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