Peña Adobe and Grizzly, 04-30-21

I got up around 5:00 am to head out with my friend Roxanne to the Peña Adobe Regional Park near Vacaville. This was the first day of the #CityNatureChallenge2021.

The park is about 45 minutes from Sacramento, and is comprised of 306 acres.  We went there hoping to see Lagoon Valley Park, and the lake there…but were surprised once we arrived to see that there was no water in the lake at all. Totally dry, the bottom dirt cracked and covered with wild weeds. Dang it!

Dry lake bottom with Canada Geese, Branta canadensis

We found some Kermes on one of the oak trees; they’re little scale insects that build a round gall-like structures around them. In this particular species, the structures are reddish orange with dark mottling on them. The insects produce a kind of honeydew that attracts ants, and the ones we saw had ant protectors all around them.

We didn’t see much of anything else new. There were some Cliff Swallows under a bridge.

On the dry lake bottom, we saw a bird that looked like a cross between a Canada Goose and a domestic Swan-Goose. It had a pure white head and neck and a Canada Goose body (although somewhat lighter in color).

Hybrid goose

We walked around for maybe an hour, and then decided to head over to the Grizzly Island Wildlife Area.

Earlier in the year when things were still wet and the large flocks of migrating birds were going through, there would have been more to see all along the road, but a lot of the water is gone right now.

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

There were some areas where there was enough water to fish in, like the David D. Bohannan Memorial Pond, and fishermen were gathered in small groups along the shore and road.

We’d never been there before either, and were pretty much open to see whatever we could see there. Grizzly Island Wildlife Area is approximately 12,900 acres of this prime habitat and the complex is a patchwork of 10 distinct land parcels, many of which are not connected and are surrounded by private land. 

In the fall, there are supposed to be elk on the property going through their rut (October-ish), so a trip back then might be in order.

As we were driving through a hilly dry patch, we saw lots of California Ground Squirrels, including some babies, and one group that was standing up in the high grass like meerkats looking around.

I wondered aloud what they were looking at/or for, and was answered within a few second when a coyote came running down the side of the hill in their general direction. A female. When she saw us, the coyote stopped and turned around to go back up the hill again.  We then saw a second coyote on the opposite side of the hill and assumed it was either her mate or her young adult offspring.

As we continued down the windy road, we saw signs warning campers not to star fires because the peat on the bottom of the dried pool can burn and smolder for days. In earlier years, grass fires in the region ignited the peat which caused the fires to explode into wildfires and burn thousands of acres. Yikes!

When we got to the sign-in building, which is actually about 9 miles down the road from where we entered the area, I stayed in the car while Rox signed us in, and got some photos of Black Phoebes, House Sparrows and lots of Barn Swallows. One of the swallows had a nest inside the doorway to the sign-in shed!

One of the phoebes had claimed a pump handle as its watchtower, but a House Sparrow wanted it, too,so they had some brief scuffles over it. The sparrow won.

In the watery areas we saw handfuls of Avocets, Killdeer, sandpipers, herons, egrets and other birds. And also came across a few small flocks of American White Pelicans. They’re such large birds, it’s always astonishing when we see them.

American White Pelican, Pelecanus erythrorhynchos

As we were driving along one of the sloughs, I saw an otter sitting on top of the levy. We screeched to a halt and then backed up, but by then the otter had disappeared down into the slough. I thought we’d lost him, but then Roxanne saw him swimming in the water.

We were able to get quite a few photos of him as he swam back and forth for a while. At one point, the otter swam over to the weir at the end of the slough and “hid” behind the legs of the platform there, then came back out again. Such a cute — and healthy looking — thing. [Grizzly Island has one of California’s largest populations of river otters.]

Rather than doing the full circle route — because we were seeing less and less as we went along — we turned around and headed back the way we’d come. We stopped at a slough near the fishing area and walked along the berm for a short distance. On a rock in the water we found a fat Pacific Pond turtle sunning itself. A really nice specimen.

Pacific Pond Turtle, Western Pond Turtle, Actinemys marorata

It was pretty breezy by the late afternoon, which made it a little difficult for the smaller birds to sing from their favorite perching spots.

By the time we got back to where we’d entered the area, it was after 2:00 pm, so we decided to head back home. It was a long day, and we saw a few cool things, but I bet this place will be a goldmine of species in the fall and winter.  Definitely worth a trip back.

I counted this as hike #40 of my #52HikeChallenge.

Species List:

  1. Alkali Heliotrope, Heliotropium curassavicum
  2. American Avocet, Recurvirostra americana
  3. American White Pelican, Pelecanus erythrorhynchos
  4. Barn Swallow, Hirundo rustica
  5. Barnacles, Class: Hexanauplia
  6. Bay Laurel Tree, Laurus nobilis
  7. Bird’s-Foot Trefoil, Lotus corniculatus
  8. Black Mustard, Common Wild Mustard, Brassica nigra
  9. Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans
  10. Black-Necked Stilt, Himantopus mexicanus
  11. Broadleaved Pepperweed, Lepidium latifolium
  12. Bur Clover, Medicago polymorpha
  13. Cabbage White butterfly, Pieris rapae
  14. California Bulrush, Schoenoplectus californicus
  15. California Ground Squirrel, Otospermophilus beecheyi
  16. Canada Goose, Branta canadensis
  17. Cheeseweed Mallow, Malva parviflora
  18. Cinnamon Teal, Anas cyanoptera
  19. Cliff Swallow, Petrochelidon pyrrhonota
  20. Coast Live Oak, Quercus agrifolia
  21. Common Fig, Ficus carica
  22. Common Reed, Phragmites australis
  23. Coyote Brush, Baccharis pilularis
  24. Coyote, Canis latrans
  25. Cranefly, California Tipula, Tipula californica
  26. Dog, Canis lupus familiaris
  27. Double-Crested Cormorant, Phalacrocorax auratus
  28. Eastern Fox Squirrel, Sciurus niger
  29. Fat-Hen, Atriplex prostrata
  30. Fig Rust, Cerotelium fici
  31. Formica Ant, Lasius americanus
  32. Fremont’s Cottonwood, Populus fremontii
  33. French Broom, Genista monspessulana
  34. Gall Inducing Wooly Aphid, Stegophylla essigi [in live oaks, folds the leaf over itself; sometimes the leaf turns red/reddish]
  35. Goodding’s Black Willow, Salix gooddingii
  36. Great Blue Heron, Ardea herodias
  37. Great Egret, Ardea alba
  38. Greater Yellowlegs, Tringa melanoleuca
  39. House Finch, Haemorhous mexicanus
  40. House Sparrow, Passer domesticus
  41. Iceplant, Hardy Yellow Iceplant, Delosperma nubigenum
  42. Iceplant, Pink Trailing Iceplant, Delosperma cooperi
  43. Indian Hawthorn Tree, Rhaphiolepis indica [pink flowers]
  44. Interior Live Oak, Quercus wislizeni
  45. Jointed Charlock, Wild Radish, Raphanus raphanistrum
  46. Least Sandpiper, Calidris minutilla
  47. Live Oak Gall Wasp, Spring Generation, Callirhytis quercuspomiformis [looks like a soft funnel, green to brown]
  48. Long-Billed Dowitcher, Limnodromus scolopaceus
  49. Mallard Duck, Anas platyrhynchos
  50. Musk Stork’s-Bill, Erodium moschatum
  51. Mute Swan, Cygnus olor
  52. Northern Harrier, Marsh Hawk, Circus hudsonius
  53. Pacific Pond Turtle, Western Pond Turtle, Actinemys marorata
  54. Pied-Billed Grebe, Podilymbus podiceps
  55. Pineapple-Weed, Matricaria discoidea
  56. Poison Hemlock, Conium maculatum
  57. Purple Salsify, Tragopogon porrifolius
  58. Raven, Common Raven, Corvus corax
  59. Red-Winged Blackbird, Agelaius phoeniceus
  60. River Otter, North American River Otter, Lontra canadensis
  61. Ruddy Duck, Oxyura jamaicensis
  62. Seven-Spotted Lady Beetle, Coccinella septempunctata
  63. Soldier Beetle, Silis sp.
  64. Song Sparrow, Melospiza melodia
  65. Spurge, Eggleaf Spurge, Euphorbia oblongata
  66. Striped Kermes, Allokermes rattani
  67. Tree Swallow, Tachycineta bicolor
  68. Turkey Vulture, Cathartes aura
  69. Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
  70. Wall Barley, Hordeum murinum
  71. Western Gray Squirrel, Sciurus griseus
  72. Western Kingbird, Tyrant Flycatcher, Tyrannus verticalis
  73. Western Seapurslane, Sesuvium verrucosum [kind of stonecrop]
  74. Wild Teasel, Dipsacus fullonum
  75. Yellow Sweetclover, Melilotus officinalis
  76. ?? Eucalyptus Trees, Eucalyptus sp.
  77. ?? Hybrid goose, Canada x Swan Goose
  78. ?? Moth, Tribe: Xanthorhoini

Galls, Swallows, and Baby Killdeer, 04-28-21

I got up around 5:30 this morning, so I could get out by 6:00 and join my friend and fellow naturalist Roxanne Moger for walks at the American River Bend Park, West Davis Pond, and the Yolo Bypass. We were hoping to see owls, but didn’t find any.

At the River Bend Park, the Great Horned Owl owlets had all fledged and moved on. There wasn’t a sign of any of them or their mom. So we continued on to Davis. We looked for Burrowing Owls along Road 104, and didn’t see any of them either. So the beginning of the trip was something of a bummer.

Rye, Secale cereale

But on Road 104, next to fields of rye, we got to see Killdeer, Western Kingbirds, Mourning Doves, blackbirds, and an American Goldfinch among a few others. When we were  done looking around there, we went on to the West Davis Pond.

The “pond” is actually a stormwater retention basin in the city of Davis, with varying levels of water in it depending on rainfall. This year, rainfall was practically nonexistent, so the pond was practically empty… so, no waterfowl or ducks with babies. Sigh. But in the butterfly garden we got to see a lovely assortment of plants (all grown for pollinators), several different galls, some Rose Weevils, and all sorts of bees.

On the rose plants (which were practically overridden by Japanese Honeysuckle vines) we found three distinct galls, two of which I’d never seen before.

One looked like spiky balls on the leaves of the plants, another looked like leafy rosettes and is called a “Leafy Bract Gall”.  The third one was in its final stages when we found it. It just looked like a shriveled chunk charcoal-looking stuff on the stem of the plant. When it’s new, the gall looks like a collection of fine greenish-red hairs (and is called a “Mossy Rose Gall”). Eventually, the gall loses its hairs and goes “bald” but retains some thin spiny projections. This is usually a summer gall, which is why we’re not seeing new ones yet. Might be worth a trip back in June to check them out.

We also saw galls on Coyote Brush plants and their relatives, the Mule Fat plants. I’ve seen galls on Coyote Brush lots of times (stem and bud galls), but had never seen the blister-like ones on the Mule Fat before.

Although finding new-tome galls is always exciting, the most fun thing at the garden was watching the bees. There were the typical honeybees, of course, but we also saw several species of carpenter bees, including the thumb-sized Valley Carpenter Bee, and the smaller Foothill Carpenter Bee.  The carpenter bees were “nectar robbing”, drilling a hole in the side of the flower to get at the nectar rather than going through the front of the flower.

Clinically speaking, “…Nectar robbers are frequently described as cheaters in the plant-pollinator mutualism, because it is assumed that they obtain a reward (nectar) without providing a service (pollination). Nectar robbers are birds, insects, or other flower visitors that remove nectar from flowers through a hole pierced or bitten in the corolla…”

Foothill Carpenter Bee, Xylocopa tabaniformis orpifex. You can see it pulling nectar from the side of the flower.

We were seeing the honeybees, which aren’t usually nectar robbers, follow after the carpenter bees to feed on nectar through the holes the carpenter bees chewed into the flowers. Smart little guys. I’d never noticed that behavior before.

After taking photos and video snippets, we left the garden and went for a drive around the auto tour route at the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Refuge. Not a lot to see there, because of the distinct lack of water. We were waylaid for a little while, watching and photographing the Cliff Swallows living under the freeway bridge. 

According to Cornell: “…The Cliff Swallow is one of the most social landbirds of North America. These birds typically nest in large colonies, and a single site may contain up to 6,000 active nests… The Cliff Swallow’s highly colonial life style has led to the evolution of some complex behavioral traits. For instance, Cliff Swallows brood-parasitize neighboring nests both by laying parasitic eggs and by moving eggs from their own nest into others; they have a sophisticated vocal system for distinguishing their own young from the offspring of many other individuals within a colony; and they observe each other’s foraging success and learn from other colony residents the locations of food… In addition, the species is closely associated with an endemic vector-borne virus that has led to insights into how changes in hosts drive the evolution of different pathogen strains…”

And besides being cool, they’re also beautifully colored, and distinguished by a white “aviator goggles” strip over the eyes (in the adults). Their eye color has been described as “dark claret brown”.

They build mud nests, one little mud pellet at a time, and the nests can overlap, sometimes as many as eight nests deep depending on the size of the colony.

Cornell says: “…Both sexes build the nest, although the male may initiate construction before he attracts a mate. Birds gather mud in their bills along the bank of a stream, lake, or temporary puddle… A bird brings a mud pellet back to the colony and molds it into the nest with a shaking motion of the bill. The shaking causes a partial liquefaction of the mud, disperses moisture, and allows fresh mud to overrun small air spaces, resulting in a stronger structure when dry… A newly built nest begins as a narrow mud ledge affixed to the wall. Birds add to the ledge until it is a crescent shape…”

Then the wall and ceiling are built up until there is only a small hole for the entrance. Dried grass is brought in to line the nest. Slapdash repairs to the nest may continue throughout the breeding season.  The birds will reuse nests from one season to the next, but around here, old nests are knocked down by humans after the nestlings have fledged.

Sometimes House Finches and House Sparrows will parasitize the nests, laying their own eggs in them.  We saw House Sparrows under the bridge. They were nesting inside the drain holes, watching the swallows work hard on their own nests.

CLICK HERE to see the full album of photos.

We saw a few Snowy Egrets, Great Egrets, and Great Blue Herons. One of the Great Blues had something sticking out of its throat. It looked like it was coming from the inside out, like the bird had jabbed at something to eat among sticks and impaled itself.  The stick (or whatever it was) didn’t seem to interfere with the bird’s ability to move around and turn its head, but we couldn’t tell if it would interfere with the bird’s ability to feed itself.

After she got home, Roxanne contacted the people she knew at the Yolo Basin Foundation (the organization that oversees the bypass wildlife area) to let them know about the bird. She got the impression that they were indifferent to the bird’s distress and probably weren’t going to do anything. I understand the whole “circle of life” thing, but I believe that if you’re paid to manage a wildlife area and are in a position to help an injured animal, you should do what you can… otherwise, what are you “managing”?  The dirt? It frustrates me.

Downingia, Flatface Calicoflower, Downingia pulchella

Two surprises on the trip included seeing patches of purple-blue downingia growing in a few dense clumps in the otherwise dry pond areas, and finding baby Killdeer. Those little things are so danged cute! They’re little striped fuzz balls with disproportionately long legs that run all over the place.  I was trying to video one of them and could barely keep it in view. Hah!

The chicks are precocial (able to fend for itself almost immediately) and nidifugous (able to leave the nest) almost immediately after hatching.

We were out for about six hours before heading home. I counted this as hike #39 of my #52HikeChallenge.

Species List:

  1. ?? Stink Bug Eggs
  2. Aleppo Pine, Pinus halepensis
  3. Almond Tree, Prunus dulcisaloe
  4. American Goldfinch, Spinus tristis
  5. Aphid, Family: Aphididae
  6. Baby Sage, Salvia microphylla [red, or red/white]
  7. Bird’s-Foot Trefoil, Lotus corniculatus
  8. Bird’s-Eye Gilia, Gilia tricolor
  9. Black Mustard, Common Wild Mustard, Brassica nigra
  10. Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans
  11. Black Sage, Salvia mellifera
  12. Black Walnut, Eastern Black Walnut, Juglans nigra
  13. Blessed Milk Thistle, Silybum marianum
  14. Blue Blossom, Ceanothus thyrsiflorus thyrsiflorus
  15. Brown-Headed Cowbird, Molothrus ater
  16. Bur Clover, Medicago polymorpha
  17. California Flannelbush, Fremontodendron californicum
  18. California Poppy, Eschscholzia californica
  19. California Wild Grape, Vitis californica
  20. California Wild Rose, Rosa californica
  21. Callery Pear, Pyrus calleryana
  22. Carmel Ceanothus, Ceanothus griseus
  23. Cheeseweed Mallow, Malva parviflora
  24. Cleveland Sage, Salvia clevelandii [purple, circles]
  25. Cliff Swallow, Petrochelidon pyrrhonota
  26. Coast Redwood, Sequoia sempervirens
  27. Common Vetch, Vicia sativa [pink flowers]
  28. Coyote Brush Bud Gall midge, Rhopalomyia californica
  29. Coyote Brush, Baccharis pilularis
  30. Cranefly, European Crane Fly, Tipula paludosa
  31. Crow, American Crow, Corvus brachyrhynchos
  32. Curlycup Gumweed, Grindelia squarrosa
  33. Double-Crested Cormorant, Phalacrocorax auratus
  34. Downingia, Flatface Calicoflower, Downingia pulchella
  35. European Honeybee, Western Honeybee, Apis mellifera
  36. Foothill Carpenter Bee, Xylocopa tabaniformis orpifex [light eyes]
  37. Fortnight Lily, Dietes grandiflora
  38. Giant Needle Grass, Celtica gigantea
  39. Goldenrod Crab Spider, Misumena vatia
  40. Great Blue Heron, Ardea herodias
  41. Great Egret, Ardea alba
  42. Harding Grass, Phalaris aquatica [a type of canary grass]
  43. Hoary Rock-Rose, Cistus creticus
  44. Hollyhock, Alcea rosea
  45. House Finch, Haemorhous mexicanus
  46. House Sparrow, Passer domesticus
  47. Japanese Honeysuckle, Lonicera japonica [white flowers turn yellow]
  48. Khella, Bisnaga Weed, Toothpick Plant, Bishop’s Weed, Ammi visnaga [ a kind of carrot, invasive species]
  49. Killdeer, Charadrius vociferous
  50. Lavender, Topped Lavender, Lavandula stoechas
  51. Leaf Footed Bug, Leptoglossus zonatus
  52. Leafy Bract Gall Wasp, Diplolepis californica [rosette gall on rose bush]
  53. Lupine, Yellow Lupin, Lupinus luteus
  54. Mallard Duck, Anas platyrhynchos
  55. Marsh Wren, Cistothorus palustris
  56. Mason Bee, Osmia sp.
  57. Mock Strawberry, Potentilla indica
  58. Mossy Rose Gall Wasp, Diplolepis rosae
  59. Mourning Dove, Zenaida macroura
  60. Mule Fat Blister Mite, Aceria baccharices
  61. Mule Fat, Baccharis salicifolia
  62. Pacific Forktail Damselfly, Ischnura cervula [males have 4 spots on thorax]
  63. Paper Wasp, Black Paper Wasp, European Paper Wasp, Polistes dominula
  64. Parasitoid Wood Wasps, Family: Orussidae
  65. Pineapple-Weed, Matricaria discoidea
  66. Pinkladies, Oenothera speciosa
  67. Poison Hemlock, Conium maculatum
  68. Potato Mirid Bug, Closterotomus norwegicus [yellow-green bug]
  69. Rabbitfoot Grass, Polypogon monspeliensis
  70. Red-Winged Blackbird, Agelaius phoeniceus
  71. Ring-Necked Pheasant, Phasianus colchicus
  72. Rose Weevil, Merhynchites sp.
  73. Rye, Secale cereale
  74. Saint Catherine’s Lace, Eriogonum giganteum [a kind of buckwheat]
  75. Showy Milkweed, Asclepias speciosa
  76. Snowy Egret, Egretta thula
  77. Spiny Leaf Gall Wasp, Diplolepis polita [on rose leaves]
  78. Spurge, Mediterranean Spurge, Euphorbia characias
  79. Stinking Chamomile, Anthemis cotula
  80. Tidytips, Frémont’s Tidytips, Layia fremontii
  81. Toyon, Heteromeles arbutifolia
  82. Valley Carpenter Bee, Xylocopa varipuncta
  83. Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
  84. Western Kingbird, Tyrant Flycatcher, Tyrannus verticalis
  85. Western Meadowlark, Sturnella neglecta
  86. Western Redbud, Cercis occidentalis
  87. White-Faced Ibis, Plegadis chihi
  88. Willow Dock, Rumex salicifolius
  89. Yarrow, Golden Yarrow, Eriophyllum confertiflorum
  90. Yellow Sweetclover, Melilotus officinalis

The Buttermilk Trail, 04-26-21

I got up around 5:30 this morning, so I could head out with my friend and fellow naturalist Roxanne to go into the South Yuba River State Park in the Penn Valley area of Nevada County. We were interested in hiking the Buttermilk Bend Trail. It was partly cloudy, slightly breezy and cool all day. A lovely day for a nature walk.

It took about 2 hours to get to the park, including stops for gas, coffee and a potty break. We got there via highways 70, 49 and 20 to Pleasant Valley Road. For the most part, there was a lot to see on the drive, especially as we got closer to the park. Some of the roadside embankments were covered in white Globe Lilies, irises, yellow Pretty Face, blue Ithuriel’s Spears, and French broom. Pretty!

Prettyface, Triteleia ixioides

We went past the historic barn and the covered bridge(which is undergoing a complete overhaul), and pulled into the main parking lot near the head of the trail. We attacked the trail from near the kiosk and had to climb a steep incline to get to the trail itself. Next time, we’ll enter the trail from the end of the parking lot where there’s a shallower incline and several small bridges that lead up onto the trail. After that initial incline, the rest of the trail was VERY easy to walk, and provided beautiful views of flowers, the river, and acres of a wide variety of trees.

All the while we were walking, we were lulled by the sounds of the river.

Between the views, the research we were able to do, the company, and the weather, it was a great hike.

CLICK HERE for photo album #1.
CLICK HERE for photo album #2.

We could smell and see smoke in some spots on the other side of the river, and figured that they were controlled burns. Cal Fire was out there — and that turned out to be a good thing for me. I’ll tell you more about that later.

There were several different kinds of oak trees in the area: coast live, interior live, blue, valley and black oaks.  So, we got to see quite a few galls including some folded leaf galls, some old Gray Mid-Rib Galls, Round Leaf Galls, spring generation galls of the Live Oak Gall Wasp (that look like funnels with a cap on them), and lots of spring generation galls of the Two-Horned Gall Wasp (that look like shiny brown beaks).

We were surprised to find galls on some of the wild lupine, and some examples of “witches’ broom” on a toyon bush.  The broom is caused by a fungus that creates “…an abnormal brush-like cluster of dwarfed weak shoots arising at or near the same point…” Very cool-looking. I’d seen photos of them, but had never seen a live one before.

Also on toyon, was found some wrinkled leaf effects created by woolly aphids. There was one leaf that was so full of the little guys that the honeydew they produced literally poured out onto our hands making everything sticky.

We got to see quite a few butterflies including Pipevine Swallowtails, a Tiger Swallowtail, several beautiful Checkerspots, and some Cabbage Whites. We also saw some species of Blood Bees, mason bees, a camel cricket, and caterpillars. 

As I mentioned before, the flowers were just lovely. We saw one of my favorites: the Twining Snake Lily. They have a spray of dark pink florets at the end of a long stem that twines its way through the trees, bushes and undergrowth to find the sunlight. One of them was growing over our head and came down from the side of the hill and into the tree branches above us.

New-to-me flowers included the White Globe Lilies, Linear-Lobed Owl’s-Clover, Blue Head Gilia and Ookow. The Ookow were so intensely purple-blue they really stood out.

We saw a couple of squirrels and could hear a few different species of birds, including Lesser Goldfinches. They were eating the seeds and tufts from the plants along the trail.

On some of the rocks along the trail, we came across a handful of Western Fence Lizards (the “blue belly” lizard that do push-ups), including one that had splayed itself over the warm surface of the rock, stretching its legs out in all directions so it could flatten its belly on the stone.  On another rock, we found a VERY pregnant female. She had to lift herself up on her front legs to keep her belly from dragging on the ground. Poor baby.

We walked for a little over four hours, which is usually past my strength and pain threshold, but we were seeing so many thing, and the weather was so beautiful, I didn’t stop when I should have.  Just as we got close to the parking lot, I “hit the wall”. I was dizzy, suddenly completely exhausted, and couldn’t walk. Even the feel of the camera and my carry bag around my neck and shoulders was too much. I found a fence post and leaned over it for support while Roxanne went to get the car and bring it closer to me.

As fate would have it, that was the same time the firefighters were returning to their vehicles after working on the controlled burns. I wasn’t going to bother them, but as the seconds went by, I was feeling worse and worse, so I called out with a very weak voice. Thankfully, some of them heard me and two came right over to see if I was okay. Those two firefighters ushered me back to the car while another one ran to get me a bottle of water. 

The Cal Fire crew

I felt I was hydrated well enough, but I hadn’t stopped anywhere along the four hours to get something to eat, so I think my glucose levels had just crashed. The firefighters made sure I was safe in the car with Rox and hung around until I ate something. A few minutes later, after some rest and something to eat I was fine. [[THANK YOU to Rox, the Universe, and the guys from Cal Fire @CALFIRENEU]]

It was a long day, but one of my favorite outings in a long time. I was so happy we were told about this trail.

Species List:

  1. Acorn Woodpecker, Melanerpes formicivorus
  2. American Robin, Turdus migratorius
  3. Arabesque Orbweaver Spider, Neoscona arabesca
  4. Asian Lady Beetle, Harmonia axyridis
  5. Bark Rim Lichen, Lecanora chlarotera [looks like Whitewash Lichen but has apothecia]
  6. Barometer Earthstar, Hygroscopic Earthstar, Astraeus hygrometricus
  7. Bedstraw, Graceful Bedstraw Galium porrigens [very tiny leaves and flowers]
  8. Big Berry Manzanita, Arctostaphylos glauca
  9. Bigelow’s Spike Moss, Selaginella bigelovii
  10. Bird’s Foot Cliffbrake, Pellaea mucronata
  11. Black Grain-Spored Lichen, Sarcogyne hypophaea [black, grainy, on rocks]
  12. Black Locust Tree, Robinia pseudoacacia
  13. Blood Bee, Sphecodes sp.
  14. Blue Elderberry, Sambucus nigra cerulea
  15. Blue Oak, Quercus douglasii
  16. Bluehead Gilia, Gilia capitata
  17. Bowltube Iris, Iris macrosipho
  18. Bristly Fiddleneck, Amsinckia tessellate
  19. Broad-Nosed Weevil, Subfamily: Entiminae
  20. Brown-Eyed Shingle Lichen, Pannaria rubiginosa [on trees]
  21. Buckbrush, Ceanothus cuneatus
  22. Bulbous Meadow-Grass, Poa bulbosa
  23. Bumble Bee, Bombus sp.
  24. Cabbage White butterfly, Pieris rapae
  25. California Black Oak, Quercus kelloggii
  26. California Buckeye Chestnut Tree, Aesculus californica
  27. California Bumble Bee, Bombus californicus
  28. California Buttercup, Ranunculus californicus
  29. California Camouflage Lichen, Melanelixia californica [dark green with brown apothecia]
  30. California Ground Squirrel, Otospermophilus beecheyi
  31. California Manroot, Bigroot, Marah fabaceus
  32. California Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly, Battus philenor hirsuta
  33. California Pipevine, Dutchman’s Pipe, Aristolochia californica
  34. California Poppy, Eschscholzia californica
  35. California Quail, Callipepla californica [heard]
  36. California Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma californica
  37. California Wild Grape, Vitis californica
  38. Camel Cricket, Gammarotettix sp.
  39. Canyon Live-Forever, Dudleya cymosa
  40. Canyon Live Oak, Quercus chrysolepis
  41. Chaparral Honeysuckle, Lonicera interrupta
  42. Chinese Houses, Purple Chinese Houses, Collinsia heterophylla
  43. Cliff Swallow, Petrochelidon pyrrhonota
  44. Common Sunburst Lichen, Golden Shield Lichen, Xanthoria parietina [yellow-orange]
  45. Concentric Boulder Lichen, Porpidia crustulata [circles of black spots on rock]
  46. Conical Trashline Orbweaver, Cyclosa conica
  47. Convergent Lady Beetle, Hippodamia convergens
  48. Copper Underwing Moth, Amphipyra pyramidoides [caterpillars are green with thin white stripe]
  49. Coppered White-Cheeked Jumping Spider, Pelegrina aeneola
  50. Cowpie Crater Lichen, Diploschistes muscorum [pale grey with sunken black apotheca]
  51. Coyote Brush, Baccharis pilularis
  52. Cretanweed, Hedypnois rhagadioloides [small, yellow, dandelion-like]
  53. Crow, American Crow, Corvus brachyrhynchos
  54. Deerbrush Ceanothus, Ceanothus integerrimus [white]
  55. Dendroalsia Moss, Dendroalsia abietina [long, curling tendrils on trees]
  56. Dove’s-Foot Crane’s-Bill, Geranium molle
  57. Elegant Camouflage Lichen, Melanohalea elegantula [leafy like hoary lichen but much darker gray/black]
  58. Elegant Clarkia, Clarkia unguiculata [red line on leaves]
  59. False Turkey-Tail, Stereum ostrea
  60. Flame Firedot Lichen, Caloplaca ignea [orange on rock, elongated lobes and orange apothecia]
  61. Flower Buprestid Beetle, Acmaeodera hepburnii
  62. Fremont’s Cottonwood, Populus fremontii
  63. French Broom, Genista monspessulana
  64. Fringepod, Sand Fringepod, Common Lacepod, Thysanocarpus curvipes
  65. Gabb’s Checkerspot Butterfly, Chlosyne gabbii
  66. Gall Inducing Wooly Aphid, Stegophylla essigi [in live oaks, folds the leaf over itself; sometimes the leaf turns red/reddish]
  67. Goldback Fern, Pentagramma triangularis
  68. Grassy Tarweed, Madia gracilis
  69. Gray Mid-Rib Gall Wasp, Besbicus multipunctatus
  70. Gray Pine, Pinus sabiniana
  71. Green Shield Lichen, Flavoparmelia caperata
  72. Gumweed, Grindelia integrifolia
  73. Hairy Vetch, Winter Vetch, Vicia villosa ssp. villosa 
  74. Himalayan Blackberry, Rubus bifrons [white flowers]
  75. Hoary Rosette Lichen, Physcia aipolia [hoary, brown apothecia]
  76. Interior Live Oak, Quercus wislizeni
  77. Ithuriel’s Spear, Triteleia laxa
  78. Labyrinth Orbweaver Spider, Metepeira labyrinthea
  79. Lecidella Lichen, Lecidella elaeochroma [round black spots on white background]
  80. Lesser Goldfinch, Spinus psaltria
  81. Linear-Lobed Owl’s-Clover, Castilleja lineariloba
  82. Live Oak Gall Wasp, Spring Generation, Callirhytis quercuspomiformis [looks like a soft funnel, green to brown]
  83. Lupine Stem Gall Midge, Neolasioptera lupini
  84. Lupine, Bush Lupine, Silver Lupine, Lupinus albifrons var. albifrons
  85. Lupine, Chick Lupine, Lupinus microcarpus
  86. Lupine, Miniature Lupine, Lupinus bicolor
  87. Lupine, Spider Lupine, Lupinus benthamii
  88. Madrone, Pacific Madrone, Arbutus menziesii
  89. Musk Stork’s-Bill, Erodium moschatum
  90. Oak Titmouse, Baeolophus inornatus
  91. Oakmoss Lichen, Evernia prunastri [with soredia]
  92. Ookow, Dichelostemma congestum
  93. Osage-Orange, Maclura pomifera
  94. Periwinkle, Greater Periwinkle, Vinca major [on the roadside]
  95. Phacelia, Caterpillar Scorpionweed, Phacelia cicutaria [white]
  96. Pine Spittlebug, Aphrophora cribrata
  97. Pineapple-Weed, Matricaria discoidea
  98. Pipestem Clematis, Old Man’s Beards, Clematis lasiantha
  99. Poison Oak, Pacific Poison Oak, Western Poison Oak, Toxicodendron diversilobum
  100. Ponderosa Pine, Pinus ponderosa
  101. Popcorn Flower, Common Popcorn Flower, Plagiobothrys fulvus
  102. Potter’s Wasp, Stenodynerus sp.
  103. Prettyface, Triteleia ixioides
  104. Q-Tips, Micropus californicus
  105. Red Maids, Calandrinia menziesii
  106. Redberry, Hollyleaf Redberry, Rhamnus ilicifolia
  107. Resurrection Plant, Selaginella lepidophylla
  108. Rio Grande Wild Turkey, Meleagris gallopavo intermedia [on the roadside]
  109. Rock Tripe, Emery Rocktripe Lichen, Umbilicaria phaea
  110. Rose Clover, Trifolium hirtum
  111. Round Leaf Gall Wasp, Heteroecus flavens [formerly Andricus flavens, ball in the middle of the leaf, live oak]
  112. Sanicle, Pacific Sanicle, Sanicula crassicaulis [large, yellow flowers]
  113. Seven-Spotted Lady Beetle, Coccinella septempunctata [larva]
  114. Shining Pepperweed, Lepidium nitidum
  115. Silver Hairgrass, Ghost Grass, Aira caryophyllea
  116. Silverpuffs, Uropappus lindleyi [like blow wives but with pointed ends]
  117. Simbicid Sawfly, Abia americana [pale caterpillar with black and yellow markings]
  118. Slender Clarkia, Clarkia gracilis
  119. Small-Flowered Catchfly, Silene gallica
  120. Smooth Cliffbrake, Pellaea glabella
  121. Snake Apple Vine, Ibervillea lindheimeri
  122. Snakefly, Agulla adnixa
  123. Striped Volcano Gall Wasp, Andricus atrimentus, Spring generation [looks like a ball at the base of the leaf; dark inside]
  124. Sunflower, Common Woolly Sunflower, Eriophyllum lanatum
  125. Thread-Waisted Wasps, Family: Sphecidae [mud dauber]
  126. Toyon, Heteromeles arbutifolia
  127. True Babystars, Leptosiphon bicolor [green puffball with pink flowers]
  128. Tufted Poppy, Eschscholzia caespitosa
  129. Turkey Vulture, Cathartes aura
  130. Twining Snakelily, Dichelostemma volubile
  131. Two-Horned Gall Wasp, bisexual gall, spring generation,  Dryocosmus dubiosus [looks like a hard, shiny, brown “beak” on the edge of the leaf]
  132. Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
  133. Western Fence Lizard, Blue Belly, Sceloporus occidentalis
  134. Western Gray Squirrel, Sciurus griseus
  135. Western Redbud, Cercis occidentalis
  136. Western Spotted Cucumber Beetle, Diabrotica undecimpunctata undecimpunctata
  137. Western Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly, Papilio rutulus
  138. Western Tussock Moth, Orgyia vetusta
  139. Western Virgin’s Bower, Clematis ligusticifolia
  140. White Globe Lily, Calochortus albus
  141. Wild Oat Grass, Chrysopogon aciculatus
  142. Windmill Pink, Hairy Pink, Petrorhagia dubia
  143. Winter Moth, Operophtera brumata [little green caterpillar on oak]
  144. Witches’ Broom on Toyon, Phytoplasma sp.
  145. Wooly Oak Aphid, Stegophylla essigi
  146. Yarrow, Achillea millefolium

Earth Day 2021, 04-22-21

Happy Earth Day, #EarthDay2021. I got up at 6:00 am and headed out to the American River Bend Park for a walk.

I stopped first to check in on the owl family again. I immediately saw mom up in a scraggly-looking tree holding breakfast in her talons — a fresh caught rabbit. The rabbit was a large one, but looked like a cottontail (or maybe someone’s pet rabbit) rather than a jackrabbit. I didn’t see any of the owlets, so I started to walk around the tree, keeping an eye on mom in case she decided to come after me. 

The mother Great Horned Owl, Bubo virginianus, with a freshly killed rabbit.

I was surprised when I came across one of the owlets sitting on a fallen log on the ground. It was mostly hidden by the tall grass, but I still worried about it — there are coyotes in the park — yet, I was reassured that the owlet’s mom was close by and able to defend him if necessary.

Great Horned Owl, Bubo virginianus

After walking around the tree for a bit, and getting more photos, another photographer showed up. He pointed out a second owlet in a nearby tree, and said that a Ranger had told him there was a second owl nest in the park somewhere in the old boy scout camping area. He hadn’t gone searching for it yet, so he wasn’t sure exactly where it was. The second owlet at this nesting area looked like the youngest of the clutch. It’s plumicorns weren’t as developed as the owlet sitting on the ground.

Great Horned Owl, Bubo virginianus, owlet in the tree.

 Nearby, the male Rio Grande Wild Turkeys were strutting for the females, wings down, tails fanned. One of them decided my car was a rival, and it kept standing in front of the car, posturing and pecking at it. When I wanted to leave the spot where I had parked to go farther into the park, I had to inch the car forward a little at a time to get the turkey to finally move. Honking didn’t help anything; it just made the turkeys gobble.  Hah!

I drove to the intersection, just a few yards away, and stopped to watch a deer eating leaves off a black walnut tree. The deer looked like buck to me, but wasn’t sporting any bumps that would indicate it was going to get antlers this year.

I pulled into the area where the horse trailers can park, and parked by the water trough for a little while. Often, I get to see birds and other critters come to the trough to get a drink. Today, I got close ups of an Acorn Woodpecker, and got some photos of a fox squirrel flagging its tail nearby.  

I then drove into the picnic area and parked there.  When I was walking the trail from there to where the amphitheater is, I could hear Killdeer calling from the rocky shore of the river. Even though I’m VERY unsteady on my feet among the rocks, I went down as close as I could to the shoreline, to see if I could spot the birds and their nests in the rocks.

The adults birds were pretty easy to locate, but I was surprised to see a baby running across the rocks by itself. I tried to get some photos of it, but it was VERY small. Baby Killdeer duck down when they feel afraid or threatened. When I was trying to get photos of this baby, something startled it and it ducked down… camouflaged so well that it disappeared among the rocks. Wow! Amazing.

Killdeer, Charadrius vociferous, babies are so well camouflaged that they can vanish amid the rocks if they want to.

Across the river from where the Killdeer were, I could see Turkey Vultures flying overhead. Some of them swooped in and landed on the porch railing of a house over there. Hah! I wonder what the humans inside the house thought of that.

Turkey Vultures, Cathartes aura, resting on the railing of a deck on a home across the river.

Along the trail I was hoping to see some Elegant Clarkia in bloom. I found the plants, but no flowers yet.  There WERE poppies, miniature lupine and bush monkeyflower, however, along with lots and lots of Dogtail Grass.

There was pipevine growing everywhere along the trail, and the first blush of Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly caterpillars munching on them. The butterflies themselves were flitting all over the place.

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

Along the river, there were Canada Geese and Common Mergansers sunning themselves on the rocks, and a Great Blue Heron fishing along the shore. Farther down, there was a turtle stretched out among some logs floating in the water. The water in the river was running very clear and shallow. Looking down into it, I could see the rocks on the river’s bottom.

While I heading back toward the car, I noticed that the Red-Shouldered Hawks were occupying the nest right above the trail again. I didn’t see them here last year.

Along the way, when I stopped to get some photos of some Scarab Hunter Wasps, I found a hummingbird’s nest on the ground. I’ll add it to my shadowbox collection. Based on those hummingbirds typical to this area, it probably belonged to an Anna’s Hummingbird, Calypte anna.

The Scarab Hunter Wasp flies low along the ground using a super-sensitive sensor in her abdomen that can detect “kairomones” to find beetle grubs. Kairomones are described as “… pheromones and allomones that have evolutionarily backfired and…are normally used by one organism but exploited by an illegitimate receiver…”When the female wasp locates a grub, she digs it up, and lays her eggs on it, then builds a “cell” around the grub and egg and re-buries it. When the baby wasp larva hatches from its egg, it eats the grub, then pupates underground. It emerges from the ground the next spring as an adult.

I also came across a pair of mating craneflies (mosquito hawks).

I walked for almost five hours(!) today, and my feet were killing me (hurting more than my hip).  This was hike #37 of my #52HikeChallenge.

Species List:

  1. Acorn Woodpecker, Melanerpes formicivorus
  2. Anna’s Hummingbird, Calypte anna
  3. Asian Lady Beetle, Harmonia axyridis [larva]
  4. Bedstraw, Velcro Grass, Cleavers, Galium aparine
  5. Belted Kingfisher, Megaceryle alcyon [flyby, heard]
  6. Black Locust Tree, Robinia pseudoacacia
  7. Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans
  8. Black Walnut Pouch Gall Mite, Aceria brachytarsa
  9. Black Walnut, Eastern Black Walnut, Juglans nigra
  10. Blue Elderberry, Sambucus nigra cerulea
  11. Bristly Dogtail Grass, Cynosurus echinatus
  12. Bur Parsley, Bur Chervil, Anthriscus caucalis
  13. California Buckeye Chestnut Tree, Aesculus californica
  14. California Ground Squirrel, Otospermophilus beecheyi
  15. California Manroot, Bigroot, Marah fabaceus
  16. California Mugwort, Artemisia douglasiana
  17. California Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly, Battus philenor hirsuta
  18. California Pipevine, Dutchman’s Pipe, Aristolochia californica
  19. California Poppy, Eschscholzia californica
  20. California Quail, Callipepla californica [heard]
  21. California Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma californica
  22. Canada Goose, Branta canadensis
  23. Chinese Pistache, Pistacia chinensis
  24. Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus
  25. Common Fiddleneck, Amsinckia menziesii
  26. Common Hoptree, Ptelea trifoliata
  27. Common Merganser, Mergus merganser
  28. Common Vetch, Vicia sativa [pink flowers]
  29. Coyote Brush, Baccharis pilularis
  30. Coyote Brush Rust, Puccinia evadens
  31. Cranefly, California Tipula, Tipula californica
  32. Crow, American Crow, Corvus brachyrhynchos
  33. Damselfly, Vivid Dancer, Argia vivida [blue or tan, arrowheads]
  34. Deerweed, Acmispon glaber
  35. Desert Cottontail Rabbit, Sylvilagus audubonii
  36. Eastern Fox Squirrel, Sciurus niger
  37. Elegant Clarkia, Clarkia unguiculata [red line on leaves]
  38. Eurasian Collared Dove, Streptopelia decaocto
  39. European Starling, Sturnus vulgaris
  40. Fire-Colored Beetle, Pedilus sp.
  41. Fremont’s Cottonwood, Populus fremontii
  42. Fringepod, Sand Fringepod, Thysanocarpus curvipes
  43. Golden-Crowned Sparrow, Zonotrichia atricapilla
  44. Great Blue Heron, Ardea herodias
  45. Great Horned Owl, Bubo virginianus
  46. Grey House Spider, Badumna longinqua
  47. Hairy Vetch, Winter Vetch, Vicia villosa ssp. villosa 
  48. House Wren, Troglodytes aedon
  49. Interior Live Oak, Quercus wislizeni
  50. Italian Thistle, Carduus pycnocephalus
  51. Killdeer, Charadrius vociferous
  52. Live Oak Gall Wasp, Spring Generation, Callirhytis quercuspomiformis [looks like a soft funnel, green to brown]
  53. Long-Horned Caddisfly, Family: Leptoceridae
  54. Long-Jawed Orb Weaver Spider, Tetragnatha sp.
  55. Lupine, Miniature Lupine, Lupinus bicolor
  56. Mallard Duck, Anas platyrhynchos
  57. Mayfly, Small Squaregilled Mayfly, Family: Caenidae
  58. Meadow Spittlebug, Philaenus spumarius
  59. Miner’s Lettuce, Claytonia perfoliata
  60. Mourning Dove, Zenaida macroura
  61. Nuttall’s Woodpecker, Picoides nuttallii
  62. Oak Apple, California Gall Wasp, Andricus quercuscalifornicus
  63. Oak Titmouse, Baeolophus inornatus
  64. Orange Bush Monkeyflower, Diplacus aurantiacus
  65. Oregon Ash, Fraxinus latifolia
  66. Pacific Pea, Lathyrus vestitus
  67. Poison Oak, Pacific Poison Oak, Western Poison Oak, Toxicodendron diversilobum
  68. Popcorn Flower, Rusty Popcornflower, Plagiobothrys nothofulvus [tiny]
  69. Red-Eared Slider Turtle, Trachemys scripta elegans
  70. Red Head Spider, Castianeira longipalpa
  71. Red-Shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus
  72. Rio Grande Wild Turkey, Meleagris gallopavo intermedia
  73. Sachem Skipper, Atalopedes campestris
  74. Scarab Hunter Wasp, Yellow Scarab Hunter Wasp, Dielis pilipes
  75. Snakefly, Agulla adnixa
  76. Spotted Towhee, Pipilo maculatus
  77. Stem Sawfly, Family: Cephidae
  78. Stinging Nettle, Urtica dioica
  79. Sweat Bee, Tribe: Halictini
  80. Tapered Stem Gall Wasp, Protobalandricus spectabilis
  81. Tree Swallow, Tachycineta bicolor
  82. Turkey Vulture, Cathartes aura
  83. Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
  84. Western Bluebird, Sialia Mexicana
  85. Western Fence Lizard, Sceloporus occidentalis
  86. Western Redbud, Cercis occidentalis
  87. White Alder, Alnus rhombifolia
  88. White Clover, Trifolium repens
  89. White Horehound, Marrubium vulgare
  90. White-Breasted Nuthatch, Sitta carolinensis
  91. White-Crowned Sparrow, Zonotrichia leucophry
  92. Windmill Pink, Hairy Pink, Petrorhagia dubia
  93. Yellow Rabbitbrush, Chrysothamnus viscidiflorus

First Visit to the Mississippi Bar, 04-20-21

I got up at 6:00 am, and headed over to the Mississippi Bar area along the American River.  I stopped first at the American River Bend Park to check on the owlets.

According to the folks who have been watching the nest every day, the owlet we were able to see today, who was sitting high in its tree, was the youngest of the three siblings and so the last to fledge. It seemed to me that it was too soon for the other babies to be fully fledged, so I took what was said with a grain of salt.

Great Horned Owl, Bubo virginianus, owlet

I didn’t see mama owl anywhere; we guessed she was out trying to find the last baby something to eat. I found a dead lizard under the tree, which I’m presuming was a tidbit mama brought for her baby — that was either rejected, or fell out of the nest.

Northern Alligator Lizard, Elgaria coerulea

I also found the Black Phoebe’s new nest; it was on the opposite side of the ranger kiosk from last year’s nest. Hah! I saw one of the parents fly in, feed the kids and fly out again. Woosh!

Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans

Then I was off to the Mississippi Bar. The bar is a part of the Folsom Lake State Recreation Area, covers about 11,500 acres, and provides access to the American River, part of Lake Natoma, several trails, open plains and oak woodlands.

In the past, the area was dredged for gravel, gold and silver, so the landscape is pretty scarred and wild in most places. I pulled off to park in the Snowberry Creek Assembly Area adjacent to the Shadow Glen Family Stables.  I had never been there before, so I just basically flipped a coin in my brain as to which direction to go and what trail to start with.  I chose the Shady/Middleridge Trail, and will go back and do the Snowberry Creek Trail at another time.

The Shady/Middleridge Trail cuts across a broad flat plain with some small plateaus in it, and abuts a riparian strip along one side. I was investigating a lot as I went along, so I didn’t get along as far as I might have. I didn’t get as far as the water, for example; maybe next time.

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

I perused the riparian strip for the most part. Although I heard a lot of birds, I only caught glimpses of most of them: Acorn Woodpeckers, mockingbirds, wrens, Tree Swallows, Turkey Vultures, and a Phainopepla.

Phainopepla, Phainopepla nitens

Among the trees I saw cottonwoods, live oaks, valley oaks, what looked like blue oak/valley oak cross, some maple trees, black walnut trees, sycamores, hawthorns, coyote brush bushes, elderberry tree/bushes, and willows among others. 

The plants included pipevine, mistletoe, stinging nettle, Shepard’s Purse, poison oak, pineapple weed, vetch, poppies, lupines, clovers, thistles… nothing new, really. And sooooo many grasses. I suck at ID-ing grasses.

On the pipevine plants, I found some of Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly caterpillars in their early instars.  I also found a Tussock Moth caterpillar, a Sulphur Tubic Moth, and the brown inchworm caterpillar of a kind of Geometrid Moth. Those little guys try to make themselves look like twigs when disturbed, so this one straightened out stiff when I touched its leaf.

There were also quite a few spring galls on the trees including the big “oak apples”, stem galls, bud galls, some old Flat-Top Honeydew galls, and a few others.

The weather was lovely, breezy and around 51°. I walked for about three hours before heading home. This was hike #36 of my #52HikeChallenge.

Species List:

  1. Acorn Woodpecker, Melanerpes formicivorus
  2. Anna’s Hummingbird, Calypte anna
  3. Armenian Blackberry, Rubus armeniacus [pink flower]
  4. Bishop Pine, Pinus muricata [fascicles of TWO needles
  5. Black Elderberry, Sambucus canadensis
  6. Black Locust Tree, Robinia pseudoacacia
  7. Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans
  8. Black Walnut, Northern California Black Walnut, Juglans hindsii
  9. Blessed Milk Thistle, Silybum marianum
  10. Blue Elderberry, Sambucus nigra cerulea
  11. Blue Oak, Quercus douglasii
  12. Broadleaf Mistletoe, Phoradendron macrophyllum
  13. Bur Parsley, Bur Chervil, Anthriscus caucalis
  14. California Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly, Battus philenor hirsuta
  15. California Pipevine, Dutchman’s Pipe, Aristolochia californica
  16. California Poppy, Eschscholzia californica
  17. California Quail, Callipepla californica [heard]
  18. California Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma californica
  19. California Sycamore, Platanus racemose
  20. California Towhee, Melozone crissalis [heard]
  21. Common Cat’s-Ear, Hypochaeris radicata
  22. Common Fiddleneck, Amsinckia menziesii
  23. Common Hawthorn Tree, Crataegus monogyna
  24. Common Soft Brome, Bromus hordeaceus (grass)
  25. Coyote Brush Bud Gall Midge, Rhopalomyia californica
  26. Coyote Brush Stem Gall Moth, Gnorimoschema baccharisella
  27. Coyote Brush, Baccharis pilularis
  28. Coyote, Canis latrans
  29. Cranefly, European Crane Fly, Tipula paludosa
  30. European Starling, Sturnus vulgaris
  31. Flat-Topped Honeydew Gall Wasp, Disholcaspis eldoradensis
  32. Fremont’s Cottonwood, Populus fremontii
  33. Geometer Moth, Family: Geometridae [brown inchworm, twig-like]
  34. Giant Western Crane Fly, Holorusia hespera
  35. Great Horned Owl, Bubo virginianus
  36. Green Lacewing, Chrysoperla rufilabris
  37. Hairy Vetch, Winter Vetch, Vicia villosa ssp. villosa 
  38. House Finch, Haemorhous mexicanus
  39. House Wren, Troglodytes aedon
  40. Interior Live Oak, Quercus wislizeni
  41. Italian Thistle, Carduus pycnocephalus
  42. Jointed Charlock, Wild Radish, Raphanus raphanistrum
  43. Leaf Gall Wasp/ Unidentified per Russo, Tribe: Cynipidi [on Valley Oak]
  44. Liquid Ambar, American Sweetgum, Liquidambar styraciflua
  45. Live Oak Gall Wasp, Spring Generation, Callirhytis quercuspomiformis [looks like a soft funnel, green to brown]
  46. Lupine, Sky Lupine, Lupinus nanus
  47. Mistletoe, American Mistletoe, Phoradendron leucarpum
  48. Mullein, Wand Mullein, Verbascum virgatum
  49. Musk Stork’s-Bill, Erodium moschatum
  50. Narrowleaf Willow, Salix exigua
  51. Northern Alligator Lizard, Elgaria coerulea
  52. Northern Mockingbird, Mimus polyglottos
  53. Oak Apple, California Gall Wasp, Andricus quercuscalifornicus
  54. Oak Leaf Blister (pathogen), Taphrina caerulescens
  55. Phainopepla, Phainopepla nitens
  56. Pineapple-Weed, Matricaria discoidea
  57. Poison Oak, Pacific Poison Oak, Western Poison Oak, Toxicodendron diversilobum
  58. Rio Grande Wild Turkey, Meleagris gallopavo intermedia
  59. Rose Clover, Trifolium hirtum
  60. Round Leaf Gall Wasp, Andricus flavens
  61. Shepherd’s-Purse, Capsella bursa-pastoris
  62. Stinging Nettle, Urtica dioica
  63. Sulphur Tubic Moth, Esperia sulphurella [tiny black and yellow]
  64. Tapered Stem Gall Wasp, Protobalandricus spectabilis [live oak]
  65. Trailside Grasshopper, Lactista gibbosus [gray, blends with gravel]
  66. Tree Swallow, Tachycineta bicolor
  67. Turkey Vulture, Cathartes aura
  68. Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
  69. Wall Barley, Hordeum murinum
  70. Western Sycamore, Platanus racemosa
  71. Western Tussock Moth, Orgyia vetusta [caterpillar]
  72. White Mulberry, Morus alba
  73. Yerba Santa, California Yerba Santa, Eriodictyon californicum
  74. ?? Blue Oak x Valley Oak hybrid

A Lovely Garden Jaunt, 04-15-21

I got up around 6:00 this morning and headed over to William Land Park and the WPA Rock Garden for a walk. My hip was hurting a LOT, which made walking painful, but I felt like I needed to move around anyway.

I figured that with its regular watering, the garden should be pretty and full of blooms, and it didn’t disappoint.

Spring flowers in the WPA Rock Garden in William Land Park

There was color everywhere: yellow, red, purple, blue, orange… and I saw a few plants I hadn’t seen there before including Meadow Squill and a gorgeous white Wisteria vine that was being trained to grow along a pipe-frame at the entrance to the garden.  Lots of different kinds of irises and different colors of Columbine. The Smoke Trees were starting to “smoke”, and the double-ruffled cherry trees were in bloom. Sooooo pretty.

I was expecting to see more insects, but it was a little chilly yet (around 51°) when I was out there. I did see some bumblebees, though, and ants, and aphids — and a handsome Armyworm Moth. I checked out all of the fennel plants and pipevine vines for any evidence of butterfly eggs or caterpillars, but nope. It may be a little too early for them.

In the garden I saw Bushtits, Mourning Doves, Golden-Crowned Sparrows and hummingbirds. At the ponds, though, I saw more.

There were a couple of mama Wood Ducks in the water. One had four babies, and the other one had — wait for it — FOURTEEN babies! 

Wood Ducks are known for “brood parasitism”, though, which means they’ll lay their eggs in another bird’s nest. So, one mama may actually be brooding the eggs of several females in her nest. They’re also known to lay their eggs in several different nests (if there are acceptable ones nearby) before choosing which nest they’re going to sit on.  So, a brood of fourteen babies isn’t necessarily that uncommon.  But it was still pretty incredible to see.

Other birds included Mallards and Canada Geese, domestic ducks, Western Bluebirds, a White-Breasted Nuthatch, a Great Egret flying overhead, a Belted Kingfisher, Black Phoebes, and House Finches among others.

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

One of the pairs of geese had a brood of seven goslings that were all still in their yellow fuzz. I saw three of the babies have a wrestling match with one another before they all settled down onto the grass for a snooze in the sun.

In the large pond there were several turtles. At one point, I watched a large female Red-Eared Slider Turtle climb up out of the water to sun herself on the rocky lip of the pond. After she came up, I saw four others do the same, further down the walk. Then, next to her, a Pacific Pond Turtle swam up, looked around and climbed up onto the lip, too — at one point looking like it might climb up onto the Slider Turtle if it had had the chance.

The Slider Turtles are considered an invasive species in California, brought into the state by the pet trade. People would buy the turtles, get bored with them or get tired of cleaning up after them (water turtles poop in the same water they swim in), and then dump them out into the wild. The Sliders are now so numerous that they’re taking over the basking sites and food of the native Pacific Pond Turtles. So, I was happy to see at least one Pond Turtle in the pond.

It was a lovely morning, and I walked for about 3 hours before heading home.

This was trip #35 in my #52HikeChallenge.

Species List:

  1. African Lily, Lily of the Nile, Agapanthus africanus [white or blue]
  2. Aloe, Soap Aloe, Aloe maculata
  3. American Robin, Turdus migratorius
  4. Aphid, Rose Aphid, Macrosiphum rosae
  5. Armyworm Moth, Mythimna unipuncta
  6. Belted Kingfisher, Megaceryle alcyon
  7. Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans
  8. Blue Statice, Limonium sinuatum     
  9. Blue Statice, Perez’s Sea Lavender, Limonium perezii
  10. Borage, Borago officinalis
  11. Branched Asphodel, Asphodelus ramosus [spire of white flowers; bulbous seeds]
  12. Brass Buttons, Cotula coronopifolia
  13. Broadleaved Pepperweed, Lepidium latifolium
  14. Bronze Fennel, Florence Fennel, Foeniculum vulgare dulce
  15. Buff Orpington Duck, Anas platyrhynchos domesticus var Orpington
  16. Bushtit, American Bushtit, Psaltriparus minimus
  17. California Pipevine, Dutchman’s Pipe, Aristolochia californica
  18. California Valerian, Valeriana californica [white]
  19. Calla Lily, Zantedeschia aethiopica
  20. Canada Goose, Branta canadensis
  21. Cape Honey Flower, Melianthus major [toothed leaves; dark maroon leathery flowers]
  22. Cardoon, Artichoke Thistle, Cynara cardunculus
  23. Chinese Quince, Chaenomeles speciosa [red flowers]
  24. Chinese Wisteria, Wisteria sinensis
  25. Common Carp, Cyprinus carpio
  26. Common Columbine, Aquilegia vulgaris
  27. Common Crow, American Crow, Corvus brachyrhynchos
  28. Common Field Daisy, Common Daisy, Bellis perennis
  29. Common Poppy, Red Poppy of Flanders, Papaver rhoeas
  30. Crested Duck, Anas platyrhynchos domesticus var. Crested
  31. Crimson Bottlebrush, Melaleuca citrina
  32. Domestic Swan Goose, Chinese Goose, Anser cygnoides domesticus [white or gray, knob on forehead]
  33. Double Rosebud Cherry, Prunus × subhirtella
  34. Douglas Squirrel, Tamiasciurus douglasii [small brown squirrel, white belly]
  35. Eastern Fox Squirrel, Sciurus niger
  36. Fern, Japanese Netvein Hollyfern, Cyrtomium falcatum
  37. Fernald’s Iris, Iris fernaldii [white and yellow flag iris]
  38. Garden Sage, Salvia officinalis
  39. Giant Fennel, Ferula communis
  40. Golden Columbine, Aquilegia chrysantha
  41. Golden Crowned Sparrow, Zonotrichia atricapilla
  42. Goldenrain Tree, Koelreuteria paniculate
  43. Great Egret, Ardea alba
  44. Honeywort, Blue Shrimp Plant, Cerinthe major ssp. purpurascens [purple]
  45. Honeywort, Greater Honeywort, Cerinthe major [rusty red]
  46. House Finch, Haemorhous mexicanus
  47. Iris, Bearded Iris, Iris × germanica
  48. Iris, Netted Iris, Iris reticulata
  49. Iris, Yellow Iris, Iris pseudacorus
  50. Jack-in-the-Pulpit, Dragon Arum, Dracunculus vulgaris
  51. Japanese Aralia, Fatsia japonica [what I call a coffee bean bush]
  52. Jerusalem Sage, Phlomis fruticose
  53. Juniper Leaved Grevillea, Grevillea juniperina sulphurea [spidery, orange]
  54. Lavender, Topped Lavender, Lavandula stoechas
  55. London Plane Tree, Platanus × acerifolia [multiple seed balls per strand]
  56. Love-in-a-Mist, Nigella damascena
  57. Mantle Storksbill, Pelargonium alchemilloides
  58. Meadow Squill, Scilla litardierei
  59. Mealy Blue Sage, Salvia farinacea [purple socks]
  60. Mexican Sage, Salvia mexicana [deep purple]
  61. Moss Phlox, Phlox subulate
  62. Mourning Dove, Zenaida macroura
  63. Muscovy Duck, Cairina moschata
  64. Oregon Grape, Berberis aquifolium
  65. Pacific Bleeding Heart, Dicentra formosa
  66. Pacific Pond Turtle, Western Pond Turtle, Actinemys marorata
  67. Pekin Duck, Anas platyrhynchos domesticus var. Pekin
  68. Portuguese Squill, Scilla peruviana
  69. Prickly Pear Cactus, Indian Fig Opuntia, Opuntia ficus-indica
  70. Red Valerian, Centranthus ruber
  71. Red-Eared Slider Turtle, Trachemys scripta elegans
  72. Richardson’s Geranium, Geranium richardsonii
  73. Rose, Rosa sp.
  74. Sacred Lotus, Nelumbo nucifera
  75. Sage, Salvia sp.
  76. Scarlet Grevillea, Grevillea banksia [spidery, red]
  77. Sea Mallow, Malva subovata [kind of looks like hibiscus]
  78. Smokebush, Smoke Tree, Cotinus coggygria
  79. Spanish Bluebell, Hyacinthoides hispanica
  80. Spurge, Eggleaf Spurge, Euphorbia oblongata
  81. Spurge, Mediterranean Spurge, Euphorbia characias
  82. Sticky Geranium, Geranium viscosissimum
  83. Sweet Alyssum, Lobularia maritima
  84. Sweet Mock Orange, Philadelphus coronarius
  85. Tobacco, Flowering Tobacco, Nicotiana alata
  86. Tower-of-Jewels, Giant Viper’s-Bugloss, Echium pininana
  87. Tree Aeonium, Aeonium arboretum
  88. Tule, Common Tule, Schoenoplectus acutus
  89. Turkey Vulture, Cathartes aura
  90. Western Bluebird, Sialia Mexicana
  91. White Fringetree, Chionanthus virginicus
  92. White-Breasted Nuthatch, Sitta carolinensis
  93. Wood Duck, Aix sponsa
  94. Yellow-faced Bumblebee, Bombus vosnesenskii