I got up at 5:30 this morning, fed the dogs, let them out for potty, then got myself and Esteban ready to go to the Gray Lodge Wildlife Area with my friend Roxanne.
Overall, it was a kind of disappointing day. There was very little water on the ground so the amount of waterfowl we saw was next to nil. I was also hoping to see Great Horned Owls there because photos of them had been showing up a lot on the Friends of Gray Lodge group on Facebook. We saw one, but it was very far away and obscured by twigs and leaves. The place was full of Red-Winged Blackbirds, though. They were all over the place.
We also saw quite a few Kingbirds, and got to see Bullock’s Orioles (a male and female pair; the female was carrying insects in her bill) and a Western Tanager.
One nice surprise was seeing a mama Hooded Merganser with her ducklings.
We did get to see some different pollinators in the wild multi-flora rose bushes along the walking trails including some different species of bee, Cabbage White and Sulphur butterflies, and a few Rose Weevils.
CLICK HERE for the album of photos.
We found just a few galls including some bead galls and midrib galls on the sandbar willow trees. The fun find was a couple of large clusters of the Cottonwood Catkin galls. I’d seen them at a distance on trees at Gristmill, but had never been able to see them close up until today. The mites infest the catkins on the cottonwood trees, before they can produce “cotton” and seeds, and turns them into long panicles of rosette-looking clusters (similar to clusters of grapes). They’re actually kind of pretty to look at when they’re this new and have a little bit of a rose tiny to parts of them. According to several sites, the damage is aesthetic, and doesn’t effect the overall health of the tree.
We were out from 6:30 AM to 3:30 PM. It was a long day in the car for what we felt was a disappointing list of species for the day.
This was hike #27 in my #52HikeChallenge for the year.
As an aside, I’m up to 1,970 species on my iNaturalist account. You can see the list and all of my observations HERE.
Today’s Species List:
- American Robin, Turdus migratorius
- Black Knot, Apiosporina morbosa [fungal growth]
- Black Mulberry, Morus nigra
- Blackberry Rust, Gymnoconia nitens
- Blackberry, Armenian Blackberry, Rubus armeniacus
- Blessed Milk Thistle, Silybum marianum
- Brewer’s Blackbird, Euphagus cyanocephalus
- Bristly Oxtongue, Helminthotheca echioides
- Bullock’s Oriole, Icterus bullockii
- California Quail, Callipepla californica
- California Wild Grape, Vitis californica
- Coffeeberry, California Buckthorn, Frangula californica
- Common Gallinule, Gallinula galeata
- Cottonwood Catkin Gall Mite, Eriophyes neoessigi
- Darkling Beetle, Coniontis tristis
- Double-Crested Cormorant, Phalacrocorax auratus [on telephone pole]
- Downy Woodpecker, Dryobates pubescens
- Eucalyptus Gall Wasp, Ophelimus maskelli [speckled; flat galls all over the leaf surface]
- Eucalyptus, River Redgum, Eucalyptus camaldulensis
- Fig, Common Fig, Ficus carica
- Fremont’s Cottonwood, Populus fremontii
- Grass Sharpshooter, Draeculacephala minerva [like a leafhopper]
- Grasses, Rabbitfoot Grass, Polypogon monspeliensis
- Great Blue Heron, Ardea herodias
- Great Egret, Ardea alba
- Great Horned Owl, Bubo virginianus
- Hooded Merganser, Lophodytes cucullatus
- Mule Deer, Odocoileus hemionus
- Parrot’s Feather, Myriophyllum aquaticum [water plant]
- Peacock, Peafowl, Indian Peafowl, Pavo cristatus
- Poison Hemlock, Conium maculatum
- Purple Salsify, Tragopogon porrifolius
- Purpletop Vervain, Verbena bonariensis
- Red Gum Lerp Psyllid, Glycaspis brimblecombei [on eucalyptus]
- Red-Eared Slider Turtle, Trachemys scripta elegans
- Red-Tailed Hawk, Western Red-Tailed Hawk, Buteo jamaicensis calurus
- Rice, Annual Wild Rice, Zizania aquatica
- Rose Weevil, Western Rose Curculio, Merhynchites wickhami
- Rose, Dog Rose, Rosa canina [white]
- Scarlet Pimpernel, Lysimachia arvensis
- Sparrow, House Sparrow, Passer domesticus
- Swallow, Tree Swallow, Tachycineta bicolor
- Tripartite Sweat Bee, Halictus tripartitus
- Turkey Vulture, Cathartes aura
- Western Fence Lizard, Blue Belly, Sceloporus occidentalis
- Western Kingbird, Tyrannus verticalis
- Western Tanager, Piranga ludoviciana
- White Horehound, Marrubium vulgare
- Willow Bead Gall Mite, Aculus tetanothrix
- Willow Midrib Gall Sawfly, Suborder: Symphyta, Unknown [Russo, page 219]
- Willow, Coyote Willow, Salix exigua
- Wren, Marsh Wren, Cistothorus palustris
- ?? tiny scat, maybe vole
Buy Me a Coffee!
Donate $5 to buy me a coffee so I have the fuel I need to keep exploring and bring more of nature to you. Thanks! You could also send me a Starbucks gift card if you’re so inclined.