Okay, the Nymph Was the Coolest Thing Today, 04-20-20

I got up around 6:45 this morning to let Esteban out to go potty, gave him his breakfast and then headed over to the Effie Yeaw Nature Preserve. It was about 54°F and totally overcast outside when I got there, and only got up to about 61° by the time I left.

“Social Distancing” primer with birds

I haven’t been out there for quite a while because I felt there were way too many people on the trails. I wanted to check in on the Red-Shouldered Hawks’ nest, though, to see if they had any babies yet.
I found that the nest was pretty much obscured by leaves now, so I couldn’t see much of anything. But… I pretty much had the whole place to myself for most of my walk. I think I saw about 10 people in total, but they all stayed well away. There was one group of three people; two of the folks had masks on, but the third one, a very loud and gabby woman, did not. Sigh

At one point along the trail I saw a pair of Tree Swallows checking out a nesting cavity in a tree… The problem was, a pair of House Wrens had already settled into another cavity in the same tree. The wrens were trying to bring food in for their babies, but the swallows didn’t like them coming so close to the cavity they wanted, so there was an on-going war there. The wrens got smart and waited until the swallows were distracted by something else, then rushed in, fed the kids and rushed out again. It sucks to have crummy neighbors.

There were quite few deer throughout the preserve, including several bucks in their velvet. I watched two different males eating the black walnut leaves off the trees. Must’ve been a favorite. I also saw a doe and her yearling browsing in a field munching on grass and blue miniature lupine.

At another spot, I saw a female turkey walking through what for her was chest-high grass…and she had EIGHT males following after her, posturing and strutting for her. She totally ignored all of them. Hah!

I stopped at a bench to sit and rest for a moment and realized there was some tiny “something” on the side of my bag. I got out the macro lens connection for my cell phone and took some photos of it. To my surprise, it was the nymph of a of a kind of Buffalo Treehopper, Ceresa sp. Cool! I’ve found the treehoppers’ exuvia (shed skin) a lot in the past (and found another specimen of that today), but I had never seen a live one before, so that exciting to me.

The nymph of a Buffalo Treehopper, Stictocephala alta

Other neat sightings included see a pair of Wood Ducks (a male and female) flying into a tree near me, checking it out as a potential nesting site; a male quail who popped up on a wood pile on top of a Ground Squirrel’s nest that I was watching; and a Spotted Towhee who stopped in an open space in the overgrowth so I could get pictures of him.

I also saw some Digger Bee turrets along the trail; and noted that the Windmill Pinks were up and starting to bloom.

I walked for about 3½ hours and was totally beat by the time I was done. That’s what I get for not doing any walking for three days straight. Hah!

Post Script:

When I posted my photos of the nymph mentioned above to iNaturalist, Stuart McKamey, the world authority on Treehoppers, saw them and messaged me with: “…I am describing nymphs of New World treehoppers, but do not recognize this. Were there any treehopper adults around? May I use your photographs in my scientific publication?”

            I let him know that I hadn’t found any adults in the same area, but did find exuvia, and told him where I found it. I also gave him permission to use my photos (if he gave me photo credit).

            You never know who’s looking at your stuff or what scientist may benefit from your observations. This is what “citizen science” is all about!         

“Our field-records will be perhaps the most valuable of all our results. …any and all (as many as you have time to record) items are liable to be just what will provide the information wanted. You can’t tell in advance which observations will prove valuable.
Do record them all!”

Joseph Grinnell, 1908

Species List:

  1. Acorn Woodpecker, Melanerpes formicivorus
  2. Asian Ladybeetle, Harmonia axyridis
  3. Barren Brome, Bromus sterilis
  4. Bewick’s Wren, Thryomanes bewickii
  5. Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans
  6. Black Walnut, Eastern Black Walnut, Juglans nigra
  7. Blue Dicks, Dichelostemma capitatum
  8. Blue Penstemon, Penstemon azureus
  9. Buffalo Treehopper, Stictocephala alta
  10. Bur Chervil, Anthriscus caucalis
  11. California Bumblebee, Bombus californicus
  12. California Ground Squirrel, Otospermophilus beecheyi
  13. California Manroot, Bigroot, Marah fabaceus
  14. California Mugwort, Artemisia douglasiana
  15. California Pipevine Swallowtail butterfly, Battus philenor hirsuta
  16. California Pipevine, Dutchman’s Pipe, Aristolochia californica
  17. California Quail, Callipepla californica
  18. California Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma californica
  19. California Wild Grape, Vitis californica
  20. Canada Goose, Branta canadensis
  21. Cleveland Sage, Salvia clevelandii
  22. Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus
  23. Common Snowberry, Symphoricarpos albus
  24. Common Soft Brome, Bromus hordeaceus
  25. Coyote Brush Bud Gall midge, Rhopalomyia californica
  26. Coyote Brush, Baccharis pilularis
  27. Cranefly, Mosquito Hawk, Tipula dietziana
  28. Digger Bee, Anthophora bomboides stanfordiana [turrets]
  29. Douglas Iris, Iris douglasiana
  30. Grape Phylloxera, Daktulosphaira vitifoliae
  31. Green Leafhopper, Nephotettix virescens
  32. House Wren, Troglodytes aedon
  33. Indian Strawberry, Potentilla indica
  34. Interior Live Oak, Quercus wislizeni
  35. Italian Thistle, Carduus pycnocephalus
  36. Leaf Blotch Miner Moth, Acrocercops affinis
  37. Lincoln’s Sparrow, Melospiza lincolnii
  38. Mallard duck, Anas platyrhynchos
  39. Miniature Lupine, Lupinus bicolor
  40. Oak Apple Gall Wasp, Andricus quercuscalifornicus
  41. Oak Leafroller Moth, Archips semiferana
  42. Periwinkle, Vinca major
  43. Pink Grass, Windmill Pink, Petrorhagia dubia
  44. Red-Shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus
  45. Rio Grande Wild Turkey, Meleagris gallopavo intermedia
  46. Seven-Spot Ladybeetle, Coccinella septempunctata
  47. Snowberry Sawfly, Blennogeneris spissipes [caterpillar]
  48. Soap Plant, Wavy Leafed Soaproot, Chlorogalum pomeridianum
  49. Spice Bush, California Sweetshrub, Calycanthus occidentalis
  50. Spotted Towhee, Pipilo maculatus
  51. Stork’s Bill, Big Heron Bill, Broadleaf Filaree, Erodium botrys
  52. Trashline Orb Weaver Spider, Cyclosa conica
  53. Tree Swallow, Tachycineta bicolor
  54. Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
  55. Valley Tassels, Castilleja attenuata
  56. White Checkered-Skipper, Burnsius albescens
  57. White Horehound, Marrubium vulgare
  58. Wood Duck, Aix sponsa