A Disappointing Day at Gray Lodge, 05-13-22

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:

  1. American Robin, Turdus migratorius
  2. Black Knot, Apiosporina morbosa [fungal growth]
  3. Black Mulberry, Morus nigra
  4. Blackberry Rust, Gymnoconia nitens
  5. Blackberry, Armenian Blackberry, Rubus armeniacus 
  6. Blessed Milk Thistle, Silybum marianum
  7. Brewer’s Blackbird, Euphagus cyanocephalus
  8. Bristly Oxtongue, Helminthotheca echioides
  9. Bullock’s Oriole, Icterus bullockii
  10. California Quail, Callipepla californica
  11. California Wild Grape, Vitis californica
  12. Coffeeberry, California Buckthorn, Frangula californica
  13. Common Gallinule, Gallinula galeata
  14. Cottonwood Catkin Gall Mite, Eriophyes neoessigi
  15. Darkling Beetle, Coniontis tristis
  16. Double-Crested Cormorant, Phalacrocorax auratus [on telephone pole]
  17. Downy Woodpecker, Dryobates pubescens
  18. Eucalyptus Gall Wasp, Ophelimus maskelli [speckled; flat galls all over the leaf surface]
  19. Eucalyptus, River Redgum, Eucalyptus camaldulensis
  20. Fig, Common Fig, Ficus carica
  21. Fremont’s Cottonwood, Populus fremontii
  22. Grass Sharpshooter, Draeculacephala minerva [like a leafhopper]
  23. Grasses, Rabbitfoot Grass, Polypogon monspeliensis
  24. Great Blue Heron, Ardea herodias
  25. Great Egret, Ardea alba
  26. Great Horned Owl, Bubo virginianus
  27. Hooded Merganser, Lophodytes cucullatus
  28. Mule Deer, Odocoileus hemionus
  29. Parrot’s Feather, Myriophyllum aquaticum [water plant]
  30. Peacock, Peafowl, Indian Peafowl, Pavo cristatus
  31. Poison Hemlock, Conium maculatum
  32. Purple Salsify, Tragopogon porrifolius
  33. Purpletop Vervain, Verbena bonariensis
  34. Red Gum Lerp Psyllid, Glycaspis brimblecombei [on eucalyptus]
  35. Red-Eared Slider Turtle, Trachemys scripta elegans
  36. Red-Tailed Hawk, Western Red-Tailed Hawk, Buteo jamaicensis calurus
  37. Rice, Annual Wild Rice, Zizania aquatica
  38. Rose Weevil, Western Rose Curculio, Merhynchites wickhami
  39. Rose, Dog Rose, Rosa canina [white]
  40. Scarlet Pimpernel, Lysimachia arvensis
  41. Sparrow, House Sparrow, Passer domesticus
  42. Swallow, Tree Swallow, Tachycineta bicolor
  43. Tripartite Sweat Bee, Halictus tripartitus
  44. Turkey Vulture, Cathartes aura
  45. Western Fence Lizard, Blue Belly, Sceloporus occidentalis
  46. Western Kingbird, Tyrannus verticalis
  47. Western Tanager, Piranga ludoviciana
  48. White Horehound, Marrubium vulgare
  49. Willow Bead Gall Mite, Aculus tetanothrix
  50. Willow Midrib Gall Sawfly, Suborder: Symphyta, Unknown [Russo, page 219]
  51. Willow, Coyote Willow, Salix exigua
  52. Wren, Marsh Wren, Cistothorus palustris
  53. ?? tiny scat, maybe vole

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