January 12, 2010

Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge, January 2010

Some former co-workers of mine planned this excellent birding the trip in the valley, and we all had a grand time tooling around, looking at birdies. SNWR is a bit weird, because the primary way of viewing the scads of wintering birds there is to drive a planned circuit and bird from your car. Great way to see A LOT of birds, though, including Bald Eagles, falcons, owls, a bazillion Snow Geese, only a tad fewer Red-tailed Hawks, and pheasants! I had a couple of new-for-me's, including a White-faced Ibis and the Greater White-fronted Goose.

Kind of a haul. I burned 3/4 of a tank of gas in my somewhat fuel-efficient 2002 Corolla, so make sure to start with a full tank. Williams is the last town on I-5 before getting there, and Granzella's is a pretty decent place to grab a sandwich.

Posted on January 12, 2010 11:48 PM by kueda kueda | 44 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

January 11, 2010

BAB Winter 2009, Field Trip 1: Albany Bulb

Signed up for a birding class in the hopes of finally working on those tough groups I usually shy away from: buteos, gulls, sparrows, peeps. So far so good! We had a nice walk around the Bulb, and then to Caesar Chavez, picking up some pretty good birds. Best Bird Award probably went to the Eurasian Wigeon at the Bulb. Very pretty bird. Also, I am learning to appreciate the Gadwall. Sarah says, "it is a modernist bird. If it had a couch, it would be so beautiful you would be afraid to sit in it."

Posted on January 11, 2010 01:51 AM by kueda kueda | 49 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

Xmas 2009 Summary

I was lazy over break and didn't update my journal. Bad me. Some notable highlights were...

We took our usual walk at Hammonasset on Christmas Day, where there were loons and scary snowmen. Some Ruddy Turnstones on the beach were a new Hammo bird for me, I think.

We had 2 new backyard birds over the break: a Fox Sparrow and a Cooper's Hawk. It amazes me that my family has lived in that house for over 20 years and we still see new birds.

Went back to Hammo for an afternoon of chilly tidepooling. Didn't see all too much. Couple hydroids, a few little crabs that I felt too cold to grab. Some nice loons. Oh, and a hunter. With decoys. Which I mistook for real ducks. I don't think he was supposed to be there.

Posted on January 11, 2010 01:46 AM by kueda kueda | 17 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

December 14, 2009

Soggy Huckleberry

Had a very pleasant (albeit damp) walk through Huckleberry yesterday, where the recent rains have left a profusion of fungi and lichens.  Deathcaps remained in abundance, but were joined by a number of Lactarius, and a handful of blewits.  Found a number of cladonia that I'm still working on IDing (I'm afraid the pixie cups are a lost cause).  Still no waxy caps, though I did meet someone who had picked one, so they're on their way.

Posted on December 14, 2009 10:29 AM by kueda kueda | 2 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

December 06, 2009

Pt. Reyes w/ Tomio

Went for a hike at Pt. Reyes with my brother, who's visiting for a spell. Spotted a bobcat on the road right by the entrance to the Muddy Hollow trailhead. Auspicious! Sadly the next notable thing that happened was rain, so we hid under a tree. Then it began to hail. Seriously. Hail in the Bay Area. Eventually the sun came out and we went on our way.

The ponds to the north of Estero de Limantour were especially ducky. Ring-necked, wigeons, all manner of things. We also spotted Tule Elk, and saw a handful of mushrooms, mostly slippery jacks and pine spikes.

Hit The Scoop on the way back. Egg nog ice cream!

Posted on December 06, 2009 10:25 PM by kueda kueda | 31 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

Tidepooling Pillar Point... At Night!

Caught this tide at Pillar Point. Arrived around 3:30ish to hazy, overcast conditions with moderate surf, fairly turbid waters. Low was a -1.5, scheduled for 6pm, about 1 hr after sunset, so things were still fairly high. Not too much happening in the harbor aside from some buffleheads, loons, and scoters out in the harbor, some willets and a plover along the shore. I did, however, meet up with some birders who had a scope on a Long-tailed Duck! The conversation went something like this:

"What are you guys looking at?"

"Well, we think we're looking at a female Long-tailed Duck"

"A Long-tailed Duck?! No shit!"

"Ah, you're a birder!"

Female Long-tailed Duck it was, in winter plumage. New bird for me, very exciting.

The reef was beautiful, as always, and almost bereft of people, which definitely not always the case. The pool of plenty was still pretty deep when I got out there, so I spent some time examining some higher pools as the sun set, finding a cool Giant Rock-scallop, and a few slugs here and there. When the sun was good and gone, though, things really started picking up. Slugs were everywhere! Abundances were higher than I've ever seen them out there, T. maculata everywhere, with D. montereyensis right behind them in numbers. Numerous clown dorids, and some relative rarities, including Limacia and Dirona picta.

All in all a wonderful evening tidepooling. I need to go out at night more often. Had dinner at Barbara's Fish Trap, which was overpriced and kind of mediocre. Still looking for good food in that area...

Posted on December 06, 2009 02:16 AM by kueda kueda | 18 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

December 05, 2009

Tidepooling SoCal

Ok, not quite tidepooling all of SoCal, but I did tidepool in SoCal. Flew down to LA for a company holiday party, which just happened to include a tidepooling jaunt to Leo Carillo State Park! Leo Carillo doesn't have too much in the way of straight-up pools, but it does have a nice cobble field with many cool things living there. Friends told me to expect sea hares and octopi, and we in fact found both! I was so excited about the sea hares. They were enormous (for sea slugs), and just plane cool. Other things I could recognize were a bunch of Pisaster ocraceus, some moonglow anemones, and striped shore crabs. Among the things I didn't recognize were lots of anemones, big calcareous hunks of colonial worm colonies, and lots of other stuff. Would love to go back.

Posted on December 05, 2009 08:17 PM by kueda kueda | 2 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

East Bay Thanksgiving Fungi, Dryness on the Peninsula

Late post, but I did some fairly fruitful fungal exploring in the East Bay over the Thanksgiving weekend. Deathcaps were blooming everywhere, especially in Anthony Chabot, and I found what I think was my first East Bay Stropharia. I was also trying to pay more attention to the lichens, especially in Huckleberry, where there seems to be a great diversity growing on the oaks and manzanitas along the higher trails. Still at the very beginning of learning anything about lichens though.

Went across the bay to El Corte Madera and Wunderlich on Sunday, figuring if the East Bay was fairly wet, the peninsula should be soaking. So wrong. Both were bone dry, with very little in the way of fungi. El Corte Madera had some beautiful, huge tanoak stands that seemed perfect for a variety of fungi, but it was so dry there wasn't really much in profusion. We did manage to find garlic mushrooms, though, which was a treat. Their smell is so intense! Wunderlich was even sparser, mostly just old deathcaps.

Posted on December 05, 2009 08:10 PM by kueda kueda | 9 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

November 25, 2009

Salt Point, November 2009

Went up to Salt Point with Arch and Collin last weekend, and camped there for the first time. It kind of takes a long time to get up there, and day trips have always seemed like a bit much. I think camping is definitely the way to go.

I got up there Saturday afternoon, and was immediately greeted by a horde of foragers participating in a SOMA foray. Doh. Luckily they were finishing up, meaning even if I wasn't going to find any edibles, at least I'd have some solitude. Since I knew my friends weren't going to join me until the evening, I decided to do some bushwhacking and investigate some of the areas I usually check later in the season. I eventually found myself in the middle of a seemingly inescapable huckleberry patch, crawling around on my hands and knees hoping to find some kind of clearing. In the process, though, I found one porcini and one Leccinum manzanitae, a new bolete for me! I totally thought it was another porcini that was just kind of "dirty," but in fact the dull red cap and dark ridges on the stem mean Leccinum. Now I know. Also tons and tons of Amanita, Gomphus floccosus, and plenty of things I couldn't recognize.

Camping at Gerstle Cove was quite nice. I'd say the campground was 1/3 full, so no problem with crowding. It was fairly cold, but a warm fire and a decent sleeping bag took care of that. The next day I set off with Arch and Collin up the North Trail, where we had decent success with edibles, despite meeting some tight-lipped Russians with buckets full of mushrooms who told us all the mushrooms were gone and that we shouldn't bother (we met some friendlier Russians later who showed us their baskets). We also found all manner of interesting non-edibles, many that I hadn't seen before!

All in all, it was a beautiful afternoon to spend strolling around the woods. We stopped by the Sizzling Tandoor in Jenner on the way back, because Arch thought the name was hilarious. Their fare's most salient characteristic was its warmth. It also has a spectacular view of the Russian River.

Posted on November 25, 2009 01:40 AM by kueda kueda | 9 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

November 19, 2009

Carquinez Regional, Fungi in Huckleberry

Went to Carquinez Regional Shoreline for the first time last Saturday with Tony and Angie. Nice little park, some beautiful grassland and healthy-looking oaks. I was armed and ready with my new OakMapper iPhone app, but I didn't find any Sudden Oak Death to report! Oh well.

On Sunday I decided re-investigate the fungal situation in Sibley and Huckleberry. While things seemed pretty dry and empty in the upper piney regions of Sibley, where I've seen boletes, candy caps, and elfin saddle in the past, there was definitely some activity as I got lower and wetter. Lots of amanitas, which made me happy, including plenty of death caps.

Posted on November 19, 2009 12:13 AM by kueda kueda | 4 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment