The Two-Horned Galls Seem Early, 02-12-20

I got up a bit after 7:00 this morning and headed out to the Effie Yeaw Nature Preserve for my weekly volunteer trail walking gig there. It was about 47° when I got there and about 62° when I left, so I only needed to wear my light jacket (and actually took that off about halfway through my walk). I got to the preserve right around 8:00 am.

The first thing I noticed was that I didn’t the pair of Red-Shouldered Hawks at the nest they were building in a tree at the head of the main trail.  I don’t know if I just missed them, or if they’ve chosen somewhere else to nest… I saw and heard Red-Shouldered Hawks all over the preserve today, so they’re out there.

Red-Shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus

I also heard a lot of male California Quails “chi-ca-going” at each other, so I tried to track them down.  One sounded like it was near the riverside but I couldn’t see it. Another was calling from the scraggly undercover near an oak tree ahead of me on the trail, so I waited for him. He eventually came out with one female, and they ran up the trail then into the rocks by the river… so I got butt-shots of them, but nothing face forward. Still, I got hear and see them which is always a treat. They’re such funny, pretty little birds with their dingle-ball headgear.

CLICK HERE for the album of photos.

I also watched some Common Mergansers, a male and a female, fishing in the river with wither faces in the water.

I got to see quite a few deer – at one point, I was able to count 21 of them disbursed on either side of the trail.  Most of them were in places where they were backlit by the rising sun, so… not as many good photos as I was hoping for. Most of the deer are shedding their winter coats and look a bit “choppy” all over.

Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus,doe

Rachael, the volunteer coordinator at the preserve, told me the bucks were losing their antlers already.  But that seemed early to me (they can usually keep them through March); and I’ve seen lots of bucks who still have them – even today . Deborah Dash, one of my naturalist class graduates, recently posted a photo from one of her walks that looks like a male that just shed his antlers… so, I don’t know. It still seems early to me.

Everything in Nature is screwed up by Climate Change, though, and the fact that we’ve had some days in the 70’s here in February is symptomatic of that, I think.

I was also able to find maybe a dozen of the galls of the Two-Horned Gall Wasp on the Live Oak trees, and those seemed to be too early, too.  I hope the tiny larvae inside the galls don’t freeze when the temperature drops down to “normal” again.

Gall of the Two-Horned Gall Wasp and a larvae of the Crown Whitefly

As I walked along, I could hear the members of bachelor groups of Wild Turkeys fighting with one another. They have to set the hierarchy in place before the mating season starts, and fights can get pretty aggressive. The fights I heard were over before I got to the birds, so I missed those, but I was still able to get some photos of some of the individual males.

I also saw some Jackrabbits today.  Seems like “forever” since I’ve seen them. They’re the heralds of Spring to me.

Black-Tailed Jackrabbit, Lepus californicus

I walked for about 3 ½ hours and then headed home.

Species List:

  1. Acorn Woodpecker, Melanerpes formicivorus
  2. Bark Rim Lichen, Lecanora chlarotera [looks like Whitewash Lichen but has apothecia]
  3. Bewick’s Wren, Thryomanes bewickii
  4. Bird Hoverfly, Eupeodes volucris
  5. Black Jelly Roll fungus, Exidia glandulosa
  6. Black-Tailed Jackrabbit, Lepus californicus
  7. California Ground Squirrel, Otospermophilus beecheyi
  8. California Mugwort, Artemisia douglasiana
  9. California Quail, Callipepla californica
  10. California Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma californica
  11. California Towhee, Melozone crissalis
  12. Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus
  13. Dry Rock Pimple, Staurothele areolata
  14. Common Merganser, Mergus merganser
  15. Cream Narcissus, Narcissus tazetta
  16. Crown Whitefly, Aleuroplatus coronata
  17. Cumberland Rock-Shield Lichen, Xanthoparmelia cumberlandia
  18. Eastern Fox Squirrel, Sciurus niger
  19. Farinose Cartilage Lichen,  Ramalina farinacea [like Oakmoss but very thin branches]
  20. Gold Dust Lichen, Chrysothrix candelaris
  21. Golden Crowned Sparrow, Zonotrichia atricapilla
  22. Golden Shield Lichen, Xanthoria parietina
  23. Great Horned Owl, Bubo virginianus
  24. Green Shield Lichen, Flavoparmelia caperata
  25. Hoary Lichen, Hoary Rosette, Physcia aipolia
  26. Ink Lichen, Placynthium nigrum [pitch black, fine grained]
  27. Interior Live Oak, Quercus wislizeni
  28. Jack-o-Lantern, Western Jack-o-Lantern, Omphalotus olivascens
  29. Mallard duck, Anas platyrhynchos
  30. Miniature Lupine, Lupinus bicolor
  31. Mistletoe, American Mistletoe, Big Leaf Mistletoe, Phoradendron leucarpum
  32. Mourning Dove, Zenaida macroura
  33. Netted Crust Fungus, Byssomerulius corium
  34. Oakmoss Lichen, Evernia prunastri
  35. Olive Tree, Olea europaea
  36. Periwinkle, Vinca major
  37. Pin-cushion Sunburst Lichen, Polycauliona polycarpa
  38. Red-Shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus
  39. Rio Grande Wild Turkey, Meleagris gallopavo intermedia
  40. Shrubby Sunburst Lichen Polycauliona Candelaria
  41. Slime Mold,  Spotted Trichia Slime Mold, Trichia botrytis
  42. Soap Plant, Wavy Leafed Soaproot, Chlorogalum pomeridianum
  43. Spotted Towhee, Pipilo maculatus
  44. Stonewall Rim Lichen, Lecona muralis
  45. Strap Lichen, Western Strap Lichen, Ramalina leptocarpha
  46. Sunburst Lichen, Xanthoria elegans
  47. Two-Horned Gall Wasp, Dryocosmus dubiosus 
  48. Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
  49. White-Crowned Sparrow, Zonotrichia leucophrys