The City Nature Challenge Starts, 04-24-20

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.

Lupin Aphid, Macrosiphum albifrons

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!

White-winged March Fly, Bibio albipennis [thin black fly with translucent white wings]

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.

Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans

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.

Post Script:

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!

Species List:

  1. Acorn Woodpecker, Melanerpes formicivorus
  2. American Copper Underwing, Amphipyra pyramidoides [green caterpillar with a kind of hornworm shape]
  3. American Dog Tick, Dermacentor variabilis
  4. Asian Ladybeetle, Harmonia axyridis
  5. Azolla, Water Fern, Azolla filiculoides
  6. Bedstraw, Velcro Grass, Cleavers, Galium aparine
  7. Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans
  8. Black Walnut, Eastern Black Walnut, Juglans nigra
  9. Blue Dicks, Dichelostemma capitatum
  10. Blue Elderberry, Sambucus nigra cerulea
  11. Blue Penstemon, Penstemon azureus
  12. Bordered Plant Bug, Largus californicus
  13. Boxelder, Box Elder Tree, Acer negundo
  14. Bristly Dogtail Grass, Cynosurus echinatus
  15. Bronze Jumping Spider, Eris militaris
  16. Bur Chervil, Anthriscus caucalis
  17. Bush Lupine, Lupinus albifrons
  18. Bush Monkeyflower, Diplacus aurantiacus
  19. California Bumblebee, Bombus californicus [black face, yellow ruff]
  20. California Camouflage Lichen, Melanelixia californica [dark green with brown apothecia, on trees]
  21. California Manroot, Bigroot, Marah fabaceus
  22. California Mugwort, Artemisia douglasiana
  23. California Pipevine Swallowtail butterfly, Battus philenor hirsuta
  24. California Pipevine, Dutchman’s Pipe, Aristolochia californica
  25. California Poppy, Eschscholzia californica
  26. California Wild Grape, Vitis californica
  27. Cherry-Plum, Prunus cerasifera
  28. Chinese Pistache, Pistacia chinensis
  29. Cleveland Sage, Salvia clevelandii [purple, circles]
  30. Coffeeberry, California Buckthorn, Frangula californica
  31. Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus
  32. Common Dandelion, Taraxacum officinale
  33. Common Green Lacewing, Chrysoperla carnea [eggs]
  34. Common Snowberry, Symphoricarpos albus
  35. Coyote Brush Bud Gall midge, Rhopalomyia californica
  36. Coyote Brush, Baccharis pilularis
  37. Crabseye Lichen, Ochrolechia subpallescens [creamy colored lichen with white-rimmed pale orange/pink apothecia]
  38. Crown Whitefly, Aleuroplatus coronata
  39. Deer Grass, Muhlenbergia rigens
  40. European Starling, Sturnus vulgaris
  41. False Turkey Tail fungus, Stereum complicatum
  42. Fimbriate Gall Wasp, Andricus opertus [on Valley Oak leaf]
  43. Flame Skimmer Dragonfly, Libellula saturata
  44. Giant Western Crane Fly, Holorusia hespera
  45. Gold Dust Lichen, Chrysothrix candelaris
  46. Golden Crowned Sparrow, Zonotrichia atricapilla
  47. Green Leafhopper, Nephotettix virescens
  48. Green Shield Lichen, Flavoparmelia caperata
  49. Hairy Vetch, Winter Vetch, Vicia villosa ssp. villosa
  50. Hammock Spider, Pityohyphantes sp. [a kind of sheet weaver]
  51. Himalayan Blackberry, Rubus armeniacus
  52. Honeysuckle Sawfly, Club-Headed Sawfly, Abia americana [whitish caterpillar with a gray head]
  53. House Wren, Troglodytes aedon
  54. Leaf Gall Wasp/ Unidentified per Russo, Tribe: Cynipidi
  55. Live Oak Erineum Mite, Aceria mackiei
  56. Live Oak Round Leaf Gall Wasp, Heteroecus flavens
  57. Lupin Aphid, Macrosiphum albifrons
  58. Lupine, Chick Lupine, Lupinus microcarpus
  59. Mallard duck, Anas platyrhynchos
  60. Mazegill Fungus, Daedalea quercina
  61. Miner’s Lettuce, Claytonia perfoliata
  62. Miniature Lupine, Lupinus bicolor
  63. Mourning Dove, Zenaida macroura
  64. Mule Fat, Baccharis salicifolia
  65. Oak Apple Gall Wasp, Andricus quercuscalifornicus
  66. Oleander Aphid, Aphis nerii
  67. Painted Lady Butterfly, Vanessa cardui
  68. Pink Grass, Windmill Pink, Petrorhagia dubia
  69. Plant Bugs, Family: Miridae
  70. Plum, Prunus cerasifera
  71. Poison Oak, Pacific Poison Oak, Western Poison Oak, Toxicodendron diversilobum
  72. Red-Shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus
  73. Rose Clover, Trifolium hirtum
  74. Santa Barbara Sedge, Carex barbarae
  75. Showy Milkweed, Asclepias speciose
  76. Shrubby Sunburst Lichen, Polycauliona candelaria
  77. Small-flowered Catchfly, Silene gallica
  78. Snowberry Sawfly, Blennogeneris spissipes
  79. Soap Plant, Wavy Leafed Soaproot, Chlorogalum pomeridianum
  80. Soft-Winged Flower Beetle, Idgia sp. [kind of look like soldier beetles]
  81. Spice Bush, California Sweetshrub, Calycanthus occidentalis
  82. Spotted Towhee, Pipilo maculatus
  83. Sulphur Tubic Moth, Esperia sulphurella [tiny dark moth with yellow lines]
  84. Sweet Vernal Grass Anthoxanthum odoratum
  85. Trashline Orb Weaver Spider, Cyclosa conica
  86. Tree Swallow, Tachycineta bicolor
  87. Tule, Common Tule, Schoenoplectus acutus
  88. Two-Horned Gall Wasp, Dryocosmus dubiosus
  89. Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
  90. Western Fence Lizard, Blue Belly, Sceloporus occidentalis
  91. Western Redbud, Cercis occidentalis
  92. White Horehound, Marrubium vulgare
  93. White-Winged March Fly, Bibio albipennis
  94. Yarrow, Achillea millefolium
  95. Yerba Santa, California Yerba Santa, Eriodictyon californicum