink Cap Mushroom, Coprinopsis atramentaria, and some of its “children”.  It was the biggest specimen of that mushroom I’d ever seen.  Very photo worthy. 

Common Ink Cap Mushroom, Coprinopsis atramentaria

In that same field, I was also surprised to see lots and lots of Palomino Cup Fungus, Peziza repanda.  I’d never seen them in that particular field before, so it was fun to see them there.  Each one is a different shape depending on how it grows up through the grass, so I got dozens of photos of them.

Palomino Cup Fungus, Peziza repanda

Then we continued on to the camping area, and found some nice-looking Barometer Earthstars, Astraeus hygrometricus.  We also got views of the American River and could see a few bird species in and around the water including some Common Mergansers and Goldeneye ducks, a Double-Crested Cormorant, and a little Spotted Sandpiper(without its breeding spots).

We walked for almost five hours (!) and then headed home. 

Species List:

  1. Acorn Woodpecker, Melanerpes formicivorus [heard and saw lots]
  2. Artist’s Conk, Ganoderma brownie
  3. Audubon’s Warbler, Setophaga coronata auduboni
  4. Barometer Earthstar fungus, Astraeus hygrometricus
  5. Black Jelly Roll fungus, Exidia glandulosa
  6. Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans
  7. Bleeding Mycena, Mycena haematopus 
  8. Brown Jelly Fungus, Jelly Leaf, Tremella foliacea
  9. California Buckeye Chestnut, Aesculus californica
  10. California Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma californica
  11. Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus [scat]
  12. Common Goldeneye, Bucephala clangula
  13. Common Ink Cap Mushroom, Coprinopsis atramentaria
  14. Common Merganser, Mergus merganser
  15. Coral Spot [pathogen], Nectria cinnabarina  
  16. Coyote Brush, Baccharis pilularis
  17. Coyote, Canis latrans
  18. Double-Crested Cormorant, Phalacrocorax auratus
  19. Dryad’s Saddle, Hawk’s Wing, Polyporus squamosus
  20. Fairy Ring Mushroom, Scotch Bonnet, Marasmius oreades
  21. False Turkey Tail fungus, Stereum hirsutum
  22. False Turkey Tail fungus, Stereum ostrea
  23. Fool’s Funnel, Clitocybe rivulosa [white mushroom with funnel shaped stipe]
  24. Gem-Studded Puffball, Common Puffball, Lycoperdon perlatum
  25. Giraffe’s Spots Fungus, Peniophora albobadia
  26. Gold Dust Lichen, Chrysothrix candelaris
  27. Golden Shield Lichen, Xanthoria parietina
  28. Gray Veiled Amanita, Amanita porphyria [large gray/brown mushroom with white gills]
  29. Green Shield Lichen, Flavoparmelia caperata
  30. Green Trichoderma Mold, Trichoderma viride
  31. Hair Mold, Phycomyces nitens  
  32. Hoary Lichen, Hoary Rosette, Physcia aipolia
  33. Honey Fungus, Ringless Honey Fungus, Armarilla tabescens
  34. Honey Fungus, Armillaria mellea
  35. Horsehair Mushroom, Gymnopus androsaceus
  36. Interior Live Oak, Quercus wislizeni
  37. Jelly Spot Jelly Fungus, Dacrymyces chrysospermus
  38. Millipede, Gosodesmus claremontus [light, semi-flat backed]
  39. Millipede, Ptyoiulus impressus  [dark, rounded back]
  40. Nematode
  41. Netted crust fungi, Byssomerulius corium, a kind of resupinate fungus, lays flat on the substrate
  42. Northern Flicker, Colaptes auratus
  43. Nuttall’s Woodpecker, Picoides nuttallii
  44. Oak Titmouse, Baeolophus inornatus [glimpses]
  45. Oakmoss Lichen, Evernia prunastri
  46. Pacific Tree Frog, Chorus Frog, Pseudacris regilla [heard]
  47. Palomino Cup Fungus, Peziza repanda
  48. Pleated Ink Cap, Parasol Ink Cap, Parasola plicatilis
  49. Pleated Marasmius, Red-Thread Mushroom, Marasmius plicatulus
  50. Red-Shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus
  51. Rio Grande Wild Turkey, Meleagris gallopavo intermedia
  52. Shrubby Sunburst Lichen, Polycauliona candelaria
  53. Splitgill Fungus, Schizophyllum sp.
  54. Spotted Sandpiper, Actitis macularius
  55. Spotted Towhee, Pipilo maculatus [heard]
  56. Star Moss, Syntrichia ruralis
  57. Sulphur Tuft Fungus, Hypholoma fasciculare  [The crowded adnate gills of the Sulphur Tuft are initially sulphur yellow, becoming olive-green and progressively blackening as the spores ripen.]
  58. Sunburst Lichen, Xanthoria elegans
  59. Toothed Crust Fungus, Basidioradulum sp.
  60. Turkey Tail Fungus, Trametes versicolor
  61. Turkey Vulture, Cathartes aura
  62. Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
  63. Western Redbud, Cercis occidentalis
  64. White Alder, Alnus rhombifolia
  65. White-Breasted Nuthatch, Sitta carolinensis [heard]
  66. Witches Butter, Tremella mesenterica
  67. Yellow Fieldcap, Bolbitius titubans
  68. ?? Light gray bands on trees, lichen

    IDed after the original post
  69. Silky Pinkgill, Entoloma sericeum [dark brown mushroom with brown gills; gills start out grey, turn pink then brown]
  70. Common Cavalier, Melanoleuca polioleuca [grey/brown mushroom with white gills]

A Visit from a Sweat Bee, 01-02-2020

I was surprised to find a female sweat bee, on our back porch this afternoon. One of her wings had gone wonky and she was trying to get it back into the right folded position on her back. (You can sometimes tell the females from the males by the fact that the female’s legs are so hairy.)

There are several different genera of sweat bees and over 150 different species, so identification can sometimes be tricky, but I think our visitor was either a Pure Golden Green Sweat Bee, Augochlora pura, or maybe a Peridot Bee Augochlorella pomoniella. I’m basing that on her overall coloring and the fact that her tegula (the bit where her wing attaches to her body) is dark rather than green (like they are in the genus Augochloropsis). I’m leaning more toward the Peridot Bee because it’s found throughout California, whereas the Pure Golden Green Sweat Bee is usually found in the eastern US (on the other side of the Rockys).

According to the US Forest Service:

“… Augochlora makes her nests under the loose bark of old trees. Where you see a fallen log on the forest floor female Augochlora see valuable real estate. She builds cells made of mud and debris found under the bark that she glues together. She works throughout the days gathering pollen from her favorite flowers, carrying it back to her log home on her hind legs. In her nest, she mixes the pollen with some nectar and her own saliva. Scientists think that her saliva has antiseptic qualities that help keep this food fresh and add extra protection to the eggs. Once she has gathered enough food for one larva she lays an egg inside the cell and seals it. Her nests are lined with an impermeable thin membrane that she produces from glands on her body. The nests need all this protection because there are marauding ants and many other little predators that would promptly devour her babies; bee larvae make delicious meals for hungry predators. ..” CLICK HERE to read more.