Category Archives: photography

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]

Some Surprises at the Cosumnes Preserve, 01-06-20

Friend and fellow naturalist Roxanne and I took the non-freeway route to the Cosumnes River Preserve heading down Franklin Road. 

Start Time: 7:30 am
Start Temperature: 37º F
End Time: 12:30 pm
End Temperature: 53º F
Weather: Clear and chilly
Total Hours in the field (includes travel time): 5 hours

When we got to Bruceville and Desmond Roads, we stopped to take some photos of the birds we could see in and around the rice fields and on the telephone poles. We were seeing a lot of hawks around there and managed to get photos of some of them.

Red-Tailed Hawks, Buteo jamaicensis. One was sitting in the top of a tree and the second one came up, “tagged” the sitting one, and then they both flew off.

Then we went into the preserve itself and walked along the boardwalk.  We saw a lot of the usual suspects: a variety of ducks and geese and sparrows. The standouts for me were the Blue-Winged Teals, which I don’t get to see very much. We got see a handful of them, and in one photo I managed to get a Blue-Winged Teal, a Green-Winged Teal and a Cinnamon Teal all in the same frame.

A Blue-Winged Teal, Anas discors, a Cinnamon Teal, Anas cyanoptera, and a Green-Winged Teal, Anas carolinensis. All of these are males.

We also got the surprise of a Sora.  We were walking toward the viewing platform at the end of the boardwalk trail and saw something in the water that ducked underneath the wooden platform.  A few seconds later, the Sora stepped out on the opposite side of the platform.  We only had a few more seconds before it rushed off into the tules, but it was fun to see.  They’re pretty “secretive” little birds that can move quickly, so  it’s sometimes hard to get photos of them.

Sora, Porzana Carolina

While we were walking, we noticed several Sandhill Cranes flying overhead and heading toward the fields around Desmond Road, so when we got back to the car after finishing our walk in the boardwalk area, we drove back over to Desmond to see if could spot the cranes there.

CLICK HERE to see the entire album. 

As we came up over the hump where Desmond meets the railroad tracks, I spotted a bird on one of the telephone wires… A White-Tailed Kite!  From where I was sitting in the car I had to shoot through the windshield, so my pictures pretty much suck, but I think Roxanne got some good ones.  We also saw several of the cranes and lots and lots of Greater White-Fronted Geese among the ducks.  Closer to the road, we saw a pair of Greater Yellowlegs participating in what we thought might be courtship behavior. 

It’s impossible for me to tell the males from the females in that species of bird, but it was obvious that they were a pair and that one, which we assumed was the male, was chasing and ushering the other one through the shallow water.  They ran side-by-side, sometimes in a straight line and sometimes in meandering circles, and then the male would flap his wings, sometimes jumping up a little bit when he did this, and then go back to ushering the female around.

After our walk, we looked up information on the behavior and were surprised to find that there isn’t a whole lot of information on this species; it’s not studied very much.  I think that’s odd for a species that seems relatively easy to locate and view.  Apparently, the birds mate for life.  And the Birds of North America site noted:

Most aspects of breeding biology are poorly known. Most of the information is based on limited observations and small sample sizes... Undulating Flight Display. Unknown whether both sexes involved. Flap wings at even pace during latter half of fall and first two-thirds of rise. Flapping stops at this point and bird coasts to peak of rise on open wings. At peak, closes wings, causing brief stoop before starting to flap again. Single display can last up to 15 min; song, and occasionally other vocalizations, given throughout, although song can cease for several seconds. Courting male runs in circles around female and poses with upraised quivering wings...”

Greater Yellowlegs, Tringa melanoleuca

There were so many geese around making so much noise that I couldn’t hear if the Yellowlegs were vocalizing or not.  I got a little bit of the display on video and took some photos.  So interesting.

We could see little Killdeer among some of the other waterbirds, and seeing them reminded me of the time when I saw a mama Killdeer lay and egg right in front of me.I had seen her in a shallow green area next to the road on the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge auto-tour route.  The mama and a male were walking around in circles, and when my car approached, I thought the mom had crouched down to start her broken-wing display, but instead she popped out an egg.  I was fortunate, at the time, to get a video snippet of it.

On our way home, we spotted quite a few hawks in the trees and on the telephone poles along the road.  When I got home and went through my photos, it looked to me like one of the hawks might have had Avian Pox.  There were what looked like warty lesions all over its feet.  I thought at first the distortion was gore left over from a recent feed, but usually hawks are fastidious about cleaning their feet after eating.  There’s no way of telling if the bird did have Avian Pox,of course, without testing the lesions, but distortions on the feet are typical of the disease.

“…There are two forms of the disease. The type observed in this case is called the cutaneous (dry) form. Starting as vesicles on the unfeathered skin of the feet, legs, beak, or conjunctiva, it progresses to a proliferative nodule that can become infected with secondary bacteria… [TVMDL]

Red-Tailed Hawk, Buteo jamaicensis
The warty nodules and lesions on the bird’s feet looked like evidence of Avian Pox to me.

And we were surprised by the number of Striped Skunk roadkill we saw. I think we counted five skunks on just one stretch of road.  We speculated that because it doesn’t really get cold enough here for the skunks to go into hibernation, they have to come out of their dens periodically to feed – an human garbage makes for easy pickings when the skunk’s normal prey isn’t available.  ((I read somewhere, too, that skunks will leave their winter den occasionally to empty their scent glands.  Don’t know if that’s true, but it’s kind of an interesting idea.))

Species List:

  1. American Coot, Fulica Americana
  2. American Pipit, Anthus rubescens
  3. American Wigeon, Anas Americana
  4. Ash Flower Gall Mite, Eriophyes fraxinivorus
  5. Avian Pox, Avipoxvirus ssp. [on feet of hawk]
  6. Bewick’s Wren, Thryomanes bewickii
  7. Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans
  8. Black-Necked Stilt, Himantopus mexicanus
  9. Blue-Winged Teal, Anas discors
  10. Brewer’s Blackbird, Euphagus cyanocephalus
  11. Bristly Oxtongue, Helminthotheca echioides
  12. Broadleaf Cattail, Bullrush, Typha latifolia
  13. Bufflehead, Bucephala albeola
  14. California Dock, Rumex californicus
  15. California Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma californica [heard]
  16. California Wild Rose, Rosa californica
  17. Canada Goose, Branta canadensis
  18. Chicory, Cichorium intybus
  19. Cinnamon Teal, Anas cyanoptera
  20. European Starling, Sturnus vulgaris [on the highway]
  21. Fennel, Sweet Fennel, Foeniculum vulgare
  22. Floating Water Primrose, Ludwigia peploides ssp. Peploides
  23. Gadwall duck, Mareca Strepera
  24. Gold Dust Lichen, Chrysothrix candelaris
  25. Golden Crowned Sparrow, Zonotrichia atricapilla
  26. Great Egret, Ardea alba
  27. Greater White-Fronted Goose, Anser albifrons
  28. Greater Yellowlegs, Tringa melanoleuca
  29. Green Alga (freshwater), Chlorophyta ssp.
  30. Green Shield Lichen, Flavoparmelia caperata
  31. Green-Winged   Teal, Anas carolinensis
  32. Himalayan Blackberry, Rubus armeniacus
  33. Honey Dew Wasp Gall, Disholcaspis eldoradensis
  34. House Finch, Haemorhous mexicanus
  35. Interior Live Oak, Quercus wislizeni
  36. Killdeer, Charadrius vociferous
  37. Lesser Goldfinch, Spinus psaltria
  38. Mallard duck, Anas platyrhynchos
  39. Marsh Wren, Cistothorus palustris
  40. Mistletoe, American Mistletoe, Big Leaf Mistletoe, Phoradendron leucarpum
  41. Mower’s Mushroom, Haymaker Mushroom, Panaeolus foenisecii
  42. Narrowleaf Willow, Salix exigua
  43. Northern Flicker, Colaptes auratus [heard]
  44. Northern Harrier, Marsh Hawk, Circus hudsonius
  45. Northern Pintail, Anas acuta
  46. Northern Shoveler, Anas clypeata
  47. Oak Apple Gall Wasp, Andricus quercuscalifornicus
  48. Oakmoss Lichen, Evernia prunastri
  49. Red-Shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus
  50. Red-Tailed Hawk, Buteo jamaicensis
  51. Red-Winged Blackbird, Agelaius phoeniceus
  52. Ring-Billed Gull, Larus delawarensis
  53. Rio Grande Wild Turkey, Meleagris gallopavo intermedia
  54. Ruby-Crowned Kinglet, Regulus calendula
  55. Sandhill Crane, Grus canadensis
  56. Song Sparrow, Melospiza melodia
  57. Sora, Porzana Carolina
  58. Striped Skunk,  Mephitis mephitis
  59. Sunburst Lichen, Xanthoria elegans
  60. Tree Swallow, Tachycineta bicolor
  61. Tule, Common Tule, Schoenoplectus acutus
  62. Turkey Vulture, Cathartes aura
  63. Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
  64. Western Meadowlark, Sturnella neglecta
  65. White Alder, Alnus rhombifolia
  66. White Ash Tree, Fraxinus Americana
  67. White Tailed Kite, Elanus leucurus
  68. White-Crowned Sparrow, Zonotrichia leucophrys

Fighting the Fog Along Woodbridge and Staten Roads, 01-04-20

Around 7:30 am, my friend and fellow naturalist Roxanne showed up (with coffee for each of us) and drove us around to the Woodbridge Ecological Reserve, Staten Island Road and into the city of Elk Grove.

Start Time: 7:30 am
Start Temperature: 39º F
End Time: 12:30 pm
End Temperature: 51º F
Weather: Overcast, foggy, a little drizzly
Total Hours in the field (includes travel time): 5 hours

I’d purchased Lands Passes (day pass) for both of us for Woodbridge, but had never been there before. So, I didn’t realize we couldn’t actually get into the reserve by ourselves; you have to have a ranger guide you on a tour. Instead, we drove into the pull-outs along the road, and then walked along the road for a mile or two, looking out into the reserve and at the farms around it.

Right across from one of the pull-outs was a large vineyard, and we were surprised to see most of the vines still heavy with drying, rotting fruit. I took some establishing shots before focusing on the wildlife we could see.

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

It was pretty foggy outside when we got there, and when the sun came out it created a bright glare that was hard to photograph through and against. Still, we managed to get quite a few photos of birds.

It was foggy when we first arrived, which made photo-taking somewhat difficult. (Cooper’s Hawk, Acipiter cooperii)

Lots of Sandhill Cranes and Red-Tailed Hawks along the road. We were also teased by a Cooper’s Hawk and an American Kestrel who kept landing near us and then flying off before we could get any really good shots of them. Once the fog lifted our photography improved somewhat.

Cooper’s Hawk, Acipiter cooperii

In one area, someone had tossed out some cracked corn on the ground, and there were sparrows, blackbirds and Mockingbirds eating it. Someone had also dumped four old Christmas trees there which I thought was sooooo rude.

The Sandhill Cranes seemed to be all over the place, in small flocks and onesies-twosies. In some spots they were standing in among the chaff of what we think were fields of corn, and as big as the birds are, they seemed to blend right in. Sometimes we didn’t see then until we were almost right next to them. Amazing.

Sandhill Crane, Grus canadensis, adults and a juvenile.

“Sandhill cranes mate for life. When they form a pair bond, it can last for years, until one of the cranes dies… Mated pairs and their juvenile offspring stay together all through the winter, until the 9- to 10-month-old juveniles finally separate from their parents the following spring. During migration and winter the family units group together with other families and nonbreeders, forming loose roosting and feeding flocks—in some places numbering in the tens of thousands. “

I looked to see if I could spot some banded birds, but… no luck there.

In one of the flooded fields, we saw Black-Necked Stilts, some Northern Shovelers, Coots, a few Dowitchers and Dunlin. In another field there were Shovelers, Pintails and Mallards. So a lot of waterfowl… just most of it was out of the range of our camera, or back-lit so they were hard to see. There were also lots of Red-Winged Blackbirds and flocks of House Finches here and there.

A male Northern Shoveler, Anas clypeata, in his “eclipse plumage”. According to RSPB: “Eclipse plumage is temporary or transition plumage. Ducks are peculiar in that they molt all their flight feathers — the long, wing feathers; — at once. For about a month, they can’t fly and very vulnerable to predators. To provide some protection, particularly for the brightly-colored males, the molt starts with their bright body feathers. These are replaced by dowdy brown ones, making them look much like females.”

In another area, there were also cattle sitting and grazing in a field, and the herd included several cows with their calves. We got to see some of the calves nursing.

Charolais Cattle, Bos Taurus var. Charolais

There was also one spot in a field where a Red-Tailed Hawk was trying to eat from what looked like a duck carcass… and there were several seagulls around him trying to steal his meal. I think they were Ring-Billed gulls, but I need to double-check on that. One of the gulls was so brazen that it walked up and sat right behind the hawk, like he was waiting for an opening.

As we were heading back toward Sacramento, in some spots along the road, we found groupings of cast off watermelons and cantaloupes. They looked like they’d just been dumped…but they’ll drop seeds as they deteriorate. We also some Osage oranges in a tree/shrub along the way, and came across what looked like a very unkempt apple orchard with loads of apples on some of the trees.

We drove for about 5 hours before stopping in Elk Grove for lunch.

Species List:

  1. American Coot, Fulica americana
  2. American Kestrel, Falco sparverius
  3. American Robin, Turdus migratorius
  4. Audubon’s Warbler, Setophaga coronata auduboni
  5. Black-Necked Stilt, Himantopus mexicanus
  6. Brewer’s Blackbird, Euphagus cyanocephalus
  7. Broadleaf Cattail, Bullrush, Typha latifolia
  8. California Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma californica
  9. California Towhee, Melozone crissalis
  10. Canada Goose, Branta canadensis
  11. Charolais Cattle, Bos Taurus var. Charolais
  12. Common Crow, Corvus brachyrhynchos
  13. Common Mustard, Brassica rapa
  14. Cooper’s Hawk, Acipiter cooperii
  15. Cultivated Apple, Malus domestica ssp.
  16. Cultivated Watermelon, Citrullus lanatus
  17. Dunlin, Calidris alpina
  18. Eastern Fox Squirrel, Sciurus niger
  19. Golden Crowned Sparrow, Zonotrichia atricapilla
  20. Great Blue Heron, Ardea herodias
  21. Great Egret, Ardea alba
  22. Greater Yellowlegs, Tringa melanoleuca
  23. Holstein Cattle, Bos taurus var. Holstein
  24. House Finch, Haemorhous mexicanus
  25. House Sparrow, Passer domesticus
  26. Interior Live Oak, Quercus wislizeni
  27. Long-Billed Dowitcher, Limnodromus scolopaceus
  28. Mallard duck, Anas platyrhynchos
  29. Mourning Dove, Zenaida macroura
  30. Northern Mockingbird, Mimus polyglottos
  31. Northern Pintail, Anas acuta
  32. Northern Shoveler, Anas clypeata
  33. Osage-Orange, Maclura pomifera
  34. Poison Hemlock, Conium maculatum
  35. Red-Tailed Hawk, Buteo jamaicensis
  36. Red-Winged Blackbird, Agelaius phoeniceus
  37. Ring-Billed Gull, Larus delawarensis
  38. Sandhill Crane, Grus canadensis
  39. Say’s Phoebe, Sayornis saya
  40. Song Sparrow, Melospiza melodia
  41. Tule, Common Tule, Schoenoplectus acutus
  42. Umbilicated cap mushroom, maybe Arrhenia obscurata
  43. Western Gull, Larus occidentalis 
  44. Western Meadowlark, Sturnella neglecta
  45. White-Crowned Sparrow, Zonotrichia leucophrys

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.

New Critters on New Years Day, 01-01-20

I headed over to the Effie Yeaw Preserve for a walk around 7:15 am.  My friend and fellow naturalist, Roxanne, and fellow volunteer Trail Walker, Mary M. (“The Other Mary”) joined me in the parking lot.  Roxanne had just gotten a new macro lens for her camera and she was anxious to try it out, so a lot of our focus was on fungi and tiny things. 

Start Time: 8:00 am
Start Temperature: 43º F
End Time: 11:30 pm
End Temperature: 51º F
Weather: Mostly cloudy, slight bit of rain
Total Hours in the field (includes travel time): 4.5 hours
Kilometers Walked: 3

We were worried that our focus on the little stuff would bore The Other Mary; she likes taking pictures of the deer and turkeys.  So luckily we were able to see quite a deer, including some of the big 4-pointer bucks.  The rest of the time, she listened to us talk as we explained the different facets of lichen and took close ups of the fungi and slime molds.

As I mentioned, we got to see several of the big bucks in the preserve. At one point, two of them were standing together in close proximity, so we all tried to get a “two-fer” shot of them with our cameras.  As we were taking the pictures we each realized that the cameras wouldn’t focus on both bucks at the same time, so we had to take some shots with the buck in the foreground in focus, and some with the buck in the background in focus. Made for an interesting little lesson on depth and field of vision.

We also saw a few does with their fawns, including one mom that was grooming her fawn. Those moments always make for some sweet photographs.

We weren’t seeing a lot of large fungi, in fact hardly any, so we picked up fallen sticks and small logs and looked under and around them to look for the smaller stuff.  We found a lot of splitgill and Black Jelly Roll fungi that way, but also came across several tiny worms, white spidery-looking things (which I couldn’t identify, they were so small) and a couple of critters that were new to me: a tiny pinkish millipede, possibly Gosodesmus claremontus, and a House Pseudoscorpion, Chelifer cancroides, which is a kind of arachnid that looks like a scorpion in the front and a spider in the back. 

Apparently, there are over 3000 species, so I’m not totally sure if I got the ID right, but I picked the most common one in California that lives under oak branches on the ground (and in houses, too, I guess).  The pseudoscorpion was almost the same color as the log, so we didn’t really see it until it started moving, and even then it was hard to keep track of it.  Using the macro attachment on my cellphone, I was able to get a few fairly good photos of it.

House Pseudoscorpion, Chelifer cancroides

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

The Other Mary had to leave about halfway through the walk, so it was just Roxanne and me for the last hour or so.  We found another big buck sunning himself in the long grass and also found a small bachelor flock of male Wild Turkeys.  Among the small stuff, we found some jelly fungi, including Witches Butter on some False Turkey Tail, a couple different species of slime mold, and more little ghostly-looking pure white splitgill.

Witches Butter, Tremella mesenterica , on False Turkey Tail fungus, Stereum hirsutum

We walked for about 3 ½ hours and then headed out. I was surprised by how many people we saw out there walking today; I’ve never been out there when there were that many people without some kind of event going on.  Lots of parents with small children who were more interested in splashing in the mud puddles than anything else. On the one hand, I dislike crowds and all the noise and disruption they bring with them, but on the other hand, it was nice to see people getting outside into nature and taking advantage of the opportunities of fresh air and a little exercise on this first day of the new year.

 I couldn’t get into the nature center to log my hours (because they were closed for the holiday), so I’ll try to remember to do that next week when I’m there. 

Species List:

  1. Acorn Woodpecker, Melanerpes formicivorus
  2. Barometer Earthstar fungus, Astraeus hygrometricus
  3. Beard Lichen, Usnea sp.
  4. Black Jelly Roll fungus, Exidia glandulosa
  5. Brown Jelly Fungus, Jelly Leaf, Tremella foliacea
  6. Bryum Moss, Bryum capillare
  7. California Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma californica
  8. Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus
  9. Common Earthworm, Lumbricus terrestris
  10. Common Pin Mold, Mucor mucedo
  11. Coyote Brush, Baccharis pilularis
  12. Coyote, Canis latrans [scat]
  13. Creeping Moss, Conardia compacta
  14. Crown Whitefly, Aleuroplatus coronate
  15. Deadly Galerina, Galerina autumnalis
  16. False Coral Mushroom, Tremellodendron sp.
  17. False Turkey Tail fungus, Stereum hirsutum
  18. False Turkey Tail fungus, Stereum ostrea
  19. Golden Crowned Sparrow, Zonotrichia atricapilla
  20. Golden Shield Lichen, Xanthoria parietina
  21. Green Shield Lichen, Flavoparmelia caperata
  22. Hoary Lichen, Hoary Rosette, Physcia aipolia
  23. Horsehair Mushroom, Gymnopus androsaceus
  24. House Pseudoscorpion, Chelifer cancroides
  25. Interior Live Oak, Quercus wislizeni
  26. Jelly Spot Jelly Fungus, Dacrymyces chrysospermus
  27. Millipede, possibly Gosodesmus claremontus
  28. Mower’s Mushroom, Haymaker Mushroom, Panaeolus foenisecii
  29. Oak-loving Gymnopus, Gymnopus dryophilus
  30. Oakmoss Lichen, Evernia prunastri
  31. Ocre Spreading Tooth Fungus, Steccherinum ochraceum
  32. Red-Shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus
  33. Rio Grande Wild Turkey, Meleagris gallopavo intermedia
  34. Rock Shield Lichen, Xanthoparmelia conspersa
  35. Ruby-Crowned Kinglet, Regulus calendula
  36. Snowy Oysterlings, Cheimonophyllum candidissimum
  37. Split Porecrust, Schizopora paradoxa
  38. Splitgill Fungus, Schizophyllum sp.
  39. Spotted Towhee, Pipilo maculatus
  40. Spotted Trichia, Trichia botrytis
  41. Star Moss, Syntrichia ruralis
  42. Sunburst Lichen, Xanthoria elegans
  43. Turkey Tail Fungus, Trametes versicolor
  44. Turkey Vulture, Cathartes aura
  45. Two-Horned Gall Wasp, Dryocosmus dubiosus 
  46. White Cane Marasmus, Marasmiellus candidus
  47. White Spheroid Slime Mold, Physarum cinereum
  48. Witches Butter, Tremella mesenterica

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.