Tongue Galls and Fawns, 09-12-19

I left about 6:30 and went over to the Effie Yeaw Nature Preserve.  It was a lovely 53º when I got there (and got up to about 78º when I left).

The first thing I heard when I got there was the call of a Red-Shouldered Hawk. It was sitting in the top of a tree, a silhouette against the morning sky.  I also heard a Cooper’s Hawk and saw it whiz over my head, but I lost it in the trees and couldn’t get any photos of it.

I also spotted a coyote on the trail across a shallow meadow from me, and I managed to get a few photos of it before it caught sight of me, turned around and loped away.

CLICK HERE for the full album pf photos.
CLICK HERE for a video snippet of the fawn nursing.

I noticed a half-orb spider web among some tall weeds but couldn’t quite get the camera to focus on it.  Then I remembered I had a small spritz-bottle filled with water in my bag, so I used that to wet the web.  The tiny drops of mist attached themselves to the strands of the web and I was able to see it and photograph it more easily.  The spider probably wasn’t too thrilled with the unexpected “rain fall”, though.  Hah!

Half of an orb by an orb-weaver spider. Water from my spritz bottle brought out some of the structure.

The water in the river seemed to be lower and flowing more slowly today.  I saw Common Mergansers resting on the rocks and could hear the Killdeer screaming at each other out there.

I also saw my first Sulphur Shelf Fungus of the season.  This is a fungus that doesn’t like it when it’s real rainy, so it usually shows up in September or October, well ahead of the other fungi. 

Western Sulphur Shelf Fungus, Laetiporus gilbertsonii, on the side of an oak tree.

I got to see quite a few California Ground Squirrels, including some young ones who were peering and darting out of the mouth of one of their burrows before mom came out and got them back indoors.  Hah!  So cute!

The stand-out sighting, though, was finding several good examples of one of my favorite odd galls today on my walk: the Alder Tongue Gall. It’s caused by a fungus, Taphrina alni, that affects the female pseudocones on the White Alder trees and causes the cones to form long tongue-like tendrils that start out green and turn bright ruby pink. When the fungus goes to spore, all of the tongues turn black and disintegrate.

Alder Tongue Galls from the fungus Taphrina alni on the female pseudocones of White alder.

While I was taking these photos, I could hear a noise on the trail behind me, so I turned around… and found a mama deer with her twin fawns! One of the fawns had a red very sore-looking scrape all the down its nose.  I wonder how it got that.  It didn’t dampen the little fawn’s spirit, but it sure looked painful. I actually got a video snippet of him nursing.

This little boy had a bad scrape on his face, but it didn’t seem to stop him from doing anything.
The same fawn getting soothed by his mom just before he started nursing.

I actually saw quite a few deer today, including two other does with their single fawns.  Most of the fawns are out of their spots now, but I saw one that was still sporting some spots on its rump.  The bucks look like they’re still in their velvet, but they should be shedding that over the next month or so.

I walked for about 3 ½ hours and then headed back to the house.

Species List:

  1. Acorn Woodpecker, Melanerpes formicivorus
  2. Alder Tongue Gall fungus, Taphrina alni
  3. Anna’s Hummingbird, Calypte anna
  4. Assassin Bug, Zelus luridus [nymph]
  5. Black-Tailed Jackrabbit, Lepus californicus
  6. Buffalo Treehopper, Stictocephala bisonia [exuvia]
  7. California Ground Squirrel, Otospermophilus beecheyi
  8. California Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma californica
  9. Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus
  10. Common Merganser, Mergus merganser
  11. Convergent Lady Beetle, Hippodamia convergens
  12. Cooper’s Hawk, Acipiter cooperii
  13. Cottonwood, Fremont Cottonwood, Populus fremontii
  14. Coyote, Canis latrans
  15. Desert Cottontail Rabbit, Sylvilagus audubonii
  16. Feral Honeybees, Apis mellifera
  17. Interior Live Oak, Quercus wislizeni
  18. Killdeer, Charadrius vociferous
  19. Lady’s Thumb, Persicaria maculosa
  20. Meadow Spittlebug, Philaenus spumarius [spittle and larva]
  21. Nude Buckwheat, Eriogonum nudum
  22. Oleander Aphid, Aphis nerii
  23. Pumpkin Gall Wasp, Dryocosmus minusculus
  24. Red-Shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus
  25. Showy Milkweed, Asclepias speciosa
  26. Western Sulphur Shelf Fungus, Laetiporus gilbertsonii
  27. Western Fence Lizard, Blue Belly, Sceloporus occidentalis
  28. White Alder, Alnus rhombifolia