Tag Archives: barometer earthstar

Mostly Fungi on 01-18-19

Around 8:30 I headed over to the American River Bend Park for a fungus walk. With all of the rain we’ve been having, I thought there would be a good sampling out there – and I wasn’t disappointed. I walked for about 2 ½ hours and covered about 2 miles. S-L-O-W walker. A fungus walk requires me to move really slowly and bend over a lot to get closer photos of whatever it is I’m seeing, so my core got a little bit of a workout today. Bend over, straighten up, bend over, straighten up. We’ll see, tomorrow, if my Wilson site was okay with all that movement.

I saw a variety of mushrooms including Woodland Blewits, Honey Mushrooms, Yellow Field Caps, Deer Shield Mushrooms, Ink Cap mushrooms, Sweetbread Mushrooms, Splitgill fungus, Red Threads, etc. I also saw three kinds of jelly fungus, Rust Fungus, some cup fungus, puffball fungi, Polypore fungi, birds nest fungus, Barometer Earthstars, and even some Insect Egg Slime Mold. I didn’t find any coral fungus, which was one I was hoping to see, but I felt I saw a good selection in such a small area.

CLICK HERE for the album of photos.

I walked for about 2 1/2 hours and headed home.

Very Much a “Bird” Day, 01-13-19

For those of you who don’t know, I’ve been away from the blog for about a month because I was diagnosed with two types of cancer and had major surgery in December to remove a softball-sized tumor (Which I dubbed “Wilson”) from my abdomen. I also had a full hysterectomy and have been spending the past several weeks in recovery.

I got up this morning around 7:30 am with the dog. It was clear and cool outside, so I decided to try to go for a walk.  Even driving can be painful, but I’m going stir crazy staying bed all day. So, after breakfast, I headed over to the Effie Yeaw Nature Preserve, and I did better than I thought I would.

I was able to walk almost 2 miles. I had to go slower and couldn’t cover as much ground as I normally do, but I was glad I did it.  It’s the first real walk I’ve done since evicting Wilson, and it was really good for my spirit to get outside and immerse myself in nature again. I may regret the walk tomorrow, but right now, I’m feeling good.

It was mostly a “bird day”, and the Wild Turkeys stole the show. This time of year, the males are all strutting and fighting for dominance, and I was able to witness a real knock-down-drag-out match between two jakes.  Surrounded by other males that were sort of jeering them on, a pair of males went after one another. First they were jumping and kicking at one another with their spurs, then one grabbed the other by the face and they wrestled one another to the ground. They were so focused on each other, and the other males were so focused on the fighting pair, that none of them noticed that the females who were originally in the group had actually walked off, totally ignoring them. Hah! I got photos and video snippets of the fight.

CLICK HERE for the full album.

I also got photos of a male Nuttall’s Woodpecker drilling for bugs on the side of a tree (and got video of him routing one out of the bark), some European Starlings, a Golden-Crowned Sparrow, an Oak Titmouse, a male Lesser Goldfinch and a tiny Brown Creeper. I saw and heard Scrub Jays, White-Breasted Nuthatches, Acorn Woodpeckers, and a Red-Shouldered Hawk, but couldn’t get decent photos of them.

I saw a few deer, mostly bucks resting in the grass, and the melanistic squirrel (an all-black Eastern Fox Squirrel) but not many other critters.  There were a few fungi around including some jelly fungus, northern Bluets, a Barometer Earthstar, ink-cap mushrooms, and some other specimens. I walked for about 2 ½ hours and then head back to the house.

Turkeys in Trees and Lots of Deer Everywhere, 11-26-18

Around 7:15 am I went over to the Effie Yeaw Nature Preserve again for a walk. When I first walked in, I saw a small group of deer collected behind the classroom facility across from the nature center. There was one of the 3-pointer bucks back there, rubbing his head against some of the scrub brush (to transfer his scent) and showing off to the couple of does that were near him. I would have missed him completely if he hadn’t made such a fuss over the bushes, rattling and shaking them with his rubbing.  I climbed up onto the stone bench next to the building to look over the plants around there and see him.  He lifted his head up high a couple of times to check me out but otherwise ignored me. He was more focused on trying to impress the gals.

One of the does had a springtime fawn with her, so she wasn’t interested in the buck, and kept moving around to keep him away from her baby. The other doe didn’t seem overly impressed with him either. She walked through a garden to nature center, lifted some of the tomato cages they have around young plants there (to protect them from the deer), and ate the no-longer-protected plants. Hah!  What a brat!

Further along the trail, I came across another buck that was sitting on the side of the trail. He looked pretty good but had a rosy spot on the tip of his nose that he might’ve gotten from jousting.  He just sat there in the grass and let me get pretty close to him to take photos. He stayed where he was until a pair of does came down the trail and caught his eye.  He got to his feet as soon as they sauntered by, and just when he was approaching them, the big 4-pointer buck came across the field and ran the other buck off.  So, the younger buck’s wait was for naught.

On a different part of the trail, I found the buck with the damaged antler. He was standing amid some fallen logs and scrabbly brush… and it took me a while before I realized there was a doe sitting in the grass on the other side of the log. When I went to get some photos of her, the buck poked his head under the log to keep his eye on me.  On the other side of the trail, I also noticed a young spike buck who was sitting in the tall weeds where the larger buck couldn’t see him. When the doe decided to get up and walk away, the older buck followed her… and the spike buck followed him. Stalker.

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

The Wild Turkeys were out in force again. The males are all in strut, showing off to one another and the ladies. Although most of the time they were just posturing at or bluffing one another, I saw a couple of short fights break out among them. They chase one another around, jump up and use the heavy spurs on the sides of their legs to whack one another. You can hear the “crack!” when they make contact all over the preserve; it’s actually louder than the sound made by the deer when they joust.

I was surprised, though, to see about a half dozen of the turkeys way up in the trees over the trail. They were complaining to one another, so I assumed there was something on the ground (a cat or coyote) that was distressing them. After about 15 minutes, I saw them all fly down, crossing over the tops of other trees and landing in a shallow field. They’re big birds and tend to glide rather than flap-and-fly, so they don’t make a whole lot of noise until they get close to the ground, set their feet down and run to a stop.

About halfway through my walk, I was irritated by the fact that the continuous-mode setting on my camera (that takes photos in a burst of 5 shots) decided to stop working. It would take a burst of photos and then stall – the whole camera would freeze up and I couldn’t get it to release unless I took the battery out of it to make it stop.  After quite a while of this nonsense, I set the camera to single-shot, but I hate taking photos like that because there’s a second or two between each photo that you have to wait until the camera resets itself and is ready for the next shot. It’s apparently a problem for my type of camera when I take a lot of photos. The scan disk card isn’t “fast” enough to handle all of the data and the buffer fills up and makes the camera crash. So, I need to get a faster card.

I was in single-shot mode when I came across an Acorn Woodpecker that I wanted to get photos of. As I finished with those shots, I saw that on another branch on the same tree there was a Red-Shouldered Hawk. The bird was polite enough to sit for me and I was able to get quite a few good shots of him.  When nature sits still, single-shot mode works pretty well. Hah!

I walked for about 3½ hours.

That Rattlesnake was a Surprise, 11-24-18

I headed out to the Effie Yeaw Nature Preserve around 8:00 am.  It was overcast, around 58°, and mist-raining when I got there, but the mist stopped shortly after I arrived. I was able to do a slow 3 hour walk but couldn’t cover as much ground as I normally could. Saw lots of different birds today. That’s not unusual since the migrations are going on right now.  Within the first few minutes of my arriving, I got photos of Ruby a Crowned Kinglet, Golden-Crowned Sparrows and California Towhees.  I also saw several Bewick’s Wrens, an American Robin, California Scrub Jays, Western Bluebirds, Mourning Dives, the ubiquitous Acorn Woodpeckers, and a small flock of Dark Eyed Juncos (in what looked like both the “slate” and “Oregon” color forms).

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

On the river, I saw Canada Geese, Mallards, a Snowy Egret, some Bufflehead ducks, and a female Common Merganser. In the river, I also saw the humped backs and dorsal fins of some salmon… but every time I tried to get a photo of that, the fish ducked down under the water again.

The Wild Turkeys were out en masse. This time of year, the males are showing off a lot, and it seemed like the flock I was looking at actually broke along “gang” lines: one part of the flock intimidating and chasing off the other part. I got some still shots of them and some video snippets.

I saw the melanistic Eastern Fox Squirrel again. He was down on the ground but kept himself well hidden in the tall dried grass and weeds, so I didn’t get any real picture of him.  There were also California Ground Squirrels, Western Gray Squirrels, and “normal colored” Fox Squirrels in abundance.

Among the deer I saw today, most of them were the big bucks, so lying down in the grass, some following after females. There’s a young spike buck that thinks he’s the bees’ knees and walks right up into the big bucks’ harems to try to lure the girls out. They ignore him, but he’s persistent. Gotta give him props for that.  Another one of the bucks I saw looked badly beaten up. One of his antlers had cracked off close to the pedicle (and the break looked so clean it looked like it could have been done with a saw). He had battle scars and shallow gouges on one shoulder and walked with a slight limp. The Rut can be rough!

At one point along the trail, I stopped to get a photo of some Sulphur Shelf Fungus and saw what I though was an odd light-and-dark pattern on the ground. I couldn’t tell what I was looking at with the naked eye, so I zoomed my camera in to take a closer look.  Oddly enough, it was a rattlesnake!  It’s super unusual for those guys to be out when it’s “cold”; most of them have gone underground into their hibernacula already.  While I was taking photos of the snake, careful not to get too close (even though I knew that in the cool air he’d be pretty torpid), a family group (grandparents to little grandchildren) came by and I got to do my “naturalist” thing for them. I explained how rattlesnakes were ectothermic and usually slept during the winter months in a state called brumation (which is like hibernation for warm-blooded animals), blah, blah, blah.   And the mother with the little girls in the group said, “That’s neat… but we’re going to stay on the other side of the trail for now.” Hah! Good call.

The recent rain has brought out some of the early season fungi and I was able to find jelly fungus and Barometer Earthstars here and there. The rain also fattened up the mosses and lichen so parts of the forest are looking green already even as the fall colors start showing off.

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

Fungi, a Coyote and a Great Horned Owl, 01-28-18

I headed out to the American River Bend Park for a walk this morning. It was overcast and foggy, and about 38º there. Brrr!

I wasn’t looking for anything in particular so I just ambled around the park, taking this trail and then that one. I came across quite a few different mushrooms and other fungi including some Blewits, Mycena, Russula, Black Jelly Roll and Witch’s Butter, and Elfin Saddles.

What really stood out for me, though, were the little Western Bluebirds who were flying around, courting and looking for early places to set up their nests. They’re such pretty little birds.

CLICK HERE for an album of photos.

While I was following them around, I saw a big nest in a nearby tree and took some photos of it. I realized there was something in the nest, so I used my zoom lens to see if I could tell what it was. A Great Horned Owl! Wow! I approached the tree to try to get a better view of the bird, and it didn’t like that. The owl flew off, wings totally silent, across the forest and into another tree too far away for me to get any good pictures of her there. But how cool to be able to see it. If it keeps that nest through the breeding season, it should make for really great photos throughout the next several months.

At another point, I was walking through a field and caught sight of a coyote loping through the grass. I got him into my camera’s eyesight… just as some kid came by on the trail and screamed, “Coyote! Hi, Coyote!” and the coyote ran off. Guh!

I walked for about 3 hours and then went back home

Lots of Deer and Some Red-Shouldered Hawks, 12-03-17

Around 7:00 am, I headed over to the Effie Yeaw Nature Preserve. I saw a LOT of deer today.  The bucks are still chasing the does around, and the does with fawns were all hanging out in another part of the preserve waiting for the boys to calm down. Hah!

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos and video snippets.

There must’ve been a lot of testosterone in the air, because I saw one of the little fawns trying to mount his mom!  Hah!  She just shrugged him off… I also saw one deer with that looked like a REALLY bad case of mange; it looked scabby and sore all over. Poor thing.

The other highlight of the day was seeing a pair of Red-Shouldered Hawks working on their nest. I watched as one of them flew back and forth with twigs, and then watched the other one rearranging the twigs in the nest.

I walked around for about 3 ½ hours and then headed back home.