I got up around 6:00 AM, got the dogs fed and pottied, and then headed over to the Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge. This is a 18,000 acre site of protected land in the southern portion of the county near Elk Grove, one of the few urban refuges in the nation. Grasslands, vernal pools and diverse wildlife and plant life can be found here, but most of it can only be seen through guided tours that go past the paved Blue Heron loop trails.
I seldom see any wildlife there to speak of when I’m there, and more recently I found the place to be a horrible mess: very neglected and unkempt. Today, I was happy to see that they cleaned the place up a lot since the last time I was out there. I went there because I knew they had a great collection of the native California Wild Rose plants there, and this is rose gall season. I saw two species: the galls of the Spiny Leaf Gall Wasp, Diplolepis polita, and galls of the Leafy Bract Gall Wasp, Diplolepis californica. So cool!
The only birds I saw there were the usual suspects: a few Red-Winged Blackbirds, House Finches, some tree Swallows and Mourning Doves, and a Song Sparrow. I could hear Killdeer, but didn’t see them.
The only other creature I saw there was a very pregnant Western Fence Lizard. Her coloration was so bold and bright, you couldn’t miss her. I’ve never seen one colored like that.
I found a few different kinds of lichen on the wood and metal spurs of one of the bridges on the property, including one I’d never seen before.
I walked there for about 2 hours. This was hike #24 in my #52hikeChallenge for the year.
CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.
Because it was so close, I drove over toward the Cosumnes River Preserve. I didn’t go into the preserve itself, but drove around Franklin, Desmond and Bruceville Roads to see if I came across anything interesting.
There were cattle in some of the ag fields. And across from them were quite a few Purple Salsify. Chicory, and Bristly Oxtongue plants. Along Franklin Road, across from the entrance to the preserve there was a row of fennel plants.
I always check out fennel plants when I find them during this time of the year because they are a host plant for the caterpillars of the Anise Swallowtail Butterfly, Papilio zelicaon. They go through 5 instars (molts) changing in color and size as they mature. They start out looking like bird poop, and end up banded in glorious colors. I found specimens in the first, third, fourth and fifth instars. So cool.
A little bit further on the road was a pond filled with Great Egrets and Snowy Egrets. I assumed they were eating crayfish, which a common inhabitants of the pond.
I was out for about 4 hours and headed back home.
- Anise Swallowtail Butterfly, Papilio zelicaon
- Baccharis Stem Gall Midge, Rhopalomyia baccharis [creates twisting stems on coyote brush]
- Bee, European Honeybee, Western Honeybee, Apis mellifera
- Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans
- Blessed Milk Thistle, Silybum marianum
- Blue Elderberry, Sambucus nigra cerulea
- Boxelder, Box Elder Tree, Acer negundo
- Bristle Fly, Family: Tachinidae
- Bristly Oxtongue, Helminthotheca echioides
- California Blackberry, Trailing Blackberry, Rubus ursinus
- California Sycamore, Western Sycamore, Platanus racemose
- California Wild Rose, Rosa californica
- Candleflame Lichen, Candelaria concolor [bright yellow-orange]
- Cattle, Black Angus, Bos Taurus var, Black Angus
- Cattle, Charolais Cattle, Bos taurus var. Charolais
- Cattle, Guernsey Cattle, Bos taurus var. Guernsey
- Chicory, Cichorium intybus
- Coyote Brush Bud Gall midge, Rhopalomyia californica
- Coyote Brush, Baccharis pilularis
- Crustose Pin Lichen, Pseudothelomma occidentale [on fence post, looks like a nipple lichen]
- Desert Cottontail, Sylvilagus audubonii
- Earwig, European Earwig, Forficula auricularia
- European Blowfly, Calliphora vicina
- Fennel, Sweet Fennel, Foeniculum vulgare
- Fremont’s Cottonwood, Populus fremontii
- Grasse, Lesser Canary Grass, Phalaris minor
- Grass Fly, Thaumatomyia sp. [small, yellow-orange]
- Great Egret, Ardea alba
- Greater White-Fronted Goose, Anser albifrons
- Green Lacewing, Chrysopa coloradensis
- House Finch, Haemorhous mexicanus
- Jointed Charlock, Raphanus raphanistrum
- Killdeer, Charadrius vociferous [heard]
- Ladybeetle, Seven-Spotted Lady Beetle, Coccinella septempunctata
- Leaf Curl Fungus, Taphrina sp. [on sycamore]
- Leafy Bract Gall Wasp, Diplolepis californica [hard rosette gall on rose bush]
- Mourning Dove, Zenaida macroura
- Oak Apple, California Gall Wasp, Andricus quercuscalifornicus
- Pin-Cushion Sunburst Lichen, Polycauliona polycarpa [bright orange, apothecia, close, piled]
- Purple Salsify, Tragopogon porrifolius
- Red-Winged Blackbird, Agelaius phoeniceus
- Rim Lichen, Lecanora sp. [on metal fence post]
- Rose Rust Fungus, Phragmidium tuberculatum
- Rose Stem Miner Moth, Marmara spp.
- Round Gall Wasp, Burnettweldia washingtonensis [on valley oak]
- Sheetweb Spider, Microlinyphia mandibulata [tiny, black with white mottling on abdomen]
- Six-Spotted Orbweaver Spider, Araniella displicata [nest]
- Snowy Egret, Egretta thula
- Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Melospiza melodia
- Spiny Leaf Gall Wasp, Diplolepis polita [on rose leaves]
- Swallow, Tree Swallow, Tachycineta bicolor
- Torrent Sedge, Carex nudata
- Tule, Common Tule, Schoenoplectus acutus
- Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
- Western Fence Lizard, Blue Belly, Sceloporus occidentalis
- Western Kingbird, Tyrannus verticalis
- Willow, Arroyo Willow, Salix lasiolepis
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