More Galls Emerging, 05-30-21

I got up a little after 6:30 this morning, which was later than I’d hoped. The alarm on my phone didn’t go off.  But I headed out to the Mather Lake Regional Park anyway for a walk. I was hoping to beat today’s oncoming heat.

The first thing I saw when I entered the park was a gaggle of geese, a few adults and a mass of goslings at different levels of development (which meant they were from different broods).  They walked across the parking lot, up over a knoll covered in dried grass, then down to lakeside to get a drink and snuggle down in the grass there. All the while they’re walking, the babies stop to eat seeds and flower heads from the weeds around them. The delay causes some of them to get separated from the group, and they have to scurry to catch up. So cute.

Along with the regular contingent of Mallards, there was a large white Pekin Duck. I don’t remember seeing him there before.

There was a pair of Green Herons that lead me on a chase around the lake. I couldn’t get close enough to either one of them to get any really good photos.  But I did get a distant video snippet of one of them catching and eating something in the water.

I was a little surprised to see some leaves on poison oak that were skeletonized. Gotta give props to any critter that will eat that stuff.

Skeletonized leaves on Poison Oak, Pacific Poison Oak, Western Poison Oak, Toxicodendron diversilobum

“…Poison oak also serves as a food source for a number of animals. Several insect species, including a variety of butterflies and moths, feed on the leaves, as do deer and squirrels. The leaves not only provide calories to these hungry herbivores, they also provide them with calcium, phosphorus and other important nutrients. Their flowers also serve as a food source for beetles and bees, who spend their days sipping the nectar tucked inside…”

The Cottonwood trees throughout the park are “cottoning” now, so there’s white fluff all over the place, especially along the sides of the trails.

On one of the trees, some of the leaves and stems were saturated in ants that were herding aphids.

There were lots of Cottontail rabbits out running around, including some little babies (but I couldn’t get close enough to those to get a photo of them).  Nothing’s cuter than a young bunny.

Both the Mourning Doves and Eurasian Collared Doves were out cooing. I saw a male Mourning Dove collecting and carrying grass to its mate who was building a nest in a willow tree. There were so may twiggy branches in the way that I could hardly make out where the nest was.

Mourning Dove, Zenaida macroura

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

Little House Wrens were singing and buzzing all around the lake. I saw a female carrying food for her babies, and also saw one that came down to the lake’s edge to get a drink of water.

There were only a few swans out and about. I saw a set of parents with seven cygnets. The babies are getting bigger all the time, but are still smaller than their mom.

The galls of the Cottonwood Leaf Gall Aphid are just starting to appear along the edges of the cottonwood leaves. And on the willow there were bunches of galls of the Willow Pinecone Gall midge. The pinecone galls were still in the very early stages of forming and were rounded, without the pinecone “beak” they’ll get as the midge larvae inside develop more. There were also some Coyote Brush bud galls and stem galls, and one willow apple gall.  I’m actually kind of surprised I’m not seeing more bead galls on the willows.

So, I saw a little bit of this and that, but nothing super outstanding. Because of the heat, I left the lake after only about 2½ walking. This was hike #49 of my #52HikeChallenge.

Species List:

  1. Aphid, Family: Aphididae
  2. Black Mustard, Common Wild Mustard, Brassica nigra
  3. Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans
  4. Brewer’s Blackbird, Euphagus cyanocephalus
  5. Broadleaf Cattail, Bullrush, Typha latifolia
  6. Bushtit, American Bushtit, Psaltriparus minimus
  7. California Ground Squirrel, Otospermophilus beecheyi
  8. California Quail, Callipepla californica
  9. California Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma californica
  10. California Towhee, Melozone crissalis
  11. Canada Goose, Branta canadensis
  12. Chicory, Cichorium intybus
  13. Coast Live Oak, Quercus agrifolia
  14. Cork Oak, Quercus suber
  15. Cottonwood Leaf Gall Aphid, Pemphigus populivenae
  16. Coyote Brush Bud Gall midge, Rhopalomyia californica
  17. Coyote Brush Rust Gall, Puccinia evadens
  18. Coyote Brush Stem Gall Moth, Gnorimoschema baccharisella
  19. Coyote Brush, Baccharis pilularis
  20. Cytospora Canker, Cytospora chrysosperma [bright orange fruiting body, looks like frozen dodder]
  21. Desert Cottontail Rabbit, Sylvilagus audubonii
  22. Double-Crested Cormorant, Phalacrocorax auratus
  23. Doveweed, Turkey Mullein, Croton setiger
  24. Eurasian Collared Dove, Streptopelia decaocto
  25. European Starling, Sturnus vulgaris
  26. Field Bindweed, Convolvulus arvensis
  27. Fremont’s Cottonwood, Populus fremontii
  28. Goldwire, Hypericum concinnum
  29. Goodding’s Black Willow, Salix gooddingii
  30. Green Heron, Butorides virescens
  31. Hairy Vetch, Winter Vetch, Vicia villosa ssp. villosa 
  32. Himalayan Blackberry, Rubus bifrons [white flowers]
  33. House Wren, Troglodytes aedon
  34. Jointed Charlock, Wild Radish, Raphanus raphanistrum
  35. Killdeer, Charadrius vociferous
  36. Lesser Goldfinch, Spinus psaltria
  37. Live Oak Gall Wasp, Spring Generation, Callirhytis quercuspomiformis
  38. Mallard Duck, Anas platyrhynchos
  39. Marssonina Leaf Blight Fungus, Marssonina brunnea [cottonwoods, poplars]
  40. Meadow Salsify, Tragopogon pratensis
  41. Mosquito, Common House Mosquito, Culex pipiens
  42. Mourning Dove, Zenaida macroura
  43. Mute Swan, Cygnus olor
  44. Nuttall’s Woodpecker, Picoides nuttallii
  45. Pacific Forktail Damselfly, Ischnura cervula [males have 4 spots on thorax]
  46. Pekin Duck, Anas platyrhynchos domesticus var. Pekin
  47. Pied-Billed Grebe, Podilymbus podiceps
  48. Poison Oak, Pacific Poison Oak, Western Poison Oak, Toxicodendron diversilobum
  49. Red-Eared Slider Turtle, Trachemys scripta elegans
  50. Red-Winged Blackbird, Agelaius phoeniceus
  51. Ribwort Plantain, Plantago lanceolata
  52. Soft Rush, Juncus effusus
  53. Tall Flatsedge, Cyperus eragrostis
  54. Tree Swallow, Tachycineta bicolor
  55. Tule, Common Tule, Schoenoplectus acutus
  56. Turkey Tangle Fogfruit, Phyla nodiflora
  57. Turkey Vulture, Cathartes aura
  58. Western Bluebird, Sialia Mexicana
  59. Western Fence Lizard, Blue Belly, Sceloporus occidentalis
  60. Western Kingbird, Tyrant Flycatcher, Tyrannus verticalis
  61. Western Meadowlark, Sturnella neglecta
  62. Western Mosquitofish, Gambusia affinis
  63. White Tailed Kite, Elanus leucurus
  64. Willow Apple Gall Sawfly, Pontania californica
  65. Willow Pinecone Gall midge, Rabdophaga strobiloides
  66. Willow Rust Fungus, Melampsora epitea
  67. Yorkshire Fog Grass, Holcus lanatus