Galls, Galls and More Galls 08-20-17

I was out the door by 6:30 to go to the Cosumnes River Preserve.  I was hoping to be able to get photos of dragonflies on their wetland areas… but the whole wetland area was completely dry. There was only a little bit of water in the slough along the road.  That was disappointing.

But I still wanted to walk, so I walked along the boardwalk and behind the slough, taking photos of the different galls I was able to find.  Among the galls, I found on the oak trees examples of Red Cone galls, Spiny Turbans, Spangles. Saucers, Yellow Wigs, Gouty Twig galls, Oak Apples, Rosette galls, and Clubs.  There were also lots of Flat-Topped Honeydew galls, and some of them were exuding so much honeydew that the branches and leaves of the tree were dripping with the stuff.  It made handling things really sticky… I also found some galls on the Ash and Willow trees.

I only saw about 4 birds while I was out there, which is also unusual, and got photos of a Great Egret, a Killdeer and a Black Phoebe.  So, it wasn’t the best day for a variety of photos, but the morning weather was nice, and I was able to walk for about 3 hours so I got some exercise.

Before Work: Deer, a Young Coyote, Squirrels and a Female Quail

I headed over to the Effie Yeaw Nature Preserve for a walk. It was 59º when I headed out, and stayed nice all the while I was out there. When I first started out on the trail, I was kind of surprised to see a male Wild Turkey just standing in the middle of the trail looking at me. He actually let me walk up very near to him before he started walking up the trail ahead of me. I eventually passed him, and he didn’t run or fly away – just kept an eye on me. It was kind of cool and kind of creepy at the same time…

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

A few feet further up the trail, I suddenly saw a small head pop up from a small knoll covered with long dried grass and weeds. It was a young coyote! It didn’t see me right away, and I got to see it pounce through the grass after a mouse or vole or something. Then the coyote realized I was there and just stood there for a second trying to decide whether to run or keep hunting. It trotted off down the other side of the knoll, and I saw it circle back to see if I was still around where its would-be meal was. It saw me once more and decided to just split…

There’s one spot on the trail where there are signs warning about a nest of ground-dwelling Yellow Jackets. I always slow down around there to try to listen for the wasps. Today, when I paused there, a mother deer walked out of the woods with her two young fawns and started chewing on the leaves of a black walnut tree right on the trail in front of me. The babies moved in under the tree, in the shade, and tasted some of the leaves, too.

I was actually able to get pretty close to them before mom decided she’d had enough of me encroaching on her breakfast, and walked off quickly with her youngsters behind her. Later on, on a different part of the trail, I was taking some photos of a ground squirrel, and another fawn, out of its spots but still small, came stotting down a hill and toward me on the trail. It was all happy and goofy… and then it saw me, and skidded to a halt. It was only there for a second before it bounded off into the woods. Hah!

The black walnut trees in the woods are heavy with walnuts this time of year… and the Fox Squirrels love them. Everywhere you go in the preserve, you can hear the squirrels stripping the husk off and trying to crack open the nuts. Scritch-scritch-scritch. The noise makes it easy to spot the squirrels to get photos of them…

I also came across a covey of California Quails. I could hear the male, and got a glimpse of him and the other females in his harem, but only one female came out where I could actually get some photos of her. They’re such pretty, funny-looking little birds…

I walked for about 3 ½ hours and then headed back home. Time for work…

Mostly Galls… which is what I was looking for, 08-06-17

Up at 5:30 again. I hate that I have to get up so early on the weekends just so I can get outside when it’s still cool, but… whatcha gonna do? I went over to the River Bend Park, but rather than going to the area where I usually walk, I crossed the bridge and walked along the west shore of the river.

I didn’t see much in the way of animals during my walk, but I did get to see quite a few different galls – which is what I was really looking for. I did get to see, though, some Canada Geese, Mallards, a Snowy Egret, Acorn Woodpeckers, some European Starlings, some Western Bluebirds, and very young fledgling Scrub Jays. The only mammal I saw (besides humans) was a California Ground Squirrel.

CLICK HERE to see the full album of photos.

Among the galls I found were: prickly Live Oak galls, Oak “apples”, Spiny Turbans and Red Cone galls (which are by far the most numerous around here), Yellow Wig galls, newly forming Spangle Galls, Flat-Topped Honeydew Galls (some tended by ants and protected by Yellow Jackets), and fuzzy Club Galls.  The majority of the gals I found were all on one tree.  Apparently it’s situated at an intersection where a lot of different wasps and other insects meet.  There was one other tree I went looking for, a small one that’s right along the river’s edge where there are usually great specimens of the Wooly Bear galls…  But, alas, in the flooding spring rains, that little trees was swept away (along with the piece of shore it was growing on.

The eucalyptus trees along the river were also covered in lerps (from the Red Gum Eucalyptus Lerp Psyllid).  The lerps are like little pyramids that the psyllid spin out of starch and sugar.  They’re all sticky with the honeydew the psyllids exude.   I also founds lots of clusters of eggs laid by Assassin Bugs. Most of them were already hatched out.  In one place, I came across some off-looking larvae climbing up and around the rushes along the river side. I’m not sure what they were (some sort of beetle, I suspect, based on their shape); I’ll have to investigate those some more.

The oak trees are just starting to sport their acorns. Give them another month and they’ll be shiny brown and ripe enough to pick and plant.  In September, Tuleyome is having Zarah Wyly from the Sacramento Tree Foundation come to do a lecture for us on acorn gathering.  And then on October 1st, if everything works out well, she’ll also lead an outing to collect Blue Oak acorns from the Silver Spur Ranch property.  Fingers crossed on that one…

I walked for about 2 ½ hours and then went back home

At the William Land Park, 08-05-17

I went over to William Land Park to look for bugs and galls. It was still overcast, but a little bit cooler than yesterday when I headed out, around 66º…

When I got to the park, it was actually still “too dark” to take many photos, so I watched the ducks in the pond for a while as the sun rose a little bit higher.  There was also a murder of crows in the tall trees across the street from the park, and watched them gather and squawk at one another.  I heard what I thought was a Barn Owl in another nearby tree, but I couldn’t see it.  There were also hummingbirds chasing each other around, and I got a few photos of one of them drinking sprinkler water off the petals of a rose.

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

Then I walked through the WPA Rock Garden and did get to see about three different praying mantises (one large green one, one smaller green and tan one, and then a very small tan one). I believe they were all the same species, just in different stages of growth. They were ll hanging around the sunflowers.  As for galls, there was one Valley Oak on the property that was loaded with Red Cone galls and Spiny Turban galls – and I mean LOADED. Some of the leaves were thoroughly covered in galls.  I was hoping to see some jumping galls, but it’s still a little early in the season for them… maybe in another few weeks, if I’m lucky, I’ll be able to see those.

I walked for about 2 ½ hours and then headed back home.