More Galls Than Birds, 09-29-21

Up at 6:00 this morning after a fairly good night’s sleep, and headed out with my friend Roxanne to the Willowcreek area in Davis around 7:00 am: Willowbank Park and the adjoining trails. I’d never been out there before, so it was fun to explore a new location or two.  We were looking for migrating birds, but ended up seeing galls… Oh well… Whatever Nature wants to show us is okay with me.

We started out at Willowbank Park itself, and explored for a bit, but couldn’t find the access to the trail there. We did come across a few people with their off-leash dogs. One was a beautiful Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, or so its owner told us. I’d never heard of them before, so I looked them up when I got home.

“…The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever is a medium-sized gundog bred primarily for hunting. It is often referred to as a ‘toller’. It is the smallest of the retrievers, and is often mistaken for a small Golden Retriever. Tollers are intelligent, eager to please, alert, and energetic… The name Toller comes from the dog’s ability to lure ducks and geese, which enables the hunters to shoot these birds at closer proximity. This luring ability was the specific purpose of the breeders in creating this wonderful breed… The small size, intelligence, sense of smell, and persistence makes Tollers excellent search and rescue dogs…”

After looking all over for the trailhead and still not being able to find it, Roxanne drove us around the loop to Rosario Street, and found it there. 

Cross over a bridge and the trail run in both directions along a portion of Putah Creek. Right now, there’s no water in the creek, but in the shade of huge oak trees there was a lot of green, and a mix of trees, some native, some not: Valley Oaks, a variety of willows, elderberry trees, black walnut trees, some Elms, some English Oaks, Buckeyes, and Live Oaks, etc.

If we had found the spot earlier in the summer, we might’ve seen fresher galls — especially the ones on the elm leaves — but we were still able to see quite a few including some Woollybears and Elm Sack Galls. We were surprised, though, by the dearth of birds. I also didn’t see any Sulphur Shelf fungus which should be appearing allover right now.

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

We walked almost 2 miles of the trail and then decided to take a break for brunch. Afterwards, we decided to do a quick run through the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area. We had to stop when we came across a crop of orange dodder twisting and winding its way through the grass and weeds. I know it’s invasive stuff, a parasite, but I find it so interesting.           

It was afternoon by then, of course, so we didn’t see a lot of wildlife: a few Great Egrets, some White-Tailed Kites and a big Great Blue Heron.  We noticed while watching the Kites, that they were vocalizing to one another, and one kept raising its tail.

According to Cornell: “…Most common call a kewt, given singly or spaced by 1–2 s; resembles an Osprey call and is whistle-like. Call is given in a variety of circumstances including: (1) during territory defense, (2) males approaching nests with prey, (3) adults interacting with juveniles, (4) by members of a pair when near one another, given irregularly. Owing to the broad contexts in which the call is used, its function is uncertain, but Watson speculated it served as a ‘…means of recognition or announcement of presence.’

“Most common display is a Tail Bob where birds cock tail up over back then down, generally in response to an intrusion……Commonly bobs tail in response to kites and other raptor species. This appears to be a first order threat to intrusions by other raptors. While perched, the tail is lifted up about 45° from its normal position and swung down, often repeated many times…”

I learn something new every time I go out into Nature. This was hike #83 in my annual hike challenge.

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Species List:

  1. American Kestrel, Falco sparverius
  2. American Robin, Turdus migratorius
  3. Arroyo Willow, Salix lasiolepis
  4. Black Walnut Pouch Gall Mite, Aceria brachytarsa
  5. Black Walnut, Northern California Black Walnut, Juglans hindsii
  6. Blue Elderberry, Sambucus nigra cerulea
  7. California Buckeye Chestnut Tree, Aesculus californica
  8. California Ground Squirrel, Otospermophilus beecheyi
  9. California Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma californica
  10. California Wild Grape, Vitis californica
  11. Callery Pear, Pyrus calleryana
  12. Cat, Felis catus
  13. Cedar Waxwing, Bombycilla cedrorum
  14. Club Gall Wasp, Atrusca clavuloides
  15. Coast Live Oak, Quercus agrifolia
  16. Convoluted Gall Wasp, Andricus confertus
  17. Curlycup Gumweed, Grindelia squarrosa
  18. Damselfly, Pacific Forktail Damselfly, Ischnura cervula
  19. Deodar Cedar, Cedrus deodara
  20. Dodder, California Dodder, Cuscuta californica
  21. Dog, Canis lupus familiaris
  22. Elm Sack Gall Aphid, Tetraneura ulmi [pouch-like extensions on leaves]
  23. Elm Tree, Field Elm, Ulmus minor
  24. English Ivy, Hedera helix
  25. English Oak, Quercus robur
  26. Flat-Topped Honeydew Gall Wasp, Disholcaspis eldoradensis
  27. Fox Sparrow, Aleutian Sooty Fox Sparrow, Passerella iliaca unalaschcensis
  28. Gouty Stem Gall Wasp, Callirhytis quercussuttoni
  29. Grape Erineum Mite, Colomerus vitis
  30. Great Blue Heron, Ardea herodias
  31. Great Egret, Ardea alba
  32. Green Lacewing, Chrysopa coloradensis
  33. Jumping Oak Gall Wasp, Neuroterus saltatorius
  34. Leaf Gall Wasp/ Unidentified per Russo, Tribe: Cynipidi [on Valley Oak]
  35. Live Oak Bud Gall Wasp, Callirhytis quercusagrifoliae
  36. Live Oak Gall Wasp, Spring Generation, Callirhytis quercuspomiformis [looks like a soft funnel, green to brown]
  37. Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, Canis lupus familiaris
  38. Oak Apple, California Gall Wasp, Andricus quercuscalifornicus
  39. Oakworm Moth, Anisota sp.
  40. Orange Sulphur Butterfly, Colias eurytheme
  41. Pacific Aster, Symphyotrichum chilense
  42. Red Cone Gall Wasp, Andricus kingi
  43. Rosette Gall Wasp, Andricus wiltzae [on Valley Oak]
  44. Round-Gall Wasp, Fuzzy Gall, Burnettweldia washingtonensis [round, fuzzy, on twigs]
  45. Ruby-Crowned Kinglet, Regulus calendula
  46. Spined Turban Gall Wasp, Cynips douglasii [summer gall, pink, spikey top]
  47. Sunflower, Common Woolly Sunflower, Eriophyllum lanatum
  48. Turkey Vulture, Cathartes aura
  49. Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
  50. Western Kermes, Rattan’s Kermes, Allokermes rattani
  51. White Horehound, Marrubium vulgare
  52. White Tailed Kite, Elanus leucurus
  53. Woollybear Gall Wasp, Atrusca trimaculosa
  54. Yellow Wig Gall Wasp, Andricus fullawayi