Between Seasons at Effie, 06-13-21

I got up around 5:30 this morning and headed over to the Effie Yeaw Nature Preserve for a walk. It was relatively cool when I got there, but heated up fast so I was only out for about 2½ hours.

Because we’re sort of between season again, not quite spring but not quite summer yet, I wasn’t expecting to see a lot. I was hoping for some early season fawns, but no such luck. In fact, there weren’t many deer out and about at all. I only saw one young buck who was just starting to get his first antlers, and a doe with a wonky ear.

A young Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus, in what looks like his first year’s velvet.

Among the squirrels running around, I saw a Western Gray Squirrel with a furless chin. I don’t know if he had mange or some other skin issue. 

And I also saw an Eastern Gray Squirrel foraging in, of all things, a large poison oak vine. It was eating the seeds.

According to Bay Nature Magazine: “…Humans may have no use for it, but many California animal species do. Unaffected by the toxic oil, small animals like fox squirrels seek shelter in poison oak thickets and feed on its summer berries, says Anthony Fisher, a naturalist at Tilden Regional Park. Birds — notably the California towhee — have formed a symbiotic relationship with poison oak, building its nests among the plants and feeding on the white berries, then spreading the seeds through excrement…”

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

I looked for some early summer galls on the blue oak trees, but found very little. Just one or two of the Saucer Galls and what looked like a sprinkling of very early Crystalline Galls. We’ll have to see how those shape up.  It’s been hot enough recently to have sparked the emergence of some Jumping Galls.  I’ll need to go over to William Land Park to see if they’re awake there yet.

It was cool to see some pretty painted bee condos set up all over the preserve; octagonal-shaped boxes filled with cardboard straws. I wonder if that was a naturalist class capstone project. It didn’t look like any of the straws were inhabited yet.

It was also cool to find that, besides my favorite “bee tree” which is presently occupied, there was also a second “bee tree” nearer to the river. There, the bees had created what might have been an underground bunker with an opening at the base of a tree. I’m just glad to see ANY insects around. Seems to me there are so fewer over the past year or so there than there normally are.

And speaking of insects: on my way out of the preserve, I noticed a yellowjacket hanging from the end of an ash tree leaf. At first, I thought it might be chewing off leaf material to use in the making of its nest, but then I realized it had captured another smaller winged insect (like maybe a winged ant or termite). As I watched, it dispatched the smaller insect (while sometimes hanging from a single foot on the leaf), and cut off its wings before eating it. Nature is wicked-cool.

A Western Yellowjacket, Vespula pensylvanica, dispatching a smaller winged insect.

This was hike 53 of my #52HikeChallenge. Now I’m going for 104 hikes this year.

Species List:

  1. Acorn Woodpecker, Melanerpes formicivorus
  2. Ash Leaf Curl Aphid, Prociphilus fraxinifolii
  3. Bigfruit Evening Primrose, Oenothera macrocarpa
  4. Blue Elderberry, Sambucus nigra cerulea
  5. Blue Oak, Quercus douglasii
  6. California Pipevine, Dutchman’s Pipe, Aristolochia californica
  7. California Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma californica
  8. California Towhee, Melozone crissalis
  9. California Wild Grape, Vitis californica
  10. Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus
  11. Coyote Mint, Monardella villosa
  12. Coyote, Canis latrans
  13. Crystalline Gall Wasp, Andricus crystallinus
  14. Darkling Beetle, Pinacate Stink Beetle, Eleodes scabrosa
  15. Eastern Gray Squirrel, Sciurus carolinensis
  16. European Honeybee, Western Honeybee, Apis mellifera
  17. Harvester Ant, black, Pogonomyrmex sp.
  18. Interior Live Oak, Quercus wislizeni
  19. Live Oak Gall Wasp, Summer Generation, Callirhytis quercuspomiformis [spiky ball]
  20. Mullein, Great Mullein, Verbascum thapsus
  21. Oak Apple, California Gall Wasp, Andricus quercuscalifornicus
  22. Oak Titmouse, Baeolophus inornatus
  23. Oregon Ash, Fraxinus latifolia
  24. Poison Oak, Pacific Poison Oak, Western Poison Oak, Toxicodendron diversilobum
  25. Red-Shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus
  26. Saucer Gall Wasp, Andricus gigas [cup shaped, sometimes rough edges]
  27. Showy Milkweed, Asclepias speciosa
  28. Solitary Oak Leafminer Moth, Cameraria hamadryadella [leaves pockets in the leaf surface]
  29. Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
  30. Western Fence Lizard, Blue Belly, Sceloporus occidentalis
  31. Western Gray Squirrel, Sciurus griseus
  32. Western Redbud, Cercis occidentalis
  33. Western Yellowjacket, Vespula pensylvanica
  34. Wooly Oak Aphid, Stegophylla essigi
  35. Yarrow, Achillea millefolium
  36. ?? Digger Bee hole