Lots of Mother-and-Fawn Love at the Preserve, 08-26-18

Up at 6:00 am and over to the Effie Yeaw Nature Preserve again by 6:30 am.  In the summer I usually mix it up: Effie Yeaw, the Cosumnes Preserve, the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge, etc. But there’s no water at the Cosumnes Preserve or the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge this year, so I’ve been spending more time going to Effie Yeaw than I normally would…

At the preserve, it was sort of slow-going at first. I wasn’t seeing much of anything, so I focused on the oak trees and looked for galls.  I was able to find a gall I’d been seeking for years on a Blue Oak tree: the Plate Gall of the wasp Liodora pattersonae. It looks like a flat green scale with a dot in the middle. The problem was, all of the specimens were high above my head on the leaves, so it was hard to get a good close-up shot of them.  I also saw Pumpkin Glass, Red Cone Galls, Saucer Galls, Disk Galls, Spiny Turban Galls, and Oak Apple galls, among others.

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

As I was heading out of the preserve, I came across a herd of deer made up mostly of does, a single fawn (still in its spots) and a young male in his velvet.  The fawn and its mother went through a mutual grooming routine that was so lovely, I got photo after photo of it. So gentle and graceful.  I could have watched them all day.  I also found another 2-pointer buck who was already out of his velvet and sporting his new shiny antlers.  All of the boys will be going into rut over the next few months.

One thing I’ve noticed since I’ve been going out to the preserve each week is that there seems to be some kind of regulation of the tadpoles in the small pond by the nature center going on. It looks like the preserve is either killing or relocating the bullfrog tadpoles as soon as they start to sprout legs.  Bullfrogs are an invasive species, yes, but half of the fun of stopping at the pond is to see and hear the frogs.  I don’t know if it’s some kind of latent “birth control” the center is doing, or if they’re trying to get more dragonflies and other water-borne insects into the pond (so are regulating the number of tadpoles there), but it’s sad not to see any fully fledged frogs…

I walked for about 3 ½ hours, and as I was heading home it was still 66º outside. Nice.

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Mary K. Hanson is an author, nature photographer and Certified California Naturalist living with terminal cancer.