Vacation Day Four. I got up around 6:30 this morning and headed over to the American River Bend Park for a walk.. It was in the 60’s (around 63° by the afternoon) and partly cloudy all day.
I wasn’t looking for anything in particular at the park; just wanted a long nature walk. But I still ended up taking several hundred photographs. I found a couple of birds’ nesting cavities including that of a White-Breasted Nuthatch and a House Wren who were both nesting in the same tree, but in different holes in the tree. That was kind of neat. Along the river I also saw some Common Mergansers, Great Egrets, Canada Geese, Acorn Woodpeckers, and a Great Blue Heron.
I also came across a group of six jackrabbits. They were cavorting around the picnic tables in the park… so cute. One of them, though, had a deformity on its cheeks that looked like some big canker busted and then turned all black and leathery. Eeew. I did a little research to see if I could find some information about the condition, but I couldn’t find anything… The search will continue.
On the insect front: The Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly caterpillars are hatching out all over the park, and some of them are fattening up quickly. I came across one of the caterpillars with something that really surprised me. I knew that when they’re large enough to pupate, the caterpillars spin a line of silk, attach it to a substrate (like a branch) and wrap it around their shoulders… but this one had spun a mat of silk underneath it. I’d never seen that before, and couldn’t find anything written about it. It was so odd, I tried getting photos of it, but the caterpillar REALLY didn’t like my putting it on its back to get the photos… At first I thought maybe it was dragging someone else’s silk after it, but when I rolled the caterpillar onto its back, I could see the silk attached to its belly. The belly area, though, is not where their spinners are so… I’m still very confused about it. Maybe it blundered onto a super-sticky spider’s web that stuck firmly to it or something. I don’t know. I’ll have to keep researching. Speaking of these caterpillars, I found a really neat video of the on YouTube so you can see how they grow and how they spin the silk shoulder-wrap before they form their chrysalis. I’ve seen them in the torpid state, just after they’ve spun the silk but before the chrysalis is formed. I would LOVE to watch and film the whole process in the wild sometime.
Anyway, here’s the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u2cE86AA1q0.
There were also lots of Ladybug (ladybeetles) and their larvae showing up now, Snakeflies, Crane Flies, all sorts of beetles, and other critters. I also came across some Scarab-Hunter Wasps. They’re rather large wasps that are kind of “hairy” all over. The adults eat pollen and nectar, but they lay their eggs in the beetle larvae and the kids grow up eating the larvae… You find them hovering low over the ground where they “listen” for the sound of the grubs under the surface. Then they uproot the grubs to lay their eggs in them… So they’re carnivores that grow into vegans as they mature. Hah! Nature is so weird sometimes. I also found a few spider egg sacs. I’m not adept enough, though, to tell what species of spider left what sac…
The wildflowers are also blooming along the river, mostly Miniature Lupine, Monkey Flowers, Poppies, Vetch, Pink Grass, and Stork’s Bill. So, there was something interesting or pretty to see no matter you looked.
I walked for about 3½ hours and then headed back to the house. I picked up a few groceries at the store on the way, unpacked stuff when I got home, and put in load of laundry before crashing with the dogs.
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