I got up around 6:00 this morning and headed over to the American River Bend Park for a walk. It was lovely outside, I even had to wear my jacket for most of the walk. It was 53° when I got there, but on the shadier parts of the trail it felt cooler.
The first thing I saw as I drove in was a pair of Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, two bucks in their velvet. One of them looks like he may be a three-pointer, but it’s difficult to tell at this stage. (You can read my article about antlers HERE).
Very near where the deer were, I came across a small flock of about eight Mourning Doves feeding on the ground. It looked to me like they were all males. According to Cornell: “[The doves do] not scratch with feet or probe with bill but will move sparse ground litter with whisks of bill to uncover food…”
When I got to the area where I wanted to walk inside the park, I got out of the car and was immediately confronted by a Western Gray Squirrel that ran right up to me as though begging for a handout. When I didn’t give it anything, it ran off, bouncing off the trunk of a tree as it went along – very hyper.
The Tree of Heaven trees were in bloom in some areas. The trees were brought here from China and are invasive.
“…The tree of heaven is a problem because it reproduces very quickly and aggressively inhibits (and can even kill) native plants near it. This invasive plant produces an overly abundant amount of seeds, crowds out native species with its dense thickets and secretes a chemical into the soil that is toxic to surrounding plants…Known by a number of names including stinking sumac, Chinese sumac, varnish tree and stink tree, the plant releases a strong, offensive smell, particularly from its flowers…”
The beauty of them is that they’re insect resistant, produce a lot of shade and turn bright colors in the fall… which made them a favorite of landscapers.
The ash trees were covered in draping, dense seedpods. I found some newly forming galls of the Ash Flower Gall Mite. I don’t usually see them when they’re this “young”; the galls were bright green (instead of the yellow-brown I usually see later in the season). There was also evidence of Ash Leaf Curl Aphid action on some of the leaves.
Along the river, I could see about twenty Turkey Vultures gathered and walking around the little island looking for castoff bits of fish, bones and fish heads to eat. There were also smaller groups of the vultures along the river side.
As the vultures were eating one of the heads, a Great Blue Heron flew in, shoved the vultures out of the way and stole their prize, eating it right in front of them.
When the vultures moved further down the river side to go after more carrion, the heron followed after them, stealing whatever they found. At one spot, the fish they all wanted looked like it was tangled up in a stringer, and none of the birds could figure out how to get it off. When the vultures then moved on to yet another spot, the heron again followed them.
I was surprised that the vultures did little more than raise their wings in threat at the heron; they certainly out-numbered it, but I didn’t see any of them make an advance on it. Guess they’re lovers and not fighters.
CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.
Here are a few more video snippets from today:
A Snowy Egret, Egretta thula, feeding in a still pond on the side of river.
A male Common Merganser, Mergus merganser, fishing in the river. I couldn’t tell what he’d caught, but he gobbled it right up. The water was clear enough that when he dove under the surface you could still see him.
A White-Breasted Nuthatch, Sitta carolinensis, searches for and stashes away little tidbits from under the bark of a tree.
I walked for almost 4½ hours (ugh, very much beyond my limit) and headed home. This was hike #44 of my #52HikeChallenge.
- Acorn Woodpecker, Melanerpes formicivorus
- Anna’s Hummingbird, Calypte anna
- Ash Flower Gall Mite, Aceria fraxiniflora
- Ash Leaf Curl Aphid, Prociphilus fraxinifollii
- Belted Kingfisher, Megaceryle alcyon [heard; flyby]
- Bewick’s Wren, Thryomanes bewickii
- Black Mustard, Common Wild Mustard, Brassica nigra
- Blue Elderberry, Sambucus nigra cerulea
- California Brickellbush, Brickellia californica
- California Buckeye Chestnut Tree, Aesculus californica
- California Mugwort, Artemisia douglasiana
- California Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly, Battus philenor hirsuta
- California Pipevine, Dutchman’s Pipe, Aristolochia californica
- California Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma californica
- California Wild Grape, Vitis californica
- Camel Cricket, Gammarotettix bilobatus
- Canada Goose, Branta canadensis
- Cedar Waxwing, Bombycilla cedrorum
- Coast Live Oak, Quercus agrifolia
- Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus
- Common Hoptree, Ptelea trifoliata
- Common Merganser, Mergus merganser
- Deerweed, Acmispon glaber
- Elegant Clarkia, Clarkia unguiculata [red line on leaves]
- Emma’s Dancer Damselfly, Argia emma
- Fennel Aphid, Hyadaphis foeniculi
- Fennel, Sweet Fennel, Foeniculum vulgare
- Gall Inducing Wooly Aphid, Stegophylla essigi [in live oaks, folds the leaf over itself]
- Goldwire, Hypericum concinnum
- Great Blue Heron, Ardea herodias
- Greater Quaking Grass, Rattlesnake Grass, Briza maxima
- Green Shield Lichen, Flavoparmelia caperata
- Hairy Vetch, Winter Vetch, Vicia villosa ssp. villosa
- Hairy Woodpecker, Dryobates villosus [long bill]
- House Finch, Haemorhous mexicanus
- House Wren, Troglodytes aedon
- Interior Live Oak, Quercus wislizeni
- Interior Sandbar Willow, Salix interior
- Irregular Spindle Gall Wasp, Andricus chrysolepidicola
- Italian Thistle, Carduus pycnocephalus
- Killdeer, Charadrius vociferous [heard; flyby]
- Leafy-Cone-Gall Tephritid Fly, Aciurina idahoensis [on rabbitbrush]
- Lesser Goldfinch, Spinus psaltria
- London Plane Tree, Platanus × acerifolia
- Mallard Duck, Anas platyrhynchos
- Moth Mullein, Verbascum blattaria
- Mourning Dove, Zenaida macroura
- Northern Rough-Winged Swallow, Stelgidopteryx serripennis [ashy]
- Oak Apple, California Gall Wasp, Andricus quercuscalifornicus
- Orange Bush Monkeyflower, Diplacus aurantiacus
- Oregon Ash, Fraxinus latifolia
- Poison Oak, Pacific Poison Oak, Western Poison Oak, Toxicodendron diversilobum
- Rio Grande Wild Turkey, Meleagris gallopavo intermedia
- Ruptured Twig Gall Wasp, Callirhytis perdens
- Smilo Grass, Oloptum miliaceum [thin, feathery looking]
- Snowy Egret, Egretta thula
- Spotted Towhee, Pipilo maculatus
- Tree of Heaven, Ailanthus altissima
- Turkey Vulture, Cathartes aura
- Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
- Western Bluebird, Sialia Mexicana
- Western Gray Squirrel, Sciurus griseus
- White-Breasted Nuthatch, Sitta carolinensis
- Yellow Rabbitbrush, Chrysothamnus viscidiflorus
- Yellow Water Iris, Yellow Flag, Iris pseudacorus [invasive]
- ?? tiny spider on ash gall