This is first day of the City Nature Challenge. I pledged to post at least 50 observations to iNaturalist during the challenge this year so we’ll see how I do. It goes through the 27th.
CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.
I got up around 5:30 so I could get Esteban pottied and fed before I headed over to the Effie Yeaw Nature Preserve. I got there around 6:15 am and hung around the entrance until my friend Roxanne joined me there. While I was there, I got photos of some Coyote Brush Bud galls, ladybeetle nymphs (lions) and pupal cases, spiders, aphids, a tick, and plant bug nymphs, among others.
Surprisingly, we HEARD quite a few birds, but didn’t really SEE many. Instead, most of our observations turned out to be plants and “little things” like the bugs and galls.
We found a Leaf Gall and a kind of fimbriate gall on the Valley Oak leaves. I’d never seen the fimbriate one before, so that was a cool new finding for me. And we also found a Round Leaf Gall on a Live Oak leaf that was also new to me. I’d seen photos of ones on Black Oak before, but never saw anything like that on the Live Oak. All of them were listed in Russo’s book, though, which is kind of like my “gall Bible”.
The Valley Oaks are bursting now with new Oak Apple galls (also created by cynipid wasps) of all sizes. When they’re new, they’re bright green and some are blushed with plink.
Among the insects we saw, we found several specimens of a fly that was new to me, too: a White-Winged March Fly. It’s a narrow-bodied black fly with white hairs on its body and translucent white wings. It’s eyes are huge and cove the majority of its head; they’re surrounded by a ruff of fine black hairs. Really cool!
I took photos of several different kinds of grasses. I usually avoid those because they’re so difficult to ID correctly. Even when I loaded them up into iNaturalist, I couldn’t get past “grasses” as an identifier. I was able to ID two, though: Sweet Vernal Grass and Bristly Dog-Tail Grass. When I was taking some macro photos of the Dog-Tail Grass, I realized there was a tiny spider on it and he had bugs in his web.
There were a few more wildflowers out (although in the recent heat, they’re fading fast), and we saw out first Small-flowered Catchfly flowers of the season.
Of the very few birds we saw was an Acorn Woodpecker moving in and out of her nesting cavity, and a Black Phoebe collecting insects for her nestlings. We’d watched her during previous weeks building the nest. We were surprised to see that she was apparently working on her own. Usually, the Phoebes around the nature center work in pairs (a mated male and female) to feed the kids… and we wondered if something had happened to her mate.
The Red-Shouldered Hawk mama was in her nest, too, and we think she’s still sitting on eggs. We don’t see the white heads of babies through the covering leaves around the nest yet, and when there are hatchlings, mom and dad tag team to find things to feed them.
We were out for almost 4½ hours trying to take photos of as many things as we could to add to our iNat observations online. By the end of today, I think I have over 100 species to post on the site. Because of COVID-19 and the stay-at-home orders everywhere, this year’s City Nature Challenge isn’t going to be a contest, but I still want Sacramento to get some big numbers, so I’ll post whatever I can.
I got home a little after 11 o’clock and spent part of the afternoon posting about half of our sightings to iNaturalist before crashing for the day.
This is what the City Nature Challenge leader board looks like right now. Sacramento is 5th in the state and 23rd worldwide. I’m #10 on the Sacramento list for observations and Roxanne is #12. Woot!
- Acorn Woodpecker, Melanerpes formicivorus
- American Copper Underwing, Amphipyra pyramidoides [green caterpillar with a kind of hornworm shape]
- American Dog Tick, Dermacentor variabilis
- Asian Ladybeetle, Harmonia axyridis
- Azolla, Water Fern, Azolla filiculoides
- Bedstraw, Velcro Grass, Cleavers, Galium aparine
- Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans
- Black Walnut, Eastern Black Walnut, Juglans nigra
- Blue Dicks, Dichelostemma capitatum
- Blue Elderberry, Sambucus nigra cerulea
- Blue Penstemon, Penstemon azureus
- Bordered Plant Bug, Largus californicus
- Boxelder, Box Elder Tree, Acer negundo
- Bristly Dogtail Grass, Cynosurus echinatus
- Bronze Jumping Spider, Eris militaris
- Bur Chervil, Anthriscus caucalis
- Bush Lupine, Lupinus albifrons
- Bush Monkeyflower, Diplacus aurantiacus
- California Bumblebee, Bombus californicus [black face, yellow ruff]
- California Camouflage Lichen, Melanelixia californica [dark green with brown apothecia, on trees]
- California Manroot, Bigroot, Marah fabaceus
- California Mugwort, Artemisia douglasiana
- California Pipevine Swallowtail butterfly, Battus philenor hirsuta
- California Pipevine, Dutchman’s Pipe, Aristolochia californica
- California Poppy, Eschscholzia californica
- California Wild Grape, Vitis californica
- Cherry-Plum, Prunus cerasifera
- Chinese Pistache, Pistacia chinensis
- Cleveland Sage, Salvia clevelandii [purple, circles]
- Coffeeberry, California Buckthorn, Frangula californica
- Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus
- Common Dandelion, Taraxacum officinale
- Common Green Lacewing, Chrysoperla carnea [eggs]
- Common Snowberry, Symphoricarpos albus
- Coyote Brush Bud Gall midge, Rhopalomyia californica
- Coyote Brush, Baccharis pilularis
- Crabseye Lichen, Ochrolechia subpallescens [creamy colored lichen with white-rimmed pale orange/pink apothecia]
- Crown Whitefly, Aleuroplatus coronata
- Deer Grass, Muhlenbergia rigens
- European Starling, Sturnus vulgaris
- False Turkey Tail fungus, Stereum complicatum
- Fimbriate Gall Wasp, Andricus opertus [on Valley Oak leaf]
- Flame Skimmer Dragonfly, Libellula saturata
- Giant Western Crane Fly, Holorusia hespera
- Gold Dust Lichen, Chrysothrix candelaris
- Golden Crowned Sparrow, Zonotrichia atricapilla
- Green Leafhopper, Nephotettix virescens
- Green Shield Lichen, Flavoparmelia caperata
- Hairy Vetch, Winter Vetch, Vicia villosa ssp. villosa
- Hammock Spider, Pityohyphantes sp. [a kind of sheet weaver]
- Himalayan Blackberry, Rubus armeniacus
- Honeysuckle Sawfly, Club-Headed Sawfly, Abia americana [whitish caterpillar with a gray head]
- House Wren, Troglodytes aedon
- Leaf Gall Wasp/ Unidentified per Russo, Tribe: Cynipidi
- Live Oak Erineum Mite, Aceria mackiei
- Live Oak Round Leaf Gall Wasp, Heteroecus flavens
- Lupin Aphid, Macrosiphum albifrons
- Lupine, Chick Lupine, Lupinus microcarpus
- Mallard duck, Anas platyrhynchos
- Mazegill Fungus, Daedalea quercina
- Miner’s Lettuce, Claytonia perfoliata
- Miniature Lupine, Lupinus bicolor
- Mourning Dove, Zenaida macroura
- Mule Fat, Baccharis salicifolia
- Oak Apple Gall Wasp, Andricus quercuscalifornicus
- Oleander Aphid, Aphis nerii
- Painted Lady Butterfly, Vanessa cardui
- Pink Grass, Windmill Pink, Petrorhagia dubia
- Plant Bugs, Family: Miridae
- Plum, Prunus cerasifera
- Poison Oak, Pacific Poison Oak, Western Poison Oak, Toxicodendron diversilobum
- Red-Shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus
- Rose Clover, Trifolium hirtum
- Santa Barbara Sedge, Carex barbarae
- Showy Milkweed, Asclepias speciose
- Shrubby Sunburst Lichen, Polycauliona candelaria
- Small-flowered Catchfly, Silene gallica
- Snowberry Sawfly, Blennogeneris spissipes
- Soap Plant, Wavy Leafed Soaproot, Chlorogalum pomeridianum
- Soft-Winged Flower Beetle, Idgia sp. [kind of look like soldier beetles]
- Spice Bush, California Sweetshrub, Calycanthus occidentalis
- Spotted Towhee, Pipilo maculatus
- Sulphur Tubic Moth, Esperia sulphurella [tiny dark moth with yellow lines]
- Sweet Vernal Grass Anthoxanthum odoratum
- Trashline Orb Weaver Spider, Cyclosa conica
- Tree Swallow, Tachycineta bicolor
- Tule, Common Tule, Schoenoplectus acutus
- Two-Horned Gall Wasp, Dryocosmus dubiosus
- Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
- Western Fence Lizard, Blue Belly, Sceloporus occidentalis
- Western Redbud, Cercis occidentalis
- White Horehound, Marrubium vulgare
- White-Winged March Fly, Bibio albipennis
- Yarrow, Achillea millefolium
- Yerba Santa, California Yerba Santa, Eriodictyon californicum