A Butterfly on the Lens, 03-24-20

I got up around 7:00 this morning, and have no vertigo today.  I wish I knew what triggers the flares ups… I headed over to the American River Bend Park again to check in on the owls and get some exercise in before the forecast rains come in.

It was kind of chilly when I got there, about 39°F, but it warmed up relatively quickly as the sun got up further in the sky.  Clouds were coming in, but were mostly pretty “sofa clouds” until they started to get coordinated in the late afternoon for a little rain.

Clouds over the “lawn” at the River Bend Park.

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

Mama Great Horned Owl was in her nest and sitting up in the early morning sunlight so it was easier to get some photos of her. I also got a little video snippet of her in the nest and could see an owlet moving around next to her. It’s still too small to look out over the rim of the nest – and there might be more than one in there – so I haven’t gotten any good picture of it yet.

The Blue Elderberry trees are starting to get their blossoms.  They’re also starting to attract the caterpillars of the Elder Moths, who wrap themselves up in the leaves as they grow and pupate.  I was able to find a few of them.  They’re still small but they’ll fatten up over the next few weeks.

Elder Moth, Achatodes zeae, caterpillar in the leaf of a Blue Elderberry, Sambucus nigra cerulea,plant

There were also quite a number of Pipevine Swallowtail butterflies out.  Some of them were sitting in the grass waiting to warm up, and others were flitting around the tops of the trees where the sun was already hitting them.  At one point, one of the butterflies I was photographing climbed onto the lens of my cellphone camera, so I got a super close-up of her.

California Pipevine Swallowtail butterfly, Battus philenor hirsuta

I watched a House Sparrow and a White-Breasted Nuthatch arguing over a nesting cavity.  Neither bird can build their own, so they rely on old woodpecker nests and natural openings in the tree to nest in.  I think the wren won this particular battle.

Someone had hung a little wooden angel from a branch along the trail. I usually don’t like this kind of “litter”, but today it seemed kind of sweet and affirming.

As I was heading out of the park, I saw some Western Bluebirds and stopped to get photos.  The male was cooperative for a while; the female, not so much.  They’re such cheery, pretty little birds.

I was out for about 3 hours and only saw two people all the while I was out there.  So nice.

Species List:

  1. American Coot, Fulica americana
  2. Audubon’s Warbler, Setophaga coronata auduboni
  3. Bedstraw, Velcro Grass, Cleavers, Galium aparine
  4. Black Walnut, Eastern Black Walnut, Juglans nigra
  5. Blue Elderberry, Sambucus nigra cerulea
  6. Boreal Button Lichen, Buellia disciformis [pale gray to bluish with black apothecia on wood]
  7. Bur Chervil, Anthriscus caucalis
  8. California Buckeye Chestnut Tree, Aesculus californica
  9. California Ground Squirrel, Otospermophilus beecheyi
  10. California Manroot, Bigroot, Marah fabaceus
  11. California Mugwort, Artemisia douglasiana
  12. California Pipevine Swallowtail butterfly, Battus philenor hirsuta
  13. California Pipevine, Dutchman’s Pipe, Aristolochia californica
  14. Common Vetch, Vicia sativa
  15. Cranefly, Mosquito Hawk, Tipula dietziana
  16. Elder Moth, Achatodes zeae
  17. Elegant Camouflage Lichen, Melanohalea elegantula [leafy like hoary lichen but much darker gray/black]
  18. Elfin Saddle, Compressed Saddle, Helvella compressa
  19. Golden Shield Lichen, Xanthoria parietina
  20. Great Horned Owl, Bubo virginianus
  21. Green Shield Lichen, Flavoparmelia caperata
  22. Hoary Lichen, Hoary Rosette, Physcia aipolia
  23. Hooded Rosette Lichen, Physcia adscendens [hairs/eyelashes on the tips of the lobes]
  24. House Wren, Troglodytes aedon
  25. Interior Live Oak, Quercus wislizeni
  26. Lace Lichen, Ramalina menziesii
  27. Mosquito, Common House Mosquito, Culex pipiens
  28. Mourning Dove, Zenaida macroura
  29. Mower’s Mushroom, Haymaker Mushroom, Panaeolus foenisecii
  30. Oak Titmouse, Baeolophus inornatus
  31. Pin-cushion Sunburst Lichen, Polycauliona polycarpa
  32. Poison Oak, Pacific Poison Oak, Western Poison Oak, Toxicodendron diversilobum
  33. Rio Grande Wild Turkey, Meleagris gallopavo intermedia
  34. Rusty Popcornflower, Plagiobothrys nothofulvus
  35. Santa Barbara Sedge, Carex barbarae
  36. Shrubby Sunburst Lichen, Polycauliona candelaria
  37. Sunburst Lichen, Xanthoria elegans
  38. Tree Swallow, Tachycineta bicolor
  39. Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
  40. Western Bluebird, Sialia mexicana
  41. Western Redbud, Cercis occidentalis
  42. White Ash Tree, Fraxinus americana
  43. White Horehound, Marrubium vulgare
  44. White-Breasted Nuthatch, Sitta carolinensis