Tag Archives: Witch’s Butter

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

Fungus Walk with a CalNat Student, 02-24-19

Date: Sunday, February 24, 2019
Time: 8:00 am to 12:00 pm PST
Location: American River Bend Park, 2300 Rod Beaudry Dr, Sacramento, CA 95827
Habitat: Oak Woodland, Riparian, along the American River
Weather: 43° to 53°, overcast but not raining

Narrative: I’d scheduled a fungus walk at the American River Bend Park for my naturalist students with the understanding that even if no one wanted to come along, I’d still go on it myself. Students are allowed to use these extemporaneous walks I do (if they come along) as a substitute for a missed class or a missed field trip. The weather was chilly, but there was no rain.  I was joined by one of my male students, David D., who had never been to the park before – so it was all a new experience to him.

There weren’t as many different fungi out today as I was hoping there might be, but we did get to see some interesting specimens. We also saw some deer, several different species of birds, and got to see the early pipevine and manroot plants just starting to show themselves and bud out. David had fun climbing trees to get the photos he wanted, and was able to get quite a few really good close-ups with his cell phone.

We walked for about 4 hours before heading home.

CLICK HERE for the album of photos.

Species List:

1. Acorn Woodpecker, Melanerpes formicivorus
2. Belted Kingfisher, Megaceryle alcyon
3. Bewick’s Wren, Thryomanes bewickii
4. Black Jelly Roll fungus, Exidia glandulosa
5. Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans
6. Black-Tailed Jackrabbit, Lepus californicus
7. Brown Jelly Fungus, Tremella foliacea
8. California Black Walnut, Juglans californica
9. California Buckeye, Aesculus californica
10. California Pipevine, Dutchman’s Pipe, Aristolochia californica
11. California Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma californica
12. Canada Geese, Branta canadensis
13. Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus
14. Common Goldeneye, Bucephala clangula
15. Crust Fungus, Phlebia sp.
16. Crust Fungus, Stereum complicatum
17. Deer Shield Mushroom, Pluteus cervinus
18. Destroying Angel, Amanita ocreata
19. Dryad’s Saddle polypore fungus, Polyporus squamosus
20. Eastern Fox Squirrel, Sciurus niger
21. Elfin Saddle, False Morel, Helvella lacunosa
22. English Walnut, Juglans regia
23. False Turkey-Tail Fungus, Stereum hirsutum
24. Fremont’s Cottonwood, Populus fremontii
25. Great Egret, Ardea alba
26. Green Shield Lichen, common, Greenshield, Flavoparmelia caperata
27. Hoary Shield Lichen, Hoary Rosette Lichen, Physcia biziana
28. House Wren, Troglodytes aedon
29. Interior Live Oak, Quercus wislizeni
30. Lace Lichen, Ramalina menziesii, California State Lichen
31. Lemmon’s Rockcress, Boechera lemmonii
32. Manroot Vine, Bigroot, Wild Cucumber, Marah fabaceus
33. Miner’s lettuce, Narrow leaved miner’s lettuce, Claytonia parviflora
34. Mower’s Mushroom, Haymaker Mushroom, Panaeolina foenisecii
35. Mugwort, Artemisia vulgaris
36. Northern Flicker, Colaptes auratus, red-shafted
37. Nutthall’s Woodpecker, Picoides nuttallii
38. Oak Titmouse, Baeolophus inornatus
39. Oyster Mushroom, Pleurotus ostreatus
40. Red-Shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus
41. Red-Tailed Hawk, Buteo jamaicensis
42. Red-Tipped Photinia, Photinia × fraseri
43. Sunburst Lichen, Xanthoria parietina
44. Tiny unspecified Marasmius sp. Mushroom
45. Turkey-Tail Fungus, Trametes versicolor
46. Unidentified Russula sp. mushroom
47. Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
48. Western Bluebird, Sialia mexicana
49. Western Redbud, Cercis occidentalis
50. Western Tussock Moth, Orgyia vetusta, cocoons, pupal case
51. White Horehound, Marrubium vulgare
52. White-Breasted Nuthatch, Sitta carolinensis
53. Witch’s Butter, Golden Jelly Fungus, Tremella mesenterica
54. Yellow Fieldcap, Egg-Yolk Mushroom, Bolbitius vitellinus

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

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.