Category Archives: Volunteering

Lotsa Lichen at the River Bend Park, 01-17-20

I was up around 7:30 am and out the door around 8:00 to go to the American River Bend Park.  It was a chilly and foggy 39° when I got there, and the temperature went up to 46° when I left.  By then, the fog had lifted to a high overcast with moments of sunshine.  When the sun came out, the forest floor “steamed”; so cool looking.

Start Time: 8:30 am
Start Temperature: 39º F
End Time: 11:30 pm
End Temperature: 46º F
Weather: Very foggy, clearing to a high overcast
Total Hours in the field (includes travel time): 4 hours
Kilometers Walked: 2.5

When I first drove in, two young Black-Tailed deer bucks cross the road in front of me.  One was a spike and the other one had 2-points.  They jumped the line fence and went off into the woods, though, before I could get any decent photos of them.

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

I had gone to the park looking again for coral fungus and cauliflower fungus, but found neither one.    I did find several species of jelly fungus and some Bleeding Mycena mushrooms. I’d never intentionally made that species of mushroom “bleed” before, but I did that today and took some photos of the “blood”.  It’s a red exudate that comes out of the stipe(stem of the mushroom) when the stipe is broken. 

Bleeding Mycena, Mycena haematopus

And I came across a little pile of stuff in a hole in a downed log that had Hair Mold, Phycomyces sp., growing on it.  That mold is recognizable by the yellow heads on some of the fruiting stalks.  But I couldn’t tell what it was growing on.  It was a collection of reddish-brown masses that felt cold and rubbery to the touch.  I think it might have been something’s organs, but I’m not sure.

I also found some kind of mold growing on the old husk of a Buckeye chestnut.  I think it was a slime mold but it had already gone to spore, so I couldn’t tell what kind it was.  There were also a lot of the windfall chestnuts are sending out their taproots into the ground.  They’re bright pink, so they’re had to miss.

            There was a bachelor group of Wild Turkeys who were sort of doing their hierarchy battles, but they weren’t really into it.  Some would mock-chase others, and one grabbed his fellow by the neck and they wrestled for a few seconds – nothing like the protracted battles I’ve seen them do before.  Maybe it was too cold for them to do much of anything this morning…

Later, I came across a lone female turkey who was limping through the woods. It looked like she was having trouble bearing any weight on her right leg. I considered for a short second chasing after her and grabbing her and taking her to a wildlife refuge, but, seriously, can you see me running around the uneven ground of the forest?  And if I got a hold of her, it was almost a mile back to the car… with her pecking at me and trying to get down.  Not a good idea.  So, I sent an email to the rangers with photos of her after I got back home.

When I was walking along the riverside part of the trail, I noticed several male Common Mergansers in the water swimming in circles and posturing for a female… but the female was trying to rest. She ignored the males for a while, but when they got closer to her, she opened her mouth and “yelled” at them with a loud squawk.  

I tried looking closer at more of the lichens and differentiating between them, but it’s still proving to be a little difficult for me because I’m learning piecemeal.  I’ve been reading up on them through books, but now I think I’ve confused myself even more. Hah! I need to find a good lichen class close by, I think, in order to get a better hand on things.

Here’s a good start online for lichen IDs.

 Today, I think I’ve found specimens of American Starburst Lichen, Imshaugia placorodia, Common Button Lichen, Buellia stillingiana, Green Starburst Lichen Parmeliopsis ambigua, Starry Rosette Lichen, Physcia stellaris, and Whitewash Lichen, Phlyctis argena, but I’m not entirely sure.  It’s confusing, but it’s also kind of fun. I like the effort of learning new stuff.

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

Species List:

  1. Acorn Woodpecker, Melanerpes formicivorus
  2. American Starburst Lichen, Imshaugia placorodia [darker green, green apothecia]
  3. Audubon’s Warbler, Setophaga coronata auduboni
  4. Barometer Earthstar fungus, Astraeus hygrometricus
  5. Bewick’s Wren, Thryomanes bewickii
  6. Black Jelly Roll fungus, Exidia glandulosa
  7. Bleeding Mycena, Mycena haematopus
  8. Brown Jelly Fungus, Jelly Leaf, Tremella foliacea
  9. California Buckeye Chestnut, Aesculus californica
  10. California Ground Squirrel, Otospermophilus beecheyi
  11. California Pipevine Swallowtail butterfly, Battus philenor hirsute [chrysalis]
  12. Canada Goose, Branta canadensis
  13. Clustered Bonnet, Oak-Stump Bonnet, Mycena inclinata
  14. Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus
  15. Common Button Lichen, Buellia stillingiana  [white with black peppery dots, on trees]
  16. Common Ink Cap Mushroom, Coprinopsis atramentaria
  17. Common Merganser, Mergus merganser
  18. Fairy Ring Mushroom, Scotch Bonnet, Marasmius oreades
  19. False Turkey Tail fungus, Stereum hirsutum
  20. False Turkey Tail fungus, Stereum ostrea
  21. Gem-Studded Puffball, Common Puffball, Lycoperdon perlatum
  22. Golden Shield Lichen, Xanthoria parietina
  23. Gray Veiled Amanita, Amanita porphyria
  24. Green Shield Lichen, Flavoparmelia caperata
  25. Green Starburst Lichen Parmeliopsis ambigua
  26. Hair Mold, Phycomyces nitens
  27. Hoary Lichen, Hoary Rosette, Physcia aipolia
  28. Horsehair Mushroom, Gymnopus androsaceus
  29. Interior Live Oak, Quercus wislizeni
  30. Live Oak Gall Wasp, 1st Generation, Callirhytis quercuspomiformis
  31. Mallard duck, Anas platyrhynchos
  32. Many-Headed Slime Mold, Physarum leucopus
  33. Mower’s Mushroom, Haymaker Mushroom, Panaeolus foenisecii
  34. Netted Crust Fungus, Byssomerulius corium
  35. Northern Flicker, Colaptes auratus
  36. Nuttall’s Woodpecker, Picoides nuttallii
  37. Oakmoss Lichen, Evernia prunastri
  38. Palomino Cup Fungus, Peziza repanda
  39. Pinwheel Mushroom, Marasmius capillaris
  40. Pleated Ink Cap, Parasol Ink Cap, Parasola plicatilis
  41. Powdery Goldspeck, Candelariella efflorescens  [yellow lichen, powdery texture]
  42. Purple Core, Bluet, Blewit, Clitocybe nuda (Lepista nuda)
  43. Rio Grande Wild Turkey, Meleagris gallopavo intermedia
  44. Rosy Saucer Lichen, Ochrolechia trochophore
  45. Shrubby Sunburst Lichen Polycauliona Candelaria [yellow, folios lichen]
  46. Spotted Sandpiper, Actitis macularius
  47. Star Moss, Syntrichia ruralis
  48. Starry Rosette Lichen, Physcia stellaris [gray, with brown apothecia]
  49. Sunburst Lichen, Xanthoria elegans
  50. Turkey Vulture, Cathartes aura
  51. Western Gull, Larus occidentalis [spot on bill, pink legs, orange circle around eye]
  52. Whitewash Lichen, Phlyctis argena [Light grat/white, crustose lichen]
  53. Witches Butter, Tremella mesenterica
  54. Yellow Field Mushrooms, Agaricus campestris
  55. ?? Orange moss/lichen on tree

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

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 : https://www.eventbrite.com/e/tuesday-nature-walk-at-effie-yeaw-tickets-87743620531 to start with, and then click the FOLLOW button and sign up to get updates as new outings are planned.

A New Slime Mold and Lots of Deer, 12-24-19

I got up at 7:00 this morning and after giving Esteban his breakfast, I headed out to the Effie Yeaw Nature Preserve for my regular volunteer trail walking gig.  It was literally freezing outside, 32°F, when I got to the preserve, clear and crisp, with frost on the ground and a little bit of lingering fog in the shadier places. By the afternoon clouds rolled in; it’s suppose to rain tonight and into tomorrow.

Start Time: 7:30 am
Start Temperature: 32º F
End Temperature: 49º F
Weather: Freezing, foggy,clear skies
Total Hours in the field (includes travel time): 4.5 hours
Kilometers Walked: 3
Number of Individual Species Noted Today: 36

The frost was the first thing I encountered when I got onto the trails.  It was glistening from plants everywhere, and on the leaf litter on the ground. Although I was able to capture some of the hoariness of the frost with the camera, it just didn’t capture the glistening as I hoped it might.  Still, I enjoyed being able to see it. It doesn’t get this cold that often around here, so I appreciate the “specialness” of very cold, frosty days.

Frost of the leaf of a Valley Oak, Quercus lobata

Because of the cold, I wasn’t really expecting to see a lot while I was out and was content to just enjoy the crisp air and exercise, but there were actually LOTS of deer out today…and I find a new (to me) slime mold, so I was very pleased with that.

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

 After “discovering” the frost, I saw a Red-Shouldered Hawk sitting up in a tree over the trail. It was all hunkered in on itself trying to warm up as the sun inched up a little more every few minutes.  Then I started seeing deer, after deer, after deer, including two of the big bucks and a couple of younger bucks among the does and yearling fawns.  The big boys were sitting on the ground with their small harems of does around them. 

One doe actually stepped out away from her fawn to come nearer the trail and check me out.  I was in a heavy green jacket and had my scarf wrapped around my neck and face to keep out the cold, and I don’t think she could really tell WHAT I was.  She walked up to within about 8 or 10 feet of me, sniffed at the air, stepped forward a little bit more, sniffed at the air from a different direction, and then, I presume, figured I wasn’t that interesting and walked away.  Her fawn followed after her into the tall grass.

Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus

I came across several different species of mushrooms and some nice specimens of Black Jelly Roll fungus, but nothing I hadn’t seen before.  I noticed at one point on the trail a Dad had left the trail itself and walked off into the brush to check something out while his wife and toddler stood nearby. I was just about to go over to them and ask them to get back onto the trail when the Dad came out from the brush smiling.  “That’s a new Galerina for me. I think it might be Galerina marginata, but I’m not sure.”  Hah!  A fellow fungus hunter! 

Black Jelly Roll fungus, Exidia glandulosa, along with Hoary Lichen, Hoary Rosette, Physcia aipolia, Green Shield Lichen, Flavoparmelia caperata, and Golden Shield Lichen, Xanthoria parietina

I also found an old owl pellet near the trail with some leg bones still intact in it, and also came across a field that was fill of frosty-dew-covered spiders’ webs. Got quite a few photos of those.

Orb-Weaver spider, Neoscona sp. [web]

But the big find of the day for me was of the slime mold I had never seen before. I think it’s Spotted Trichia, Trichia botrytis.  It was in its fruiting stage and looked like groupings of tiny deep red (almost black) globes on stalks. Some of the globes were darker than others, and some had matured and swollen enough so that the surface looked spotted (dark red with yellowish tan underneath).

The next step will be for the globes to go to spore.  When they get to that stage, the surface dries out and peels back like petals of a flower to release the slime mold’s yellow spores.  Coolness!

I walked for about 3½ hours and then headed back home.

Species List:

  • Acorn Woodpecker, Melanerpes formicivorus
  • Black Jelly Roll fungus, Exidia glandulosa
  • Bryum Moss, Bryum capillare
  • California Mugwort, Artemisia douglasiana
  • California Quail, Callipepla californica [heard]
  • California Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma californica
  • Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus
  • Common Snowberry, Symphoricarpos albus
  • European Starling, Sturnus vulgaris
  • Fairy Ring Mushroom, Scotch Bonnet, Marasmius oreades
  • False Turkey Tail fungus, Stereum Ostrea
  • Golden Shield Lichen, Xanthoria parietina
  • Green Shield Lichen, Flavoparmelia caperata
  • Himalayan Blackberry, Rubus armeniacus
  • Hoary Lichen, Hoary Rosette, Physcia aipolia
  • Horsehair Mushroom, Gymnopus androsaceus
  • Interior Live Oak, Quercus wislizeni
  • Jelly Spot Fungus, Dacrymyces stillatus
  • Narrowleaf Cattail, Cattail, Typha angustifolia
  • Oakmoss Lichen, Evernia prunastri
  • Orb-Weaver spider, Neoscona sp. [web]
  • Peregrine Falcon, Wek-Wek, Falco peregrinus
  • Red-Shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus
  • Rio Grande Wild Turkey, Meleagris gallopavo intermedia
  • Sheet-web spider, Family: Linyphiidae
  • Split Porecrust, Schizopora paradoxa
  • Spotted Towhee, Pipilo maculatus
  • Spotted Trichia Slime Mold, Trichia botrytis
  • Toyon, Heteromeles arbutifolia
  • Tule, Common Tule, Schoenoplectus acutus
  • Turkey Vulture, Cathartes aura
  • Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
  • Western Sycamore, Platanus racemosa
  • White Horehound, Marrubium vulgare
  • Witches Butter, Tremella mesenterica
  • Yellow Starthistle, Centaurea solstitialis

iNat Stats for 2019

iNaturalist did up graphs of my observations for this year: 715 observations, 248 species. That’s pretty good, but I can do better. CLICK HERE to seethe stats.

As Wikipedia describes it: iNaturalist is a citizen science project and online social network of naturalists, citizen scientists, and biologists built on the concept of mapping and sharing observations of biodiversity across the globe. iNaturalist may be accessed via its website or from its mobile applications.

A citizen scientist is an individual who voluntarily contributes his or her time, effort, and resources toward scientific research in collaboration with professional scientists or alone. You don’t need any special expertise or degrees to participate, and iNaturalist is free! JOIN TODAY.