Back to Mather Lake, 07-24-20

Up at 5:00 am again, to head out to Mather Lake Regional Park at 6:00 with Roxanne. We wanted to check out the side of the lake opposite of where we were earlier in the week.  [[For some reason, my hair is doing this humorous pokey-out thing on one side of my head, so the left side looks “startled” and the right side looks “bored”. Hah!  I must have slept on it weird.]]

Not a ton of bird sightings today; mostly just the usual suspects.  We did catch a glimpse of some Belted Kingfishers when we first arrived, but they’re shy and moving very quickly, so getting a photo of one of them is really difficult.  We could HEAR they chattering on both sides of the lake, but couldn’t get into a position to see them clearly. 

A very bad photo of a Belted Kingfisher

There was one young Canada Goose fledgling that we spotted “doing yoga”, standing on one leg, on the lawn area.  It wasn’t until it moved that we realized it was missing a foot.  Everything below the knee was gone on one leg, so when the bird walked it had a very bad very distinct limp.  I presumed that it may have gotten its leg tangled in fishing line which eventually amputated the bottom part of the leg, but there’s no way to be sure.  It must have had that injury happen very early, when it was still a gosling, because the stumpy leg seemed totally healed, and the bird had seemingly adapted well to its “defect”.

Crippled Canada Goose fledgling

We were surprised to see a hawk flying around where we were looking at galls.  It was being harassed by small birds, and took sanctuary among the leaves of the trees, but always kept itself just out of sight, so we never got a really clear view of it.  By the mottling on the chest, I assumed it was a young bird, maybe a juvenile Cooper’s Hawk or Merlin, but the head just didn’t look right. I loaded the sighting into iNaturalist, and it came up as possibly a Sharp-Shined Hawk, but I’m not sure.  Let’s see if anyone can give me a better ID.

Cooper’s or Sharp-Shinned?

We saw quite a few galls on the oak trees (and willow trees), but most of them are still in their early development stages so they’re not very large yet.  In another two weeks or so, they should be out and looking quite beautiful.  I think we saw about 20 different species, which was great. 

Among them, we saw some unusually huge examples of the round, spiny first generation Live Oak Gall Wasp galls. I was happy to see them because I hadn’t seen ANY yet this year and was worried they weren’t going to make it out. These first generation galls contain a dozen or more parthenogenetic female larvae that reproduce asexually.  (The second generation has it’s own special gall and contains both male and female larvae that reproduce sexually.)

Live Oak Gall Wasp, 1st Generation, Callirhytis quercuspomiformis. This specimen was huge and could have contained 20 or more larvae.

On the Live Oak trees there seemed to be a LOT of acorns this year.  We also found one example of “drippy nut”, an acorn that was oozing clear sticky discharged caused by a bacteria called Brenneria quercina.  It gets into the acorn when the acorn is pieced by the ovipositor of a wasp or otherwise breached (by some other bug or a bird pecking into it).  The exudation is super-sticky. I got a little of it on my thumb and it took almost an hour to work it off of my skin.

Drippy Nut, Brenneria quercina, AKA Lonsdalea quercina [a bacterium that infects wounds in oak tissue/acorns]

As we were leaving, we spotted some juvenile California Ground Squirrels.  Some were playing, and one was digging in the dirt. As we watched the one that was digging, we saw it lift a large flat rock with its mouth and moved it out of the way so it could get at whatever underneath it.  I got a video snippet of that one.

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

Species List:

  1. Assassin Bug, Zelus sp. [eggs]
  2. Belted Kingfisher, Megaceryle alcyon [in flight, heard]
  3. Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans
  4. Blue Dasher Dragonfly, Pachydiplax longipennis
  5. Brewer’s Blackbird, Euphagus cyanocephalus
  6. Broadleaf Cattail, Bullrush, Typha latifolia
  7. California Black Oak, Quercus kelloggii
  8. California Bulrush, Schoenoplectus californicus
  9. California Ground Squirrel, Otospermophilus beecheyi
  10. California Quail, Callipepla californica [glimpsed, heard]
  11. California Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma californica
  12. Canada Goose, Branta canadensis
  13. Cicada, Typical Cicadas, Subfamily: Tibicininae
  14. Common Sunburst Lichen, Golden Shield Lichen, Xanthoria parietina [yellow-orange,on wood/trees]
  15. Convoluted Gall Wasp, Andricus confertus
  16. Cork Oak, Quercus suber
  17. Cottonwood Leaf Gall Aphid, Pemphigus populivenae
  18. Cottonwood Petiole Gall, Poplar Petiole Gall Aphid, Pemphigus populitransversus
  19. Coyote Brush, Baccharis pilularis
  20. Coyote Brush Bud Gall midge, Rhopalomyia californica
  21. Coyote Brush Stem Gall moth, Gnorimoschema baccharisella
  22. Desert Cottontail Rabbit, Sylvilagus audubonii
  23. Disc Gall Wasp, Andricus parmula
  24. Drippy Nut, Brenneria quercina, Lonsdalea quercina [a bacterium that infects wounds in oak tissue/acorns]
  25. Eurasian Collared Dove, Streptopelia decaocto
  26. Familiar Bluet Damselfly, Enallagma civile
  27. Flame Skimmer Dragonfly, Libellula saturate
  28. Floating Water Primrose, Ludwigia peploides ssp. peploides
  29. Fremont’s Cottonwood, Populus fremontii
  30. Fuzzy Gall Wasp galls, Disholcaspis washingtonensi [round faintly fuzzy galls on stems]
  31. Gold Dust Lichen, Chrysothrix candelaris
  32. Goldenrod Crab Spider, Misumena vatia
  33. Goodding’s Willow, Salix gooddingii
  34. Great-Tailed Grackle, Quiscalus mexicanus
  35. Green Shield Lichen, Flavoparmelia caperata
  36. House Finch, Haemorhous mexicanus
  37. Interior Live Oak, Quercus wislizeni
  38. Jumping Oak Gall Wasp, Neuroterus saltatorius
  39. Live Oak Bud Gall Wasp, Callirhytis quercusagrifoliae
  40. Live Oak Erineum Mite gall, Aceria mackiei [kind of looks like rust on the backside of the leaf]
  41. Live Oak Gall Wasp, 1st Generation, Callirhytis quercuspomiformis
  42. Mourning Dove, Zenaida macroura
  43. Mute Swan, Cygnus olor
  44. Narrowleaf Willow, Salix exigua
  45. Northern Flicker, Colaptes auratus
  46. Nuttall’s Woodpecker, Picoides nuttallii [heard]
  47. Oak Apple Gall Wasp, Andricus quercuscalifornicus
  48. Oak Leaf Blister Fungus, Taphrina caerulescens
  49. Pale Jumping Spider, Colonus hesperus
  50. Paper Wasp, European Paper Wasp, Polistes dominula [black & yellow]
  51. Pennyroyal, Mentha pulegium
  52. Pied-Billed Grebe, Podilymbus podiceps
  53. Red Cone Gall Wasp, Andricus kingi
  54. Red-Shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus [heard]
  55. Red-Shouldered Stink Bug, Thyanta custator [eggs]
  56. Red-Winged Blackbird, Agelaius phoeniceus
  57. Ruptured Twig Gall Wasp, Callirhytis perdens
  58. Sharp-Shinned Hawk, Accipiter striatus
  59. Soft Rush, Juncus effusus
  60. Spiny Turban Gall Wasp, Antron douglasii
  61. Squarestem Spikerush, Eleocharis quadrangulata
  62. Swamp Smartweed, Persicara hydropiperoides
  63. Tall Flatsedge, Cyperus eragrostis
  64. Tarweed, Fitch’s Tarweed, Centromadia fitchii
  65. Trashline Orb Weaver Spider, Conical Trashline Spider, Cyclosa conica
  66. Tule, Common Tule, Schoenoplectus acutus
  67. Turkey Tangle Fogfruit, Phyla nodiflora
  68. Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
  69. Western Pondhawk Dragonfly, Erythemis collocata [males are blue; females are green]
  70. White Tailed Kite, Elanus leucurus [flying, on the way to the park]
  71. Willow Bead Gall Mite, Aculus tetanothrix
  72. Willow Pinecone Gall midge, Rabdophaga strobiloides
  73. Yellow Wig Gall Wasp, Andricus fullawayi
  74. ?? larvae amid possible flux on coyote brush bush
  75. ?? piled leaves gall on Valley Oak [asked Joyce Gross if she could identify it.]