Hunting Dragonflies, 07-19-20

I got up around 5 o’clock this morning, and was out the door around 5:30 am to head toward the North Davis Ponds, Northstar Pond Park, where I met with Greg Ira, statewide director of the UC’s Certified California Naturalist program, for a walk. We were hoping to see a lot of dragonflies and maybe some galls, too.

Greg said he’d never been to that park before, so he checked it out late yesterday afternoon when he was driving through town. He said there were a lot of dragonflies around the pond and manicured lawn area. He’s been trying to get “super-slow-motion” video of the dragonflies as they take off from their landing perches, and he tried several time while we were out there to get some footage.

Greg trying to capture super-slow-motion video of the dragonflies.

When we first got there it was around 61° F, so a bit too cool for the dragon flies to be up and flying. We didn’t see any at all at first, so we walked down the shaded walkway toward Covell Park. We went about 3 or four bocks before turning around and heading back toward the ponds.
Both Greg and I were wearing face masks, and I was happy to see about half of the people we encountered wearing them, too.

This was nice to see in the middle of the parkway.

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

Along the way, we stopped to take some photos of whatever we encountered. I got a few shots of the aphid galls on the leaves of a cottonwood tree, but also found a couple of first-of-the-season galls on Valley Oaks like the Convoluted Gall and the Red Cone Gall.

I was surprised to see a very “fresh-looking” specimen of Common Sunburst Lichen, Xanthoria parietina, on a ginkgo tree in Davis yesterday. This time of year, most of the lichen are dried out and colorless.

Common Sunburst Lichen, Golden Shield Lichen, Xanthoria parietina

We also found some Leaf-Footed Bugs at various instars (from nymphs to adults) on a pomegranate tree. The tree was near a fence that looked into a private back yard and a gentleman came out of the house to ask what we were looking at. I told him, “Leaf-Footed Bugs!” and said we were photographing some adults and babies. “Are they unusual?” he asked, and I told him, no, they’re fairly common. He wasn’t impressed, but told us to enjoy our day.

Western Leaf-Footed Bug, Leptoglossus zonatus

When we got back to the pond, the dragonflies were finally up and about and we saw some Pondhawks, Widow Skimmers, Flame Skimmers, and Blue Dasher Dragonflies.

I saw one of the Flame Skimmers turn around and snatch a tiny bee out of the air, then land on a cattail leaf to eat it. While I took some photos and video of it, Greg tried to get some super-slow-mo footage of it… but it wasn’t very cooperative with that. It was too interested in its meal to pay him any attention.

I also found some stink bug eggs (and a few nymphs) and Greg caught a couple of tiny Sierran Tree Frog froglets.  They looked mostly brown when they were boinging through the grass, but in close-up photos, you could see how beautifully and subtly colored they really are.

Sierran Tree Frog froglet, Pseudacris sierra

We saw quite a few birds in the area, but I wasn’t able to get photos of most of them because they were too far away or were in flight: a White-Tailed Kite, American Robins, Black Phoebes, Scrub Jays, and doves, among others.

American Robin, Turdus migratorius. Look at its beak!

We walked for about 3 hours, and by then it was 75° outside and I was starting to heat up (and sweat), so we called it a day.

I’d taken the walker with me on this trip and it did great on the paved paths throughout the park. I was probably actually walking faster than I normally might had I been by myself, because by the time I left I was exhausted.  When I got home, I had to crash for a few hours.

Species List:

  1. American Robin, Turdus migratorius
  2. Anna’s Hummingbird, Calypte anna
  3. Asian Ladybeetle, Harmonia axyridis [eggs]
  4. Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans
  5. Blue Dasher Dragonfly, Pachydiplax longipennis
  6. Blue Lily, Lily of the Nile, Agapanthus praecox
  7. Broadleaf Cattail, Bullrush, Typha latifolia
  8. Brown Marmorated Stink Bug, Halyomorpha halys [eggs and nymphs]
  9. California Black Oak, Quercus kelloggii
  10. California Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma californica
  11. Canada Goose, Branta canadensis
  12. Chinese Pistache, Pistacia chinensis
  13. Common Green Lacewing, Chrysoperla carnea [eggs]
  14. Common Sunburst Lichen, Golden Shield Lichen, Xanthoria parietina
  15. Convoluted Gall Wasp, Andricus confertus
  16. Cottonwood Leaf Gall Aphid, Pemphigus populivenae
  17. Cottonwood Petiole Gall, Poplar Petiole Gall Aphid, Pemphigus populitransversus
  18. Eurasian Collared Dove, Streptopelia decaocto
  19. Fig, Common Fig, Ficus carica
  20. Flame Skimmer Dragonfly, Libellula saturata
  21. Fremont’s Cottonwood, Populus fremontii
  22. Ginkgo Tree, Ginkgo biloba
  23. Golden Haired Inkcap, Parasol Inkcap, Parasola auricoma
  24. Goldenrain Tree, Koelreuteria paniculata
  25. Mealy Rim Lichen, Lecanora strobilina
  26. Mourning Dove, Zenaida macroura
  27. Northern Mockingbird, Mimus polyglottos
  28. Nuttall’s Woodpecker, Picoides nuttallii [heard]
  29. Pomegranate Tree, Punica granatum
  30. Red Cone Gall Wasp, Andricus kingi
  31. Red-Eared Slider Turtle, Trachemys scripta elegans
  32. Sierran Tree Frog, Pseudacris sierra
  33. Tule, Common Tule, Schoenoplectus acutus
  34. Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
  35. Velvetleaf, Abutilon theophrasti
  36. Western Leaf-Footed Bug, Leptoglossus zonatus
  37. Western Pondhawk Dragonfly, Erythemis collocata
  38. White Sweetclover, Melilotus albus
  39. White Tailed Kite, Elanus leucurus
  40. Widow Skimmer Dragonfly, Libellula luctuosa
  41. Yellow Water Iris, Yellow Flag, Iris pseudacorus [invasive]