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.
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