Mostly Ground Squirrels Today, 05-29-20

I got up around 6:00 am today, fed and pottied the dog, and then headed over to Effie Yeaw Nature Preserve for a walk.  It was about 61° when I got there and went up to about 77° by the time I left.

I wanted to check on the milkweed plants, keeping an eye out for Monarch eggs and caterpillars, but I didn’t see any. A lot of Monarchs have been seen in the area, so everyone is checking their milkweed these days.  Hah!

I found several Bordered Plant Bugs on the Showy Milkweed plants, and tons of brown Leafhoppers (they were everywhere, even jumping out of the grass like sand-fleas or something.) I also found several different species of ladybeetles, a tiny red Ichneumon wasp, several Bush Katydid nymphs, an assassin bug, and some tiny moths.  Surprisingly, there weren’t a lot of Oleander Aphids on the plants (which we normally see).

I’d recently read an article on how the milkweed plants can sometimes inadvertently capture bees and hold onto them until the bees die.  ( Yikes!  And I saw lots of examples of that phenomenon today.  All of them were honeybees that had gotten stuck and couldn’t escape.

European Honeybee with its feet stuck in the stigmatic slit of a milkweed flower. You can see one of the flower’s pollinia attached to the bee’s extricated foot.

The Soap Root plants on the property are starting to bloom, but they only fully bloom in the later afternoon and into the evening. By this time f the morning, the blooms are already starting to wilt and fall off the plant.

Wilting Soaproot flowers

I also found some House Wren fledglings who were begging for food from their parents. One was having a bad hair day; tufts of baby fluff poking out of its head.  So cute!

I’m seeing more coyote scat again, and on of the latrine spots, it looked like the coyote had dug into the ground and then pooped near the digging spot.  Claiming it as its own special toilet?

Coyote scat

The Red-Shouldered Hawk mom was up and about. I saw her moving around in the nest and standing in a nearby tree. I also saw one of the fledglings in the nest. It’s lost its white baby fluff and its head is now reddish-brown. I don’t know where the second fledgling was, but the one in the nest seemed pretty focused on something. I think it was eating, but I couldn’t see over the edge of the nest to figure out what had its attention.

CLICK HERE to see the full album of photos.

The most photos I got today, though, were of California Ground Squirrels.  They seem to be coming up and getting more active. Two of them were very cooperative and let me take lots of photos of them. One even let me get within about 5 feet of her while she fed and gave herself a dust bath.  I just love those little things.

California Ground Squirrel

I walked for about 3 hours before heading home.

Species List:

  1. Arizona Mantis, Stagmomantis limbata
  2. Asian Ladybeetle, Harmonia axyridis
  3. Black Walnut, Eastern Black Walnut, Juglans nigra
  4. Blessed Milk Thistle, Silybum marianum
  5. Bordered Plant Bug, Largus californicus
  6. Boxelder, Box Elder Tree, Acer negundo
  7. Brown Leafhopper, Family: Cicadellidae
  8. Bush Katydid, Fork-Tailed Bush Katydid, Scudderia furcata [nymphs]
  9. Bushtit, American Bushtit, Psaltriparus minimus
  10. California Ground Squirrel, Otospermophilus beecheyi
  11. California Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma californica
  12. California Wild Grape, Vitis californica
  13. Convergent Lady Beetle, Hippodamia convergens
  14. Coyote Mint, Monardella villosa
  15. Coyote, Canis latrans [scat]
  16. Cudweed, California Cudweed, Pseudognaphalium californicum
  17. European Earwig, Common Earwig, Forficula auricularia
  18. European Honeybee, Apis mellifera
  19. House Wren, Troglodytes aedon
  20. Ichneumon wasp, Ichneumon sp. [reddish parasitoid wasp]
  21. Interior Live Oak, Quercus wislizeni
  22. Italian Thistle, Carduus pycnocephalus
  23. Jalisco Petrophila Moth, Crambid Snout Moth, Petrophila jaliscalis
  24. Leafhopper Assassin Bug, Zelus renardii
  25. Live Oak Gall Wasp, 2nd Generation, Callirhytis quercuspomiformis
  26. Mirid Bug, Thick Sensor Soft Bug, Heterotoma planicornis [small black bug with weird antennae and green legs]
  27. Oak Apple Gall Wasp, Andricus quercuscalifornicus
  28. Perennial Sow Thistle, Sonchus arvensis
  29. Potato Mirid, Closterotomus norwegicus [green]
  30. Red-Shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus
  31. Rio Grande Wild Turkey, Meleagris gallopavo intermedia
  32. Scaphoideus Leafhopper, Scaphoideus sp.
  33. Showy Milkweed, Asclepias speciosa
  34. Soap Plant, Wavy Leafed Soaproot, Chlorogalum pomeridianum
  35. Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
  36. Western Bluebird, Sialia Mexicana
  37. White-Breasted Nuthatch, Sitta carolinensis
  38. Yarrow, Achillea millefolium