On the Short Trail at Gristmill, 05-22-22

I got up around 5:30 this morning so I could get out for a walk at Gristmill (again) with Esteban. My hip had been angry all night, but it loosed up a bit once I got moving. Because it was warming up fast, I only walked the short trail back and forth.

I HEARD a lot more birds than I saw. Wrens were singing all around me; there were Killdeer complaining by the river; and Nuttall’s Woodpeckers trilling through the canopy, looking for bugs for their babies.

I heard the “Scaup!” of a Green Heron overhead and caught a glimpse of it as it flew over; and I also caught a glimpse of an Ash-Throated Flycatcher as it flitted out of a stand of vetch on the ground and into a tree.

Elsewhere, there was a Belted Kingfisher chattering very close by along the trail, and I saw it disappear into the bank below me. I couldn’t get into a good spot in which to photograph the burrow or the bird, though,  because there was a 20 foot drop there from the trail to the river. Sigh.

I saw some female Common Mergansers fly up into the broken top of a dead tree on the river-side of the trail where I think there was a nest. One of the birds posed long enough for me to get some photos of her.

It’s not uncommon for these ducks to comingle. According to Cornell: “…Females are often gregarious on breeding grounds. In Europe, up to 3 or 4 (occasionally 10) females may nest together in the same tree… Broods containing entirely downy young seldom mix with other broods. Later, mixing of broods occurs frequently, with aggregations of ≥40 young attended by 1 or more females…”  I’ve seen mama Mergansers with broods of 20 ducklings.

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

On the other side of the trail, I saw a pair of Wood Ducks fly into a tree over a nest box, and then the female entered it. She stayed inside while the male stood guard outside. I don’t know if she was laying eggs or brooding over ducklings.

I would sooooo love to be able to see the ducklings of either brood get to the point where they jump out of their nest and head to the water.

As I was leaving, I passed a lot of people on the trail walking big dogs that were off leash. One of the people, a guy with a beard, attached a leash to his dog as I approached and mentioned that the dog had just been chasing a deer, and his other dog, still unleashed, was trying to dig up something from the ground (probably a ground squirrel, but the evil side of me hoped it was a rattlesnake hibernaculum). Humans can be such a$$holes; it’s illegal to harass the wildlife there.

No dragonflies today, but I did get a photo of a female Emma’s Dancer damselfly. She was so well-camouflaged in the dry grass that I was surprised I was able to spot her at all.

I was out for about 2 hours.  This was hike #29 or my #52HikeChallenge for the year.

Species List:

  1. ?? unidentified spider egg sac
  2. Ash-Throated Flycatcher, Myiarchus cinerascens
  3. Belted Kingfisher, Megaceryle alcyon
  4. Black Walnut, Eastern Black Walnut, Juglans nigra
  5. Blackberry, Armenian Blackberry, Rubus armeniacus [red canes]
  6. Blue Elderberry, Sambucus nigra cerulea
  7. Bushtit, American Bushtit, Psaltriparus minimus
  8. Caddisfly, Black Dancer Caddisfly, Mystacides sepulchralis
  9. California Black Walnut Pouch Gall Mite, Aceria brachytarsa
  10. California Broad-Necked Darkling Beetle, Coelocnemis dilaticollis
  11. California Ground Squirrel, Otospermophilus beecheyi
  12. California Mugwort, Artemisia douglasiana
  13. California Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma californica
  14. Canada Goose, Branta canadensis
  15. Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus
  16. Common Merganser, Mergus merganser
  17. Common Sunburst Lichen, Golden Shield Lichen, Xanthoria parietina [yellow-orange, on wood/trees]
  18. Damselfly, Emma’s Dancer, Argia emma
  19. Dog, Canis lupus familiaris
  20. Fig, Common Fig, Ficus carica
  21. Fremont’s Cottonwood, Populus fremontii
  22. Green Heron, Butorides virescens
  23. Hoary Rosette Lichen, Physcia aipolia [hoary, brown apothecia]
  24. Holm Oak, Quercus ilex [soft leaves, lighter on back]
  25. Italian Thistle, Carduus pycnocephalus
  26. Killdeer, Charadrius vociferous
  27. Manroot, California Manroot, Bigroot, Marah fabaceus
  28. Mistletoe, Broadleaf Mistletoe, Phoradendron macrophyllum
  29. Mullein, Moth Mullein, Verbascum blattaria [thin stick, white or yellow]
  30. Oak Apple, California Gall Wasp, Andricus quercuscalifornicus
  31. Oak, Coast Live Oak, Quercus agrifolia
  32. Oak, Interior Live Oak, Quercus wislizeni
  33. Oak, Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
  34. Poison Hemlock, Conium maculatum
  35. Red-Eared Slider Turtle, Trachemys scripta elegans
  36. Shot Hole Borer, Polyphagous Shot Hole Borer Beetle, Euwallacea fornicatus
  37. Shrubby Sunburst Lichen, Polycauliona candelaria
  38. Stretch Spider, Tetragnatha extensa [pale tan abdomen]
  39. Swallow, Tree Swallow, Tachycineta bicolor
  40. Towhee, Spotted Towhee, Pipilo maculatus
  41. Turkey Vulture, Cathartes aura
  42. Vetch, Hairy Vetch, Vicia villosa
  43. Western Bluebird, Sialia Mexicana
  44. Western Boxelder Bug, Boisea rubrolineata
  45. Wood Duck, Aix sponsa
  46. Wren, Bewick’s Wren, Thryomanes bewickii
  47. Wren, House Wren, Troglodytes aedon

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