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