Wildflowers on Highways 16 and 20, 03-30-20

I got up around 7:00 am to get myself ready to head out with my friend Roxanne in search of wildflowers.  It was mostly cloudy today and cool, but we didn’t get any rain.

Around 8:00 am Roxanne and I went out toward Woodland to catch Highway 16 and take that to Highway 20, looking for wildflowers.  With the weird weather, we didn’t know if we’d see anything, but we were pleasantly surprised. 

Here’s the route for this self-guided auto tour

On the way, we saw a lot of birds including thirteen hawks (most of them Red-Tails), crows, Red-Wing and Brewer’s Blackbirds, Turkey Vultures (including two on the top of a power pole and one in field sitting next to a carcass of something), wild turkeys, Mourning Doves and several flocks of chickens and roosters.  When we stopped to get photos of the flowers, however, we barely heard or saw any birds at all which we thought was kind of odd. As we were heading home, though, near the end of the trip, we did get to see our “spirit bird”, a Black Phoebe.

We took Highway 16 up into the foothills and stopped along the way at various turnouts, wherever we saw something that caught our eye… blue and yellow lupine, red and orange Indian Paintbrush, clematis vines that climbed up and over large trees in a cascade of white flowers…  I was so happy to see the flower out and showing off that I actually laughed and squealed along the way.  It takes so little to make me happy sometimes. Hah!


It was also nice to see water flowing at a healthy pace in Cache Creek and Bear Creek.  After so many years of drought, seeing the water made me very hopeful.

At each turn out, we’d stop the car and walk along the edges of the road to see what else might be hiding in the grasses and around the boulders. We found several different kinds of insects including Checkerspot caterpillars and a large yellow Crab Spider.  There were also lots of little moths that looked like bird poop on the leaves of Sticky Monkeyflower plants.  The turned out to be Mountain-Mahogany Moths; very cool.  That was a first for me.

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

We tend to dilly-dally a bit when we’re out exploring, taking photos of everything from flowers to insects to lichen… and we lose track of time.  When we were walking along the river side at Cache Creek, I suddenly felt very hungry and couldn’t understand why.  Then I realized it was already after 12:30 pm.  We’d been driving and walking for over four hours already! I could hardly believe it. So, we stopped and had a little lunch while we went through our photos and tried to identify things.

We still wanted to go up Bear Valley Road, but there wasn’t really time. That full trip alone would take another 4 hours or more.  We did drive up to the corral at the entrance to the road, and found there weren’t many flowers there (or in the big field across the freeway) that usually indicate what the flowering will be like along Bear Valley Road. So, we decided to do that next week, figuring it will be gorgeous out there by then.

We took Highway 20 back to Interstate 5 and went home from there. 

I got back to the house after 3:30 pm, so that was long day in the field, but we saw so many pretty things that I felt energized as well as tired;  y’know that kind of happy exhaustion? It was a great day.

Species List:

  1. ?? Northern Variable Dart Moth, Xestia badicollis [green with white stripes] NOT SURE OF THIS ID
  2. Alder-leaved Mountain-Mahogany, Cercocarpus montanus
  3. Anna’s Hummingbird, Calypte anna
  4. Arundo, Giant Reed, Arundo donax
  5. Bedstraw, Velcro Grass, Cleavers, Galium aparine
  6. Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans
  7. Blue Dicks, Dichelostemma capitatum
  8. Blue Elderberry, Sambucus nigra cerulea
  9. Brewer’s Blackbird, Euphagus cyanocephalus
  10. Buckbrush, Ceanothus cuneatus
  11. Bush Lupine, Lupinus albifrons
  12. Bush Monkeyflower, Sticky Monkeyflower, Diplacus aurantiacus
  13. California Buckeye Chestnut Tree, Aesculus californica
  14. California Lomatium, Lomatium californicum [yellow, kind of looks like fennel blossoms]
  15. California Pipevine Swallowtail butterfly, Battus philenor hirsuta
  16. California Pipevine, Dutchman’s Pipe, Aristolochia californica
  17. California Poppy, Eschscholzia californica
  18. California Pore Lichen, Pertusaria californica [white/pale gray nubbly surface]
  19. California Towhee, Melozone crissalis
  20. Chamise, Adenostoma fasciculatum
  21. Cinder Lichen, Aspicilia cinerea [gray to light gray/white on rocks with  or without small black dots]
  22. Cliff Swallow, Petrochelidon pyrrhonota
  23. Cocklebur, Rough Cocklebur, Xanthium strumarium
  24. Coffee Fern, Pellaea andromedifolia
  25. Common Cat’s-Ear, Hypochaeris radicata [yellow, dandelion-like flower]
  26. Common Crow, Corvus brachyrhynchos
  27. Common Fiddleneck, Amsinckia menziesii
  28. Common Fringepod, Thysanocarpus curvipes
  29. Common Green Lacewing, Chrysoperla carnea
  30. Common Stork’s-Bill, Red Stemmed Filaree, Erodium cicutarium
  31. Common Teasel, Dipsacus fullonum
  32. Common Vetch, Vicia sativa
  33. Concentric Boulder Lichen, Porpidia crustulata
  34. Cork Oak, Quercus suber
  35. Coyote Brush Bud Gall midge, Rhopalomyia californica
  36. Coyote Brush, Baccharis pilularis
  37. Coyote, Canis latrans
  38. Crater Lichen, Diploschistes scruposus [gray/dark grey on rocks with dark apothecia]
  39. Cumberland Rock-Shield Lichen, Xanthoparmelia cumberlandia
  40. Cutworms and Dart Moths, Subfamily: Noctuinae
  41. Deerweed, Acmispon glaber
  42. Dimpled Camouflage Lichen, Montanelia tominii [ink black on wood]
  43. Domesticated Chicken, Gallus domesticus
  44. Dot-Seed Plantain, Plantago erecta
  45. European Honeybee, Apis mellifera
  46. False Blister Beetle, Oedemera podagrariae [brown and tan, kind of looks like a Soldier Beetle]
  47. Field Mustard, Brassica rapa
  48. Foothill Deervetch, Acmispon brachycarpus [small yellow “lotus”]
  49. Fragrant Sumac, Rhus aromatica
  50. Fremont’s Tidy Tips, Layia fremontii
  51. Gold Dust Lichen, Chrysothrix candelaris
  52. Goldenrod Crab Spider, Misumena vatia
  53. Gray Pine, Pinus sabiniana
  54. Great Egret, Ardea alba
  55. Green Shield Lichen, Flavoparmelia caperata
  56. Hairy Vetch, Winter Vetch, Vicia villosa ssp. villosa
  57. Hawksbeard, Smooth Hawksbeard, Crepis capillaris
  58. Hoary Lichen, Hoary Rosette, Physcia aipolia
  59. Ink Lichen, Placynthium nigrum [pitch black, fine grained]
  60. Interior Live Oak, Quercus wislizeni
  61. Ithuriel’s Spear, Triteleia laxa
  62. Jointed Charlock, Wild Radish, Raphanus raphanistrum
  63. Killdeer, Charadrius vociferous
  64. Lupine, Arroyo Lupine, Lupinus succulentus [dark purple-blue]
  65. Lupine, Chick Lupine, Lupinus microcarpus
  66. Lupine, Large-Leaved Lupine, Lupinus polyphyllus
  67. Mallard duck, Anas platyrhynchos
  68. Meadow Spittlebug, Philaenus spumarius [spit]
  69. Miniature Lupine, Lupinus bicolor
  70. Mountain-mahogany Moth, Ethmia discostrigella [looks like bird poop]
  71. Mourning Dove, Zenaida macroura
  72. Mule’s Ears, Smooth Mule-Ears, Wyethia glabra
  73. Oak Apple Gall Wasp, Andricus quercuscalifornicus
  74. Oakmoss Lichen, Evernia prunastri
  75. Pacific Pea Lathyrus vestitus
  76. Pin-cushion Sunburst Lichen, Polycauliona polycarpa
  77. Pineappleweed, Matricaria discoidea
  78. Poison Oak, Pacific Poison Oak, Western Poison Oak, Toxicodendron diversilobum
  79. Purple Owl’s-Clover, Castilleja exserta
  80. Purple Sanicle, Sanicula bipinnatifida
  81. Pyralid and Crambid Snout Moths, Superfamily: Pyraloidea
  82. Red-Tailed Hawk, Buteo jamaicensis
  83. Red-Winged Blackbird, Agelaius phoeniceus
  84. Rio Grande Wild Turkey, Meleagris gallopavo intermedia
  85. Rock Greenshield Lichen, Flavoparmelia baltimorensis
  86. Rusty Popcornflower, Plagiobothrys nothofulvus
  87. Sandbar Willow, Salix exigua var. hindsiana
  88. Scattered Button Lichen, Buellia dispersa [gray/off white on rocks with black spots]
  89. Shining Peppergrass, Lepidium nitidum
  90. Shrubby Sunburst Lichen, Polycauliona candelaria
  91. Sidewalk Firedot Lichen, Xanthocarpia feracissima  [bright orange, on rocks]
  92. Slender Cottonweed, Q-Tips, Micropus californicus
  93. Small-Flowered Blue-Eyed Mary, Collinsia parviflora [tiny, pale purple and white]
  94. Smooth Shadow Lichen, Phaeophyscia ciliate [hoary gray with brown apothecia on trees]
  95. Soap Plant, Wavy Leafed Soaproot, Chlorogalum pomeridianum
  96. Strap Lichen, Western Strap Lichen, Ramalina leptocarpha
  97. Streambank Springbeauty, Miner’s Lettuce, Claytonia parviflora
  98. Sunburst Lichen, Xanthoria elegans
  99. Sunflower, Common Woolly Sunflower, Eriophyllum lanatum
  100. Sweet Clover, Small Melilot, Melilotus indicus [small, yellow]
  101. Tamarisk, Saltcedar, Tamarix ramosissima
  102. Tidy Tips, Layia platyglossa
  103. Tile Lichen, Lecidea sp.
  104. Toyon, Heteromeles arbutifolia
  105. True Babystars, Leptosiphon bicolor
  106. Tule, Common Tule, Schoenoplectus acutus
  107. Turkey Vulture, Cathartes aura
  108. Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
  109. Variable Checkerspot, Euphydryas chalcedona caterpillar [black, spiky with orange spots]
  110. Virgin’s Bower, Old Men’s Beards, Pipestem Clematis, Clematis lasiantha
  111. Wavyleaf Indian Paintbrush, Castilleja martini var. martini [red-orange]
  112. Western Meadowlark, Sturnella neglecta
  113. Western Redbud, Cercis occidentalis
  114. Western Wallflower, Erysimum capitatum
  115. White Leaf Manzanita, Arctostaphylos viscida ssp. viscida
  116. White Nemophila, Nemophila heterophylla
  117. Woolly Indian Paintbrush, Castilleja foliolosa [red]
  118. Yarrow, Achillea millefolium
  119. Yellow Starthistle, Centaurea solstitialis