Up at about 5:30 this morning after a fairly good night’s sleep. I was out the door by 6:30 am to head out to Lake Solano Park with my friend and fellow naturalist Roxanne. Roxanne did all the driving for this trip (which she does a lot) and we stopped first at the Putah Creek Café for some breakfast.
When we were done with breakfast, we went on to Lake Solano Park, and before we even got to the gate we had a photo opportunity with a Great Blue Heron standing on the shore of the river.
Once we got into the park and parked the car, our next sighting was of an otter swimming in the water (!). I had seen something moving under the surface and then the otter raised his head up to the surface to catch his breath.
We started walking along the campground side of the road and were happy to see that the Cliff Swallows are back now and building their mud nests under the bridge.
We were surprised to see so many California Blackberry vines growing along the river. Usually, we see nothing but the invasive Himalayan Blackberry everywhere, so, seeing the native plants is a big deal.
There were lots of Pipevine plants coming up all over the place, along with Manroot Vines, Mugwort, Chickweed, mistletoe, and Poison Oak. All the new leaves and growth were nice to see.
Little California Buckeye trees were coming up, too, and we even found one that was still attached to its chestnut. In the lawns, we found some Giraffe’s Head Henbit, stork’s bill, and the tiny blue flowers of Bird’s-eye Speedwell. The Miner’s Lettuce was also starting to get its flowers on it.
There were a couple of Cottonwood trees near the bank that were scarred by beaver teeth. I looked around for scat, but couldn’t see any. Their dropping are like balls of sawdust.
At one spot, Roxanne found a web by an orb-weaver spider but couldn’t get the threads in the web to show up enough for a photograph. I handed her my little spritz bottle so she could mist the web, and it became much more visible. (An “old naturalist trick”.)
We saw a lot of Great Blue Herons and Bufflehead ducks in the water, some American Wigeons, Pied-Billed Grebes, and Canada Geese. We also found a hybrid that was part Canada Goose and part Greater White-Fronted Goose.
As we were walking back toward the bridge again, I noticed a male Phainopepla in a tree, eating bits off the mistletoe plant in a tree. The bird came out a bit and posed for photos before flying off again. They’re such cool-looking birds.
A little while later, when we were almost back to parking lot to put our jackets in it (because it was warming up so quickly outside), we stopped at a bench so I could rest a little bit. I was just about to make a remark about the Great Blue Heron on the opposite bank when I saw a “black animal” on a green patch near the river. At first, I thought it might be a cat, but then it “unwound” its body, and I realized it was another otter (!). I was able to get video and photos of it as it worked its way down the bank, over some rocks and into the water.
CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.
After we tossed our jackets in the car, I showed Roxanne how we could drive to the other end of the park where the “owl tree” is. I was stunned to see heavy truck after heavy truck along that road. They’re ripping up all of the dead oaks and walnut trees along there and mulching them. I was worried that the road was going to be completely blocked, but were able to make it through to the parking lot closest to the tree.
The little Western Screech Owl hadn’t been therefor months, so we weren’t sure if it would be there today. We had to check, though, and were very happy to see him napping in his tree. We were able to get quite a few photos of him.
We then walked on down the bank to where we usually find the Giant Horsetail Ferns. The new green non-reproductive parts of the ferns were just starting to come up, but we were able to find quite a few of the yellow spore-bearing parts of the plants – which to me are really more intriguing than the green parts. The green parts do all the photosynthesis for the plant (which lives underground), while the yellow parts house the reproductive system. Sooooo interesting.
When we were heading back to the car again, I once again had to stop to rest, so Roxanne checked out the little fishing pond area. There wasn’t much water in it, so, I didn’t miss much, Roxanne said.
Heading back home, we stopped to get something cold to drink. We pulled our species lists together and got up to over 120 different species seen or heard today! It was such a fun and productive trip. All together, we were out for about 7½ hours.
2019 Instructions for Form 8962
- Acorn Woodpecker, Melanerpes formicivorus
- Almond Tree, Prunus dulcis
- American Kestrel, Falco sparverius
- American Plantain, Plantago rugelii [large plantain with rounded leaves]
- American Wigeon, Anas Americana
- Arundo, Giant Reed, Arundo donax
- Audubon’s Warbler, Setophaga coronata auduboni
- Azolla, Water Fern, Azolla filiculoides
- Beaver, American, Beaver, Castor canadensis [signs only]
- Bedstraw, Velcro Grass, Cleavers, Galium aparine
- Bird’s-eye Speedwell, Veronica persica
- Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans
- Black Walnut Tree, Juglans nigra
- Blue Elderberry, Sambucus nigra cerulea
- Blue Oak, Quercus douglasii
- Bordered Plant Bug, Largus californicus
- Boxelder Tree, Acer negundo
- Brewer’s Blackbird, Euphagus cyanocephalus
- Broadleaf Cattail, Typha latifolia
- Bufflehead, Bucephala albeola
- California Blackberry, Trailing Blackberry, Rubus ursinus
- California Buckeye Chestnut Tree, Aesculus californica
- California Camouflage Lichen, Melanelixia californica [dark green with brown apothecia, on trees]
- California Manroot, Bigroot, Marah fabaceus
- California Mugwort, Artemisia douglasiana
- California Pipevine, Dutchman’s Pipe, Aristolochia californica
- California Poppy, Eschscholzia californica
- California Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma californica
- California Towhee, Melozone crissalis
- California Wild Rose, Rosa californica
- Canada Goose, Branta canadensis
- Capillary Thread-Moss, Rosulabryum capillare
- Cherry-Plum, Prunus cerasifera
- Chickweed, Stellaria media
- Cinder Lichen, Aspicilia cinereal [light gray on rocks, with or without small black dots]
- Cliff Swallow, Petrochelidon pyrrhonota
- Coast Live Oak, Quercus agrifolia
- Common Crow, Corvus brachyrhynchos
- Common Dandelion, Taraxacum officinale
- Common Goldspeck Lichen, Candelariella vitellina [bright yellow with rimmed apothecia on rocks]
- Common Groundsel , Senecio vulgaris
- Common Hedge Parsley, Torilis arvensis
- Common Orange Lichen, Xanthoria parietina [yellow-orange,on wood/trees]
- Common Stork’s-Bill, Erodium cicutarium
- Cottonwood, Fremont Cottonwood, Populus fremontii
- Crater Lichen, Diploschistes scruposus [gray/dark grey on rocks with dark apothecia]
- Crown Whitefly, Aleuroplatus coronata
- Cumberland Rock-Shield Lichen, Xanthoparmelia cumberlandia
- Dark-Eyed Junco (Oregon morph), Junco hyemalis
- Double-Crested Cormorant, Phalacrocorax auratus
- Eurasian Collared Dove, Streptopelia decaocto
- European Starling, Sturnus vulgaris
- Farinose Cartilage Lichen, Ramalina farinacea [like Oakmoss but very thin branches]
- Flat-Topped Honeydew Gall Wasp, Disholcaspis eldoradensis
- Frosted Rim Lichen, Lecanora caesiorrubella [light gray with light gray apothecia on wood]
- Fungus Gnat, Bradysia sp.
- Giant Horsetail Fern, Equisetum telmateia
- Giraffe’s Head Henbit, Henbit Deadnettle, Lamium amplexicaule
- Gold Dust Lichen, Chrysothrix candelaris
- Great Blue Heron, Ardea Herodias
- Great Egret, Ardea alba
- Green Shield Lichen, Flavoparmelia capera
- Green-winged Teal, Anas crecca
- Hairy Vetch, Winter Vetch, Vicia villosa ssp. villosa
- Himalayan Blackberry, Armenian Blackberry, Rubus armeniacus
- Hoary Lichen, Hoary Rosette, Physcia aipolia
- Hooded Rosette Lichen, Physcia adscendens [hairs/eyelashes on the tips of the lobes]
- Indian Peafowl, Pavo cristatus
- Interior Live Oak, Quercus wislizeni
- Interior Sandbar Willow, Salix interior
- Ivy-leaved Speedwell, Veronica hederifolia [has tiny white flowers]
- Lace Lichen, Ramalina menziesii
- Lodgepole Pine, Pinus contorta
- Long-Jawed Orb Weaver, Tetragnatha sp .
- Mallard duck, Anas platyrhynchos
- Miner’s Lettuce, Claytonia perfoliata
- Musky Stork’s Bill, Whitestem Filaree, Erodium moschatum
- Non-biting Midges, Family: Chironomidae
- Northern Flicker, Colaptes auratus
- Northern Mockingbird, Mimus polyglottos
- Nuttall’s Woodpecker, Picoides nuttallii
- Oak Apple, California Gall Wasp, Andricus quercuscalifornicus
- Oak Leaf-Roller Moth, Archips semiferanus
- Oak Titmouse, Baeolophus inornatus
- Oakmoss Lichen, Evernia prunastri
- Oyster Mushroom, Pleurotus ostreatus
- Phainopepla, Phainopepla nitens
- Pied-Billed Grebe, Podilymbus podiceps
- Poison Oak, Pacific Poison Oak, Western Poison Oak, Toxicodendron diversilobum
- Ponderosa Pine, Pinus ponderosa
- Red-Shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus
- Red-Tailed Hawk, Buteo jamaicensis
- Red-Winged Blackbird, Agelaius phoeniceus
- River Otter, North American River Otter, Lontra canadensis
- Rock Shield Lichen, Xanthoparmelia conspersa
- Ruptured Twig Gall Wasp, Callirhytis perdens
- Scattered Button Lichen, Buellia dispersa [gray/off white on rocks with black spots]
- Shrubby Sunburst Lichen Polycauliona candelaria
- Sidewalk Firedot Lichen, Xanthocarpia feracissima
- Snowy Egret, Egretta thula
- Song Sparrow, Melospiza melodia
- Split Gill Fungus, Schizophyllum commune
- Spotted Towhee, Pipilo maculatus
- Stereum, Stereum sp.
- Stonewall Rim Lichen, Lecona muralis [pale green/gray thallus with rose/tan apothecia gathered in the center; color can be quite variable]
- Strap Lichen, Western Strap Lichen, Ramalina leptocarpha
- Strawberry Tree, Arbutus unedo
- Streambank Springbeauty, Claytonia parviflora
- Striped Skunk, Mephitis mephitis [dead]
- Sunburst Lichen, Xanthoria elegans
- Tall Flatsedge, Cyperus eragrostis
- Toyon, Heteromeles arbutifolia
- Tule, Common Tule, California Bulrush, Schoenoplectus acutus
- Turkey Vulture, Cathartes aura
- Two-Horned Gall Wasp, Dryocosmus dubiosus
- Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
- Velvety Tree Ant, Liometopum occidentale
- Western Bluebird, Sialia Mexicana
- Western Redbud, Cercis occidentalis
- Western Screech Owl, Megascops kennicottii
- Western Spotted Orbweaver Spider, Neoscona oaxacensis [web]
- White Alder, Alnus rhombifolia
- White-Breasted Nuthatch, Sitta carolinensis
- Yellow-Billed Magpie, Pica nuttalli
- Yellow-legged Mud-dauber Wasp, Sceliphron caementarium [nest]