City Nature Challenge, Day 3, 05-01-22

It’s the City Nature Challenge Day #3 and my friend Roxanne and I went over to the American River Bend Park with my dog Esteban to look for more species to add to our totals. Esteban walked the whole trail along with us and never complained or asked to be picked up and held. I was very proud of him. The weather was lovely: cool and breezy. It was so nice.

There were so-so many California Pipevine Swallowtail caterpillars everywhere. We even found one that was just starting to go into it’s metamorphosis. CLICK HERE for an excellent video (not mine) about the butterfly’s life cycle.

At one spot, we noticed that a White-Breasted Nuthatch was whizzing back and forth with food for its babies, and followed it back to its nest: a hole at the end of a downed log in the grass. It’s usually really difficult to get clear photos of this species of bird because it’s small, moves a lot, and usually has its back to you. But at this particular nesting site, we were able to get quite a few face and full body photos of the birds.

There were a lot of tiny House Wrens singing from various trees all around us, but it took a while before we were able to find one that was within photographing range.

Roxanne had really wanted to see some of the Rough-Winged Swallows I saw the last time I was at the park, but they were being shy today. We finally did see a few in flight, and one landed on a tree nearby, so at least she was able to get pictures of that one.

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

In the river, we saw a pair (male and female) of Common Mergansers. In this species, the males don’t look anything like the females (sexual dimorphism). According to Cornell: “…Adult sexes strongly dimorphic in size and plumage most of year. Male has iridescent, greenish-black head with rounded crest, brilliant white neck, underparts, and secondaries contrasting with black upperwings, gray back and tail, and long narrow scarlet-orange bill. Female plumage has rusty-brown head with long crest and distinct white chin patch, slaty-gray breast, back, wings and tail, white flanks and belly, and scarlet-orange bill; brown of head and upper neck sharply demarcated from white lower neck..” I’m looking forward to them having lots of red-headed ducklings.

A big surprise, for me, was seeing my first Townsend’s Warbler: a little yellow guy with thick black eyeliner. So cute.  This species is migrating through right now, and flies between because Alaska and Central America each year. The species hasn’t been studied very much, so most of the information on it is anecdotal.

Throughout the park, we found several different kinds of lichen, and also were able to find an identify a few species of grasses.

On our way out, we spotted a mama Wild Turkey with about four or five little poults. As soon as she realized we were trying to get photos of the babies, she hurried them into the long grass where they were all but invisible – except for the grass-tops moving over them.

We were out for about 3½  hours and then headed home. This was hike #23 in my #52Hike Challenge for the year.

Species List:

  1. Acorn Woodpecker, Melanerpes formicivorus
  2. Alder, White Alder, Alnus rhombifolia
  3. Anna’s Hummingbird, Calypte anna
  4. Ash-Throated Flycatcher, Myiarchus cinerascens
  5. Bark Rim Lichen, Lecanora chlarotera [looks like Whitewash Lichen but has apothecia]
  6. Bee, Leafcutter Bee, Megachile sp.
  7. Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans
  8. Blessed Milk Thistle, Silybum marianum
  9. Blue Elderberry, Sambucus nigra cerulea
  10. Bur Parsley, Anthriscus caucalis
  11. Bushtit, American Bushtit, Psaltriparus minimus
  12. California Black Walnut Pouch Gall Mite, Aceria brachytarsa
  13. California Buckeye Chestnut Tree, Aesculus californica
  14. California Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly, Battus philenor hirsuta
  15. California Pipevine, Dutchman’s Pipe, Aristolochia californica
  16. California Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma californica
  17. California Wild Grape, Vitis californica
  18. Canada Goose, Branta canadensis
  19. Chinese Pistache, Pistacia chinensis
  20. Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus
  21. Common European Greenbottle Fly, Lucilia sericata
  22. Common Greenshield Lichen, Flavoparmelia caperata
  23. Common Hover Fly Parasitoid Wasp, Diplazon laetatorius [colorful, yellow legs]
  24. Common Merganser, Mergus merganser
  25. Confusing Petrophila Moth, Petrophila confusalis [tiny, pale, striped]
  26. Cranefly, European Crane Fly, Tipula paludosa
  27. Creeping Woodsorrel, Oxalis corniculata
  28. Crust Fungus, Split Porecrust, Xylodon paradoxus
  29. Deerweed, Acmispon glaber
  30. Dove’s-Foot Crane’s-Bill, Geranium molle
  31. Eastern Fox Squirrel, Sciurus niger [rusty belly]
  32. Elegant Clarkia, Clarkia unguiculata [red line on leaves]
  33. Eurasian Collared Dove, Streptopelia decaocto
  34. European Starling, Sturnus vulgaris
  35. Farinose Cartilage Lichen, Ramalina farinacea [like oakmoss but with very fine strands]
  36. Frosted Lichen, Physconia sp.
  37. Genista Broom Moth, Uresiphita reversalis
  38. Grasses, Bristly Dogtail Grass, Cynosurus echinatus
  39. Grasses, Common Barley, Hordeum vulgare
  40. Grasses, Flowering Oloptum, Oloptum sp.
  41. Grasses, Silver Hairgrass, Aira caryophyllea
  42. Green Shield Lichen, Flavoparmelia caperata
  43. Hairypink, Pink Grass, Windmill Pink, Petrorhagia dubia
  44. Harvestman, Superfamily: Phalangioidea
  45. Humped Trashline Orbweaver Spider, Cyclosa turbinate
  46. Iris, Yellow Iris, Iris pseudacorus
  47. Italian Thistle, Carduus pycnocephalus
  48. Jalisco Petrophila Moth, Petrophila jaliscalis [tiny, black dots long edge of hindwings]
  49. Ladybeetle, Convergent Lady Beetle, Hippodamia convergens
  50. Ladybeetle, Seven-Spotted Lady Beetle, Coccinella septempunctata
  51. Lauxaniid Fly, Family: Lauxaniidae [small, reddish, brown or black]
  52. Live Oak Apple Gall Wasp, Spring generation, Amphibolips quercuspomiformis [upside down volcano on the edge of the leaf, green or brown]
  53. Live Oak Apple Gall Wasp, Summer Generation, Amphibolips quercuspomiformis [spiky ball]
  54. Live Oak Folded Leaf Aphid, Stegophylla essigi [in live oaks, folds the leaf over itself; sometimes the leaf turns red/reddish]
  55. Lupine, Miniature Lupine, Lupinus bicolor
  56. Lustrous Camouflage Lichen, Melanohalea exasperatula [brown, shiny]
  57. Mallard Duck, Anas platyrhynchos
  58. Mantis, Arizona Mantis, Stagmomantis limbata [large ootheca]
  59. Miner’s Lettuce, Claytonia perfoliata
  60. Monkeyflower, Orange Bush Monkeyflower, Diplacus aurantiacus
  61. Mourning Dove, Zenaida macroura
  62. Non-Biting Midge, Cricotopus sp.
  63. Northern California Black Walnut, Juglans hindsii
  64. Oak Titmouse, Baeolophus inornatus
  65. Oak, Coast Live Oak, Quercus agrifolia
  66. Oak, Interior Live Oak, Quercus wislizeni
  67. Oak, Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
  68. Poison Hemlock, Conium maculatum
  69. Popcorn Flower, Rusty Popcornflower, Plagiobothrys nothofulvus
  70. Poplar Sunburst Lichen, Xanthomendoza hasseana [sunburst on Cottonwood]
  71. Poppy, California Poppy, Eschscholzia californica
  72. Red-Eared Slider Turtle, Trachemys scripta elegans
  73. Rim Lichen, Lecanora carpinea
  74. Rio Grande Wild Turkey, Meleagris gallopavo intermedia
  75. Ruptured Twig Gall Wasp, Callirhytis perdens [on live oaks]
  76. Scarab-Hunter Wasp, Toltec Scoliid Wasp, Dielis tolteca
  77. Stork’s Bill, Mediterranean Stork’s-Bill, Erodium botrys
  78. Swallow, Northern Rough-Winged Swallow, Stelgidopteryx serripennis
  79. Swallow, Tree Swallow, Tachycineta bicolor
  80. Towhee, Spotted Towhee, Pipilo maculatus
  81. Townsend’s Warbler, Setophaga townsendi
  82. Two-Horned Gall Wasp, unisexual gall, summer generation,  Dryocosmus dubiosus [small, green or mottled, on back of leaf along the midvein]
  83. Vetch, Hairy Vetch, Vicia villosa
  84. Wax-Leaf Ligustrum, Ligustrum japonicum
  85. Western Fence Lizard, Blue Belly, Sceloporus occidentalis [pregnant female]
  86. Western Hoptree, Ptelea crenulata
  87. Western Redbud, Cercis occidentalis
  88. Western Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly, Papilio rutulus
  89. White-Breasted Nuthatch, Sitta carolinensis
  90. Wren, House Wren, Troglodytes aedon

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