Tag Archives: jack-o-lantern

And Whose Teeth Are These? 01-26-18

Around 7:30 am I headed out to the Effie Yeaw Nature Preserve for my walk. It was about 37° at the river when I got there and warmed up to the 50’s by the time I got back home.

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

The cold seemed to keep a lot of the critters in seclusion, so there didn’t seem to be a whole lot to see but I still got photos of the usual suspects: sparrows, Wild Turkeys, Spotted Towhees, deer, Turkey Vultures, squirrels, Acorn Woodpeckers, Northern Flickers, European Starlings, California Scrub Jays, etc.  The only surprise of the day was a large coyote. I spotted him only for a second and wasn’t able to get any good photos of him before he disappeared into the brush.  Oh, and I found part of the carcass of a salmon along the trail. It must’ve been dropped there by the Turkey vultures… So many ferocious-looking teeth on that thing!

I walked for about 3 hours and covered a little over 2 ¼ miles.

Vultures and Shrooms at the River Bend Park, 11-20-16

I got out of bed around 7:30 am and headed over to the American River Bend Park for a walk, I’d gone mainly to see if there were any signs of fungi out yet – and there were a few – but mostly I got photos of Turkey vultures who all decided to sit up in the trees over the trail and “vulch” at people. Hah!  The coyote brush is still in bloom all along the river trail, and I also found several snowberry plants with their fat white berries just waiting for the birds to eat them.

CLICK HERE to see the full album of photos.

Among the fungi I found Deer Shield, Inky Cap, Haymaker and Veined Parasol mushrooms, and both yellow and brown jelly fungus, among others.  It needs to get a lot wetter before we really see a profusion of ‘shrooms here.

Along the way, I saw some Golden-Crowned Sparrows trying to eat the see clusters off of the old start thistle, but the stems were water-logged and wouldn’t support the birds’ weight. So the birds would fly up the side of the plant, and the plant would bend over to the ground, and they’d eat the seeds off the ground.  Smart little things.

I also saw a Great Blue Heron steal something that looked like a salmon skeleton from a Turkey Vulture on the bank across the river from where I was standing.  I tried to get some video, but I can’t control the iris on this camera when it’s recording – it picks a setting by itself – so the heron was “washed out”… but the Vulture turned out fine.  Weird.  And frustrating.

On the river I saw several Common Mergansers (all females), a female Goldeneye, some Mallards, and a few pairs of Bufflehead ducks.  They’re very shy, though, and wouldn’t let me get too close. I also saw a Double-Crested Cormorant sharing his rock with a couple of Ring-Billed Gulls.

I walked for about 3 ½ hours and then headed home, stopping at BelAir along the way to get some chili for lunch.  It just sounded good…

Lots of ‘Shrooms and Other Fungi

Insect Egg Slime Mold. © 2016 Mary K. Hanson. All rights reserved.
Insect Egg Slime Mold. © 2016 Mary K. Hanson. All rights reserved.

Slept in a tiny bit today and got up around 7:30 am.  I was tentatively planning on heading up to the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge because the weather was supposed to be lovely today (crisp and clear with hardly any wind) which is good for birding… but I was just too tired to make that long drive.  So, I went over to the American River Bend Park and walked around for about 3 hours.

I was hoping to see some coral fungus (it’s wet enough for them to start making their appearance), but nope.  I did get to see lots of mushrooms of different colors and sizes, including some large Jack-o-Lantern mushrooms: they’re bright orange and considered to be “mildly” toxic (although I don’t know how poison can really ever be considered “mild”).  There was a lot of cup fungus out, too.  Mostly the palomino-colored stuff, but I also found some that were deep purple.  I think those were Ascocoryne cylichnium, known as Purple Jelly Disks. Among the leaf litter I was also pleased to find a couple of different kinds of slime mold: yellow-orange and white.

Along the river, I got to see a Great Blue Heron posing in the early-morning light, along with a pair of Common Mergansers. And I got some shots of a tiny Hermit Thrush.  They’re so cute… then I came across what seemed to be a small bachelor group of mule deer: one with no antlers yet, a young 1½ prong buck (the prongs were really too small to count as 2) and a mature 4-prong buck.  In that same area, I also found some bones: an almost fulling intact small animal skull (maybe a skunk or a small dog – like a Chihuahua  — based solely on its canine teeth); and the top portion of a larger skull that was broken into pieces.  There were no teeth around associated with the larger skull so I’m not sure what it was.  Maybe a coyote, based on its size. The smaller skull still had some sinews around the jaw and a tiny bit of skin and fur, so it must’ve been a more recent kill than whatever the large-skulled animal was.  I thought it odd that both skulls were in the same general location – as though that was a place that a larger animal regularly went to when it wanted a little privacy to eat.

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As I said, I walked around for about 3 hours and then headed back home.  When I got there, I was happy to see camellias starting to bloom on one of the bushes by the front door.  There’s a pair of House Wrens that frequent that bush a lot; I wonder if they’re thinking of building a nest there.

I took a little while to settle in at the house, then changed into my pajamas – which I wore for the rest of the day.  As an extended birthday treat for myself, I cooked up a small duck and had that with salad, ripe green olives, and champagne. I think I’ve now milked just about everything I can out of my birthday.  Hah!