Tag Archives: jelly fungus

The Springtime Birds are Moving In, 03-07-19

I headed out to the American River Bend Park around 7:00 am.  It was mostly cloudy when I got there, around 49°, but the rain moved in while I was walking.  Not a lot of rain, but enough so that I needed my umbrella.

The first things I saw were a handful of deer, does, and some Eastern Fox Squirrels including one that was chomping on a black walnut.  I’d gone, especially, to see if the Red-Shouldered Hawk I’d spotted last week was still sitting on the nest near the lawn turn out… and she was there. Yay!  Because of the angle at which I can vie the nest, it’s hard to see the mama, but she’s in there. I could see the top of her head, heard her calling, and saw her rearranging some of the nesting materials. I’m assuming she’s sitting on eggs now.

As I walked along, I saw a lot of Western Bluebirds and Audubon Warblers all over the place. I think everyone’s pairing off now and looking for nesting sites.  I also saw some Tree Swallows and Lesser Goldfinches… along with a small flock of Northern Flickers and, of course, loads of Starlings and Acorn Woodpeckers.

CLICK HERE for the album of photos.

I was really surprised by the number and size of the Elfin Saddle fungi around the park. I’ve never seen so many around there that were so large. And another nice surprise: I saw a male Belted Kingfisher flying back and forth along the side of the river, and I got a few photos of him when he rested for a brief time in a tree. But he was pretty far away, so the photos aren’t great. Kingfishers are like my “nemesis birds”; I can very seldom get a descent shot of one of them.  They’re so fast and so shy.

I walked for a little over three hours and then headed home.

Species List: 

1. Acorn Woodpecker, Melanerpes formicivorus
2. Audubon’s Warbler, Yellow-Rumped Warbler, Setophaga coronata
3. Barometer Earthstar Fungus, Astraeus hygrometricus
4. Belted Kingfisher, Megaceryle alcyon
5. Bird’s Nest Fungus, Cyathus stercoreus
6. Black Jelly Roll Fungus, Exidia glandulosa
7. Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans
8. Black Walnut, California Walnut, Juglans californica
9. Brown Jelly Fungus, Jelly Leaf, Tremella foliacea
10. California Manroot, Marah fabaceus
11. California Pipevine, Aristolochia californica
12. Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus
13. Coyote Brush, Baccharis pilularis
14. Destroying Angel, Western North American Destroying Angel, Amanita ocreata
15. Eastern Fox Squirrel, Sciurus niger
16. Elfin Saddle Fungus, False Morel, Helvella lacunosa
17. European Starling, Sturnus vulgaris
18. False Turkey Tail Fungus, Stereum hirsutum
19. Gallium, Velcro-Grass, Bedstraw, Galium aparine
20. Gem-Studded Puff Ball, Lycoperdon perlatum
21. Gnorimoschema baccharisella moth stem gall
22. Green Shield Lichen, Flavoparmelia caperata
23. Haymaker Mushrooms, Panaeolus foenisecii
24. Lesser Goldfinch, Spinus psaltria
25. Mallard, Anas platyrhynchos
26. Miner’s Lettuce, Claytonia perfoliata
27. Northern Flicker, Colaptes auratus
28. Oak Titmouse, Baeolophus inornatus
29. Oakmoss Lichen, Evernia prunastri
30. Palomino Cup Fungus, Peziza repanda
31. Red-Shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus
32. Red-Tread Mushroom, Marasmius plicatulus
33. Rust fungus, Puccinia evadens
34. Sunburst Lichen, Xanthoria elegans
35. Tree Swallow, Tachycineta bicolor
36. Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
37. Western Bluebird, Sialia mexicana
38. White-Breasted Nuthatch, Sitta carolinensis
39. Wild Turkey, Rio Grande Turkey, Meleagris gallopavo intermedia
40. Witch’s Butter, Jelly Fungus, Tremella mesenterica
41. Wood Blewit, Purple Core, Clitocybe nuda

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.

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.

A Short Fungus Walk in the Fog, 01-07-18

I went out to the American River Bend Park hoping to find some fungi coming out for the season.  I didn’t get to see a lot of anything, though.  There weren’t many different kinds of mushrooms out yet, and the fog was keeping all of the birds and critters in bed. I didn’t hear or see many birds at all; I was really surprised.  I did get to see quite a few spider webs along the way, and there were a few nice-looking barometer earthstars sitting out where I could see them. Because of the fog and chill in the air, and the fact that my shoes and the cuffs of my pants got wet from walking through the wet grass I only walked for around 3 hours today (rather than my normal 3 ½ or 4 hours).

Here is the album of photos: https://www.flickr.com/photos/mkhnaturalist/albums/72157691364632514

First Fungi of the Season, 12-02-17

Around 7:00 am I headed over to the American River Bend Park for a walk.  I’d gone there looking for fungi – even though I know it’s very early in the season. I found a few nice specimens – mostly different kinds of honey fungus and chanterelles, and a really nice-looking Barometer Earthstar, among others.

I also came across a 2-pointer Mule Deer buck, and followed it for a while until it came across a larger 3-pointer buck. They browsed together for a little while and then sparred a bit. The bigger buck was a sure-bet winner, so the younger one wasn’t too serious about confronting it, and they didn’t hurt one another at all.

CLICK HERE to see the album of photos and video snippets.

At other points along the trail I also got some photos of an Acorn Woodpecker, and a small Spotted Sandpiper standing on a rock on the riverside.  It was about 36º at the river, so I had to wear my heavier jacket. I walked for about 3 ½ hours and then headed home.

Fungi, Frost and a Few Birds

I’m on a holiday break until January 2, 2017.  Today, I was up  at around 7:00 am.  It was 32° outside, and there was a heavy frost on the rental car; ice was even keeping the door shut.  I had a splitting headache but was getting a bit stir crazy, so I went over to the American River Bend Park to see what the river was looking like (in its high-water state) and to look for birds and fungi…  I got to see a little bit of everything, and walked for almost 4 hours.

CLICK HERE to see the photos.

When I got there, there was icy fog and frost still lingering around, and it was pretty frigid.  But as I walked, things warmed up and it was about 56° when I left the park.  Saw the usual mushrooms and jelly fungi, and a couple of nice-looking barometer earthstar (that “puffed” for me when I pinched it).

The water level in the river was still quite high; the “islands” I usually see on my walks there were completely submerged, and water had obliterated whatever shoreline there was.  The trail I walk is about 10 feet above the river, and usually I can see gravel, boulders and trees between the trail and the waterline.  Today, the water was right up against the wall of the shallow cliff the trail sits on top of…  The water was moving really quickly, too, which meant there weren’t many ducks or other birds trying to maneuver in it.  I did get to see some Common Goldeneye ducks diving in the shallows, but no birds out in the main part of the river.  I DID see a huge branch go floating by, though.

Among the other birds I saw were Acorn Woodpeckers, Northern Flickers, some Bewick’s Wrens, Scrub Jays, a male Belted Kingfisher, Black Phoebes, a few Yellow-Rumped Warblers, a tiny Hermit Thrush, and a very cooperative female Nutthall’s Woodpecker who let me take photos of her for about 5 minutes.

I still had the headache throughout the walk and by the end of it was actually feeling a little nauseated, so I quit and headed back home, getting there a little after 11:30 am.