Category Archives: photography

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

Lots of Hawks Around Today, 12-19-21

I got up around 7:00 AM this morning, -and it was, again, foggy and overcast. Never got above 45º. I decided nonetheless to head out to the Cosumnes River Preserve and Staten Island Road with my dog Esteban.

The gates were closed at the preserve, but I walked past them to the main pond near the boardwalk parking lot. Lots of the usual suspects in the pond: Greater White-Fronted Geese, Black-Necked Stilts, Northern Shovelers, Green-Winged Teals, etc. I was surprised to see a solitary Cackling Goose among the other geese. The other geese weren’t too thrilled that he was around, and although they didn’t actively chase him away, they did poke at him to keep him moving along and away from them.

I also noticed that some of the geese had a blackish tip on their bills, and assumed that those might have been the juveniles (even though they had the white rim around the base of the bill like the adults.) Cornell says: “…1-yr-old geese tend to have fewer ventral markings and more dark toenail and bill nail pigmentation…” So, I was almost right.

Greater White-Fronted Geese, Anser albifrons. Note the black tip on the bills of the younger geese. The older GWF Geese have pinkish bills and dark bars across their bellies.

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

Along Desmond and Bruceville Roads were there were hundreds of Coots. Some were in rafts on the water, while others were on the berms eating vegetation. I noted again that when they’re grazing on grasses, they turn their head sideways, so they can use the side of their bill to cut into a larger swath of grass than they could if they used the pointed tip of the bill. (Cornell doesn’t mention this, but both my friend Roxanne and I have witnessed it in the field.) I was hoping to get photos of the Coots’ incredible-looking feet, but no such luck. They kept them hidden in the grass.

I also saw Bufflehead and Gadwall ducks, some more Teals, some Northern Pintails and a few American Wigeons. There were small groups of Herring Gulls gathered on some of the berms, squawking and posturing at one another. And here and there were Great Egrets stalking food in the taller grass.

The big surprise, though, was the number of hawks I saw. I think I counted almost a dozen of them out along the roads, in the tree tops, on the telephone poles, even one down in the water. Hawks don’t have water-proofing on their feathers, so when they get wet, they can get into trouble. The one I saw, landed down in the water, missed catching whatever it was after, and flew back up into a tree, water dripping from it. With the damp air, I figured, it was going to take “forever” for the bird’s feathers to dry out. I felt bad for it.  Most of the hawks I saw were Red-Tailed Hawks, but there were a few Red-Shouldered Hawks mixed in here and there. I also saw some Turkey Vultures, a couple of Kestrels and a White-Tailed Kite.

I then headed over to Staten Island Road. I was worried that the dirt part of the road would have been a muddy mess after the rains, but it was surprisingly dry. Must have good drainage. Along with the usual suspects there, I saw several Sandhill Cranes, a couple of different grebe species, and American White Pelicans (in the extreme distance with Canvasback ducks). Tundra Swans were also in the water.

Here, too, I saw a lot of hawks. I think my mental count of them for the trip was 26. Wow! And I saw more Cackling Geese. A couple of them were huddled near a single Snow Goose.

I was out for about 4 hours and then headed back home.

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Species List:

  1. American Coot, Fulica americana
  2. American Kestrel, Falco sparverius
  3. American White Pelican, Pelecanus erythrorhynchos
  4. American Wigeon, Anas americana
  5. Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans
  6. Black-Necked Stilt, Himantopus mexicanus
  7. Bufflehead Duck, Bucephala albeola
  8. Bushtit, American Bushtit, Psaltriparus minimus
  9. Cackling Goose, Branta hutchinsii
  10. California Ground Squirrel, Otospermophilus beecheyi
  11. Canada Goose, Branta canadensis
  12. Canvasback Duck, Aythya valisineria
  13. Common Goldeneye, Bucephala clangula
  14. Eared Grebe, Podiceps nigricollis
  15. Gadwall Duck, Mareca Strepera
  16. Great Blue Heron, Ardea herodias [flyby]
  17. Great Egret, Ardea alba
  18. Greater White-Fronted Goose, Anser albifrons
  19. Greater Yellowlegs, Tringa melanoleuca
  20. Green-Winged Teal, Anas carolinensis
  21. Herring Gull, Larus argentatus [spot on bill, gray legs, pale eye]
  22. House Finch, Haemorhous mexicanus
  23. Least Sandpiper, Calidris minutilla
  24. Long-Billed Dowitcher, Limnodromus scolopaceus
  25. Mallard Duck, Anas platyrhynchos
  26. Meadow Mushroom, Agaricus californicus [white, collared, pink/dark gills]
  27. Northern Pintail, Anas acuta
  28. Northern Shoveler, Anas clypeata
  29. Pied-Billed Grebe, Podilymbus podiceps
  30. Red-Shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus
  31. Red-Tailed Hawk, Western Red-Tailed Hawk, Buteo jamaicensis calurus
  32. Red-Winged Blackbird, Agelaius phoeniceus
  33. Ruby-Crowned Kinglet, Regulus calendula
  34. Sandhill Crane, Grus canadensis
  35. Snow Goose, Chen caerulescens
  36. Tree Swallow, Tachycineta bicolor
  37. Tundra Swan, Cygnus columbianus
  38. Turkey Vulture, Cathartes aura
  39. Western Meadowlark, Sturnella neglecta
  40. White Tailed Kite, Elanus leucurus
  41. White-Crowned Sparrow, Zonotrichia leucophrys

Fungi in the Fog, 12-17-21

I got up a little before 7:00 this morning, fed and pottied Esteban, and had some breakfast before heading out to Mather Lake Regional Park. I usually don’t go out that late (around 8:00 am), but it was SUPER foggy this morning, and I wanted the sun to come up a little bit more so I could see where I was going.

You can normally see across the lake to the opposite shore. Not so much today.

I hadn’t been to the lake in a while, and I was anxious to see what I might find there. When I got to the park, the fog was still heavy, dragging its belly on the ground in most places, and it was a finger-nipping 37ºF. I was dressed in three layers (my shirt, the vest my naturalist students had given to me, and my hooded jacket), so I was relatively warm…-ish.

The fog makes it difficult to take photos because the camera doesn’t know what to focus on. I like the “diffused” look of some of them, though. The fog would split open periodically to let the sun in, then close up again.

Mostly Mute Swans, Cygnus olor

The first thing I saw was the white bodies of Mute Swans floating on the water, looking otherworldly. They seemed to dominate the lake this morning; I think they’re pairing up for the breeding season and setting down their nesting spots. I saw a couple of them bullying a pair of Canada Geese out of their resting place.

Among the Mute Swan, I saw one Tundra Swan.  I watched it as it flew in, its wing-flap pattern different than that of the Mute Swans. It circled once before landing softly on the water.

With all the moisture in the air, the lichens were wide awake, some of them reproducing, showing off their suction-cup-looking apothecia.

CLICK HERE to see the full album of photos

There were also a few fungi I didn’t expect to see, like Shaggy Mane inkcap mushrooms, Layered Cup fungus, some Brownflesh Bracket,  and a couple of Pungent Slippery Jacks (which were new to me) among others.

I was hoping to see otters, and I saw one, but it was so far away, I couldn’t get any really decent photos of it.  It was swimming back and forth in a tight formation as though searching a specific area for fish. I didn’t see it catch anything, but it was very persistent.

As always, I reported it to the Otter Spotters website.

It also looked to me like the beaver’s den had some new branches piled onto it. I’ve never see the beavers there, but I’ve seen the trees they’ve felled and they seem to maintain their den pretty well.

Beavers den

What surprised me was the number of new Coyote Brush flower galls there were on the bushes (and it looks like they like the female bushes more than the males, but that was just a cursory observation). They usually don’t show up until the spring, but here they were, some bushes covered in them. It was very curious.

Because of the damp and cold, I only walked for a little over 2 hours.  This was hike #91 in my annual hike challenge. I’m pretty sure I’m not going to make my goal of 104 hikes this year but I’m pretty dang close.

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Species List:

  1. Azolla, Water Fern, Azolla filiculoides
  2. Beaver, American, Beaver, Castor canadensis [den]
  3. Brown Parachute Mushroom, Collybiopsis villosipes
  4. Brownflesh Bracket,  Coriolopsis gallica
  5. Callery Pear, Pyrus calleryana
  6. Common Button Lichen, Buellia erubescens [small black dots on wood, by themselves or on a background of white, gray, etc.]
  7. Common Sunburst Lichen, Golden Shield Lichen, Xanthoria parietina [yellow-orange,on wood/trees]
  8. Coyote Brush Bud Gall midge, Rhopalomyia californica
  9. Coyote Brush, Baccharis pilularis
  10. Double-Crested Cormorant, Phalacrocorax auratus
  11. Elongate Springtail, Order: Entomobryomorpha
  12. European Starling, Sturnus vulgaris
  13. Fremont’s Cottonwood, Populus fremontii
  14. Gold Dust Lichen, Chrysothrix candelaris
  15. Golden-Crowned Sparrow, Zonotrichia atricapilla
  16. Green Shield Lichen, Flavoparmelia caperata
  17. Hoary Rosette Lichen, Physcia aipolia [hoary, brown apothecia]
  18. Hooded Rosette Lichen, Physcia adscendens [hairs/eyelashes on the tips of the lobes]
  19. Horse Mushroom, Agaricus arvensis
  20. Layered Cup, Peziza varia
  21. Magpie Inkcap, Common Inkcap, Coprinopsis picacea
  22. Moss, Wood Bristle-Moss, Lewinskya affinis
  23. Mute Swan, Cygnus olor
  24. Northern Mockingbird, Mimus polyglottos
  25. Oak-loving Gymnopus Mushroom, Gymnopus dryophilus [tan-orange with pale gills; cap can be flat or curved up as it ages]
  26. Oyster Mushroom, Pleurotus ostreatus
  27. Pied-Billed Grebe, Podilymbus podiceps
  28. Pin-Cushion Sunburst Lichen, Polycauliona polycarpa [bright orange, apothecia, close, piled]
  29. Poison Oak, Pacific Poison Oak, Western Poison Oak, Toxicodendron diversilobum
  30. Poplar Sunburst Lichen, Xanthomendoza hasseana [sunburst on Cottonwood]
  31. Pungent Slippery Jack, Suillus pungens
  32. River Otter, North American River Otter, Lontra canadensis
  33. Rosy Navel Mushroom, Contumyces rosellus
  34. Ruby-Crowned Kinglet, Regulus calendula
  35. Scurfy Twiglet Mushroom, Tubaria furfuracea [small, pale tan/ orange, wide gills]
  36. Shadow Lichen, Family: Physciaceae
  37. Shaggy Mane Inkcap Mushroom, Coprinus comatus
  38. Silky Pink Gill Mushroom, Nolanea sericea (Entoloma sericeum ssp. sericeum) [very dark brown cap with a nipple on top]
  39. Song Sparrow, Melospiza melodia
  40. Trembling Crust Fungus, Merulius tremellosus
  41. Tuberous Polypore, Polyporus tuberaster
  42. Tule, Common Tule, Schoenoplectus acutus
  43. Tundra Swan, Cygnus columbianus
  44. White-Crowned Sparrow, Zonotrichia leucophrys
  45. ?? Felty Mouse Ear, Order: Pezizales

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

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

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

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

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

This was hike #90 of my annual hike challenge.


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Species List:

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