Category Archives: Volunteering

Waiting for a Meeting, 12-09-19

I was about 20 minutes early for a meeting a the Effie Yeaw Nature Preserve, and I got a few photos while I was waiting. I take my camera and cell phone with me everywhere I go.

Start Time: 9:00 am
Start Temperature: 45ºF
End Temperature: 48º F
Weather: Overcast, foggy, sprinkling rain
Total Hours in the field (includes travel time): 2
Miles Walked: 0.25
Number of Individual Species Noted Today: 8

CLICK HERE for the full album pf photos.

Species List:

  • Golden-Crowned Sparrow, Zonotrichia atricapilla
  • Green Shield Lichen, Flavoparmelia caperata
  • Hoary Lichen, Hoary Rosette, Physcia aipolia
  • Mower’s Mushroom, Haymaker Mushroom, Panaeolus foenisecii
  • Oakmoss Lichen, Evernia prunastri
  • Rio Grande Wild Turkey, Meleagris gallopavo intermedia
  • Split Porecrust, Schizopora paradoxa 
  • Sunburst Lichen, Xanthoria elegans

First Slime Mold of the Season, 12-03-19

Start Time: 7:30 am
Start Temperature: 54ºF
End Temperature: 61º F
Weather: Overcast, no rain
Total Hours in the field (includes travel time): 4 hours
Miles Walked: 3.5
Number of Individual Species Noted Today: 47

I got up around 7:30 am and headed out to the Effie Yeaw Nature Preserve. I REALLY needed to get outside and walk.  My car, Vincenzo, is still in the shop today, so Melissa let me borrow her car. It was 54º at the river and overcast.  The cloud cover all day but we didn’t get any rain.

I only got periodic glimpses of the deer at the preserve, but there were a lot of different bird species around, the lichens were all fluffed up from the rains, and the fungi are starting to make an appearance like the crust fungi, jelly fungi and some spent Barometer Earthstars,

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

 I get excited about weird things… like the first slime mold sighting of the season! Woo-hoo!  I found a small specimen of Red Tube Slime Mold (Stemonitis fusca), also called Brown Tube Slime Mold or “Birthday Cake”. It starts out pure white, then the tubes lengthen and stand up on threads and the whole group turns red or pink or burgundy. Then as the mass goes to spore, it all turns brown and disintegrates into “dust”. ((The “Birthday Cake” variation of this slime mold retains light-colored tops of each of the stems, so it looks like frosting on top of a Red Velvet cake.)) You can see a video of how this slime mold forms at: https://youtu.be/A0__v5nMGaI

Red Tube Slime Mold, Stemonitis fusca

I saw a lot of evidence of mole activity on and around the trails, and one spot where it looked like a coyote had dug into the ground trying to get one of them.

I also found a Jerusalem Cricket in one of the puddles on the trail. It was dead, drowned, and I wondered if it had been driven there by Horsehair Worm parasites. I took photos of the cricket but didn’t cut it open to see if there were any worms in its brain or body.

Jerusalem Cricket, Stenopelmatus fuscus

In the river I tracked a huge, well-traveled, worn out Chinook Salmon in the shallows along the bank. There were gulls and Turkey Vultures sitting along the river waiting for the fish to die.

Chinook Salmon, Oncorhynchus tshawytscha, swimming in the shallows

I ended up walking for about 3 hours and then headed back home.

Species List:

  1. Barometer Earthstar fungus, Astraeus hygrometricus
  2. Bewick’s Wren, Thryomanes bewickii
  3. Black Fan Fungus, Thelephora cuticularis
  4. Black Jelly Roll fungus, Exidia glandulosa
  5. Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans
  6. Brown Jelly Fungus, Jelly Leaf, Tremella foliacea
  7. Bryum Moss, Bryum capillare
  8. California Ground Squirrel, Otospermophilus beecheyi
  9. California Quail, Callipepla californica [heard]
  10. California Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma californica
  11. California Towhee, Melozone crissalis
  12. California Wild Grape, Vitis californica
  13. Canada Goose, Branta canadensis
  14. Chinook Salmon, Oncorhynchus tshawytscha
  15. Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus
  16. Common Crow, Corvus brachyrhynchos
  17. Common Snowberry, Symphoricarpos albus
  18. Cottonwood, Fremont Cottonwood, Populus fremontii
  19. Coyote, Canis latrans [scat]
  20. Eastern Fox Squirrel, Sciurus niger
  21. False Turkey Tail fungus, Stereum hirsutum
  22. Gold Dust Lichen, Chrysothrix candelaris
  23. Golden Crowned Sparrow, Zonotrichia atricapilla
  24. Green Shield Lichen, Flavoparmelia caperata
  25. Golden Shield Lichen, Xanthoria parietina
  26. Interior Live Oak, Quercus wislizeni
  27. Jelly Spot Fungus, Dacrymyces stillatus
  28. Jerusalem Cricket, Stenopelmatus fuscus
  29. Mallard duck, Anas platyrhynchos
  30. Mazegill Fungus, Daedalea quercina
  31. Mole, Broad-Footed Mole, Scapanus latimanus [holes and piles]   
  32. Northern Flicker, Colaptes auratus
  33. Oak Titmouse, Baeolophus inornatus
  34. Oakmoss Lichen, Evernia prunastri
  35. Ocre Spreading Tooth Fungus, Steccherinum ochraceum
  36. Pipevine, California Pipevine, Dutchman’s Pipe, Aristolochia californica
  37. Red Tube Slime Mold, Stemonitis fusca
  38. Ruby-Crowned Kinglet, Regulus calendula
  39. Spotted Towhee, Pipilo maculatus
  40. Stereum Crust Fungus, Golden Curtain Crust, Stereum complicatum
  41. Sulphur Shelf Fungus, Western Sulphur Shelf Fungus, Laetiporus gilbertsonii
  42. Sunburst Lichen, Xanthoria elegans
  43. Tree of Heaven, Ailanthus altissima
  44. Turkey Vulture, Cathartes aura
  45. Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
  46. Western Gray Squirrel, Sciurus griseus
  47. Western Gull, Larus occidentalis

Mostly Antlers and Nubs, 11-26-19

Start Time: 7:00 am
Start Temperature: 36ºF
End Temperature: 51º F
Weather: Overcast; rain pending; some ground fog
Total Hours in the field (includes travel time): 3.25 hours
Miles Walked: 2.5
Number of Individual Species Today: 20

Rio Grande Wild Turkeys, Meleagris gallopavo intermedia, males

It was a very chilly 36º this morning when I headed out to the Effie Yeaw Nature Preserve for my regular volunteer trail walking gig.  I was ahead of the rain for my entire walk, but the heavier rain clouds were starting to move in just as I left. 

I love this time of year for several reasons, and one is because the “big boys” are out in nature right now in their full regalia… and some of the yearlings are just starting to get their “nubs.”  Because the adult bucks are in rut right now, too, they’re all walking around in their manly-man scent. You can smell them before you see them: that animal hide and musk scent. I love it.

Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus. 4-Point buck approaching and crossing the trail in front of me.

I also saw quite a few does and some fawns, including some young boys who were just starting to get their nubs or were in their first-year spikes, but still hanging out with mom and their siblings. Among the big bucks, I didn’t see the 5-pointer today, but I did see two handsome 4-pointers.

Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus . A more “blonde” 4-pointer.

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

And the deer dominated the day for photo-taking.  There wasn’t much else showing itself, and I didn’t see any bees in or around the “bee tree” (probably because it was still so cold, and “winter is coming”.) I walked for about 2½ hours and then headed out.

Species List:

  1. Acorn Woodpecker, Melanerpes formicivorus
  2. Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans
  3. Blue Oak, Quercus douglasii
  4. California Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma californica
  5. California Towhee, Melozone crissalis
  6. Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus
  7. Coyote Brush, Baccharis pilularis
  8. Coyote, Canis latrans [tracks and scat]
  9. Eastern Fox Squirrel, Sciurus niger
  10. Golden Crowned Sparrow, Zonotrichia atricapilla
  11. Interior Live Oak, Quercus wislizeni
  12. Mourning Dove, Zenaida macroura
  13. Northern Flicker, Colaptes auratus
  14. Nuttall’s Woodpecker, Picoides nuttallii [heard]
  15. Oak Titmouse, Baeolophus inornatus
  16. Rio Grande Wild Turkey, Meleagris gallopavo intermedia
  17. Spotted Towhee, Pipilo maculatus
  18. Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
  19. Western Fence Lizard, Blue Belly, Sceloporus occidentalis [tracks]
  20. White-Breasted Nuthatch, Sitta carolinensis [heard]

River Otter Sighting, 11-24-19

I got up around 6:30 this morning and headed out to the Cosumnes River Preserve for a walk.  It was 38º when I got there, and I was glad I’d brought my heavier coat with me.

There were far less birds there today than there were when my friend Roxanne and I were last there on the 15th, so birdwatching was exceedingly disappointing.  I saw two photographers and a small group of birders out along the boardwalk, but none of them were having any luck.  The crisp fresh air was nice, but from a nature walk standpoint it was pretty much a bust… But then I saw the North American River Otter, Lontra canadensis.

I took the trail that went from the boardwalk to Franklin Blvd., and then walked along the side of the road where there’s a slough that runs alongside it. I saw the otter on the opposite side of the slough, preening.  I moved as quietly as I could and got photos of through the scrubby trees that stand between the road and the water. 

I saw the otter preening, swimming, and digging in the mud to roust out some catfish. He caught one of them, ate it and then swam right up in front of me to check me out before heading off on the rest of his morning jaunt. The closest he got was about 8 feet, so I was able to get a good shot of his face floating on the surface of the water, and also got quite a few videos of him.            

When I got home, I made sure to get him recorded in the “Otter Spotter” database with the River Otter Ecology Project .

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.
Videos:
Otter on the shore: https://youtu.be/9MaFCBwGR14
Otter Preening: https://youtu.be/9ynWiQUdeP0
Otter Swimming: https://youtu.be/GrMrntqXv9Q

Otter fishing along the shore of the slough

When I was driving home, I saw quite a few hawks in the trees and along the fence lines, a pair of American Kestrels and a Prairie Falcon.  But the standout was a gorgeous juvenile Golden Eagle sitting on the top of a short tree right at the freeway access point.  I couldn’t get photos because there were cars behind me all the way.  Dang it!

Species List:

  1. American Coot, Fulica americana
  2. American Kestrel, Falco sparverius
  3. American Pipit, Anthus rubescens
  4. Brewer’s Blackbird, Euphagus cyanocephalus
  5. Canada Goose, Branta canadensis
  6. Golden Eagle, Aquila chrysaetos
  7. Greater White-Fronted Goose, Anser albifrons
  8. Greater Yellowlegs, Tringa melanoleuca
  9. House Finch, Haemorhous mexicanus
  10. Marsh Wren, Cistothorus palustris
  11. Northern Harrier, Marsh Hawk, Circus hudsonius
  12. Northern Pintail, Anas acuta
  13. Northern Shoveler, Anas clypeata
  14. Pied-Billed Grebe, Podilymbus podiceps
  15. Prairie Falcon, Falco mexicanus
  16. Red-Winged Blackbird, Agelaius phoeniceus
  17. River Otter, North American River Otter, Lontra canadensis
  18. Rough Cocklebur, Xanthium strumarium
  19. Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
  20. White-Crowned Sparrow, Zonotrichia leucophrys

Green Therapy Time, 11-19-19

I got up around 7:00 am and headed out to the Effie Yeaw Nature Preserve for my weekly volunteer trail walking gig. The weather was lovely, about 49º at the river and mostly sunny. I really needed to get outside into my happy, green “therapy place” and start recovering from the trauma of yesterday.

Not a lot to see today, though, although I did get to see one of the big-big bucks, the 5-pointer. He was sitting down right on the side of the trail and didn’t move as I walked by and took photos of him… until I stepped back to get a shot of the doe behind him. I guess he didn’t like that and got onto his feet and stepped out a little bit, before going back to stand by the doe. They both eventually walked off, him following her across the trail and into the woods. Such a handsome thing.

Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus

I also got to see quite a few California Ground Squirrels, which I love, and got some video of a European Starling singing and gurgling overhead.

California Ground Squirrel, Otospermophilus beecheyi
European Starling, Sturnus vulgaris

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

I walked for about 2½ hours and then headed home.

Species List:

  1. Acorn Woodpecker, Melanerpes formicivorus
  2. Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans
  3. Bushtit, American Bushtit, Psaltriparus minimus
  4. California Ground Squirrel, Otospermophilus beecheyi
  5. California Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma californica
  6. California Wild Grape, Vitis californica
  7. Chinese Pistache Tree, Pistacia chinensis
  8. Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus
  9. Coyote, Canis latrans [scat]
  10. Eastern Fox Squirrel, Sciurus niger
  11. European Starling, Sturnus vulgaris
  12. Golden Crowned Sparrow, Zonotrichia atricapilla
  13. Green Shield Lichen, Flavoparmelia caperata
  14. Mourning Dove, Zenaida macroura
  15. Northern Flicker, Colaptes auratus
  16. Oak Titmouse, Baeolophus inornatus
  17. Pipevine, California Pipevine, Dutchman’s Pipe, Aristolochia californica
  18. Raccoon, Procyon lotor [tracks]
  19. Rio Grande Wild Turkey, Meleagris gallopavo intermedia
  20. Ruby-Crowned Kinglet, Regulus calendula
  21. Spotted Towhee, Pipilo maculatus
  22. Sulphur Shelf Fungus, Western Sulphur Shelf Fungus, Laetiporus gilbertsonii
  23. Swainson’s Hawk, Buteo swainsoni
  24. Valley Oak, Quercus lobata