Tag Archives: starling

Vacation Day 7: Effie Yeaw Nature Preserve

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

Vacation Day Seven. I got up around 7:00 this morning and headed over to the Effie Yeaw Nature Preserve for my walk.  It was lovely outside: in the 50’s, sunny and breezy.  There wasn’t a lot to see this trip, but the walk was really nice.  My favorite photo of the day was of a Starling perched outside of its nest hole. The picture was hard to get because the sunlight was right behind the tree where the Starling was (which made everything look black).  The dark bird in the intense shadow was hard to see, so I had to open up the iris of the camera to let more light in… which then washes out the bright background…  I got photos of a Red-Shouldered Hawk nest, and I could hear mama hawk screeching inside of it, but she never lifted her head up enough for me to get a picture of her.  There were a few mule deer around, but they were all napping in the grass, so I got photos of the top of their heads.  Hah!

I also got some good shots of coyote scat that I’ll use in my next “Cool Stuff on the American River” book.  Naturalists get excited about stuff like that. Hah-2!

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No Foolin’ on April Fool’s Day

Starling emerging from tree cavity nest. Copyright © 2016 Mary K. Hanson. All rights reserved.
Starling emerging from tree cavity nest. Copyright © 2016 Mary K. Hanson. All rights reserved.

Even though I have today off, I got up around 6:00 and was out the door to the American River Bend Park by about 6:30 am.

The vetch and Tule Peas are starting to bloom at the park, along with Sticky Monkey Flowers and Miniature Lupine.  The fennel is just starting to sprout, but already parts of the trail smell of licorice.  And there’s Pipevine everywhere.  I’m both pleases and surprised by how many of the vines are sporting butterfly eggs.  Should be a banner year for the caterpillars here.  I already found a few first and third instars (different sizes of the caterpillars as they go through several successive molts and start to mature). Right now, they’re still reddish-brown.  They’ll turn black as they get older and bigger…

The birds are starting to pair off and get their nests in order.  I found nesting spots of some Starlings, a White-Breasted Nuthatch, and a hummingbird so far!  I also found a peacock (!) in the park chasing after the female turkeys.  Hah!  I wonder what they thought of him!

Here’s a little videohttps://youtu.be/E2krSO9NgOo 

Also saw a lot of Tree Swallows and House Wrens, some Scrub Jays, and a Nutthall’s Woodpecker.  The Red-Shouldered Hawks were taking turns at the nest they built over the trail, but they’re careful to keep themselves camouflaged well.  I only got a shot of one of their backs today.  Dang!  Lots of bugs, of course… including loads of Crane Flies (Mosquito Hawks), and I came across some Spittle Bug spit.  With the bugs come the first onset of galls on the plants, too.  I found some on a Coyote Brush bush and on some Goldenrod.

Since I wasn’t looking for anything in particular and just walked until I finished a figure-8 of the part of the park I was in – almost four hours walking – it was very relaxing.



Fungi and Critters at the River Bend Park on Saturday

Brown Jelly Fungus. © Copyright 2016, Mary K. Hanson. All rights reserved.
Brown Jelly Fungus. © Copyright 2016, Mary K. Hanson. All rights reserved.

I got up around 7:00 this morning and headed over to the American River Bend Park for my walk.  Rain was threatening and it was cold, but I wanted to see if the fungi had started to wake up there yet.  With a week’s worth of rain, I figured something should be showing itself by now.  And I wasn’t disappointed.

Although the full array of fungi weren’t out yet, I did come across some really beautiful specimens of jelly fungus and my favorite “Purple Core” mushrooms (a kind of Blewit), along with other mushrooms, lichens, mosses, and some polypore fungi.  I also came across a kind of ink cap mushroom I hadn’t seen before: the Pleated Inkcap (Parasola plicatilis), a kind of decomposer.  So that was cool.

At one point, I stopped on the trail to get a photo and this little Chihuahua on one of those retractile leashes came up and started yapping at me.  His owner, an older lady who walking with a female friend, reeled him in and said, “Stop barking.  She’s trying that a picture of that… yellow… stuff.”  And I got the opportunity to do my naturalist thing, telling the lady it was a kind of jelly fungus, from the genus Tremella, called “Witch’s Butter” and it was 60% water.  She ooo’ed a little bit and said, “My husband just thought it was a mushroom.”  Mare: 1, Hubby: 0.  Hah!

The big buckeye chestnuts woke up with the rains, too, and I found several of them that were sending out their long tap roots looking for a place to grow.

Along the river bank, I also got to see a variety of birds: Robins, Turkey Vultures (some posing on the top of a tree), Starlings in their breeding plumage, Acorn Woodpeckers, Goldeneye Ducks, Canada geese,  a Spotted Sandpiper (without its spots), a Greater Yellowlegs, an alder tree full of tiny Lesser Goldfinches, and a Belted Kingfisher.  At one spot I also saw a Great Blue Heron and a small Green Heron fishing in the shallows, and a Great Egret trying to challenge a Turkey Vulture for a tidbit of leftover salmon.  (I got a little video of that encounter.) Took lots of photos.

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I got so “involved” with my photo-taking, by the way, that I lost track of time and ended up walking for about 4 hours.  That’s really beyond my limit and with the cold and damp, my bones were really aching by the time I got back to the car.  Just as I got in and closed the door, the rain started.  Good timing!

I headed home, and collapsed with the dogs.  Took some Aleve, had a sammich, and napped for about an hour, then worked for a bit on my journaling and my second American River Book.

Found Some Elfin Saddles in the Rain

I got up a little after 7:00 this morning and headed out to the American River Pend Park.  It was overcast and sprinkling very lightly when I got there, and just as I drove down the entry road, a hawk in a tree caught my eye.  So I pulled over and walked into a part of the park and along part of the river I’ve never seen before.  The hawk  flew off, so I didn’t get any photos of him, but I did see quite a few other birds – Flickers, Scrub Jays, Towhees, Common and Barrow’s Goldeneye Ducks, geese, Killdeer, Starlings, etc. — and I also came across quite a few mule deer, so that was a fun segue.  Then I drove into my favorite part of the park and started walking, the rain getting heavier and heavier all along the way.  I was hoping to see some neat slime molds and ‘shrooms, but was hampered by the rain.  I did get to see a large crop of Helvella lacunosa, also known as the Fluted Elfin Saddle; there were mostly black ones but a few chalky white ones, too. These bad boys are often overlooked because they like burnt ground and often look like little charred bits of wood or burnt paper.  There were so many of them in this one spot, though, that they were really conspicuous.  I wanted to stay out there longer, but it started pouring… and I’d left my umbrella at the office. D’oh!  Overall, I’d spent about 2 hours at the park before heading home.