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!
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.
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.
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.
- Acorn Woodpecker, Melanerpes formicivorus
- American Robin, Turdus migratorius
- Arabesque Orbweaver Spider, Neoscona arabesca
- Asian Lady Beetle, Harmonia axyridis
- Bark Rim Lichen, Lecanora chlarotera [looks like Whitewash Lichen but has apothecia]
- Barometer Earthstar, Hygroscopic Earthstar, Astraeus hygrometricus
- Bedstraw, Graceful Bedstraw Galium porrigens [very tiny leaves and flowers]
- Big Berry Manzanita, Arctostaphylos glauca
- Bigelow’s Spike Moss, Selaginella bigelovii
- Bird’s Foot Cliffbrake, Pellaea mucronata
- Black Grain-Spored Lichen, Sarcogyne hypophaea [black, grainy, on rocks]
- Black Locust Tree, Robinia pseudoacacia
- Blood Bee, Sphecodes sp.
- Blue Elderberry, Sambucus nigra cerulea
- Blue Oak, Quercus douglasii
- Bluehead Gilia, Gilia capitata
- Bowltube Iris, Iris macrosipho
- Bristly Fiddleneck, Amsinckia tessellate
- Broad-Nosed Weevil, Subfamily: Entiminae
- Brown-Eyed Shingle Lichen, Pannaria rubiginosa [on trees]
- Buckbrush, Ceanothus cuneatus
- Bulbous Meadow-Grass, Poa bulbosa
- Bumble Bee, Bombus sp.
- Cabbage White butterfly, Pieris rapae
- California Black Oak, Quercus kelloggii
- California Buckeye Chestnut Tree, Aesculus californica
- California Bumble Bee, Bombus californicus
- California Buttercup, Ranunculus californicus
- California Camouflage Lichen, Melanelixia californica [dark green with brown apothecia]
- California Ground Squirrel, Otospermophilus beecheyi
- California Manroot, Bigroot, Marah fabaceus
- 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
- California Wild Grape, Vitis californica
- Camel Cricket, Gammarotettix sp.
- Canyon Live-Forever, Dudleya cymosa
- Canyon Live Oak, Quercus chrysolepis
- Chaparral Honeysuckle, Lonicera interrupta
- Chinese Houses, Purple Chinese Houses, Collinsia heterophylla
- Cliff Swallow, Petrochelidon pyrrhonota
- Common Sunburst Lichen, Golden Shield Lichen, Xanthoria parietina [yellow-orange]
- Concentric Boulder Lichen, Porpidia crustulata [circles of black spots on rock]
- Conical Trashline Orbweaver, Cyclosa conica
- Convergent Lady Beetle, Hippodamia convergens
- Copper Underwing Moth, Amphipyra pyramidoides [caterpillars are green with thin white stripe]
- Coppered White-Cheeked Jumping Spider, Pelegrina aeneola
- Cowpie Crater Lichen, Diploschistes muscorum [pale grey with sunken black apotheca]
- Coyote Brush, Baccharis pilularis
- Cretanweed, Hedypnois rhagadioloides [small, yellow, dandelion-like]
- Crow, American Crow, Corvus brachyrhynchos
- Deerbrush Ceanothus, Ceanothus integerrimus [white]
- Dendroalsia Moss, Dendroalsia abietina [long, curling tendrils on trees]
- Dove’s-Foot Crane’s-Bill, Geranium molle
- Elegant Camouflage Lichen, Melanohalea elegantula [leafy like hoary lichen but much darker gray/black]
- Elegant Clarkia, Clarkia unguiculata [red line on leaves]
- False Turkey-Tail, Stereum ostrea
- Flame Firedot Lichen, Caloplaca ignea [orange on rock, elongated lobes and orange apothecia]
- Flower Buprestid Beetle, Acmaeodera hepburnii
- Fremont’s Cottonwood, Populus fremontii
- French Broom, Genista monspessulana
- Fringepod, Sand Fringepod, Common Lacepod, Thysanocarpus curvipes
- Gabb’s Checkerspot Butterfly, Chlosyne gabbii
- Gall Inducing Wooly Aphid, Stegophylla essigi [in live oaks, folds the leaf over itself; sometimes the leaf turns red/reddish]
- Goldback Fern, Pentagramma triangularis
- Grassy Tarweed, Madia gracilis
- Gray Mid-Rib Gall Wasp, Besbicus multipunctatus
- Gray Pine, Pinus sabiniana
- Green Shield Lichen, Flavoparmelia caperata
- Gumweed, Grindelia integrifolia
- Hairy Vetch, Winter Vetch, Vicia villosa ssp. villosa
- Himalayan Blackberry, Rubus bifrons [white flowers]
- Hoary Rosette Lichen, Physcia aipolia [hoary, brown apothecia]
- Interior Live Oak, Quercus wislizeni
- Ithuriel’s Spear, Triteleia laxa
- Labyrinth Orbweaver Spider, Metepeira labyrinthea
- Lecidella Lichen, Lecidella elaeochroma [round black spots on white background]
- Lesser Goldfinch, Spinus psaltria
- Linear-Lobed Owl’s-Clover, Castilleja lineariloba
- Live Oak Gall Wasp, Spring Generation, Callirhytis quercuspomiformis [looks like a soft funnel, green to brown]
- Lupine Stem Gall Midge, Neolasioptera lupini
- Lupine, Bush Lupine, Silver Lupine, Lupinus albifrons var. albifrons
- Lupine, Chick Lupine, Lupinus microcarpus
- Lupine, Miniature Lupine, Lupinus bicolor
- Lupine, Spider Lupine, Lupinus benthamii
- Madrone, Pacific Madrone, Arbutus menziesii
- Musk Stork’s-Bill, Erodium moschatum
- Oak Titmouse, Baeolophus inornatus
- Oakmoss Lichen, Evernia prunastri [with soredia]
- Ookow, Dichelostemma congestum
- Osage-Orange, Maclura pomifera
- Periwinkle, Greater Periwinkle, Vinca major [on the roadside]
- Phacelia, Caterpillar Scorpionweed, Phacelia cicutaria [white]
- Pine Spittlebug, Aphrophora cribrata
- Pineapple-Weed, Matricaria discoidea
- Pipestem Clematis, Old Man’s Beards, Clematis lasiantha
- Poison Oak, Pacific Poison Oak, Western Poison Oak, Toxicodendron diversilobum
- Ponderosa Pine, Pinus ponderosa
- Popcorn Flower, Common Popcorn Flower, Plagiobothrys fulvus
- Potter’s Wasp, Stenodynerus sp.
- Prettyface, Triteleia ixioides
- Q-Tips, Micropus californicus
- Red Maids, Calandrinia menziesii
- Redberry, Hollyleaf Redberry, Rhamnus ilicifolia
- Resurrection Plant, Selaginella lepidophylla
- Rio Grande Wild Turkey, Meleagris gallopavo intermedia [on the roadside]
- Rock Tripe, Emery Rocktripe Lichen, Umbilicaria phaea
- Rose Clover, Trifolium hirtum
- Round Leaf Gall Wasp, Heteroecus flavens [formerly Andricus flavens, ball in the middle of the leaf, live oak]
- Sanicle, Pacific Sanicle, Sanicula crassicaulis [large, yellow flowers]
- Seven-Spotted Lady Beetle, Coccinella septempunctata [larva]
- Shining Pepperweed, Lepidium nitidum
- Silver Hairgrass, Ghost Grass, Aira caryophyllea
- Silverpuffs, Uropappus lindleyi [like blow wives but with pointed ends]
- Simbicid Sawfly, Abia americana [pale caterpillar with black and yellow markings]
- Slender Clarkia, Clarkia gracilis
- Small-Flowered Catchfly, Silene gallica
- Smooth Cliffbrake, Pellaea glabella
- Snake Apple Vine, Ibervillea lindheimeri
- Snakefly, Agulla adnixa
- Striped Volcano Gall Wasp, Andricus atrimentus, Spring generation [looks like a ball at the base of the leaf; dark inside]
- Sunflower, Common Woolly Sunflower, Eriophyllum lanatum
- Thread-Waisted Wasps, Family: Sphecidae [mud dauber]
- Toyon, Heteromeles arbutifolia
- True Babystars, Leptosiphon bicolor [green puffball with pink flowers]
- Tufted Poppy, Eschscholzia caespitosa
- Turkey Vulture, Cathartes aura
- Twining Snakelily, Dichelostemma volubile
- Two-Horned Gall Wasp, bisexual gall, spring generation, Dryocosmus dubiosus [looks like a hard, shiny, brown “beak” on the edge of the leaf]
- Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
- Western Fence Lizard, Blue Belly, Sceloporus occidentalis
- Western Gray Squirrel, Sciurus griseus
- Western Redbud, Cercis occidentalis
- Western Spotted Cucumber Beetle, Diabrotica undecimpunctata undecimpunctata
- Western Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly, Papilio rutulus
- Western Tussock Moth, Orgyia vetusta
- Western Virgin’s Bower, Clematis ligusticifolia
- White Globe Lily, Calochortus albus
- Wild Oat Grass, Chrysopogon aciculatus
- Windmill Pink, Hairy Pink, Petrorhagia dubia
- Winter Moth, Operophtera brumata [little green caterpillar on oak]
- Witches’ Broom on Toyon, Phytoplasma sp.
- Wooly Oak Aphid, Stegophylla essigi
- Yarrow, Achillea millefolium