First Trip to Anderson Marsh, 01-23-21

Birthday Week Day SEVEN: Milking it for everything it’s got! Hah! I got up at 6:00 this morning, and was out the door by 6:30 with my friend and fellow naturalist Roxanne to head out to the Anderson Marsh State Historical Park in Lake County. We’d never been there before, so we didn’t really know what to expect. We got our morning coffee and breakfast sammich and then hit the road. Luckily, the drive there is pretty much a straight shot down Highway 20 with a little turn onto Highway 53, and the place is well-marked, so it was very easy to get to. From Sacramento, the one-way drive was about 1¾ hours. There was fog in some of the valleys between the hills, but often we were driving above it… and most of it burned off by the end of the trip.

At the park, we parked in lot near the old homestead an dilapidated barns (and there’s something about old barn that is hauntingly beautiful). Because of COVID, we couldn’t get into the house/museum, but we could still walk the grounds (and there were porta-potties available if you needed one.)  We spotted Canada Geese and some Dark Eyed Juncos on the lawns.

Canada Geese, Branta canadensis

According to the brochure: “…The complex today includes the ranch house and five small outbuildings. The outbuildings include two non-usable privies from the late 1800s; a double garage (ca. 1930); a smokehouse of 20th-century construction; and a shed and corral built in the 1920s and moved to their current location when Highway 53 was built…”

The first thing we were attracted to were the lichen on the black walnut trees, on some cast-off sticks and all along an old stretch of fence. Wow! There were so many, some piled upon top of others, and in so many different colors (didn’t know there THAT many shades of green!). I don’t know if I’ll be able to identify them all. 

While we were taking photos of the lichen, I said, “Why are my hands so cold?” and then I looked at the temperature gauge on my phone. It was 30° there!  Yikes. Glad I dressed in layers. As soon as the sun poked its head up over the fog, though, it warmed up a bit and was about 58° by the time we left the park.

Another thing that struck us was how “high” the graft marks were on the English Walnut trees (where they had been grafted onto Black Walnut root stock).  There were a couple of pure Black Walnut trees nearest to the parking area, but the rest of trees were grafted. On some of them, the graft mark was at the 6 or 7 foot level.  We also noticed that where the English Walnut trees had lost all of the walnuts, the Black Walnut trees were still holding onto theirs. Don’t know what any of that means; we just thought it was interesting to note.

English Walnut, Juglans regia (top), grafted onto rootstock of Black Walnut, Eastern Black Walnut, Juglans nigra (bottom)

I tried researching grafted trees to see if the graft mark will grow UP as the base grows, but nope. The lower rootstock part of the tree (in this case the Black Walnut) doesn’t grow up, but it can layers/rings and grow OUT as the tree ages. The graft mark stays where it is. So… These English Walnut trees were apparently grafted onto the Black Walnut base at a very tall spot. I think that’s odd…  “…A tree that has been top grafted will have a height noted next to the form that refers to the length of the clear stem (i.e. before the branches start). The clear stem will not grow any taller, only the head of branches will develop…” Hmmm…

Anyway, after a while we decided we had to tear ourselves away from the lichen-covered fence, or we’d never get our walk started. We had to stop for a moment, though, to admire the totally gnarly base of a HUGE oak tree behind one of the out buildings.

Gnarly Valley Oak tree

Then we headed out along the Cache Creek Nature Trail and a little bit of the Anderson Flats Trail.  This time of year, everything is mostly burnished shades of brown, gold and a little red because nothing (except for the mistletoe) is in bloom or fruiting right now. I can see the potential for a lovely spring, though.

The Cache Creek trail, which is wide and flat (and can accommodate wheelchairs) took us through some fields of teasel and other thistles which, again, should be beautiful in the late spring/early summer when all of that comes into bloom; there should also be quite a few pollinators out there by then, too. Totally worth another trip out there. Then we got to the creek itself which was totally dry except for a mud puddle in the deepest part of it. Need more rain.

Along the way, we found a dead Jerusalem Cricket that had been washed out of its burrow by the rain. Some folks find these creature totally freaky, but I think they’re interesting.  Rox took a photo of me holding it while I took photos of it. When I posted the photo on Facebook, I got comments like:

  • Barbara B: Okay, THIS is where I draw the line. These guys creep me out so bad!!!!
  • Monica N: Eeewwww. You touched it
  • Bryan M: Yuck. Those things really freak me out!
  • Gary S: No! Put it down! I am not squeamish but they freak me out
  • Charlotte G: First time I ever saw one was in Davis. Migo had stepped on one and it was still sort of alive bc it has gone inside the grooves of his frog. I think I screamed and dropped his hoof. Poor boy! Had no idea why I was tweaking- I thought he had stepped on a small alien.
  • Tony K: I’ll stick with Monica! EWWWWW you touched it!            
Me and the Jerusalem Cricket. Photo by Roxanne Moger.

I’d actually written an article about the critters back in 2018. 

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

Then we stepped out onto a long bridge/boardwalk structure that crossed the creek bed in several places. Below was a tangle of willow trees, teasel and blackberry vines, and I could see some of the teasel moving.  “There’s something in there,” I said to Roxanne who was a little bit ahead of me on the bridge. “It’s a deer!” she said. No way! I looked closer and she was right; there was a deer standing cheek-high in blackberry vines. A doe. Then we noticed another one just behind her which I think was a yearling based on its “young”-looking face. 

We couldn’t see any part of their bodies, and the way they were covered meant we also couldn’t get a good look at their faces and profiles.  But based on their incredibly large ears I’m guessing they might have been pure Mule Deer rather than the Columbian Black-Tail subspecies. Mule Deer have longer faces than the Black-Tails, and they have a white rump patch that the Black-Tails don’t have.  The Black-Tails are also darker and smaller than the Mule Deer.  But I couldn’t see enough of these deer to really tell what they were.

There were songbirds in the trees but we had trouble getting anything to sit still long enough to photograph it. I did get some photos of a Phainopepla and some of a White-Tailed Kite hunting over the field. 

I had a little better luck when the bridge/boardwalk took us along the tail end of Clear Lake for a short distance. In and around the water there we saw Pied-Billed Grebes, Western Grebes, Clark’s Grebes, some Ruddy Ducks, cormorants, and male Goldeneyes.  Later we also caught sight of a muskrat swimming in the water. I got crappy video of it, but Rox got some better still shots. That was a nice surprise.

On the shores we caught glimpses of a Great Egret, Great Blue Heron and some Collared Doves playing tag on a dead snag. We also saw a Northern Flicker use the log to step down close to water’s edge so it could get a drink.

On the other side of the bridge/boardwalk was more flat, wide trail with mounds of blackberry vines and wild roses piled up higher than our heads. We walked through that until we got onto the Anderson Flats Trail. That led through flat (duh) grasslands that held little promise of seeing anything, so we turned around and went back the way we came. All in all, we walked 2.02 miles. So, that counts as walk #8 in my #52HikeChallenge. Woot!

Although the landscape was a bit disappointing today, as I said, I can see the potential for possible wildflowers and more birds in the spring when there might be more water in the creek, and butterflies and gall searches in the summer. Certainly worth a trip or two back this year. I’d like to get out the marshland when its wet, for example.

I was hurting by the time we got back to the car, so I took some meds and chillaxed while Roxanne drove us back home. [I’m so grateful to her for being my chauffer on these long trips.] We took the twisty-turny Highway 16 route back to Woodland, and got to see some of the wildfire impacted areas.  Some of them are still looking pretty bleak.

We got home around 4:00 pm, so that was long day for us.  Nice to get some supper and settle into bed for the rest of the day.

Species List:

  1. Acorn Woodpecker, Melanerpes formicivorus
  2. American Mistletoe, Phoradendron leucarpum
  3. Anna’s Hummingbird, Calypte anna
  4. Armenian Blackberry, Rubus armeniacus [pink flower]
  5. Ash Flower Gall Mite, Aceria fraxiniflora
  6. Beaded Tube Lichen, Hypogymnia apinnata [hoary green with black back, black spots on thallus]
  7. Black Walnut, Eastern Black Walnut, Juglans nigra
  8. Boreal Button Lichen, Buellia disciformis [pale gray to bluish with black apothecia on wood]
  9. Bristly Beard Lichen, Usnea hirta [thin bristly fronds]
  10. Bumpy Rim-Lichen, Lecanora hybocarpa [tan to brown apothecia]
  11. Bushtit, American Bushtit, Psaltriparus minimus
  12. California Camouflage Lichen, Melanelixia californica [dark green with brown apothecia, on trees]
  13. California Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma californica
  14. California Towhee, Melozone crissalis
  15. Canada Goose, Branta canadensis
  16. Cat, Felis catus
  17. Clark’s Grebe, Aechmophorus clarkii [black above the eye]
  18. Common Goldeneye, Bucephala clangula
  19. Common Sunburst Lichen, Golden Shield Lichen, Xanthoria parietina [yellow-orange,on wood/trees]
  20. Coyote Brush, Baccharis pilularis
  21. Dark Jerusalem Cricket, Ammopelmatus fuscus
  22. Dark-Eyed Junco, Junco hyemalis
  23. Double-Crested Cormorant, Phalacrocorax auratus
  24. English Walnut, Juglans regia
  25. Eurasian Collared Dove, Streptopelia decaocto
  26. Firedot Lichen, Athallia holocarpa [bright orange, flat dots]
  27. Flattened Thornbush Lichen, Kaernefeltia merrillii [very dark green, thorny-looking thallus]
  28. Fluffy Dust Lichen, Pacific Fluffy Dust Lichen, Lepraria pacifica [blue-green dust lichen]
  29. Frosted Lichen,  Physconia sp. [dark green with pruinose on edges]
  30. Frosted Rim-Lichen, Lecanora caesiorubella
  31. Giraffe Spots, Peniophora albobadia [flat, brown w/light rim]
  32. Gold Dust Lichen, Chrysothrix candelaris
  33. Green Shield Lichen, Flavoparmelia caperata
  34. Hoary Rosette Lichen, Physcia aipolia [hoary, brown apothecia]
  35. Hooded Rosette Lichen, Physcia adscendens [hairs/eyelashes on the tips of the lobes]
  36. Hooded Sunburst Lichen, Xanthomendoza fallax [leafy, yellow-orange, on trees]
  37. Lecidella Lichen, Lecidella elaeochroma [crustose lichen, whitish with dark spots]
  38. Lesser Goldfinch, Spinus psaltria
  39. Marsh Wren, Cistothorus palustris
  40. Mealy Rim-Lichen, Lecanora strobilina [greenish apothecia]
  41. Mule Deer, Odocoileus hemionus
  42. Muskrat, Ondatra zibethicus
  43. Northern Flicker, Colaptes auratus
  44. Northern Mockingbird, Mimus polyglottos
  45. Nuttall’s Woodpecker, Picoides nuttallii
  46. Oak Apple, California Gall Wasp, Andricus quercuscalifornicus
  47. Oak Titmouse, Baeolophus inornatus
  48. Oakmoss Lichen, Evernia prunastri [like strap but with soredia]
  49. Phainopepla, Phainopepla nitens
  50. Pied-Billed Grebe, Podilymbus podiceps
  51. Red-Shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus
  52. Ruby-Crowned Kinglet, Regulus calendula
  53. Ruddy Duck, Oxyura jamaicensis
  54. Shrubby Sunburst Lichen, Polycauliona candelaria
  55. Speckled Greenshield Lichen, Flavopunctelia flaventior
  56. Swamp Rose, Rosa palustris
  57. Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
  58. Western Grebe, Aechmophorus occidentalis [black below the eye]
  59. White Tailed Kite, Elanus leucurus
  60. White-Crowned Sparrow, Zonotrichia leucophrys
  61. Wild Teasel, Dipsacus fullonum
  62. Wolf Lichen, Letharia vulpine [bright yellow-green]
  63. ?? Oak tree, Quercus sp.