Gualala Point Regional Park (1/2/2022)

Sunday we visited another nearby park in Gualala. We explored the Gualala Point Loop trail. How I love loop trails. Out and Back? Meh.

We were initially greeted by Western Black Elfin Saddle, Pungent Slippery Jack (? Wish I was able to ID it then so I could’ve made Brian try to smell it!), and Pleated Marasmius mushrooms. Not a bad start! I had low expectations of finding many mushrooms along the coast. Why? For some (dumb?) reason, I didn’t think they’d be as prevalent so close to the ocean? Why? No educated reason whatsoever. Nice to know they’re there!

We then heard and saw a Northern Flicker easily visible in a tree in front of us. Then a California Scrub-Jay flew into the same tree top. THEN we caught sight of a second Northern Flicker in the same tree. I thought this was the first time I’d seen more than one in one place together, but, no. There was that huge group of them at the base of Muir Woods last winter that I saw. I’m thinking of returning later in the month for my monthly day trip. Need to look there again when I’m there!

Right as we were admiring the Northern Flickers and Scrub-Jay, a large raptor flew into the tree nearby. It had lots of streaks/spots and no other markings that clearly indicated what it was. But, iNat later confirmed it was a Red-shouldered Hawk. We were stunned with all the birding happening in one place so soon after starting our Naturing time. Continuing on, we saw blooming Milkmaids, more Western Black Elfin Saddle (with some infected with Hypomyces cervinigenus, known thanks to a comment from an iNat user!), blooming Coffeeberry, and Tall Psathyrella (?).

We dipped off onto a side trail that led into a labyrinth of moss-covered California Bay trees with a picnic table underneath. That led out to the beach, where we admired the Gualala River.

Back on the main trail, we saw Trembling Crust (?), blooming Bull Thistle, newtome blooming Salal, newtome Wood Mushroom (?), and blooming Blueblossom. And, a group of White-crowned Sparrows didn’t mind us interrupting their feeding on the trail so much.

We got to the beach, where an unexpected playground / art space of wood logs littered everywhere you looked. Back on the main trail, we walked right on the cliff edge and onto what was marked as the Whale Trail. At this spot, there were HUGE layered rock pieces that looked like they slipped off the top of the cliff forever ago. It was an awesome sight to behold. As was the Witch’s Hat or Western Witch’s Hat mushroom I spotted just hanging out at the bottom of an old wood fence at the overlook.

Heading onward, we walked through gnarled trees that looked like Lord of the Rings was filmed there. In that spot, we saw these bizarrely white ghostly looking mushrooms, standing out like bright lights on the ground in the otherwise incredibly dark forest enclave. Large White Leucopax is the current frontrunner guess for that!

After getting through there, we were able to see the side of the cliff we were on. And, there were tons of holes in the sides! Birds? Bats? We waited a little, in case something might fly in or out to confirm, but nothing did.

Heading back on the last stretch of trail, we encountered newtome Pine Spikes before I saw two super shiny red blobs ahead. FLY AGARIC!! Two prime specimens! And, Brian had never seen them before, so that was a treat to get to show him.

Rounding out the rest of the mushrooms we spotted were Cavaliers (?), Candy Cap (so neat to see after so recently discussing about them with Octodrone and Logan!), Fragrant Funnel (?), and Tricholoma fracticum (?).

Another Naturing outing filled with tons of mushrooms, thanks to all the recent rains. This winter has been a fantastic mushroom fest so far! Let’s hope it continues into the new year…

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