The Galls Are Just Starting to Emerge, 06-07-20

I got up around 5:30 this morning, and headed out to the Effie Yeaw Nature Preserve for a walk. It was 61° at the river, but warmed up fast as soon as the sun was up.

At the preserve, it’s still between seasons, so there’s not tons to see, but I did get to see some deer, squirrels, some Red-Shouldered Hawks, and  a Cottontail rabbit what was “hiding” among the yarrow plants in the garden by the nature center. 

The plum trees are heavy with fruit and the blue elderberry bushes still have berries on them. The wild grapevines and blackberries are starting to show their fruit now, too.

Among the deer, I saw a couple of does and a skinny buck in his velvet. No babies yet.  The fawns should start showing up later this month.

Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

The fox squirrels are up in the trees snacking on black walnuts.  You can hear the scritch-scritch-scritch of their teeth on the nuts as they gnaw through the husk and try to crack the hard shells.

            Among the birds I saw, there was a mockingbird that was really putting on a display in the top of one of the oak trees. He had an exceptional repertoire mimicking Acorn Woodpeckers, Towhees, hawks, Scrub Jays, Killdeer, Titmice… while jumping up and down to attract the females. I got a little bit of video of him, but it doesn’t do him justice.

I was surprised not to see much of anything on the milkweed plants – no butterfly eggs or any other insects except for a handful of planthoppers. Some of the plants have been chopped down, and a sign indicated that the preserve was trying that to see if they could attract Monarchs to the plants with fresher leaves later in the season. If that works, it’ll be great.

The only really fun thing was finding the season’s first Spiny Turban galls forming on the Valley Oak trees, along with a LOT of new acorns. Some trees are heavy with acorns this year… I’ll have to keep an eye on that to see if that “gravid” condition is true across the region.

Galls of the Spiny Turban Gall Wasp, Antron douglasii,on the leaves of a Valley Oak, Quercus lobata

I only walked for bout 2 hours before heading back home. This was the first time I’d left my dog Esteban home in over a week.  I’d asked my sister Melissa to leave him in the bedroom unless he had to go potty to keep him confined in a space with flat floors so he couldn’t aggravate his back issues.  She said he did pretty well, but barked and whined all the while I was gone.  Poor bubby.

Esteban recovering from a back injury in the bedroom.

Species List:

  1. Acorn Woodpecker, Melanerpes formicivorus
  2. Anna’s Hummingbird, Calypte anna
  3. Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans
  4. Black Walnut Erineum Mite galls, Eriophyes erinea
  5. Black Walnut, Eastern Black Walnut, Juglans nigra
  6. Blue Elderberry, Sambucus nigra cerulea
  7. Blue Penstemon, Penstemon azureus
  8. California Ground Squirrel, Otospermophilus beecheyi
  9. California Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma californica
  10. California Wild Grape, Vitis californica
  11. California Wild Rose, Rosa californica
  12. Canada Goose, Branta canadensis
  13. Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus
  14. Common Green Lacewing, Chrysoperla carnea
  15. Coyote Mint, Monardella villosa
  16. Desert Cottontail Rabbit, Sylvilagus audubonii
  17. Eastern Fox Squirrel, Sciurus niger
  18. European Honeybee, Western Honeybee, Apis mellifera
  19. Himalayan Blackberry, Armenian Blackberry, Rubus armeniacus
  20. Interior Live Oak, Quercus wislizeni
  21. Lace Lichen, Ramalina menziesii
  22. Large-flowered Evening-Primrose, Oenothera glazioviana
  23. Leaf Gall Wasp/ Unidentified per Russo, Tribe: Cynipidi [on Valley Oak]
  24. Mallard duck, Anas platyrhynchos
  25. Mourning Dove, Zenaida macroura
  26. Northern Mockingbird, Mimus polyglottos
  27. Plum, Prunus cerasifera
  28. Red-Shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus
  29. Showy Milkweed, Asclepias speciosa
  30. Spiny Turban Gall Wasp, Antron douglasii
  31. Spotted Towhee, Pipilo maculatus
  32. Sunflower, Common Woolly Sunflower, Eriophyllum lanatum
  33. Tobacco, Tree Tobacco, Nicotiana glauca
  34. Tree Swallow, Tachycineta bicolor
  35. Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
  36. Western Fence Lizard, Blue Belly, Sceloporus occidentalis
  37. Yarrow, Achillea millefolium