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