Nesting Birds at Mather, 05-07-22

Around 7:00 AM I headed over to Mather Lake Regional Park for a walk with my friend Roxanne. I was hoping to see some Mute Swan cygnets at the lake. We didn’t see those, but we did see the swans a lot of other stuff.  

It was one of those days when there were almost too many things to see at once. For example, we were taking photos of some Canada Goose goslings and in that same area there was a Great Egret.  Then a Great Blue Heron that we hadn’t seen flew out from the tules and a pair of Green Herons flew overhead “gronk-ing!” at each other. And at the same time we could see a Belted Kingfisher sitting on the high tension wire above the trail. So much to see!

Among the birds, the goslings seemed to dominate on the ground, There were small groups of little yellow ones, and larger groups of older ones. One creche had 16 goslings; another one had 30 goslings!

A creche of Canada Geese, Branta canadensis, including 31 goslings.

In the trees, there were wrens singing and Western Kingbirds arguing with and chasing one another. We also found the nesting cavities of Tree Swallows and a pair of Downy Woodpeckers.

The most fun bird find, though, was spotting some Barn Swallows flying around. We followed one with our eyes and realized that it gone into the alcove of a building.  We walked over to the building and peeked inside, and found that on the backside of one of the light fixtures there was a nest with (we think) five nearly fledged babies in it. Their parents flew back and forth bringing them food from the outside. They also scolded us for being in the building taking photos of their kids.

We noticed that there were other adult birds flitting around the area, and wondered if they were assisting feeding the chicks. According to Cornell: “…Nests often attract the attention of extra adults that associate with a pair for up to an entire breeding season; these extra birds are sometimes tolerated and occasionally lead to polygyny… Extra adults contribute relatively little to feeding young, but they are known to mob predators and assist in nest-building, incubation, and brooding young. Extra adults may be using nest attendance as a breeding strategy either to replace one pair member should something happen to it or to commit sexually selected infanticide, providing an opportunity for males to take over the breeding female. Nests that are attended by helpers often are ones occupied by older females, consistent with the interpretation that male attendants are trying to secure high-quality females as mates…”

Interesting! Old ladies rule!

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.  

Weird insects were found on the oak trees, but we didn’t find any galls. Among the insects were a treehopper and a mirid bug with long, thick antennae. We also found quite a few different spiders.

There were bug galls on the Coyote Brush bushes, but no stem galls that we could see. And we were able to find lots of petiole galls just starting to appear on the leaves of the cottonwood trees. I’d never seen those galls that “young” before.

We were surprised to see a kind of woolly marbles plant on the ground along one of the trails. We usually see those in the damp vernal pool areas, but these plants were on a dry trail. We also found some Crimson Clover that we hadn’t seen there before.

On our way out, we passed by a young man with a largemouth bass in his hands. He had caught it all by himself and was taking it to show his grandfather who was sitting on a different part of the bank. Sweet.      

This was hike #25 of my #52HikeChallenge for the year. We were out for almost 5 hours

Species List:

  1. American Robin, Turdus migratorius
  2. Anna’s Hummingbird, Calypte anna
  3. Aphid Predator Mirid Bug, Heterotoma planicornis
  4. Ash-Throated Flycatcher, Myiarchus cinerascens
  5. Belted Kingfisher, Megaceryle alcyon
  6. Bindweed, Field Bindweed, Convolvulus arvensis
  7. Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans
  8. Blackberry, Armenian Blackberry, Rubus armeniacus 
  9. Brewer’s Blackbird, Euphagus cyanocephalus
  10. Buffalo Treehopper, Tribe: Ceresini
  11. California Ground Squirrel, Otospermophilus beecheyi
  12. California Quail, Callipepla californica [heard]
  13. Canada Goose, Branta canadensis
  14. Clover, Crimson Clover, Trifolium incarnatum
  15. Common Hawkweed, Hieracium lachenalii
  16. Coyote Brush Bud Gall midge, Rhopalomyia californica
  17. Coyote Brush, Baccharis pilularis
  18. Damselfly, Black-Fronted Forktail, Ischnura denticollis
  19. Damselfly, Pacific Forktail, Ischnura cervula
  20. Desert Broom Gallfly, Aciurina thoracica (small, decorated wings)
  21. Double-Crested Cormorant, Phalacrocorax auratus
  22. Downy Woodpecker, Dryobates pubescens
  23. Eurasian Collared Dove, Streptopelia decaocto [heard]
  24. European Starling, Sturnus vulgaris
  25. Fremont’s Cottonwood, Populus fremontii
  26. Goldwire, Hypericum concinnum
  27. Great Blue Heron, Ardea herodias
  28. Great Egret, Ardea alba
  29. Great-Tailed Grackle, Quiscalus mexicanus
  30. Grebe, Pied-Billed Grebe, Podilymbus podiceps [saw, heard coo-ing]
  31. Green Heron, Butorides virescens
  32. Green Lacewing, Chrysopa coloradensis
  33. House Finch, Haemorhous mexicanus
  34. Hyssop Loosestrife, Lythrum hyssopifolia [tiny pink flowers]
  35. Jointed Charlock, Raphanus raphanistrum
  36. Killdeer, Charadrius vociferous
  37. Largemouth Bass, Micropterus salmoides
  38. Mallard Duck, Anas platyrhynchos
  39. Mourning Dove, Zenaida macroura
  40. Mute Swan, Cygnus olor
  41. Nuttall’s Woodpecker, Picoides nuttallii
  42. Oak, Coast Live Oak, Quercus agrifolia
  43. Oak, Cork Oak, Quercus suber
  44. Oak, Interior Live Oak, Quercus wislizeni
  45. Oak, Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
  46. Osprey, Pandion haliaetus [flyover]
  47. Pennyroyal, Mentha pulegium
  48. Plantain, Ribwort Plantain, Plantago lanceolata
  49. Poplar Petiole Gall Aphid, Pemphigus populitransversus
  50. Redear Sunfish, Lepomis microlophus
  51. Red-Eared Slider Turtle, Trachemys scripta elegans
  52. Red-Shouldered Hawk, California Red-Shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus elegans
  53. Red-Winged Blackbird, Agelaius phoeniceus
  54. Rio Grande Wild Turkey, Meleagris gallopavo intermedia
  55. Rose, Multiflora Rose, Rosa multiflora [multiple white flowers]
  56. Slender Woolly-Marbles, Psilocarphus tenellus
  57. Stretch Spider, Tetragnatha extensa [pale tan abdomen]
  58. Swallow, Barn Swallow, American Barn Swallow, Hirundo rustica erythrogaster
  59. Swallow, Tree Swallow, Tachycineta bicolor
  60. Towhee, Spotted Towhee, Pipilo maculatus
  61. Tule, Common Tule, Schoenoplectus acutus
  62. Turkey Tangle Frogfruit, Phyla nodiflora
  63. Unidentified Spider, Order: Araneae [with egg sac]
  64. Vetch, Hairy Vetch, Vicia villosa
  65. Western Bluebird, Sialia Mexicana
  66. Western Fence Lizard, Blue Belly, Sceloporus occidentalis
  67. Western Kingbird, Tyrannus verticalis
  68. Whitewash Lichen, Phlyctis argena
  69. Wild Radish, Raphanus sativus
  70. Willow, Goodding’s Willow, Salix gooddingii
  71. Wren, House Wren, Troglodytes aedon
  72. Yellow-Billed Magpie, Pica nuttalli [on the road]

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