Tag Archives: hike

Wildflowers on Bear Valley Road, 04-13-19

I got up around 6:00 this morning, planning on going out on a wildflower tour with my coworker Nate and volunteer Roxanne.

Nate sent me an email, however, saying that his folks were in town and when they heard what he was doing today, they wanted to go with him – so there went Roxanne’s and my seat in his car.

I texted Roxanne and asked if she’d like to go with me, and she offered to drive. So, around 8:00 am we headed out to Highways 16 and 20 and Bear Valley Road (in Colusa County) – about an hour ahead of Nate and his group.  Because we were following almost the same route as Nate, though, our paths crossed a few times. He caught up with us at two spots where we had stopped to look at and photograph the wildflowers, and we passed him a couple of times.

Unlike the last time I went out looking for the wildflowers, today’s excursion was incredible, and Roxanne and I ended up spending the whole day outdoors.  I saw some insects and plants I’d never seen before, and the fresh air, exercise and views of flower-painted landscapes was exhilarating. It’s so nice to go on an excursion like this with someone who moves at a browsing pace like I do, and who gets excited by bugs and flowers and the sight of ducks in the river. Hah!

There were soooooo many photos, I broke them down into two albums.

CLICK HERE for album #1.

CLICK HERE for album #2.

Roxanne and I didn’t get home until around 6:00 pm. It was a long but fun and nature-filled day. I took over 1200 photos, so it’s going to take me a while to get through all of them.

Species Identification List:

1. “Apples” on Manzanita, Arctostaphylos sp,
2. Annual Yellow Sweetclover, Castilleja exserta ssp. exserta,
3. Big Heron’s Bill, Erodium botrys,
4. Bird’s Eye Gilia, Gilia tricolor,
5. Black Angus Cattle, Bos Taurus,
6. Blessed Milk Thistle, Silybum marianum,
7. Blue Blossom Ceanothus, Ceanothus thyrsiflorus ssp.,
8. Blue Dicks, Dichelostemma capitatum,
9. Brewer’s Blackbird, Euphagus cyanocephalus,
10. Broad-Leaf Lupine, Lupinus latifolius,
11. Buckbrush, Ceanothus cuneatus,
12. Bulbous Blue Grass, Poa bulbosa
13. Bush Lupine, Silver Bush Lupine, Lupinus albifrons,
14. Bush Monkeyflower, Sticky Monkeyflower, Diplacus aurantiacus,
15. Butter ‘n’ Eggs, Johnny Tuck, Triphysaria eriantha,
16. California Ground Squirrel, Otospermophilus beecheyi,
17. California Maidenhair Fern, Adiantum jordanii,
18. California Manroot, Bigroot, Marah fabaceus,
19. California Pipevine Swallowtail butterfly, Battus philenor hirsuta,
20. California Pipevine, Aristolochia californica,
21. California Plantain, Plantago erecta
22. California Poppy, Eschscholzia californica,
23. Canyon Live-Forever, Dudleya cymose,
24. Caterpillar Flower, Lacy Phacelia, Phacelia tanacetifolia,
25. Chia Sage, Salvia columbariae,
26. Chinese Houses, Collinsia heterophylla,
27. Coast Range Fence Lizard, Sceloporus occidentalis bocourtii,
28. Common Fiddleneck, Amsinckia intermedia,
29. Common Fringepod, Thysanocarpus curvipes,
30. Common Merganser, Mergus merganser,
31. Common Mustard, Brassica rapa,
32. Common Woodland Star, Lithophragma affine,
33. Common Yarrow, Achillea millefolium,
34. Cottonwood, Fremont Cottonwood, Populus fremontii,
35. Cream Cups, Platystemon californicus.
36. Cucumber Beetle, Spotted Cucumber Beetle, Diabrotica undecimpunctata,
37. Digger Bee, Diadasia sp.,
38. Dwarf Sack Clover, Castilleja exserta ssp. exserta,
39. European Honeybee, Apis mellifera,
40. Fairy Longhorn Moth, Adela eldorada,
41. Field Poppy, Eschscholzia sp.,
42. Fireless Firefly, Pyropyga nigricans,
43. Giant Death Camas, Zigadenus exaltatus,
44. Giraffe’s Head Henbit, Henbit Deathnettle, Lamium amplexicaule
45. Goldback Fern, Pentagramma triangularis,
46. Golden Fairy Lantern, Diogenes’ Lantern, Calochortus amabilis,
47. Goldfields, Lasthenia californica,
48. Gray Pine, California Foothill Pine, Pinus sabiniana,
49. Greater White-Fronted Goose, Anser albifrons,
50. Hawkweed, Hieracium argutum
51. Hereford Cattle, Bos taurus,
52. Hog Fennel, Lomatium utriculatum,
53. Holstein Cattle, Bos taurus,
54. Indian Paintbrush, Castilleja affinis,
55. Ithuriel’s Spears, Triteleia laxa,
56. Larkspur, Delphinium decorum,
57. Lichen, Porpidia contraponenda
58. Lupine, Lupinus sp.,
59. Maidenhair Fern, Adiantum jordanii
60. Mallard, Anas platyrhynchos,
61. Milk Vetch, unidentified
62. Miniature Lupine, Lupinus bicolor,
63. Mouse Ear Chickweed, Cerastium fontanum,
64. Mule’s Ears, Smooth Mules Ears, Wyethia glabra,
65. Owl’s Clover, Dense Flower Owl’s clover, Castilleja densiflora,
66. Pacific Peavine, Canyon Sweet Pea, Lathyrus vestitus,
67. Painted Lady butterfly, Vanessa cardui,
68. Pepperweed, Common Pepper Grass, Lepidium densiflorum,
69. Pineapple Weed, Matricaria discoidea,
70. Pink Grass, Windmill Pink, Petrorhagia dubia,
71. Popcorn Flower, Plagiobothrys chorisianus
72. Purple Sanicle, Sanicula bipinnatifida,
73. Q Tips, Slender Cottonweed, Micropus californicus var. californicus,
74. Red Maids, Calandrinia ciliate,
75. Red-Winged Blackbird, Agelaius phoeniceus,
76. Rock Shield Lichen, Xanthoparmelia tinctina,
77. Shepherd’s Purse, Capsella bursa-pastoris
78. Sidewalk Fire Dot Lichen, Caloplaca feracissima,
79. Silver Lupine, Lupinus albifrons,
80. Slender Popcorn Flower, Plagiobothrys tenellus
81. Smoky Eye Boulder Lichen, Porpidia crustulata,
82. Sunburst Lichen, Xanthoria elegans,
83. Swift Crab Spider, Mecaphesa celer, (super-long front legs)
84. Tamarisk, Salt Cedar, Tamarix parviflora,
85. Texas Longhorn, Bos taurus,
86. Tidy Tips, Fremont’s Tidy Tips, Layia fremontii,
87. Tidy Tips, Smooth Tidy Tips, Layia chrysanthemoides,
88. Toyon, Heteromeles arbutifolia,
89. True Babystars, Leptosiphon bicolor,
90. Valley Oak, Quercus lobata,
91. Valley Tassels, Castilleja attenuate,
92. Variable-leaf Nemophila, Canyon Nemophila, Nemophila heterophylla,
93. Virgin’s Bower, Old Man’s Beard, Clematis pauciflora,
94. Wallflower, Erysimum capitatum,
95. Western Fence Lizard, Sceloporus occidentalis,
96. Western Hawksbeard, Crepis occidentalis,
97. Western Meadowlark, Sturnella neglecta,
98. Western Redbud, Cercis occidentalis,
99. Whiskerbrush, Leptosiphon ciliates,
100. Wild Carrot, Bird’s Nest, Daucus carota,
101. Wild Onion, unidentified
102. Wildoats, Oat, Avena fatua,
103. Winter Vetch, Vicia villosa ssp. varia,
104. Yellow-Faced Bumblebee, Bombus vosnesenskii

My Article on Hiking Safety in the Heat was Published

The summer heat has arrived early this year, surprising some folks who have gone out on nature walks and hikes only to find they’re battling the effects of heat well before they’re done.  Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are nothing to be taken lightly. To avoid being a statistic, take precautions. A lot of it is common sense, but it always bears repeating… CLICK HERE to read the whole article.
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Vacation Day One: Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge

Western Pond Turtle. Copyright © 2016 Mary K. Hanson. All rights reserved.
Western Pond Turtle. Copyright © 2016 Mary K. Hanson. All rights reserved.

Vacation Day One.  I got up around 6:00 am and took off to the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge with the dog.  It was supposed to be overcast and wet all day – and it was, but in Willows the rain was mostly a very light “mizzling” rain (heavier than mist but not really a drizzle) that turned itself on and off throughout the day.  I only had to close the car windows once to keep heavier rain out, and even then it was just for a few minutes.  The rest of the time, I was able to keep the windows open.  Because it was cool – around 53° — I also had the floor vents in the car open and the heater on blowing warm air onto my tootsies.  The cool thing about photographing when it’s overcast is that you don’t have to deal with glare and deep shadows, and that puts everything on the same “scale”.

The wildflowers were starting to winnow away at the preserve, and the grasses, vetch, teasel and other thistles, toyon bushes and other plants – like Hemlock – are starting to build up and bloom… in some places I had Killdeer running alongside the car on the gravel auto-tour road.  They make nests out of the gravel and their eggs look just like little stones.  I worry that some of them are building nests on the road, and they’ll get squished by the cars.  I guess it comes down to “survival of the smartest”; the birds “stupid” enough to build nests in the probably won’t generate many (if any) offspring… There were Jackrabbits in abundance, too.  In one place there were five of them all running and hopping around together.  Since jack’s are generally solitary animals, I assumed the group was a mom and her nearly-grown offspring… Meadowlarks, Marsh Wrens and blackbirds were singing from everywhere.  I got a little video snippet of the Meadowlark song… Among the blackbirds, I also saw my first Yellow-Headed Blackbird – a female who was hunkered down in the tules trying to keep warm… It was such a shock to see her among all the Red-Winged Blackbirds that at first I didn’t know what to make of her…  And I think I spotted by first Loons, too, but they were so far away the photos aren’t all that good.  I think they were whether young Common Loons or Pacific Loons.  They had brown heads…

Saw a couple of Red-Tailed Hawks, and several American Bitterns, including one walking through the tall grass toward the tules, and I heard several other Bitterns give out their “pumper-lunk” calls from amid the overgrowth.  I don’t remember ever seeing (or hearing) this many of them before. I wonder of “climate change” has dumped them all into this area this year… Came across a Striped Skunk running through the grass alongside the road.  He came out of nowhere and was moving so fast I hardly had a chance to get my camera on him and ended up with a bunch of blurry photos.  Sigh.  I need to be “faster than Nature” to get good shots sometimes… And there were Ring-Necked Pheasants everywhere.

I also saw Double-Crested Cormorants, a few Snow Geese, Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets, Great Blue Herons, several Kingbirds (Cassin’s, I think, rather than Western, because the head was kind of a dark charcoal gray), loads of American Coots (of course; they’re kind of ubiquitous), several Western Pond Turtles, Cinnamon Teals, a Purple Finch (They are actually red, not purple.), a few Mourning Doves, House Sparrows, some Long-Billed Dowitchers, Greater Yellowlegs, Mule Deer, Clark’s and Western Grebes,  some Green-Winged Teals, Turkey Vultures, and a few Northern Harriers.  So, even though the weather wasn’t the best, there were a lot of things to see and photograph.   I think I ended up with something like 550 photos!

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By the time I was done in the refuge, it was already around 2:30 pm and I wasn’t looking forward to the 2 hour drive back to Sacramento, so I drove in to Williams and the dog and I did an overnight at the Ramada Inn there.  We shared a Subway sandwich and then hit the hay.

Found New Kind of Slime Mold

Mule Deer Fawn. © 2016 Mary K. Hanson. All rights reserved.
Mule Deer Fawn. © 2016 Mary K. Hanson. All rights reserved.

I’m still feeling a bit crappy — fighting a cough and cold bug — but I was also getting a little stir crazy just laying around the house, so I got up around 7:00 am and headed over to the American River Bend Park for a walk and some fresh air.

I was looking for helvellas and coral fungi, and found the helvellas (commonly called Elfin Saddles) but no coral fungus yet.   It’s a little bit rare out there, but I always keep an eye out for it.  Lots of other mushrooms and different kinds of jellies were out today, though.  There was one tree that was so loaded with the orange Witch’s Butter jelly fungus that it was practically “glowing”.  I could see it from yards away…  Along the river’s edge I saw a couple of seagulls and as I approached, I noticed there was a Great Blue Heron standing near the shore, eyeballing the gulls.  I’m not too overly fond of taking seagull photos (because they’re so… “ubiquitous”) but I really liked the fact that the heron was so close.  I got quite a few photos of him, and a little video too when it tried to approach one of the gulls and steal its snack from it.

In the woods, I came across two does sheltering a young fawn.  One of the does looked pregnant to me.  And elsewhere, as I was driving out of the park, I came across a troop of bucks (about 5 of them) of varying ages.  I came up on them so suddenly, and they were moving at a pretty good pace, so I had to shoot video through the car windows of them before they disappeared into the thicket.  They’re always such a treat to see.  And two of them were jousting a little bit.  I also got to see a Red-Breasted Sap Sucker and a Nutthall’s Woodpecker…

When I drive into and out of the park, I always go extra slowly, so I don’t run over or into and critters, and so I can watch for cool stuff among the trees from the road.  Today, I saw something large and bright pink on the side of a fallen limb.  Because of its color, I assumed it was some kind of slime mold, but I’d never seen a pink mass that large before, so I had to go check it out.  I pulled the car off the road in the nearest turnout and walked back to the limb…  And sure enough, it was a kind of slime mold I’d never seen before: Red Raspberry Slime Mold, Enteridium splendens.  It looked like big lumps of whipped up raspberry yogurt, but felt firm and rubbery to the touch.

So the trip was fun, but I think I over-did it.  By the time I got home, I was coughing more and aching all over.  So much for trying to get better, huh?

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Lots of Handsome Birds on Veteran’s Day

Veteran’s Day.  I have the day off.  I got up around 7:00 this morning and had some coffee and a light breakfast before heading out to the American River Bend Park.  It was about 43° outside when I went out there.  I walked around for about 3 hours before heading back home (and by then it was in the 50’s).

Young Red-Shouldered Hawk. Copyright © 2015, Mary K. Hanson. All Rights Reserved.
Young Red-Shouldered Hawk. Copyright © 2015, Mary K. Hanson. All Rights Reserved.

When I first got into the park I was treated with the view of a young Red-Shouldered Hawk sitting in a tree.  I pulled off the trail and was able to get quite a few good photos of him.  That was a nice wat to start my walk.  It wasn’t wet enough for there to be much in the way of fungi, so I didn’t see much of that but I did find some Sulphur Shelf.  On my walk, I also saw Bufflehead Ducks, Snowy Egrets, Great Egrets, Spotted Towhee, Killdeer, several Cormorants (including one that caught a fish), a male Common Merganser and several mule deer.

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Tuesday at the Cosumnes Preserve

Tuesday was Vacation Day 11. I got up about 7:30 this morning and headed out to Desmond Road and the Cosumnes River Preserve by 8:00. It was chilly and overcast all day. I’m not complaining, mind you. I like this kind of weather.
The gates to the preserve don’t open until 9:00, so I spent some time driving up and down Desmond Road to look at the birds. (There are rice fields along that road, along with some of the additional wetlands property owned by the preserve, so usually there’s something to see out there.) I got several photos along the road (including some of the Sandhill Cranes), and then headed over to the wetlands area inside the preserve.
I walked for about 2 hours and could’ve walked a good deal further but my right ankle suddenly started to give me fits. Ever since chemotherapy I’ve had a nerve-damaged toe on that foot and it sometimes causes me problems, but today – as soon as I started to approach a Killdeer in a tree – the whole side of my foot all the way up to my ankle suddenly felt like it was on fire and I could barely walk. Luckily, the car was close enough at the point that I could hobble toward it. I seriously considered for a few minutes, pulling my camping chair out of the trunk and plopping myself down somewhere along the water’s side. I gave up that idea, though, and instead drove myself down to the next parking lot, and walked across the road to a bench there where I could sit at watch the birds. It was there that I caught sight of my very first Blue-Winged Teals.
I’ve seen lots of Cinnamon Teals and Green Teals before, but never saw a Blue-Winged one (even though they’re relatively common), so that was cool. All in all, I got to see: White-Fronted Geese, Greater Yellowlegs, Long-Billed Dowitchers, Wilson’s Snipes, Sandhill Cranes, Great Egrets, American Kestrels, Red-Winged Blackbirds, Killdeer, Brewer’s Blackbirds, Pintails, Green Teals, Coots, Northern Shovelers, a Blue-Eyed Darner dragonfly, White-Crowned Sparrows, Crows, Cinnamon Teals, Black-Necked Stilts, another elusive Belted Kingfisher, Blue-Winged Teals, Mourning Doves and a Red-Shouldered Hawk. I was also surprised to find a lone White Pelican hanging out among the geese. It’s usual to find only one of those guys… and to find one so close to the roadway…

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Oh, also along the way I found some raccoon scat, and the remains of a snake. There was still a long piece of skin intact – although it had dried up in the sun over the past few days – as well as lengths of backbone and some rib bones. Kewl!
After my walk and drive, I went home, took some Aleve for my still-sore ankle and foot, and had some lunch with the dogs.