Only a Few Things, 06-28-21

The dog got me up about 2:30 am needing to go potty, so I let him outside, then he and I went back to bed until about 5:30 am. I still had a slight touch of vertigo, but really felt I HAD to get outside and moving. So, I got myself up and dressed, and headed over to the Effie Yeaw Nature Preserve for a walk. I told myself that, if at any time, the vertigo increased or interfered with my driving and walking, I’d call my sister Melissa for assistance. Thankfully, I didn’t need to call.

It was 58° when I got to the preserve, but it warmed up quickly to 73° before I left it. I wasn’t expecting to see a lot; mostly just wanted the exercise. I didn’t see a whole lot today, but there were a few standouts.

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

The first thing I saw was a small group of female Wild Turkeys on the golf course with about a half dozen poults scrambling around them. It’s always a treat to see the babies; the moms usually protect them so well you hardly ever get to actually see them.

Rio Grande Wild Turkey, Meleagris gallopavo intermedia, poult

In the trees along the trail there was a family of Red-Shouldered Hawks yelling at each other. I think there was a pair of parents and two fledglings that were just learning to fly. The youngsters would cry from their branches, and the parents would call loudly to try to get them to fly out just a little bit further. The fledglings hopped-flew from one tree to the next, then would just sit and cry some more. It was sooooo noisy!

A young Red-Shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus

In another area, I saw a group of deer: a buck in his velvet and four does. One of the does looked VERY pregnant. There should be fawns around this time of year, but I haven’t spotted one yet.            

Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus. One doe helping to groom another.
Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus. Buck in his velvet.

I walked for about three hours and then headed back home. This was walk #57 in my hike challenge.

Species List:

  1. Acorn Woodpecker, Melanerpes formicivorus
  2. American Robin, Turdus migratorius
  3. Anna’s Hummingbird, Calypte anna
  4. Armenian Blackberry, Rubus armeniacus [pink flower]
  5. Bay Laurel Tree, Laurus nobilis
  6. Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans
  7. California Manroot, Bigroot, Marah fabaceus
  8. California Mugwort, Artemisia douglasiana
  9. California Pipevine, Dutchman’s Pipe, Aristolochia californica
  10. California Quail, Callipepla californica [heard]
  11. California Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma californica
  12. California Towhee, Melozone crissalis
  13. California Wild Grape, Vitis californica
  14. Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus
  15. Cooper’s Hawk, Acipiter cooperii [heard]
  16. Crow, American Crow, Corvus brachyrhynchos
  17. Cudweed, California Cudweed, Pseudognaphalium californicum
  18. Curlycup Gumweed, Grindelia squarrosa
  19. Eastern Gray Squirrel, Sciurus carolinensis
  20. European Honeybee, Western Honeybee, Apis mellifera
  21. Goldenrod Crab Spider, Misumena vatia
  22. Grape Erineum Mite, Colomerus vitis
  23. Interior Live Oak, Quercus wislizeni
  24. Mourning Dove, Zenaida macroura
  25. Mullein, Great Mullein, Verbascum thapsus
  26. Northern Flicker, Colaptes auratus
  27. Oak Titmouse, Baeolophus inornatus
  28. Poison Oak, Pacific Poison Oak, Western Poison Oak, Toxicodendron diversilobum
  29. Red-Shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus
  30. Rio Grande Wild Turkey, Meleagris gallopavo intermedia
  31. Showy Milkweed, Asclepias speciosa
  32. Spotted Towhee, Pipilo maculatus
  33. Turkey Vulture, Cathartes aura
  34. Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
  35. Western Fence Lizard, Blue Belly, Sceloporus occidentalis
  36. Western Redbud, Cercis occidentalis
  37. White Alder, Alnus rhombifolia
  38. White Horehound, Marrubium vulgare
  39. White-Breasted Nuthatch, Sitta carolinensis
  40. Yellow Starthistle, Centaurea solstitialis
  41. ?? spider in bay leaves

Not What We Expected to do Today, 06-23-21

I got up at 5:30 this morning and headed out with my friend Roxanne to the zinnia farm in Yolo. But we were surprised that the field was closed off; a hand-written sign said to come back on the 28th. Well… sigh. It was so lovely outside, we were looking forward to a leisurely morning among the flowers. So, we had to recalibrate and decide what to do to take advantage of the cooler weather before the afternoon heat kicked in.

Since we were in Yolo County anyway, we decided to go over to the Woodland-Davis Clean Water Agency facility in Woodland where the ibis rookery is. The water in the pond there is lower this year than it has been in previous years, so that may be inviting to the ibis when they decided to roost.  But it’s still a bit too early for the ibis, I guess, because we didn’t see any of those. We did see a lot of Canada Geese, Black-Necked Stilts, and some Cinnamon Teals that looked like they were mid-molt or something. 

There were also a few American Avocets wading with the Stilts, and lots of Tree Swallows and Barn Swallows flying around. The air was full of midges and no-see-um bity things for them to eat.

Barn Swallow, Hirundo rustica

  We saw a couple of Great-Tailed Grackles, some Western Kingbirds and Say’s Phoebes, and I was able to get a video snippet of a Kingbird that had caught a large dragonfly. The bird flew up onto a high tension wire above the car with the dragonfly in its beak. It bashed the insect against the wire, killing it and knocking off its wings, before it ate it, head first. I was shooting through the windshield, so I was happy the video turned out as well as it did.

There were jackrabbits in the field beside the ponds, and lots of cottontail rabbits around the buildings. Some of the cottontail we saw were very small, so we figured they must’ve been babies. They dashed in and out around a line of hedges so fast it was hard to get photos of them most of the time.

The big surprise at the site was seeing a small flock of Forster’s Terns slumming it with the Canada Geese. As we watched, some of the terns did their “face-plant” dives into the water after fish. Wish we could’ve gotten closer to them for better photos.

When we were done at the water plant, we went up the road a little way to the East Regional Pond in Woodland. I wasn’t expecting much from the place, but because it was close, it was easy to check out. There wasn’t much water in the pond, but actually it was more than I was expecting. I thought the whole thing would have been dried up by now.

We saw some rabbits, and a couple of turtles — including one large turtle that was walking along the ground away from the water. Maybe a mama looking to lay eggs somewhere?

The leaves of a lot of the cottonwood trees there were covered in “shotholes”, tiny round holes all over the surface of the leaves. I’ve been doing some research, but haven’t found anything yet that is a definitive cause of the condition.

“Shotholes” in the leaves of a Fremont’s Cottonwood, Populus fremontii

One source talks about the Small Heliothodes Moth (Heliothodes diminutivus) that might be one culprit.  It reads: “…Both the adults and larvae are very small and often dorsal-ventrally compressed (flattened) so as to be able to tunnel between the upper and lower cortex of a leaf. Once the larva has eaten away the soft, nutritious center a translucent tunnel in the leaf can be seen. Heliozelid moth larvae, when they are fully grown and ready to pupate, cut the perimeter of the tunnel and form a case in which to undergo metamorphosis. The case drops out leaving a smooth oval hole. Thus… each hole represents a single, very small moth having fed on the leaf and completed pupation…”

If that’s the cause of what we were seeing, that’s a helluva lot of moths! But the holes DO look like they were eaten through, not burnt or withered by a fungus. Need more research.

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

We got bored with the lack of sightings at the pond, so we decided to head back home, but went by way of County Road 22/Highway 16 out along the sloughs beside the rice fields. Along the way, we saw a fledgling Red-Tailed Hawk sitting on the railroad tracks, peeping. It was in rough shape, and we were worried that it wasn’t being cared for by its parents… but then we saw two adult birds sitting on nearby telephone poles, and we hoped those there parents.

Red-Tailed Hawk, Western Red-Tailed Hawk, Buteo jamaicensis calurus

The young one was pretty exposed, and we were concerned about it over-heating and getting dehydrated. But if its folks were around, they could bring it water and food. It had its flight feathers, too, so maybe after a rest it could get itself into the shade and/or nearer the water.

Along that stretch of road, some of the fields are flooded right now, full of growing rice, so parts of the sloughs are full, too. There were tangles of willows, cottonwood trees, oaks, wild rose, blackberry vines, and other understory plants and bushes growing all along these areas.

  There were large colonies of Western Spotted Orb-weaver Spiders all through the plant growth, and you had to be careful where you put your hand or leaned in. You might get a handful or face full of webbing!

Western Spotted Orbweaver Spider, Neoscona oaxacensis

On the willows we found a couple of different galls, and also found some faded specimens of Mossy Rose Galls.

After a while, it was getting too hot for us and we were sweating into our eyes (eew),so we quit for the day.  So, it wasn’t exactly what we had originally planned for the day, but I enjoyed it.

This was hike #56 of my hike challenge for the year.

Species List:

  1. Alkali Heliotrope, Heliotropium curassavicum
  2. American Avocet, Recurvirostra americana
  3. Armenian Blackberry, Rubus armeniacus [pink flower]
  4. Arroyo Willow, Salix lasiolepis
  5. Azolla, Water Fern, Azolla filiculoides
  6. Barn Swallow, Hirundo rustica
  7. Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans
  8. Black Walnut, Eastern Black Walnut, Juglans nigra
  9. Black-Necked Stilt, Himantopus mexicanus
  10. Black-Tailed Jackrabbit, Lepus californicus
  11. Brewer’s Blackbird, Euphagus cyanocephalus
  12. Broadleaf Cattail, Bullrush, Typha latifolia
  13. Broadleaved Pepperweed, Lepidium latifolium
  14. Brown-Headed Cowbird, Molothrus ater
  15. Buttonbush, Cephalanthus occidentalis
  16. California Buckwheat, Eriogonum fasciculatum
  17. California Ground Squirrel, Otospermophilus beecheyi
  18. California Mugwort, Artemisia douglasiana
  19. California Wild Rose, Rosa californica
  20. Canada Goose, Branta canadensis
  21. Cat, Felis catus
  22. Cinnamon Teal, Anas cyanoptera
  23. Crow, American Crow, Corvus brachyrhynchos
  24. Dark-Bordered Granite Moth, Digrammia neptaria
  25. Desert Cottontail Rabbit, Sylvilagus audubonii
  26. Downy Woodpecker, Picoides pubescens
  27. Eurasian Collared Dove, Streptopelia decaocto
  28. European Honeybee, Western Honeybee, Apis mellifera
  29. Forster’s Tern, Sterna forsteri
  30. Fremont’s Cottonwood, Populus fremontii
  31. Goodding’s Black Willow, Salix gooddingii
  32. Great Blue Heron, Ardea herodias
  33. Great Egret, Ardea alba
  34. Great-Tailed Grackle, Quiscalus mexicanus
  35. Green Darner Dragonfly, Anax junius
  36. Green Heron, Butorides virescens
  37. House Finch, Haemorhous mexicanus
  38. Interior Sandbar Willow, Salix interior
  39. Killdeer, Charadrius vociferous
  40. Mossy Rose Gall Wasp, Diplolepis rosae
  41. Northern Mockingbird, Mimus polyglottos
  42. Northern Shoveler, Anas clypeata
  43. Nuttall’s Woodpecker, Picoides nuttallii
  44. Pacific Pond Turtle, Western Pond Turtle, Actinemys marorata
  45. Paper Wasp, Black Paper Wasp, European Paper Wasp, Polistes dominula
  46. Pied-Billed Grebe, Podilymbus podiceps
  47. Red-Tailed Hawk, Western Red-Tailed Hawk, Buteo jamaicensis ssp. calurus
  48. Salt Grass, Distichlis spicata
  49. Saltbush, Big Saltbush, Atriplex lentiformis
  50. Santa Barbara Sedge, Carex barbarae
  51. Say’s Phoebe, Sayornis saya
  52. Snowy Egret, Egretta thula
  53. Tree Swallow, Tachycineta bicolor
  54. Tule, Common Tule, Schoenoplectus acutus
  55. Turkey Vulture, Cathartes aura
  56. Variegated Meadowhawk Dragonfly, Sympetrum corruptum
  57. Western Kingbird, Tyrant Flycatcher, Tyrannus verticalis
  58. Western Spotted Orbweaver Spider, Neoscona oaxacensis
  59. White Tailed Kite, Elanus leucurus
  60. Willow Apple Gall Sawfly, Pontania californica
  61. Willow Rosette Gall Midge, Rabdophaga salicisbrassicoide

Tiny Toad and Big Gall, 06-22-21

I got up at 5:30 this morning to a lovely 57° outside, and headed over to the Gristmill Recreation Area for a walk. (It got up to 88° by the late afternoon.) I slept better last night, but still had to get up around 1:00 am because of pain. I took some meds and went back to bed. When I got up, I took my regular 6:00 am meds and the pain was pretty much under control, so I was comfortable throughout my walk. Walking usually helps with pain control, too. I wish I had more stamina to do it more often and/or for longer periods of time.

I started out my walk by going along the river’s edge, keeping as close as I could to the spots where the river stone and gravel were less “rollie”.  One of the first things I noticed was something tiny jumping near my feet. At first I thought it was a gray grasshopper, but when I reached down and got a hold of it, I realized it was actually a teeny-tiny toad! I took a few photos of it, and then let it go again.

On some of the willows, I found several of the central vein galls on the leaves like the ones we found at Putah Creek, and also saw some beaked twig galls, and some very large petiole galls. 

On another willow leaf I saw a tiny string of colorful schmutz, not really knowing what it was I took a photo of it anyway. When I got home and blew the photo up, I realized it was some kind of caterpillar! Welcome the new-to-me caterpillar of a Zigzag Furcula Moth, Furcula scolopendrina. The long split tail is definitive.

Caterpillar of the Zigzag Furcula Moth, Furcula scolopendrina. Note the long split tail.

The mullein was in bloom, including Great Mullein, two colors of Moth Mullein, and Doveweed.

On a few more of the cottonwood trees, I again saw that heavy dangling stuff that I think is the flowering seed head or catkins deformed by mites of fungus or something. All of the specimens were up too high for me to grab, even with my cane, but I found an old, dried up one on the ground. It was pretty old and smashed up, but you could see that each “kernel” had been swollen and deformed into a wrinkled “flower”. I’ve been doing research on the formations since I first saw them, and I think I’ve figured them out. Finally.

I think it might be the work of the Cottonwood Catkingall Mite, Eriophyes neoessigi. I found an image online that’s similar to what I’m seeing, and the caption read: “This particular gall was about the size of a large bunch of grapes….and pretty heavy.”  Yep. I’m pretty sure that’s what it is.

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

Not many birds on the water, mostly Canada Geese and Mallards. I saw one or two female Mergansers, too.  In the trees, though, I could hear all sorts of birds, even though I couldn’t see many of them or get photos of them. Along the trail, there were several areas where I could see both Nuttall’s and Hairy Woodpeckers foraging for insects. One would knock the other out of the way, or gang up with a mate and drive the odd bird out away from the tree. It’s so neat to see the two species working in such close proximity to one another.

When I was stopped on the trail, getting photos of a group of the woodpeckers, a gentleman walked up close to me. He stopped abruptly, startled and gripped his chest. Then he laughed. He’d been walking with his head down, and suddenly saw my shadow, like death, in front of him. It scared him a little bit. He said he was thinking about his brother, but I didn’t pry or ask him for more information because it looked like the mention of his brother was painful for him. I wished him a good walk, and he did likewise. Sometimes, the people on the trail are so nice.

I walked for about 3 hours and then headed back home. This was hike #55 on my 2021 hike challenge.

Species List:

  1. Almond Tree, Prunus dulcisaloe       
  2. Arroyo Willow, Salix lasiolepis
  3. Asian Clam, Corbicula fluminea [little tan or white shells]
  4. Asian Lady Beetle, Harmonia axyridis
  5. Black Locust Tree, Robinia pseudoacacia
  6. Black Mustard, Common Wild Mustard, Brassica nigra
  7. Black Walnut, Eastern Black Walnut, Juglans nigra
  8. Black-Tailed Jackrabbit, Lepus californicus
  9. Blue Elderberry, Sambucus nigra cerulea
  10. Brazilian Vervain, Verbena brasiliensis
  11. Bushtit, American Bushtit, Psaltriparus minimus
  12. California Ground Squirrel, Otospermophilus beecheyi
  13. California Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma californica
  14. Canada Goose, Branta canadensis
  15. Chinook Salmon, Oncorhynchus tshawytscha
  16. Coast Live Oak, Quercus agrifolia
  17. Common Merganser, Mergus merganser
  18. Cottonwood Catkingall Mite, Eriophyes neoessigi [long panicle, like a bunch of grapes, heavy]
  19. Crow, American Crow, Corvus brachyrhynchos
  20. Doveweed, Turkey Mullein, Croton setiger
  21. Eastern Fox Squirrel, Sciurus niger
  22. Fennel, Sweet Fennel, Foeniculum vulgare
  23. Fremont’s Cottonwood, Populus fremontii
  24. Gold Dust Lichen, Chrysothrix candelaris
  25. Goldwire, Hypericum concinnum
  26. Goodding’s Black Willow, Salix gooddingii
  27. Great Blue Heron, Ardea herodias [flyover]
  28. Green Shield Lichen, Flavoparmelia caperata
  29. Hairy Woodpecker, Dryobates villosus [long bill]
  30. House Finch, Haemorhous mexicanu
  31. House Wren, Troglodytes aedon
  32. Interior Sandbar Willow, Salix interior
  33. Johnson Grass, Sorghum halepense
  34. Long-Jawed Orb Weaver Spider, Tetragnatha sp.
  35. Mallard Duck, Anas platyrhynchos
  36. Mullein, Great Mullein, Verbascum thapsus
  37. Mullein, Moth Mullein, Verbascum blattaria [thin stick, white or yellow]
  38. Non-Biting Midge, Cricotopus bicinctus [black and white, turned up tail]
  39. Nuttall’s Woodpecker, Picoides nuttallii
  40. Oak Titmouse, Baeolophus inornatus
  41. Pennyroyal, Mentha pulegium
  42. Red-Shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus
  43. Sapromyza Fly, Sapromyza sp. [tiny, reddish-orange]
  44. Smooth Petiole Gall Sawfly, Euura sp. [willows]
  45. Sneezeweed, Rosilla, Helenium puberulum
  46. Spotted Towhee, Pipilo maculatus
  47. Tree of Heaven, Ailanthus altissima
  48. Turkey Vulture, Cathartes aura
  49. Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
  50. Western Toad, Anaxyrus boreas
  51. White-Breasted Nuthatch, Sitta carolinensis
  52. Willow Beaked Twig Gall Midge, Rabdophaga rigidae
  53. Willow Mid-Rib Sawfly, Unknown species [per Russo, pg.219]
  54. Zigzag Furcula Moth, Furcula scolopendrina

An Hour at Land Park, 06-19-21

I got up around 5:30 this morning because Roxanne and I had tentatively planned to got to the zinnia farm today. But the farm announced on Facebook that everyone should wait for about a week. They’d had so many people there this week that there were hardly any flowers left; so, we needed to wait another week or so, so the plants could reflower. Hah! 

It was another terrifically hot day, going up to 106° by the late afternoon, so whatever we did, we were going to have to quit within a few hours (to beat the heat). Rox texted me to let me know that she hasn’t been sleeping well because of the heat, so I was on my own for the morning.

I decided to go over to William Land Park to see if the big Valley Oak tree there had dropped its jumping galls yet. It was already 71° when I got to the park.  There weren’t any jumping galls, so I decided to take a quick walk around the middle pond and then head back home before it got too warm.

CLICK HERE to see the full album of photos.

I saw a mama Wood Duck in the water with 20 ducklings; they looked like newborns. They clung close to her and were very small. I bet they had just hatched yesterday or early this morning. 

Mama Wood Duck, Aix sponsa, and some of her 20 babies.

The pond was still densely covered with sacred lotus plants. On one of the seedpods, there was a honeybee resting up a bit, packing and pushing down the pollen she’d collected on the  corbiculae (pollen baskets) on her legs.

The big deal of the day, though, was spotting a very large turtle walking across the lawn near the little amphitheater. It was a female Red-Eared Slider Turtle. She was a BIG girl. Her shell was about 10 inches long, and she must’ve weighed about 10 or 15 pounds!

Red-Eared Slider Turtle, Trachemys scripta elegans

She hissed at me when I picked her up. After taking some photos of her, I carried her over to the pond and let her find her way back into the water. She might have been on land to lay eggs , but I was worried some kid or someone’s dog would get her.

I was only out there for about an hour, and then went back home.

Species List:

  1. Aloe, Candelabra Aloe, Aloe arborescens
  2. American Robin, Turdus migratorius
  3. Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans
  4. Blue Statice, Limonium sinuatum
  5. Buff Orpington Duck, Anas platyrhynchos domesticus var. Orpington
  6. California Buckwheat, Eriogonum fasciculatum
  7. Cardoon, Artichoke Thistle, Cynara cardunculus
  8. Cayuga Duck, Anas platyrhynchos domesticus var. Cayuga
  9. Coulter’s Matilija Poppy, Romneya coulteri
  10. Crested Duck, Anas platyrhynchos domesticus var. Crested
  11. European Honeybee, Western Honeybee, Apis mellifera
  12. Feverfew, Tanacetum parthenium
  13. Indian Runner Duck, Anas platyrhynchos domesticus var. Runner
  14. Italian Cypress, Mediterranean Cypress, Cupressus sempervirens
  15. Mourning Dove, Zenaida macroura
  16. Pekin Duck, Anas platyrhynchos domesticus var. Pekin
  17. Prickly Pear Cactus, Indian Fig Opuntia, Opuntia ficus-indica
  18. Red-Eared Slider Turtle, Trachemys scripta elegans
  19. Red-Shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus
  20. Sacred Lotus, Nelumbo nucifera
  21. Sonoma Sage, Salvia sonomensis [light purple]
  22. Swedish Blue Duck, Anas platyrhynchos domesticus var. Swedish Blue
  23. Wood Duck, Aix sponsa