Category Archives: Events

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

A Mushroom Mosey at Kenny Ranch, 01-11-20

I got up a little after 5:00 am today and got myself ready to head out with my friend and fellow naturalist, Roxanne a little after 6:00.    Roxanne and I were going to the Mushroom Mosey in Grass Valley (about an hour east of Sacramento). 

The Mushroom Mosey was taking place at Kenny Ranch which is adjacent to the Twin Cities Church at 11726 Rough and Ready Hwy, Grass Valley, California 95945 (at an elevation of about 2000 feet) and was being hosted by the California Native Plant Society and the Bear Yuba Land Trust.  The trails are open t the public for free, so they’re available year round.

We got to the location about 8:30 but then had to wait for everyone else to show up and get two different waivers signed. There were maybe 20 people in the group including our guides Daniel Nicholsen and Shane Hanofee. 

Start Time: 9:00 am
Start Temperature: 43º F
End Time: 12:00 pm
End Temperature: 48º F
Weather: Foggy and mostly cloudy
Total Hours in the field (includes travel time): 8 hours
Miles Walked: 2

It was a chilly 43° when we arrived, and the foothill fog was dragging its belly across the hills, so it was very wet and felt colder than it really was. As the mosey went on, though, the fog lifted and it got up to about 48°.

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.
Video of the Golden Mushroom, Floccularia luteovirens:
Video of the Puffball puffing:

The place presents a mix of habitats in a small space including mixed conifer and oak forests, some chaparral, and riparian areas.  Lots of heritage Incense Cedars, Gray Pine and Black Oak trees there, along with manzanita, alders, invasive French Broom, and wild plum.  This time of year is supposed to good for mushroom hunting, and in the spring, it’s supposed to be a great wildflower spot.

Overview of the “Mosey”, the Positives:  Some of us were given loupes (tiny powerful magnifying glasses that you have to hold up to your eye to use) but I was satisfied with the macro attachment on my cell phone. 

One of the hikers using a loupe to get a closer look at the Garlic Mushroom.

Shane and Daniel said the cellphones couldn’t see enough detail to do any real scientific identification work, but mine works well for my own purposes.  Several people saw me using it and were so impressed by how easily and well it worked that they asked me about it and took photos of the attachment so they could buy their own. 

One of my favorite things from the walk is that it showed me new places to look for things.  It never occurred to me to look at the plum trees or French broom for galls; or to look at the tiny tips of a cedar tree for mushrooms. Those were called “Earth Tongues”.

“…Saprobic fungus with small, brightly colored fruit bodies produced on Incense Cedar and Yellow Cedar needles. Easily recognizable by the habitat, in combination with the gelatinous texture, and convex to round ‘heads’ and short to nearly indistinct stipe…” 

Earth Tongues, Gelatinodiscus flavidus [photo taken with my cellphone]

I learned that fungi can have about 36,000 sexes. Split Gill, for example, has more than 23,000 different sexes or “sex types”.  “More combinations of genes help protect against potential threats like droughts or parasites.”

An article Discovery magazine tried to explain it:

“…The “sexes” don’t really involve physical differences either, as we might think of when the word “sex” comes to mind. The variations are all in the genome, at two separate loci, or locations, each of which has two alleles, or alternate forms. The loci are called A and B and the alleles are termed “alpha” and “beta.” That makes four possible sexes, but there’s another twist. Every A-alpha/beta and B-alpha/beta can have many different variants, called specificities. It amounts to more than 339 specificities for A and 64 for B. Putting those two together yields thousands of possible unique sexes.

The fungus can mate with any specificity as long as it’s different somewhere on both A and B. So, two prospective mates could both have the same A-beta and B-alpha, but have different A-alphas and B-betas and they’d be fine to hook up. If they shared A-alpha and A-beta, though, their pheromones wouldn’t be compatible, meaning that they couldn’t carry out the reproductive process. That leaves a ton of options for mating, though, and essentially means that anyone a fungus meets is fair game for sexy time…”

We also learned that the whole taxonomy system for mushrooms and other fungi has been turned on its head over the last decade, so a lot of the field guide are now out of date.  They’ll give you a good starting point for an ID, but aren’t the end all and be all.  Some of the smaller mushrooms, too, can only be sorted out on the microscopic level, which is why mycology is a difficult discipline.  Shane and Daniel said they’ve logged about 1200 species between them in the region, but there were several small specimens they saw today that they felt hadn’t been added to their database yet, so they collected those.

We were shown how to catch the scent of some of the mushrooms (by crushing the cap or stipe) and how to differentiate some by how they stain.  We got to see the Bleach-Scented Mycina, Mycena leptocephali, and the Garlic Mushroom, Mycetinis scorodoniu.  Both of them looked very similar to me, but the smells were very distinct. That will be something I’ll be checking more from now on.

And I also got to see several species we don’t see in Sacramento because the habitats and elevations are different here.  I saw my first Apricot Jelly Fungus which looked like a horn-shaped gummy bear, Rock Tripe which kind of looked like sheets of brown slime covered with black warts, Lung Lichen which looked like sheets of lung tissue from a smoker’s lung, and Bladder Plum Galls.  

Those galls were weird. I’d never seen one before, and would have passed it by completely if our guides hadn’t pointed it out. It’s a Bladder Plum Gall caused by a fungus called Taphrina pruni, on a wild plum tree. The fungus causes the tree to “abort” the fruit (plum) and replace it with this sac-like gall which the fungus then fills with its spores. The galls feel kind of flexible and rubbery at this stage. There were several on the tree we saw.

What’s doubly cool is: this is we were seeing these galls in the winter; shriveled and about an inch long. In the spring/summer, when the galls are new, they’re bright green and about 3 inches long. ((So, now I need to get back out there in the galls season!))

We also found a few very nice specimens of Bird’s Nest Fungus, Crucibulum laeve. The nests in this species have a cap over them at first, hiding the little “eggs” inside. Once they pop their lids, though, the eggs — which carry the spores — are visible. Each egg is attached to a tether.

“…[This] cord, which is called a funiculus in Mycologese, is the egg’s mechanism for attaching itself to sticks, leaves, and other plant debris. When a raindrop falls into the nest, the eggs are projected out of the cup. As this happens, the cord is stretched to its limit–then breaks away from the nest, remaining attached to the egg. Where the cord was attached to the nest, it becomes frayed, since it was torn away. The little frayed ends are adhesive, and when they come into contact with, for example, a leaf, they attach themselves. This stops the flight of the egg, which then swings back and attaches itself to the leaf as well…”

Overview of the “Mosey”, the Negatives:  The group was a large one, as I noted, but none of the guides paid attention to how the group expanded and contracted along the trail. Rather than having someone at the front and someone at the rear of the group, making sure everyone was accounted for and everyone was able to see and hear with the guide in the front was talking about, all of the guides stayed at the front of the group.  That meant that if you stopped to get a photo of the first species you were shown, you then had to rush to rejoin the group and missed what was being said about the second specimen.  It was VERY frustrating. 

The guides were so far ahead of this tail end of the group, that we slow-walkers were cheated out of the interpretive talks and the ability to photograph and learn about what specimens were found. Not good.

At one point, one of the guides threw away the specimen before the rest of the group even got a chance to see it.  He was done talking about it, and that was that. Ridiculous. I felt like I was cheated out of half of the information I should have been getting. 

The pace was also waaaaay too fast for me. It wasn’t a “mosey”, it was a “power walk”.  The ground was slippery with wet clay mud, slippery leaves and rocks that rolled under your feet, and I really struggled to keep up — which meant I wasn’t able to really appreciate the landscape around me. I had to keep watching where I was stepping.

By the end of the walk, I was about a half mile behind the guides – and not one of them came back to make sure everyone was safe and accounted for. I also don’t think the guides ever did head-counts at ANY point of the walk, so there would be no way for them to tell if they lost people. To me, that’s inexcusable – and dangerous for the participants. Yes, you sign the waivers when you come it, but that doesn’t the excuse the trip leaders to IGNORE basic safety principles in the field.

That last stretch was a slippery uphill road, and by the time I got to it I was so sore and exhausted I just couldn’t make it any further.  Roxanne was with me, but it’s not like she could carry me up the hill.  Luckily, a woman named Rae Anne was near us.  She’s a teacher at a school near the church and went on the trails often, so she knew where everything was and how to get there.  She could see that I was struggling and even though she didn’t know me from Eve, she offered to (literally) run up the hill, get her car, and drive it down to where I was. She then taxied Roxanne and I up to the parking lot where we started. I was sooooooooooo grateful. I think I said Thank You about six times. Hah!

We’d “only” walked for about 3 hours, but the pace was too fast and the terrain was a little too rugged for me (at that speed).  It wore me out.

This is me waiting along the ditch trail for a ride to the top of a steep hill that was the last leg of the hike. By the end of the walk, I was about a half mile behind the guides – and not one of them came back to make sure everyone was safe and accounted for. I thank Good Samaritan, Rae Anne, for coming to my rescue. Roxanne and I could have figured out something, I’m sure, but we shouldn’t have been put into that position in the first place.

All in all, although I liked seeing a new place and finding some new-to-species, I was very disappointed by how the outing was handled.  Once we were back at the parking lot, Roxanne and I didn’t stay for the trash pick-up detail and instead headed back to Sacramento. 

The location is easy to get to and the trail is relatively easy to walk (I’d actually call it “moderate” for me, really, not “easy”but it’s probably easy for most people), and the place holds a lot of promise.  I’d very much like to go back there…but if I do, it won’t be with a group and it will be at my own pace.

Species List:

  1. Acuminate Ink Cap, Coprinopsis atramentaria var. acuminate [scant veil, bell-shaped cap]
  2. Alder Tongue Gall Fungus, Taphrina alni
  3. Apricot Jelly Fungus, Guepinia helvelloides
  4. Bicolored Bracket Gloeoporus dichrous
  5. Birds Nest Fungus, Common Bird’s Nest Fungus, Crucibulum laeve
  6. Black-Footed Polypore, Polyporus badius [The Bad-Ass Polypore]
  7. Bladder Plum Gall fungus, Taphrina pruni
  8. Bleach-Scented Mycena, Mycena leptocephali  [dark, very small mushroom]
  9. Bryum Moss, Bryum capillare
  10. California Barberry, Mahonia pinnata [spiny leaves]
  11. California Black Oak, Quercus kelloggii
  12. California Poppy, Eschscholzia californica
  13. Conifer Mazegill, Gloeophyllum sepiarium
  14. Cumberland Rock-Shield Lichen, Xanthoparmelia cumberlandia
  15. Earth Tongues, Gelatinodiscus flavidus
  16. False Turkey Tail fungus, Stereum Ostrea
  17. French Broom Gall Mite, Aceria genistae
  18. French Broom, Genista monspessulana
  19. Funeral Bell Galerina, Galerina marginata
  20. Garlic Mushroom, Mycetinis scorodonius [pale, very small mushroom], before 2005 was listed as Marasmius scorodonius
  21. Gem-Studded Puffball, Common Puffball, Lycoperdon perlatum
  22. Giraffe’s Spots Fungus, Peniophora albobadia
  23. Globular Springtail, Ptenothrix marmorata
  24. Golden Mushroom, Floccularia luteovirens  [video; stained red]
  25. Gray Pine, Pinus sabiniana
  26. Honey Fungus, Shaggy Cap Honey Fungus, Armillaria sinapina
  27. Incense Cedar, Calocedrus decurrens
  28. Jelly Spot Jelly Fungus, Dacrymyces chrysospermus
  29. Lung Lichen, Lobaria anthraspis
  30. Manzanita Leaf Gall Aphid, Tamalia coweni
  31. Mountain Misery, Chamaebatia foliolosa [fern-like leaves]
  32. Oakmoss Lichen, Evernia prunastri
  33. Poison Pie Mushroom, Hebeloma crustuliniforme 
  34. Rock Tripe, Umbilicaria phaea
  35. Rosy Short-Head Millipede, Brachycybe rosea
  36. Sierra Plum, Prunus subcordata
  37. Smokey Bracket Fungus, Bjerkandera adusta 
  38. Smokey Eye Boulder Lichen, Porpidia albocaerulescens [White lichen on rock with black apotheca]
  39. Split Gill Fungus, Schizophyllum commune
  40. Turkey Tail Fungus, Trametes versicolor
  41. White Alder, Alnus rhombifolia
  42. White Cup Fungus, Calyptella capula [no gills]
  43. White Leaf Manzanita, Arctostaphylos viscida ssp. viscida
  44. White Russula, Russula brevipes

I Have Started an Eventbrite Account, 12-30-19

I have set up an account with Eventbrite through which I’ll post the upcoming events I’m going to and/or will be hosting. The majority of the events will be for adults only, focused on seniors, and free of charge.

Go to : to start with, and then click the FOLLOW button and sign up to get updates as new outings are planned.

A Quick Walk with Nate, 12-14-19

I got up around 7:30 this morning and by 8:15 was out the door headed to the Effie Yeaw Nature Preserve.  My former co-worker Nate Lillge was leading a hike there for Tuleyome.  It was 46ºF when I arrived, and Nate was already there, in the parking lot, waiting for his hikers: Alice and Amy.  It was a perfect day for walking, though, mostly sunny skies and temperatures that got up to about 57ºF before we left.

Nate Lillge showing the ladies a video of a Horsehair Worm he’d found a while back on another hike.

Start Time: 8:30 am
Start Temperature: 46ºF
End Temperature: 57º F
Weather: Mostly sunny
Total Hours in the field (includes travel time): 3.5 hours
Kilometers Walked: 3.75
Number of Individual Species Noted Today: 54

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

Nate walks a lot faster than I do, so I was lagging behind a lot, and there were several times when he just stopped and waited for me to catch up.  Each time, I brought up something with me, like a twig with lichen on it, or different kinds of fungi, or an example of Sudden Oak Death on a tree we passed.  Because we were moving so quickly, I didn’t get anywhere near as many photos as I normally would on a walk there but the exercise was good.

Mazegill Fungus, Daedalea quercina, with other Mazegills growing throughout its surface

We got to see several deer, including one of the big bucks (a four-pointer), but mostly we saw and heard a variety of birds: Spotted Towhees, Golden-Crowned Sparrows, Black Phoebes, Turkey Vultures, Wild Turkeys, Northern Flickers, Canada Geese (flying overhead), Lesser Goldfinches, a Ruby-Crowned Kinglet, Nutthall’s Woodpeckers, Acorn Woodpeckers, Red-Shouldered Hawks… the usual suspects.           

Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus, 4-point buck.

We walked for about 2 ½ hours and then headed back to our respective homes.  It was really nice to see Nate again; I’ve been missing him and Bill. 

Species List:

  • Acorn Woodpecker, Melanerpes formicivorus
  • Anna’s Hummingbird, Calypte anna
  • Barometer Earthstar fungus, Astraeus hygrometricus
  • Black Jelly Roll fungus, Exidia glandulosa
  • Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans
  • Blue Elderberry, Sambucus nigra cerulea
  • Brown Jelly Fungus, Jelly Leaf, Tremella foliacea
  • Bryum Moss, Bryum capillare
  • California Ground Squirrel, Otospermophilus beecheyi
  • California Mugwort, Artemisia douglasiana
  • Canada Goose, Branta canadensis
  • Chinese Pistache Tree, Pistacia chinensis
  • Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus
  • Common Duckweed, Lemna minor
  • Common Snowberry, Symphoricarpos albus
  • Coyote Brush, Baccharis pilularis
  • Coyote, Canis latrans [dashed by]
  • Eastern Fox Squirrel, Sciurus niger
  • European Starling, Sturnus vulgaris
  • False Turkey Tail fungus, Stereum hirsutum
  • False Turkey Tail fungus, Stereum ostrea
  • Flax-Leaf Horseweed, Erigeron canadensis
  • Golden Crowned Sparrow, Zonotrichia atricapilla
  • Green Shield Lichen, Flavoparmelia caperata
  • Horsehair Mushroom, Gymnopus androsaceus
  • Interior Live Oak, Quercus wislizeni
  • Lace Lichen, Ramalina menziesii
  • Lesser Goldfinch, Spinus psaltria
  • Mallard duck, Anas platyrhynchos
  • Mazegill Fungus, Daedalea quercina
  • Mourning Dove, Zenaida macroura
  • Mower’s Mushroom, Haymaker Mushroom, Panaeolus foenisecii
  • Northern Flicker, Colaptes auratus
  • Nuttall’s Woodpecker, Picoides nuttallii
  • Oak Apple Gall Wasp, Andricus quercuscalifornicus
  • Oak Titmouse, Baeolophus inornatus
  • Oakmoss Lichen, Evernia prunastri
  • Pleated Ink Cap, Parasol Ink Cap, Parasola plicatilis
  • Puffball Fungus, Bovista californica 
  • Red-Shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus
  • Rio Grande Wild Turkey, Meleagris gallopavo intermedia
  • Ruby-Crowned Kinglet, Regulus calendula
  • Russet Toughshank, the “Weed Mushroom”, Gymnopus dryophilus
  • Saw-Whet Owl, Sophia, Aegolius acadicus
  • Spotted Towhee, Pipilo maculatus
  • Sudden Oak Death pathogen, Phytophthora ramorum
  • Swainson’s Hawk, Buteo swainsoni
  • Tule, Common Tule, Schoenoplectus acutus
  • Turkey Vulture, Cathartes aura
  • Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
  • Water Fern, Azolla filiculoides
  • Western Redbud, Cercis occidentalis
  • White Finger Slime Mold, Ceratiomyxa fruticulosa
  • White Horehound, Marrubium vulgare

Trail Walkers Walk, 12-10-19

Today I spearheaded the first “guided trail walk” for the Effie Yeaw Nature Preserve. Rachael, the volunteer coordinator, is hoping to have a different guide each month, and use the walks to train the trail walkers while also sharing their knowledge and expertise with others in the group. 

Start Time: 7:30 am
Start Temperature: 44ºF
End Temperature: 49º F
Weather: Overcast, foggy
Total Hours in the field (includes travel time): 3
Miles Walked: 2
Number of Individual Species Noted Today: 46

Today’s group was small but therefore also easily manageable.  It was volunteers Pattie and Mike, Rachael, Mary M. (“The Other Mary”) and me.  The Other Mary brought me a bag of dried persimmon rounds which she’d picked form her own trees and dehydrated herself.  How nice!

Patti said she recognized my name and my photos from my posts to the Sacramento Region California Naturalists Facebook group page.  Both she and Mike are also “Star Trek” fans! And they both liked the new limited CBS series “Star Trek: Discovery” – especially the mycelial network and the Tardigrade (both of which have counterparts right now on Earth). 

            “…In real life, mycelium of belowground fungi connect plants and trees together, and have even been shown to communicate with each other. Mycelium can transport nutrients between different plants or trees, and real-life Paul Stamets has the called the real-life mycelial network ‘Earth’s natural internet’…” 

And the Tardigrade exists as microscopic creatures called “water bears” on the planet.  

Mike also expressed an appreciation for the book “The Hidden Life of Trees”, by Peter Wohlleben, which is one of my all-time favorites as well. So, needless to say, I took to Mike and Patti right away.  Hah!

As usually happens when I’m leading a walk (rather than walking on my own), I’m looking for specific things and talking a lot, so I didn’t get as many photos as I normally might on a walk like this one.  I was kind of disappointed in the fact that I’d forgotten to bring my cell phone with me, so I couldn’t get super-macro shots of the slime molds with my phone attachment.  That’ll teach me.

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos from today.

We did see quite a few species of birds including California Quail, Northern Flickers, and a Ruby-Crowned Kinglet among others.  And I was able to point out a few of the more obvious fungi like the Turkey Tail, False Turkey Tail, Mazegill, Splitgill, Horsehair Mushrooms and jelly fungi.  For me, the best finds, though, were the slime molds.  We found White Honeycomb, Wolf’s Milk and White-Gray Button Slime Molds, most of them on the underside of fallen logs and branches.

Pleated Ink Cap, Parasol Ink Cap, Parasola plicatilis. The “dust” that you see on the cap is actually the remnants of a universal veil that covered the whole mushroom when it was in the ground.

Along the trails we found little disks made of wood with sayings written on them like: “Be gentle with yourself”, “You’re beautiful”, and “Be-leaf in yourself”. We wondered if they were part of a group effort or done by an individual. 

Rachael had to leave after about 2 hours because she had a meeting to get to, and The Other Mary left around the same time because she was starting to ache from the walk, so Patti, Mike and I were left to our own exploring selves for the last hour. 

Everyone thanked me for leading the walk.  Rachael said she didn’t know that the wild turkeys we see weren’t natives.  As part of the initial portion of the walk I asked everyone what they could tell us about the turkeys, and the information shared wasn’t very detailed so I told them about the native species being hunted to extinction and the introduction of the Rio Grande and Merriam’s Wild Turkeys in the late 1890’s and early 1920’s.

Horsehair Mushroom, Gymnopus androsaceus
Russet Toughshank, the “Weed Mushroom”, Gymnopus dryophilus

Rachael asked if I would do a fungus walk in January, and Mike said the biggest take-away from the walk today was to “change your perspective”. He usually looks “up” seeking out birds and larger fauna; it had never occurred to him, he said, to look “down” at all of the tiny life right under his feet. Patti said that what I’m doing in my retirement and with my naturalist class graduates is a “great legacy” that may impact the world for years to come.  What a kind and generous thought.

As I said, we walked for about 3 hours and then I headed home. 

Species List:

  • Barometer Earthstar fungus, Astraeus hygrometricus
  • Bewick’s Wren, Thryomanes bewickii
  • Black Jelly Roll fungus, Exidia glandulosa
  • Brown Jelly Fungus, Jelly Leaf, Tremella foliacea
  • California Quail, Callipepla californica
  • Chinese Pistache Tree, Pistacia chinensis
  • Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus
  • Coral Slime Mold, White Honeycomb, Ceratiomyxa fruticulosa
  • European Starling, Sturnus vulgaris
  • False Turkey Tail fungus, Stereum hirsutum
  • False Turkey Tail fungus, Stereum ostrea
  • False Turkey Tail, Ocre Stereum, stereum ochraceoflavum
  • Golden Crowned Sparrow, Zonotrichia atricapilla
  • Great Blue Heron, Ardea herodias
  • Green Shield Lichen, Flavoparmelia caperata
  • Horsehair Mushroom, Gymnopus androsaceus
  • House Sparrow, Passer domesticus
  • Mallard duck, Anas platyrhynchos
  • Mazegill Fungus, Daedalea quercina
  • Meadow Mushroom, Agaricus campestris
  • Mine Fungus, Fibroporia vaillantii
  • Mower’s Mushroom, Haymaker Mushroom, Panaeolus foenisecii
  • Northern Flicker, Colaptes auratus
  • Nuttall’s Woodpecker, Picoides nuttallii
  • Oak Titmouse, Baeolophus inornatus
  • Oakmoss Lichen, Evernia prunastri
  • Ocre Spreading Tooth Fungus, Steccherinum ochraceum
  • Orb-Weaver spider, [web]
  • Pleated Ink Cap, Parasol Ink Cap, Parasola plicatilis
  • Puffball Fungus, Bovista californica [leaves tiny pallid to buff-colored scales over a dull-brown, papery endoperidium; spores released via a small, raised apical pore; gleba brown in age, elastic; subgleba and sterile base absent]
  • Red-Shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus
  • Rio Grande Wild Turkey, Meleagris gallopavo intermedia
  • Ruby-Crowned Kinglet, Regulus calendula
  • Russet Toughshank, the “Weed Mushroom”, Gymnopus dryophilus
  • Sheet-web spider, Family: Linyphiidae [web]
  • Split Gill Fungus, Schizophyllum sp.
  • Split Porecrust, Schizopora paradoxa
  • Spotted Towhee, Pipilo maculatus
  • Sulphur Shelf Fungus, Western Sulphur Shelf Fungus, Laetiporus gilbertsonii
  • Turkey Tail Fungus, Trametes versicolor
  • Turkey Vulture, Cathartes aura
  • White-Breasted Nuthatch, Sitta carolinensis
  • White-Crowned Sparrow, Zonotrichia leucophrys
  • White-Gray Button Slime Mold, Physarum leucopus [Spores pale violet-brown, distinctly warted, 8-10 µm diam. Plasmodium white, often tinted with blue, green, or yellow.]
  • Witches Butter Jelly Fungus, Tremella mesenterica
  • Wolf’s Milk Slime Mold, Lycogala epidendrum

Salmon Day at the Hatchery, 11-04-19

I headed over to the Nimbus Fish Hatchery.  They were going to open the fish ladder this morning at 10:30, but I wanted to get there and see the salmon before the crowd came in – and I’m glad I did.

It was 46º when I got to the hatchery and there were only three other cars in the parking lot, so I could park wherever I wanted to.  There were two rangers on the weir, doing whatever it they had to do to get the gate open that would allow the salmon to climb the ladder.  You could see salmon in the river, their humped backs showing above the surface of the water as they swam and jumped. At the base of the ladder, where the gate was still closed, the salmon were milling around it, banging on the gate wanting to get up the ladder to spawn.

Each of these fish is about as long as my arm!

They’re such huge fish! Photos and video don’t really do them justice.

From the fish ladder I walked along the riverside trail, then went into the trout raceways, and around the visitor’s center.

CLICK HERE to see the complete album of photos.

Along the river, I could see both Common Goldeneye ducks and Barrow’s Goldeneyes, lots of Great Blue Herons, lots of different kinds of seagulls, and lots of Great Egrets.  There were several Great Egrets walking along the webbing that covers the raceways where the salmon and trout fry a fed and grow. And another Great Egret that was feeding at the out-spout from the raceways to the settling pond. He’d figured out just the right spot where he could grab tiny fish that escaped from the raceways. I saw him catch four of them while I was watching him. Sometimes, the gulls would dive bomb the egret trying to steal the fish from his mouth!

Inside the raceways, a Green Heron and a Black-Crowned Night Heron had found a way inside beyond the chain link and the mesh coverings. I guess that they wait until someone opens a door and then quick fly in before the door closes again.  Once they’re in there, there’s no easy way out, but they have unlimited food with the millions of tiny fish in the raceways.  So, they’re trapped, but they’re well fed. There were also some pigeons and some House Sparrows in there.

Green Heron, Butorides virescens

Near the visitor’s center, they’ve added some extra artwork and sculptures including a jungle gym that looks like salmon eggs, small sculptures of salmon fry, and two benches that are long salmon with mosaic work all along the sides.  The benches were really impressive.  Some of the other stuff looked a little hokey and out of place though, including some extra painted signs that looked like owls, coyotes, and mountain lions.

Yep. A salmon egg jungle gym.

I walked for about 2½ hours and headed home.

When I went to my car, I was surprised to see the entire parking lot full of cars and several buses arriving filled with school children.  They were all there for the opening of the fish ladder. I’d seen what I wanted to of the ladder and can always come back to see the salmon climbing it another time (they’re around until about February), so I was glad to escape the crowd. (To find out when they salmon are spawning and when the hatchery takes the eggs, see their Facebook page at: )

Species List:

  1. Anna’s Hummingbird, Calypte anna
  2. Autumn Sage, Salvia greggii
  3. Barrow’s Goldeneye, Bucephala islandica
  4. Belted Kingfisher, Megaceryle alcyon
  5. Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans
  6. Black-Crowned Night Heron, Nycticorax nycticorax
  7. Brewer’s Blackbird, Euphagus cyanocephalus
  8. Brown Marmorated Stink Bug, Halyomorpha halys
  9. California Gull, Larus californicus
  10. Chinook Salmon, Oncorhynchus tshawytscha
  11. Coffeeberry, California Buckthorn, Frangula californica
  12. Common Goldeneye, Bucephala clangula
  13. Common Merganser, Mergus merganser
  14. Coyote Brush, Baccharis pilularis
  15. Cumberland Rock-Shield Lichen, Xanthoparmelia cumberlandia
  16. Double-Crested Cormorant, Phalacrocorax auratus
  17. European Starling, Sturnus vulgaris
  18. Fig, Common Fig, Ficus carica
  19. Great Blue Heron, Ardea herodias
  20. Great Egret, Ardea alba
  21. Green Heron, Butorides virescens
  22. House Finch, Haemorhous mexicanus
  23. House Sparrow, Passer domesticus
  24. Japanese Maple, Acer palmatum
  25. Mallard duck, Anas platyrhynchos
  26. Rainbow Trout, Steelhead, Oncorhynchus mykiss
  27. Ring-Billed Gull, Larus delawarensis
  28. Western Gull, Larus occidentalis