It was a lovely 59º when I got to the Effie Yeaw Nature Preserve around 6:30 am , and I walked for about 4 hours. It was 76º outside when I headed back home.
The first thing I saw when I drove into the parking lot was a very healthy-looking coyote. I felt that was an auspicious start to the day. Saw a little bit of everything from galls to dragonflies to deer, so I felt it was a “successful” walk
I had a California Ground Squirrel walk right up to me with a nut in her mouth, like she was offering it to me. As long as I stood perfectly still she was fine, but the minute I shifted my foot, she pivoted to her left, ran down the trail with her tail up in the air and ducked into a pile of brush. A few minutes later, I could hear her coming up in the grass behind me. I turned around and — she ran down the trail with her tail up in the air and ducked into a pile of brush. Hah! I just love these little guys.
I always tell my students, when you’re out in nature look for the anomalous stuff: colors that don’t match, shapes that seem different from what’s around them, shadows that look darker than the other shadows… Well, when I was leaving the preserve, I saw an anomalous lump on the back of a sunflower, so I went over to the flower to check it out. It was a large praying mantis – who caught my finger in one of her spined elbows and clenched hard enough to break the skin and make me bleed. Ouchie! (It was my own fault for picking her up.)
On the leaf of an oak tree, I also found a teneral Common Green Lacewing with a spider attached to it. The lacewing had just molted and wasn’t colored-up yet. It kept trying to walk away and fly, but the spider was holding onto one of its wings so it couldn’t get anywhere. Very National Geographic.
I also came across a small group of female Rio Grande Wild Turkeys, and one of them had with growths on her head and face like the “Collector” skeksis from “The Dark Crystal” (who had oozing pustules all over her face). Kinda gross. [[Oh, and speaking of “The Dark Crystal” I was surprised to find that Simon Pegg was the voice of The Chamberlain in the new series. Hah!]]
But back to the turkey: lesions like that can be indicators of Avian Pox or Lymphoproliferative Disease (a kind of cancer in turkeys), so I passed some photos of her on to the crew that works at the preserve so they were aware of her and could check her out (if they can find her again). Might be nothing, but you never know.
Whenever you see a wild animals with injuries or odd growths on it or some kind of deformity, let the folks who oversee the area know and give them as much info as you can. This is part of the whole “community science” effort; providing professionals with the information they need.
I kind of figure that “dispatching” might be the first go-to response by some rangers, which is sad, but I understand it. You don’t want the animal to suffer and you don’t want it communicating disease to others (if it has anything creepy). Some places, like the Effie Yeaw Preserve, though, work with other biologists to get more information and plan for more options… but they can’t do anything if no one brings the affected animal(s) to their attention.
CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.
I saw some deer on my walk, too, but no babies. Just does and some boys in their velvet. All of them were pretty well hidden, too, behind snags and tall grass or in the shadows. Made picture-taking difficult.
Oh, and one more thing… I used the clip-on macro lens on my cell phone to get some snaps of what I first might be a Crown Whitefly nymph on the leaf of a Showy Milkweed plant. As I looked at it more, though, I realized it had distinctive legs and a yellow-orange head under all of the exuded white waxy filaments on its body, so I did some more research on it and found that it most likely the larva of a Mealybug Destroyer, Cryptolaemus montrouzieri. These “Crypts” are related to ladybeetles but they’re much smaller in size. The adult Destroyers have a round black body (like a ladybeetle-shape), a reddish-orange face and pronotum, and black eyes. Very cool.
As I mentioned, I walked for about 4 hours and then headed back home.
- Acorn Woodpecker, Melanerpes formicivorus
- American Bullfrog, Lithobates catesbeianus [tadpoles]
- Assassin Bug, Zelus luridus
- Bewick’s Wren, Thryomanes bewickii
- Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans
- Black Walnut Erineum Mite galls, Eriophyes erinea
- Black Walnut Tree, Juglans nigra
- Blue Elderberry, Sambucus nigra cerulea
- Blue Oak, Quercus douglasii
- Bushtit, American Bushtit, Psaltriparus minimus
- California Funnel Web Spider, False Tarantula, Calisoga longitarsis
- California Ground Squirrel, Otospermophilus beecheyi
- California King Snake, Lampropeltis getula californiae
- California Mugwort, Artemisia douglasiana
- California Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma californica
- California Towhee, Melozone crissalis
- California Wild Grape, i
- Chinese Praying Mantis, Tenodera sinensis, female
- Clustered Gall Wasp, Andricus brunneus
- Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus
- Common Green Lacewing, Chrysoperla carnea
- Common Snowberry, Symphoricarpos albus
- Coyote, Canis latrans
- Crystalline Gall Wasp, Andricus crystallinus
- Disc Gall Wasp, Andricus parmula
- Eastern Fox Squirrel, Sciurus niger
- European Starling, Sturnus vulgaris
- Fiery Skipper, Hylephila phyleus
- Fig, Common Fig, Ficus carica
- Gopher Snake, Pacific Gopher Snake, Pituophis catenifer catenifer
- Great Horned Owl, Bubo virginianus
- Green Darner Dragonfly, Anax junius
- Hair Stalk Gall Wasp, Dros pedicellatum
- Interior Live Oak, Quercus wislizeni
- Jimson Weed, Datura stramonium
- Lesser Goldfinch, Spinus psaltria
- Long-Jawed Orb Weaver, Tetragnatha sp.
- Mealybug Destroyer, Cryptolaemus montrouzieri
- Northern Pacific Rattlesnake, Crotalus oreganus oreganus
- Northern Saw-Whet Owl, Sophia, Aegolius acadicus
- Nuttall’s Woodpecker, Picoides nuttallii [heard]
- Oak Apple Gall Wasp, Andricus quercuscalifornicus
- Oak Titmouse, Baeolophus inornatus
- Oleander Aphid, Aphis nerii
- Pacific Poison Oak, Toxicodendron diversilobum
- Pacific Pond Turtle, Western Pond Turtle, Actinemys marmorata
- Plate Gall Wasp, Liodora pattersonae
- Pumpkin Gall Wasp, Dryocosmus minusculus
- Red Cone Gall Wasp, Andricus kingi
- Rio Grande Wild Turkey, Meleagris gallopavo intermedia
- Saucer Gall Wasp, Andricus gigas, 1st Generation, unisexual
- Saucer Gall Wasp, Andricus gigas, 2nd Generation, bisexual
- Showy Milkweed, Asclepias speciosa
- Tarnished Plant Bug, Lygus lineolaris
- Trashline Orb Weaver Spider, Cyclosa conica
- Tule, Common Tule, Schoenoplectus acutus
- Urchin Gall Wasp, Antron quercusechinus
- Variable Flatsedge, Cyperus difformis
- Western Bluebird, Sialia mexicana
- Western Fence Lizard, Blue Belly, Sceloporus occidentalis
- Western Gray Squirrel, Sciurus griseus
- White-Breasted Nuthatch, Sitta carolinensisAphis neriiAcorn Woodpecker, Melanerpes formicivorus