Looking for Spider’s Webs, 12-14-20

I got up around 8:00 am to a very foggy morning, and decided to gout to the Cosumnes River Preserve in the hopes of finding fog-enhanced spider’s webs along their River Trail. I got there around 9:30 and ended up walking for 4 hours (!). I went from the nature center to the edge of the river and back again (about 3 miles).  There’s a truss bridge for the railroad at the end of the trail that crosses over the Cosumnes River where it meets the Mokelumne River.

Union Pacific Railroad truss bridge at the confluence of the Cosumnes and Mokelumne Rivers.

I didn’t see many webs at all – and it made me wonder if there really were fewer spiders out in the summer, as I suspected. I suppose the rain from yesterday could have wiped them out, but then… why didn’t effect ALL of them? No, I really believe we didn’t see as many spiders this year as we have in years past.

Orb-weaver web

And Nature pretty much played “keep away” from me all during my walk. Less than a handful of spider webs, unable to get photos of birds when I saw them including a Ruby-Crowned Kinglet with his red crown flashing and Spotted Towhees, and an otter. Yeah. I saw an otter. It was sitting on the side of the trail near a shadow-covered pool, and as soon as I lifted my camera to get a photo of it, it slipped into the dark water and disappeared.  In another area, a hawk flew right out at me from a tangle of branches alongside the trail, and ducked in behind a tree, so I could only make it out in silhouette. Grrrrr!

I did get quite a few lichen photos, though, and some photos of Fox Sparrows and a Great Blue Heron.

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

The stand-out moment for the day was being able to see this little Fox Squirrel adding leaves to her nest (“drey”). She didn’t get leaves from the ground, she took them from the tree so they weren’t wet and mushy. She’d place them in her mouth horizontally, and carry them up to the drey to carefully place them inside.

Squirrel drey

 This was all I could get on video. The rest of the tree had lots of crossing stickery branches that made it impossible for the camera to see through them. I liked this bit, though, especially when she looks up over the rim of the drey.

“…The squirrel begins by roughly weaving a platform of live green twigs. On top of this, soft, compressible materials like moss and leaves are added. Then an outer skeleton of twigs and vines is built around the insulated core, and finally, additional material fills in and strengthens the shell…” — NY Times

“…Dreys must protect against the environment, and require constant upkeep to remain water and predator-resistant. Squirrels often build more than one in a season, as reserve nests, lest the primary drey be disturbed by predators or overrun by fleas or lice. Some dreys have been observed in use for more than a decade by multiple generations of squirrels, although the average drey may be used only a year or two before being abandoned. If used repeatedly, squirrels must constantly maintain their drey, replenishing twigs and leaves as necessary. Remnants of an abandoned nest may be visible for years…” — Wikipedia

The easiest way to tell a drey from a bird’s nest is to look for the leaves. Squirrels use a lot of them; birds tend not to use them at all.

All of the other squirrels I saw today were either chasing each other or eating.

Eastern Fox Squirrel, Sciurus niger, eating an acorn

I was frustrated by the photo-taking but appreciated the exercise… even though I was totally exhausted by the time I made it make to the car. I had been breathing cold air all morning, during my exertion, so my voice was shot for a couple of hours until my vocal cords warmed up enough again.

I got home around 2:30 pm – in need of lunch and my pain meds.

Species List:

  1. American Bugleweed, Water Horehound, Lycopus americanus
  2. American Coot, Fulica americana
  3. Bewick’s Wren, Thryomanes bewickii
  4. Black Jelly Roll fungus, Exidia glandulosa
  5. Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans
  6. Brown Jelly Fungus, Jelly Leaf, Tremella foliacea
  7. Bumpy Rim-Lichen, Lecanora hybocarpa [hoary with black or brown apothecia]
  8. Buttonbush, Cephalanthus occidentalis
  9. Bushtit, American Bushtit, Psaltriparus minimus
  10. California Blackberry, Trailing Blackberry, Rubus ursinus
  11. California Camouflage Lichen, Melanelixia californica [dark green with brown apothecia, on trees]
  12. California Pore Lichen, Pertusaria californica
  13. California Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma californica
  14. California Towhee, Melozone crissalis
  15. California Wild Grape, Vitis californica
  16. California Wild Rose, Rosa californica
  17. Canada Goose, Branta canadensis
  18. Chinese Praying Mantis, Tenodera sinensis [ootheca]
  19. Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus [tracks]
  20. Common Pillbug, Woodlouse, Armadillidium vulgare
  21. Common Sunburst Lichen, Golden Shield Lichen, Xanthoria parietina [yellow-orange,on wood/trees]
  22. Cooper’s Hawk, Acipiter cooperii
  23. Crisped Pincushion Moss, Ulota crispa
  24. Crystal Brain Fungus, Granular Jelly Roll, Myxarium nucleatum
  25. Dark-Eyed Junco, Junco hyemalis
  26. Eastern Fox Squirrel, Sciurus niger
  27. Fishbone Beard Lichen, Usnea filipendula
  28. Flat-Topped Honeydew Gall Wasp, Disholcaspis eldoradensis
  29. Fox Sparrow, Passerella iliaca
  30. Fremont’s Cottonwood, Populus fremontii
  31. Gold Dust Lichen, Chrysothrix candelaris
  32. Goodding’s Black Willow, Salix gooddingii
  33. Great Blue Heron, Ardea herodias
  34. Great Egret, Ardea alba
  35. Green Shield Lichen, Flavoparmelia caperata
  36. Green-Winged Teal, Anas carolinensis
  37. Himalayan Blackberry, Rubus  bifrons [white flowers]
  38. Hoary Lichen, Hoary Rosette, Physcia aipolia
  39. Hooded Rosette Lichen, Physcia adscendens [hairs/eyelashes on the tips of the lobes]
  40. Marsh Wren, Cistothorus palustris
  41. Mistletoe, American Mistletoe, Big Leaf Mistletoe, Phoradendron leucarpum
  42. Netted Crust Fungus, Byssomerulius corium
  43. Non-Biting Midge, Cricotopus sp.
  44. Northern Pintail, Anas acuta
  45. Oak Apple Gall Wasp, Andricus quercuscalifornicus
  46. Orb-Weaver Spider, Neoscona sp. [web]
  47. Oyster Mushroom, Pleurotus ostreatus
  48. Pin-cushion Sunburst Lichen, Polycauliona polycarpa
  49. Poison Oak, Pacific Poison Oak, Western Poison Oak, Toxicodendron diversilobum
  50. Raccoon, Procyon lotor [tracks]
  51. River Otter, North American River Otter, Lontra canadensis
  52. Ruby-Crowned Kinglet, Regulus calendula
  53. Sandhill Crane, Grus canadensis
  54. Sheet Weaver Spiders, Family: Linyphiidae
  55. Shield Lichen, Parmelia sulcata [gray foliose, on trees]
  56. Shrubby Sunburst Lichen, Polycauliona candelaria
  57. Song Sparrow, Melospiza melodia
  58. Spotted Towhee, Pipilo maculatus
  59. Star Moss, Syntrichia ruralis
  60. Star Rosette Lichen, Physcia stellaris [on wood, hoary colored, black apothecia]
  61. Strap Lichen, Western Strap Lichen, Ramalina leptocarpha [without soredia]
  62. Tree-skirt Moss, Pseudanomodon attenuatus
  63. Tule, Common Tule, Schoenoplectus acutus
  64. Turkey Vulture, Cathartes aura
  65. Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
  66. Water Hyacinth, Eichhornia crassipes
  67. White Ash Tree, Fraxinus americana
  68. Yellow Orb Sac Fungus, Orbilia sp.