RRD and OTher Stuff, 06-11-21

I got up at 5:30 this morning, and went to Mather Lake Regional Park for a walk.  The first thing I saw when I got there was a young cottontail rabbit feeding along the edge of the parking lot, and a couple of female Wild Turkeys walking along the trail. There were some quail and a few more cottontails in the adjacent field.

In the lake, I could see an otter swimming along, but he moved too fast and dove under the surface before I could get my camera on him.*Sigh*  I did get a little video snippet of the muskrat swimming by, though.

Muskrat, Ondatra zibethicus

The White-Tailed Kites are still hanging around their nesting tree, but I don’t know if they have babies yet or not.  I got some photos of one of the adults sitting in an adjacent tree, presumably looking for breakfast. This time of year, there’s a lot for the raptors to choose from.

There were both Mourning Doves and Eurasian Collared Doves cooing their different songs from the trees. And I got some video and photos of a male Great-Tailed Grackle singing and posturing for the females.

I could hear the tiny House Wrens singing from almost every tree it seemed, but I could only get photos of one — and those were of its back. Nature. Gotta love it.

The Mute Swan cygnets are nearly as big as their parents now, but they still have “baby voices” and give out plaintive peeping sounds while they float and preen. Apparently, their emerging fledgling feathers are itchy.

Mute Swan, Cygnus olor, cygnets

A odd sight, to me, was seeing a male Nuttall’s Woodpecker fly out to a twiggy branch poking out of the water at the lakeside. He sat there for quite a while, apparently eyeing all of the midges and water bugs flying and skimming about on the water’s surface. For a moment, I thought he might try to dive in to get some, but he never did.

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

All along the shore, the pennyroyal was filling the air with its spearmint scent, and the Goldwire was in bloom. In the water, I could see the noses of turtles poking through the surface as they came up to catch their breath. I only saw one turtle out basking, though; a Red-Eared Slider.

An adult Red-Eared Slider Turtle, Trachemys scripta elegans, shedding some of its scutes.

As I was walking back to the car, I was pleased to see a pair of young-ish California Ground Squirrels sitting on a fence post. They rushed down the post when they saw me, but ran up onto another one further down the walkway, so I was still able to get some photos of them. I just love those little guys; they always make me smile.

A pair of young California Ground Squirrel, Otospermophilus beecheyi

What I also saw on my way to the parking lot were some fluffy-looking outbursts of witches broom on the canes of a wild rose bush. The cane was mixed in with some blackberry vines so at first I didn’t know what I was looking at. When I stepped down closer, I could see all of the individual clumps of the witches broom. On one cane, there was a tuft of the broom, naked cane, a tuft of broom, naked cane, a tuft of broom… almost like someone had glued the fluffy heads onto the cane in a pattern.  Very cool.

I’d seen witches broom in photos, and found some on a toyon bush along the Buttermilk Trail, but hadn’t seen it on a rose bush before, and certainly never in this kind of proliferation.  I didn’t know much about the rose witches broom, so I had to do some research when I got home. Apparently, what I was seeing was RRD, Rose Rosette Disease.

“…It is a virus, so there is no cure. It is spread by mites feeding on an infected rose and then passing it on as they feed on another rose bush.  Rose rosette can present itself with various symptoms, including red stems, excessive thorniness, distorted or mottled leaves, or bunchy new growth — often referred to as witches’ broom… The disease itself is a virus, but it requires a very tiny mite called an eriophyid mite to transfer the disease between plants. Eriophyid mites are so small that they can only be seen under strong magnification.. Leaves within the witches’ broom may be stunted, distorted, and pigmented red or yellow. Symptoms of witches’ broom, leaf discoloration, and/or distortion are often visible on one branch or more and may spread randomly across the entire plant…”

The Eriophyid mite is Phyllocoptes fructiphilus,and the virus is Emaravirus sp. Well, that was very new to me, so that was exciting.

What was also exciting was the fact that this was hike 52 in my #52HikeChallenge!  Woot-woot! I can get my “finishers” badge now.

Species List:

  1. American Dog Tick, Dermacentor variabilis
  2. American Kestrel, Falco sparverius
  3. Armenian Blackberry, Rubus armeniacus [pink flower]
  4. Azolla, Water Fern, Azolla filiculoides
  5. Black Mustard, Common Wild Mustard, Brassica nigra
  6. Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans
  7. Bull Thistle, Cirsium vulgare
  8. Bushtit, American Bushtit, Psaltriparus minimus
  9. California Ground Squirrel, Otospermophilus beecheyi
  10. California Quail, Callipepla californica
  11. Common Spike-Rush, Eleocharis palustris
  12. Cottonwood Leaf Gall Aphid, Pemphigus populivenae
  13. Coyote Brush, Baccharis pilularis
  14. Dallis Grass, Paspalum dilatatum
  15. Desert Cottontail Rabbit, Sylvilagus audubonii
  16. Double-Crested Cormorant, Phalacrocorax auratus
  17. Eriophyid Mite, Phyllocoptes fructiphilus
  18. Eurasian Collared Dove, Streptopelia decaocto
  19. Floating Water Primrose, Ludwigia peploides ssp. peploides
  20. Fremont’s Cottonwood, Populus fremontii
  21. Goldwire, Hypericum concinnum
  22. Goodding’s Black Willow, Salix gooddingii
  23. Great-Tailed Grackle, Quiscalus mexicanus
  24. House Wren, Troglodytes aedon
  25. Interior Sandbar Willow, Salix interior
  26. Mallard Duck, Anas platyrhynchos
  27. Marsh Wren, Cistothorus palustris
  28. Mediterranean Fan Palm, Chamaerops humilis
  29. Mourning Dove, Zenaida macroura
  30. Muskrat, Ondatra zibethicus
  31. Mute Swan, Cygnus olor
  32. Nuttall’s Woodpecker, Picoides nuttallii
  33. Pennyroyal, Mentha pulegium
  34. Pied-Billed Grebe, Podilymbus podiceps
  35. Poison Oak, Pacific Poison Oak, Western Poison Oak, Toxicodendron diversilobum
  36. Red-Eared Slider Turtle, Trachemys scripta elegans
  37. Red-Winged Blackbird, Agelaius phoeniceus
  38. Rio Grande Wild Turkey, Meleagris gallopavo intermedia
  39. RRD, Rose Rosette Disease, Emaravirus sp. [virus]
  40. Tall Flatsedge, Cyperus eragrostis
  41. Tree Swallow, Tachycineta bicolor
  42. Tule, Common Tule, Schoenoplectus acutus
  43. Turkey Vulture, Cathartes aura
  44. Water Strider, Trepobates sp.
  45. Western Fence Lizard, Blue Belly, Sceloporus occidentalis
  46. Western Kingbird, Tyrant Flycatcher, Tyrannus verticalis
  47. White Tailed Kite, Elanus leucurus
  48. Willow Bead Gall Mite, Aculus tetanothrix
  49. Willow Pinecone Gall midge, Rabdophaga strobiloides