Trail Stewarding at Effie, 08-06-20

I got up around 5:30 am and headed over to the Effie Yeaw Nature Preserve around 6:00 am.  It was cool, 57°, and overcast again this morning. There was a slight breeze blowing, and the temperature never got over 61° all the while I was out there.  So, it was a really nice walk weather-wise.

I’m starting up my Trail Steward walks again, even though right now, I’m kind of off-schedule, walking on the days when the weather is the most auspicious. Today, I was more “official”, wearing the vest my naturalist students had given to me, along with my name tag. I thought the vest might be “too hot” for me, but with today’s nice morning weather it was comfortable.

Unintentional selfie my cell phone took of me. You can just see the neckline of the vest…

I took a route down the Meadow Trail to the River Trail and then back up to the Main Trail. I was hoping to catch a glimpse of the coyote family that’s supposed to be out there now, but no such luck. Did find a lot of scat, though.

I also saw several deer today, though. Mostly, young bucks who were full grown but not old enough to have their first antlers yet. One of them walked right down to the edge of the trail in front of me, maybe 5 feet away… I also saw one doe with an older fawn.  No other babies, though, which is a little surprising.  They should be out and about by now. I wonder if there just weren’t too many born this year.

Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus. This guy came right to the edge of the trail in front of me.
Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus. “Say whaaaaaat?”

Besides looking for the baby coyotes, I was also looking for Kernel Flower Galls on the live oak trees.  This is the season for them, but I hadn’t seen any yet.  Because the galls form on the underside of the oak leaves, you have to turn over a lot of leaves to find one…or two or three.  I think I checked out about 6 trees before I found any, but find them I did.  Yay! I also found some really nice-looking Crystalline galls. 

On the “Frankenstein tree” (half Blue oak, half Valley Oak), which hasn’t sported any galls at all in the past few years (because, I suspect, Round-Up or some other herbicide was sprayed around it) there were some Saucer galls now.  Something is better than nothing, in my mind. And lots of the live oaks are now sporting the spiky Live Oak Gall Wasp, 1st Generation galls. I don’t know why that makes me so happy, but it does.

[TOP]Galls of the Live Oak Gall Wasp, 1st Generation, Callirhytis quercuspomiformis. Here you can see how they almost mimic the budding acorns [BELOW] at this stage,

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

I caught sight of a couple of Nuttall’s Woodpeckers today, and one of them looked incredibly “ratty”, like it just got out of bed and hadn’t combed its feathers yet. I’m assuming it was either a juvenile just getting its adult feather in, or was an adult going through a major molt.

Because the black walnuts are starting to ripen, the squirrels can be heard munching on them in the trees. The scritch-scritch-scritch of their teeth against the nuts as they try to scrape the husk off is a dead giveaway of their location and what they’re doing. 

A lot of the squirrels’ muzzles are darkened by the juglone in the walnut hulls, so they look “dirty”, like little kids who’ve just eaten mud pies.  So funny looking.

Eastern Fox Squirrel, Sciurus niger. It face is stained from black walnuts.

According to the Iowa State University: “…We now know that juglone is produced in the fruit, leaves and branches, and can be excreted from the root system into the soil. The actual concentration in each tree part varies with the season. In spring, juglone is concentrated in the actively growing leaves. The amount of juglone in the roots remains relatively high throughout the summer, and the concentration of juglone in the hulls of the fruit increases as the crop matures. All species of the walnut family (Juglandaceae) produce juglone. This would include many native trees such as black walnut, butternut, the hickories and pecan. However, black walnuts have the highest concentration of juglone…”

You can make a natural dye out of the walnut husks, but be careful. The stuff can dye your skin as well.

It was nice to see that the bees are still inhabiting the “bee tree” along the trail. I always worry that someone will try to evict them. Today, I watched one of the Fox Squirrels run right up to the tree, and then did a careful zig-zag motion to get away from the bee-laden mouth of the hive. Do squirrels like honey?  They’ll eat just about anything…

The feral hive of Western Honeybees, Apis mellifera, in the “bee tree”.

Along the trail, too, I found a cast-off stick from one of the nearby trees that had about six or seven different species of lichen on it! Because the air was cooler overnight, there was a little bit of condensation on the ground, so the lichen got just wet enough to wake up a little bit and look colorful. So much life crammed into one little space.  It always amazes me.

As I was walking toward the end of the Bluff Trail, I met another volunteer named Margaret. She said she had been a volunteer at EY since 2004, but was just starting the trail walking gig. When I introduced myself, her eyes lit up. “Mary Hanson? Oh, I just LOVE your beautiful photos and posts!” Awww. A fan! Kind of made my day. Hah!

I walked for about 3½ hours and then headed home.

As an Aside: Dispose of Used Masks Properly!

Discarded masks are potential carriers of disease and pose a real danger to animals and the volunteers tasked with cleaning up the trails. Used masks and gloves, which cannot be recycled, pose a problem for the environment. READ MORE HERE.

Face mask dropped on the trail.

Species List:

  1. Acorn Woodpecker, Melanerpes formicivorus
  2. Anna’s Hummingbird, Calypte anna
  3. Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans
  4. Black Walnut Pouch Gall Mite, Aceria brachytarsa
  5. Black Walnut, Eastern Black Walnut, Juglans nigra
  6. Blue Elderberry, Sambucus nigra cerulea
  7. Blue Oak, Quercus douglasii
  8. Branching Phacelia, Phacelia ramosissima
  9. Broadleaf Cattail, Bullrush, Typha latifolia
  10. Buckwheat, Naked Buckwheat, Eriogonum nudum
  11. Bumpy Rim-Lichen, Lecanora hybocarpa [hoary with black or brown apothecia]
  12. California Camouflage Lichen, Melanelixia californica [dark green with brown apothecia, on trees]
  13. California Ground Squirrel, Otospermophilus beecheyi
  14. California Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma californica
  15. California Wild Grape, Vitis californica
  16. Coast Live Oak, Quercus agrifolia
  17. Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus
  18. Cooper’s Hawk, Acipiter cooperii
  19. Coyote, Canis latrans [scat]
  20. Crystalline Gall Wasp, Andricus crystallinus
  21. Dallis Grass, Dallisgrass, Paspalum dilatatum
  22. Doveweed, Turkey Mullein, Croton setiger
  23. Drippy Nut, Brenneria quercina, Lonsdalea quercina [a bacterium that infects wounds in oak tissue/acorns]
  24. Eastern Fox Squirrel, Sciurus niger
  25. European Honeybee, Western Honeybee, Apis mellifera
  26. Flat-Topped Honeydew Gall Wasp, Disholcaspis eldoradensis
  27. Gold Dust Lichen, Chrysothrix candelaris
  28. Goldenrod, Velvety Goldenrod, Solidago velutina
  29. Great Egret, Ardea alba
  30. Green Shield Lichen, Flavoparmelia caperata
  31. Hoary Lichen, Hoary Rosette, Physcia aipolia
  32. Hooded Rosette Lichen, Physcia adscendens [hairs/eyelashes on the tips of the lobes]
  33. House Wren, Troglodytes aedon
  34. Interior Live Oak, Quercus wislizeni
  35. Jumping Oak Gall Wasp, Neuroterus saltatorius
  36. Kernel Flower Gall Wasp, Callirhytis serricornis
  37. Lace Lichen, Ramalina menziesii
  38. Live Oak Gall Wasp, 1st Generation, Callirhytis quercuspomiformis
  39. Mistletoe, American Mistletoe, Big Leaf Mistletoe, Phoradendron leucarpum
  40. Mourning Dove, Zenaida macroura
  41. Nuttall’s Woodpecker, Picoides nuttallii
  42. Oak Aphid Leaf-Curl Gall, Tuberculatus annulatus [on Coast Live Oak]
  43. Oak Apple Gall Wasp, Andricus quercuscalifornicus
  44. Pin-cushion Sunburst Lichen, Polycauliona polycarpa
  45. Plate Gall Wasp, Andricus pattersonae
  46. Poison Oak, Pacific Poison Oak, Western Poison Oak, Toxicodendron diversilobum
  47. Pumpkin Gall Wasp, Dryocosmus minusculus
  48. Red Cone Gall Wasp, Andricus kingi
  49. Rio Grande Wild Turkey, Meleagris gallopavo intermedia
  50. Saucer Gall Wasp, Andricus gigas
  51. Shrubby Sunburst Lichen, Polycauliona candelaria
  52. Silver Wormwood, Artemisia ludoviciana
  53. Soft Rush, Juncus effusus
  54. Spiny Turban Gall Wasp, Antron douglasii
  55. Spotted Towhee, Pipilo maculatus
  56. Tule, Common Tule, Schoenoplectus acutus
  57. Turkey Vulture, Cathartes aura
  58. Urchin Gall Wasp, Antron quercusechinus
  59. Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
  60. Western Fence Lizard, Blue Belly, Sceloporus occidentalis
  61. Western Gray Squirrel, Sciurus griseus
  62. Western Ragweed, Ambrosia psilostachya
  63. Western Shield Lichen, Parmelia hygrophila [blue-gray, foliose, dull isidia on leaves]
  64. Yellow Wig Gall Wasp, Andricus fullawayi