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