Volunteer Brunch in a Bag, 08-14-20

I got up around 7:00 am with the dog this morning, and after getting some breakfast and letting Esteban out for potty, I took a fast shower and got dressed to go to the Effie Yeaw Nature Preserve with my friend Roxanne. We left the house about 8:30 am and it was already 78° outside. [It got up to 102° today.]]

We went to the preserve for a volunteer brunch.  Before we even got through the front entrance, we saw a lovely female Flame Skimmer dragonfly who had landed on the antenna of a truck in the parking lot. She was very cooperative and we were able to approach her to get a few photos with our cellphones.

Flame Skimmer Dragonfly, Libellula saturata

Usually, these brunches are held indoors with all of the volunteers together in one room. The staff prepares food for everyone and it’s eaten buffet style. Because of COVID, this time, small groups of volunteers were let in in shifts, about 30 to 45 minutes apart. Rather than having a buffet, the staff had put together bagged lunches for everyone, and had personally decorated each bag with their own artwork. I got a bag with a deer on it, and Rox got one with a little gray mouse and sparkly dandelion puffs. So cute! 

My bag had a huge blueberry muffin in it along with a banana, mandarin orange, and hard-boiled egg.  Along with that we each got a cup of apple cider. As free gifts for the volunteers there were “Save the Frogs” water bottles from KEEN, little pins and magnets.

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

And rather than having folks sit close to one another at tables, there were chairs spread out all over the main lawn in the shade.  Rox and I grabbed two of them and got them situated the way we wanted them by the little pond, and then enjoyed our meal. We noticed some Tongue Galls on a nearby alder tree and got some photos of them.  Ever the naturalists.  Hah!

Alder Tongue Gall Fungus, Taphrina alni

After our meal, we headed out to go to William Pond Park and look for some galls there.  On our way out of the preserve, we met with Mary Messenger, a fallow trail steward, who was just coming in. She’d brought me a 2021 wall calendar and a bag of figs from her tree at home to share with everyone.  I thought that was so sweet of her.

At William Pond Park, I was going to show Rox where the “Reverend Mother” tree is, but it was just too hot to do anything.  So, we walked along parts of the manicured lawn there and got some photos of the galls on some of the Valley and Live Oak trees. On our way back to the car, we saw a White-Breasted Nuthatch in a tree, pulling on spiders’ webs and eating bugs.

White-Breasted Nuthatch, Sitta carolinensis

Once I got home, for the rest of the day, I stayed indoors with the dog for the most part, went through my photos, and posted stuff to iNaturalist. 

Speaking of iNaturalist:

A pair of people in California spotted specimens of a species of cicada that haven’t been seen for over 100 years! It was a Clear-Winged Red Manzanita Cicada, Okanagana arctostaphylae. Considered the “holy grail” of cicadas, it hadn’t been seen in the wild since 1915. A woman found one near a standoff blueberry bushes on her property (which is surrounded by manzanita),and the other one was found by a guy who read about her experience and went out to the same area looking for them. 

Clear-Winged Red Manzanita Cicada, Okanagana arctostaphylae. [I did NOT take this photo.]

The cicada is reddish brown and blends into the wood of the manzanita trees. The guy who found it wrote, “…Collecting this species and including it in our research was going to be big news for maybe fifteen people on the entire planet.”   Hahahahahahaha!

He continued: “…Finding that beautiful insect, camouflaged so perfectly against the smooth red bark, and knowing that I’m the first scientist in 100 years to see this creature—that’s a moment I will cherish for the rest of my life…”

CLICK HERE to read more about it. So cool!  You never know what you might see out there, so keep observing and document your observations.

Species List:

  1. Alder Tongue Gall Fungus, Taphrina alni
  2. Coast Live Oak, Quercus agrifolia
  3. Flame Skimmer Dragonfly, Libellula saturata
  4. Flat-Topped Honeydew Gall Wasp, Disholcaspis eldoradensis
  5. Jumping Oak Gall Wasp, Neuroterus saltatorius
  6. Oak Apple Gall Wasp, Andricus quercuscalifornicus
  7. Round Gall Wasp, Cynpis conspicuus [round gall near base of leaf on Valley Oaks, formerly Besbicus conspicuus]
  8. Spiny Turban Gall Wasp, asexual, fall generation, Antron douglasii
  9. Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
  10. Western Sycamore, Platanus racemosa
  11. White Alder, Alnus rhombifolia
  12. White-Breasted Nuthatch, Sitta carolinensis