Category Archives: fungi

River Bend, 10-12-22

I got up around 7:00 AM, and headed over to the American River Bend Park for a walk. Thankfully, my left leg was relatively quiet and cooperative, and I didn’t feel the nerve pain creep back in until I was in the car on my way back home.

I saw a pair of does along the side of the road as soon as I drove in. Then further along I saw some large bucks, 3-pointers, but trying to get them to lift their heads so I could get a clear shot of their racks was pretty much impossible. Further along still, I found two young spike bucks. One of them was just starting to rub the velvet off his antlers. It’s nice to see them all up and about.

I also saw a couple of wild turkey parades going across the road. And there were a few jackrabbits hiding in the grass.

The first sulphur shelf specimen I came across was one that had been hacked away from the tree, just leaving the white butt behind.  Elsewhere, though, there were some very robust and brightly colored specimens. There were also a couple of small ones, about the size of your palm, that looked like shells. So pretty.

I was trying to keep a look out for migratory warblers, but didn’t fine any of them. I did find other birds, however. On the top of one of the cottonwood trees there was a small flock of Cedar Waxwings. In the river there were Mallards, Canada Geese, Common Mergansers, gulls… but no migratory birds.  One the “resting rocks” in the water there were a Canada Goose, a Spotted Sandpiper, a Double Crested Cormorant sunning itself in the morning light, a Great Blue Heron and a Green Heron.  Wow!

I saw a small flock of Mourning Doves on the ground doing a display I’d never seen before. One or more of the birds would raise one wing straight up as though trying to shoo away another bird near them. Cornell says: “…Defensive-threat Display. Immature and adult birds crouch, tuck in neck, and orient head toward intruder; then erect plumage, lift and spread wing farthest from threat toward vertical, and spread tail in direction of threat. Usually occurs while defending nest or food source…”            

It looked so odd! I got a little video snippet of it. Later, I saw some of the doves drinking water from the horse trough.

I found my first Alder Tongue Gall of the season; and also found a bud gall on what I think was some kind of rabbitbush or something. I walked for about 2½ hours and then headed home.

Alder Tongue Gall

Species List:

  1. Acorn Woodpecker, Melanerpes formicivorus
  2. Alder Tongue, Western American Alder Tongue Gall Fungus, Taphrina occidentalis
  3. Alder, White Alder, Alnus rhombifolia
  4. Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans
  5. Black-Tailed Jackrabbit, Lepus californicus
  6. California Ground Squirrel, Otospermophilus beecheyi
  7. California Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma californica
  8. Canada Goose, Branta canadensis
  9. Cedar Waxwing, Bombycilla cedrorum
  10. Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus
  11. Common Merganser, American Common Merganser, Mergus merganser americanus
  12. Crow, American Crow, Corvus brachyrhynchos
  13. Desert Stink Beetle, Eleodes acuticauda
  14. Double-Crested Cormorant, Phalacrocorax auritus
  15. Eastern Fox Squirrel, Sciurus niger [rusty belly]
  16. European Starling, Sturnus vulgaris
  17. Fremont’s Cottonwood, Populus fremontii
  18. Great Blue Heron, Ardea herodias
  19. Green Heron, Butorides virescens
  20. Gull, Larus sp.
  21. Killdeer, Charadrius vociferous
  22. Mallard Duck, Anas platyrhynchos
  23. Mourning Dove, Zenaida macroura
  24. Northern Flicker, Colaptes auratus
  25. Northern Mockingbird, Mimus polyglottos
  26. Oaks, Quercus sp.
  27. Ochre Spreading Tooth Fungus, Steccherinum ochraceum
  28. Red-Shouldered Hawk, California Red-Shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus elegans
  29. Rio Grande Wild Turkey, Meleagris gallopavo intermedia
  30. Ruby-Crowned Kinglet, Regulus calendula
  31. Speckled Greenshield Lichen, Flavopunctelia flaventior
  32. Towhee, Spotted Towhee, Pipilo maculatus
  33. Turkey Vulture, Cathartes aura
  34. Western Hardwood Sulphur Shelf, Laetiporus gilbertsonii
  35. White-Breasted Nuthatch, Sitta carolinensis
  36. Whitewash Lichen, Phlyctis argena
  37. Wormwoods and Sagebrushes, Artemisia sp.

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The Sulphur Shelf have been Activated, 09-29-22

I got up around 6:00 this morning and, after feeding Esteban his breakfast, I headed over to the Effie Yeaw Nature Preserve. It had been a while since I’d been there and I was hoping to see some deer. I walked down the main trail to the Meadow Trail and then around to the Pond Trail and back toward the nature center. It was a cool and breezy morning; perfect for a walk.

I saw some deer when I first got into the preserve – mostly does and yearlings; none of the big boys. And I saw one young spike buck, but after that it was slim pickings as far as the deer went.

I was surprised about halfway through my hike, though, by a pretty female fawn who stepped briefly out from the cover of the forest to get a look at me. She even tentatively stomped her tiny hoof at me. OMG, she was sooooo darling. I was able to get a short video snippet and a few still shots of her before she ran off back into the brush.

How beautiful is she? Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus

Another nice surprise was to see how many of the larger Sulphur Shelf fungi had sprouted out since the rain of last week. The Sulphur Shelf don’t need a lot of rain to get them “activated”; in fact, they don’t like it when it’s real wet outside. They are the harbingers of the fungus season, though; usually the first fungi we see each year. I saw quite a few very large, very brightly colored specimens (along with a few that were already fading). I’d come around a bend in the trail, and there would be another specimen. When they’re new and young, as most of these were, they’re absolutely gorgeous: brilliant orange and yellow. 

California has two species of Sulphur Shelf: Laetiporus gilbertsonii, which grows on hardwood trees and stumps including oaks and eucalyptus trees, and Laetiporus conifericola which grows on conifer trees. Laetiporus gilbertsonii, also called “Chicken of the Forest” is edible when it’s young, but Laetiporus conifericola really isn’t because it pulls in the pine tar taste from the trees.

According to Mykoweb: “…Edible with caution. Prized by many, this species is also known to occasionally cause gastrointestinal upsets. This appears to be caused by eating old and/or insufficiently cooked specimens. If you decide to try it, eat only the young, fresh, growing margins, in small quantities, and cook it thoroughly…”

On some of the specimens, I could see examples of “guttation”, droplets of moisture exuded from the fungus as it grows. The droplets on Sulphur Shelf are clear, like tears, but on other fungi they can be orange, red or even black.

An example of “guttation” of the Sulphur Shelf Fungus.

“…Transpiration and guttation are the two important process of removal of excess water from the plants. However, the two processes are different from each other. Transpiration is the removal of water from the stomata [minute pores in the surface of the epidermis] present on the leaves. On the contrary, guttation is the process of removal of water from the hydathodes [pores along the margins]…” 

I was also happy to see a lot of bee activity in the “bee tree”.  This is one of two natural bee hives in the preserve.

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

This was hike #52 (!)in my #52HikeChallenge for the year. Woot! I got the 52 hikes done in 39 weeks. Go me!

Species List:

  1. Bee, European Honeybee, Western Honeybee, Apis mellifera
  2. Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans
  3. California Ground Squirrel, Otospermophilus beecheyi
  4. California Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma californica
  5. California Wild Grape, Vitis californica
  6. Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus
  7. Dragonfly, Variegated Meadowhawk Dragonfly, Sympetrum corruptum
  8. Eastern Fox Squirrel, Sciurus niger [rusty belly]
  9. Fly. Flower-Loving Fly, Apiocera sp.
  10. Lesser Goldfinch, Spinus psaltria
  11. Moss, Crisped Pincushion, Ulota crispa
  12. Mourning Dove, Zenaida macroura
  13. Northern Flicker, Colaptes auratus
  14. Oak Apple, California Gall Wasp, Andricus quercuscalifornicus
  15. Oak, Coast Live Oak, Quercus agrifolia
  16. Oak, Interior Live Oak, Quercus wislizeni
  17. Oak, Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
  18. Primrose, Tall Evening Primrose, Oenothera elata
  19. Pumpkin Gall Wasp, Dryocosmus minusculus
  20. Snowberry, Common Snowberry, Symphoricarpos albus
  21. Towhee, California Towhee, Melozone crissalis
  22. Western Hardwood Sulphur Shelf, Laetiporus gilbertsonii
  23. White Horehound, Marrubium vulgare
  24. Wren, Bewick’s Wren, Thryomanes bewickii
  25. ?? Spider egg case

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Cancer Surgery Knocked Me Out in January 2022

Well, I pretty much lost the month of January. What a weird way to start a new year. Hopefully, we’re now “pre-disastered” for 2022 and the rest of the year will be better.

On Friday, January 7th, I went in for surgery to remove a cancerous tumor from my lower left abdomen, a cast-off of Wilson, the grapefruit-sized tumor removed in 2019. I had my pre-op stuff to do at home around 3:00 AM, for a surgery that was supposed to start 5:45 AM. My sister Melissa and her son Brian accompanied me to the hospital but because of COVID restrictions, were unable to come in an wait with me in the pre-op area.

I don’t remember anything of the pre-op stuff, so I’m assuming they knocked me out pretty quickly. According to my oncologist, the surgery took about 4 hours, and took as long as it did because Wilson Jr. (the tumor) was tough and pretty big. (Three fingers deep on the longest part.)

The tumor was gray and “bubbly” on the surface and had grown into the psoas muscle, with tendrils wrapping into the femoral nerve and starting to move into the surrounding vascular tissues. Because it was so embedded, the doctors (my doctor and the neurosurgeon) couldn’t get it out whole, so they cut off its head and then scraped it out layer by layer. My doctor had to scrape into the muscle itself, but is pretty sure they got it all out… but she wants me to see her every 3 months or so to make sure this “Wilson Jr.” didn’t toss out any other cell-babies while he was in there.

I can remember coming out of anesthesia after the operation in excruciating pain, moaning a lot. Melissa had warned me that the doctors cutting up into my abdomen would be more painful than any pain I’d felt before, and she was right. The doctors cut me open from my pubic bone to above my belly button; the slice was over 8 inches long. Good lord, the pain!

At one point, when I woke up a bit, I asked the nurses to help me to sit up a bit more, and they jerked and lifted me up so quickly, I literally screamed in pain. My doctor was in the room when that happened, and she stepped back away from the foot of the bed, startled by the noise. The nurses kept trying to push a binder on me — a girdle-like thing to hold my belly in tight — and I told them loudly, “NO! I literally can’t breathe with that thing on!” So…thankfully, no binder.

For the first part of my stay in the hospital — which lasted from Friday to part of Monday — I was in a private room. It had a large window that looked out on the roofs of the surrounding buildings and a single little tree. I was sleeping for most of my stay, but was awakened by nurses who needed to take my vitals, or offer me food, or help me get out and back into bed. I slept with one pillow under my head and another against my right side. I told the nurses that, at home, my dog usually slept there against my right side, so it was comforting.

The hospital was offering me food like Jell-O, soup, oatmeal, and tea. I wasn’t eating much, though — no appetite and I usually vomited up what I did eat. Being able to eat and keep the food down was a milestone I had to meet before I could go home.

On Saturday, the 8th, I got a call from Melissa, checking in on me. Apparently, the hospital wasn’t answering calls or routing them correctly, because the only way I got this call was when the anesthesiologist came into my room and transferred the call to me through his cell phone. I don’t know how lucid I was, but Lissa and I chatted briefly. Later that same afternoon, a gal from Physical Therapy (PT) came to the room and gave me some tips on how to move more easily, and “logroll” out of bed. She also said she’d put in a request for a walker and bedside commode to have at home. My insurance covered the walker completely, but I had to pay a co-pay for the commode.

Around 3:00 AM on Sunday morning, an intern came in and said they needed the room for COVID patients, so he wheeled me bed-and-all to a shared room. There were three other women in the room they took me to. One was moaning loudly, “Noooo…noooo…noooo…. Ahhhh, ahhhh, ahhhh…” on and off all day.  Another one of the women, was muttering repeating nonsense phrases to herself when she was awake between naps, “Yes, yes, yes, yes, b-b-b-better, better, ma-ma-ma-ma-ma…” Gad. The noise was never-ending. And the muttering woman had her television on as well. Guh! The third woman in the room with me was one who was getting ready to leave on Monday afternoon.           

Somewhere in there, I thought I heard the nurses say the moaning woman was from Texas and had come in for COVID. That cinched it, in my mind. I needed to get out of the hospital as soon as possible. I might still be in a lot of pain and bed-bound, but I could do that home as easily as at the hospital. The next time I saw my doctor, late Sunday afternoon, I told he I wanted to go home. She said she wanted me to stay the night, and she’d consider my leaving on Monday afternoon, even though she wanted me to stay longer,  only if I met certain criteria: (1) I had to eat and keep my meals down, (2) I had to be able to walk up and down the hall with the walker, and (3) I had to be able to pass gas, and (4) urinate without a catheter, and I had to get my blood ox up over 90. I was determined to meet those criteria.

Apparently, they’d had some trouble getting and keeping my oxygen level up over 90, so I was on supplemental oxygen. Part of the reason for that, I’m sure, was because my whole torso hurt from the surgery and it was hard to take in deep breaths. Once I realized that oxygenation was an issue that might keep me in the hospital, I made sure to take in as many deep breaths as I could — especially right before a pulse-ox measurement was taken.

On Monday morning, the 10th,  the catheter was removed and I was able to walk to the bathroom and pee with the walker. I was told to order a full lunch, eat as much of it as I could, and keep it down. So, I ordered tomato soup, a sliced orange, small slice of angel food cake, and some tuna salad. The tomato soup was the best I’d ever eaten, so, I ate the whole cup of it. The tuna salad tasted okay but was pulverized down to a paste; not to pleasing on the tongue. I only ate a few slices of the orange and took some bites of the cake… But I made sure I kept it all down.

In the afternoon, the nurses told me that my doctor was releasing me to go home. Yay! Melissa and Brian were waiting outside in the car in the pick-area, and a male nurse rolled me out to them in a wheelchair. Brian was driving, but I didn’t think anything of it. He also helped me get myself into bed once we got home (around 3:15 PM). Then I kind of collapsed for the day.

The next several days into-weeks were kind of a blur between trying to sleep, using the bedside commode for potty when I couldn’t make to the bathroom, dealing with the pain of the surgery, and barely eating. I lost about 10 pounds (but I’m sure I’ll gain it back eventually). I also had to teach myself how to walk again, and start to work myself up to being able to get into and out of a car, use the treadmill, and walk on the sidewalk and lawns…

Brian was a fantastic help through all of that. He’d listen for the sound of the walker and then get to my side before I could even say anything. He helped me get into and out of bed, and rearranged the blankets for me; he’d bring my meals to me at the kitchen table or to the little table on the back porch… On the 15th I tried to take a shower and almost fell over from exhaustion within about 2 minutes. Had to have Brian turn off the water for me; I just couldn’t stand up anymore. And then he helped me back to bed before I collapsed entirely.

Brian also bought some in-home COVID tests for us to take, to make sure everyone was safe (after both Melissa and I had been exposed to strangers in the hospital). We tested negative, as expected, but it was a relief to know for sure.

On the 16th, I got Brian to pull some mushrooms up from the woodchips in the backyard at lunchtime, so I could do my naturalist thing. He was sooooo accommodating. 

On that same day, he helped Melissa set up some wire fencing to go along the street-side fence in the  backyard. That part of the fence is falling apart and Melissa wanted it reinforced a little to keep the dogs from getting through it to the street.

On the 18th, a gentleman came to the house from Advanced Home Health and did an assessment of me for at-home physical therapy. After the assessment, he said I was eligible for four sessions (one per week for four weeks) that would be no cost to me; Kaiser would pay for them as part of my post-op care.  I’ll hear from someone next week to set those sessions up.

On the 20th I had a Zoom appointment with my doctor. She thought I was doing remarkably well, all things considered, and was glad to hear I was able to get off the opiate pain killers and manage on just Ibuprofen and Gabapentin. We talked about the surgery itself, and about the fact that part of my psoas muscle was now gone… But both of us were happy that the surgery seemed to correct the nerve pain I was feeling in my left hip and thigh. The thigh still “buzzes” a little bit, but otherwise doesn’t hurt. Yay! I’m looking forward to being able to walk more normally again. I’ll see my doctor again on the 27th when I get the staples out.

This same afternoon, I got a call from the office of my GP. She said the in-home health assessment showed my blood pressure and heart rate were too high, so she’s prescribed Lisinopril for that. I’m supposed to take one pill a day and track my BP and pulse every day to see if there’s any improvement. I’ve been in pain for so long, I think my body got used to being “tensed” all the time…

I’m in less pain now than I have been in a long time, but still too uncomfortable to wear a full set of normal clothes. I spend my days in nightgowns and slippers. My friend Roxanne said she doesn’t care if I’m in a nightie; we could go somewhere where I wouldn’t have to get out of the car — look at nature through the car windows. Hah! That’s actually pretty tempting! I miss my nature walks sooooo much! 

My target is to be back outside, fully dressed and walking, by mid-February.  We’ll see.  Wish me luck.

Post-Christmas Deer, 12-26-21

I got up around 7:00 AM and headed out to the Effie Yeaw Nature Preserve. I was hoping to take advantage of the early morning sunshine. When I got to the preserve, it was cold(37º) and breezy but the sun was shining. Within about 20 minutes, though, all the clouds moved back in threatening rain. Luckily, the rain didn’t start until after I was done with my walk and had gotten back into my car.

California Sycamore, Western Sycamore, Platanus racemose

The highlight of the walk was all of the deer I saw. I counted 22 along the way. Most of them were in small  groups of two or three, but the largest concentration I saw was 10 in one field, six does and four bucks including a handsome four-pointer, and the one with the wonky antlers.

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

They were close enough to the trail that I could smell the boys’ heady musky scent. I love that smell: a sort mix of burning wood and horse manure. All of these deer were laying in the grass except for one of the bucks who stood up when he saw me coming down the trail and kept in eye on me.

I’m used to seeing the Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus, with their large mule-deer ears (right). But on Sunday, I found some deer with shorter ears (left). I wonder if they have some Sitka, Odocoileus hemionus sitkensis, genes in there.

The Sitkas are another subspecies of mule deer that are usually only found in coastal areas of the Pacific Northwest and in British Columbia. They have shorter ears and spotted coats. I suppose some cross breeding has been going on, or, more likely, the short ears are from throwback genes in the black-tailed deer gene pool.

There were lots of puddles on the trails from the recent rains, and I checked those I passed for any sign of hairworms. Nada. It might be the wrong time of year for them.

Rio Grande Wild Turkeys, Meleagris gallopavo intermedia, and puddles along the trail.

I found quite a few different mushroom species, but nothing outside of the norms.

I also found some pinkish/flesh-colored slime mold on the underside of a log. It was too early in its fruiting body stage to tell exactly what species it was, but it could have been Red Raspberry Slime Mold, Tubifera ferruginosa, or (more likely) very early stage of Carnival Candy Slime Mold, Arcyria denudata.

I walked for about 3 hours and then headed home, stopping at Donut Time for some donuts and a Vietnamese coffee. This was hike #92 of my annual hike challenge.

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Species List:

  1. Acorn Woodpecker, Melanerpes formicivorus
  2. California Camouflage Lichen, Melanelixia californica [dark green with brown apothecia, on trees]
  3. California Sycamore, Western Sycamore, Platanus racemose
  4. California Towhee, Melozone crissalis
  5. Carnival Candy Slime Mold, Arcyria denudata
  6. Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus
  7. Common Bonnet Mushroom, Mycena galericulata
  8. Deceiver Mushroom, Laccaria laccata [reddish-tan, dimpled, goblet shaped]
  9. Fragrant Funnel Mushroom, Clitocybe fragrans
  10. Gem-Studded Puffball, Common Puffball, Lycoperdon perlatum
  11. Giraffe Spots Crust Fungus, Peniophora albobadia
  12. Gold Dust Lichen, Chrysothrix candelaris
  13. Green Shield Lichen, Flavoparmelia caperata
  14. Hooded Rosette Lichen, Physcia adscendens [hairs/eyelashes on the tips of the lobes]
  15. Jack-o-Lantern, Western Jack-o-Lantern, Omphalotus olivascens
  16. Lilac Oysterling, Panus conchatus
  17. Lords and Ladies, Wild Arum, Arum italicumm
  18. Miner’s Lettuce, Claytonia perfoliate [first leaves, just starting to sprout]
  19. Oak Mazegill, Daedalea quercina
  20. Pleated Marasmius, Red Thread, Marasmius plicatulus
  21. Rio Grande Wild Turkey, Meleagris gallopavo intermedia
  22. Ruby-Crowned Kinglet, Regulus calendula
  23. Silky Pink Gill Mushroom, Nolanea sericea (Entoloma sericeum ssp. sericeum) [very dark brown cap with a nipple on top]
  24. Spotted Towhee, Pipilo maculatus [heard, glimpsed]
  25. Tule, Common Tule, Schoenoplectus acutus
  26. Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
  27. White Horehound, Marrubium vulgare
  28. White Stubble Rosegill, Volvopluteus gloiocephalusi [white or gray mushroom, slick cap with colored center, pale pink to gills, papery volva]
  29. ?? Grey mushroom with white gills on wood, Hydropus sp.
  30. ?? Pink-tinged fungus, Chromelosporium sp.
  31. ?? white mold