From Pokémon Go to Crystalline Galls, 07-31-16

I got up at 5:30 again this morning to get out for my walk before the heat set in once more.  I went over to the Effie Yeaw Nature Preserve and saw a sign by the front gate saying that special “stops” and a “gym” for the Pokémon Go game had been set up inside preserve, and welcoming two teams to play there today.  I don’t do a lot with Pokémon Go but I do have it on my cellphone, so I turned it on while I was there.  I found all of the “Poke Stops” in the place (where you can get extra balls to capture the monsters, star dust, eggs and stuff like that) and ended up getting two eggs out of them.  For the eggs I got, I have to put them in an incubator and then walk about 2 miles to get them to hatch… but there was no GPS signal available inside the preserve, so the game couldn’t accurately track my mileage.  So I don’t know when those eggs are going to hatch (or what will come out of them).

I also came across about a dozen of the little monster critters (some of them were duplicates but you still get points for them).  There was one little tiger-thingy with a pompadour that was really hard to catch. I caught it twice and it kept escaping from the ball.  Eventually, it just took off in a puff of smoke, so I didn’t get any points for that one.

While all of this Poke-stuff is going on, I had my camera on and was taking photos of the real live critters I came across on my walk.  I saw the usual suspects along the trail: mule deer, a Red-Shouldered Hawk, tree squirrels and ground squirrels, Acorn Woodpeckers, European Starlings… and I came across a Blue Oak that had a lot of galls just starting to form on the leaves: Saucer Galls, Crystalline Galls, Red Cone Galls.  I also found galls on Valley Oaks and a Live Oak tree.  It’s just the beginning of the season for them, though, so they weren’t as plentiful yet as I’d hoped they be.  Maybe in another week or two…

The one on the Live Oak was one I’d never seen before: the gall of the Kernel Flower Gall Wasp (Callirhytis serricornis), so I can add that to my “firsts” list…  It was so tiny, I wasn’t entirely sure it was what I thought it was until I got home and blew up the photograph.  I need to bring a magnifying glass with me when I’m out in the wilds…  I also seem to be finding galls around here that I hadn’t found in previous years — the Kernel Flower Gall today and the Round Gall yesterday, for example. I wonder if the early heat wave (or climate change) has something to do with that.

I also found a gall in the stem of a mugwort plant.  I had trouble finding what causes those (as, apparently they’re kind of “rare”) but discovered it was most likely caused by a kind of fruit fly with “picture wings” (clear wings with black decorations on them that make them look like stained glass), Campiglossa misella.  Cool!  That’s another “first’ for me.

CLICK HERE for an album of all the photos from today.

I walked for about 3 hours and then headed back to the house.

One of the Pokémon Go creatures I found on my walk.
One of the Pokémon Go creatures I found on my walk.