Ask and You Shall Receive, 06-12-22

I got up around 5:00 AM, got the dogs all fed and pottied, and got myself ready for a walk at William B. Pond Park. It was overcast when I first went out, and in the high 60’s. As I walked, there were a couple of light downpours of rain, and then the clouds started to shift and split apart. Got a lot of cloud photos. The wind also started to pick up and was really blowing by the time I headed back to the car.

As I was driving into the park and heading for my favorite parking space, I saw a small flock of Yellow-Billed Magpies gabbing at one another. I realized it was a group of adults and newly fledged youngsters that, although they were full grown, were begging for food. One jumped up on top of a fence post to beg from there. So noisy. The magpies are a favorite, though, because they’re a species that’s endemic to the Central Valley of California, which means they live and breed here and nowhere else on earth.

Among the bird species, I also saw a few California Quail, including a handsome male who jumped up on top of a stand of blackberry vines and posed for a little while. And a “lifer” bird for me: a Cassin’s Kingbird. I see the Western Kingbirds often, but this is the first time I’ve seen a Cassin’s.  Cassin’s have a darker breast than the Westerns, and have a white tip on their tail feathers.

The initial thing that struck me as I walked into the river side of the park (as opposed to the manicured part) was the dense overgrowth of Yellow Star Thistle. This is fragile riparian habitat; it shouldn’t be allowed to be overrun by star thistle. Where are the “stewards” who are supposed to be taking care of this place?

Yellow Star-Thistle, Centaurea solstitialis

CLICK HERE for the album of photos.

I was looking for the tarweed species and some Vinegar Weed, but either they’re not awake yet, or they had been dug up and turned away.  I did find some lovely pink centaury flowers along the river, some Yerba Santa that was just starting to bud, Queen Anne’s Lace, California Wild Rose, and some Manyflower Marshpennywort.

On the eucalyptus trees, I found a lot of fresh lerps made by Lerp Psyllids, and two kinds of galls. I also found galls on some of the willow trees, including those of two different species of midges. Nothing on the oak trees yet.

I’m still not seeing enough insects, though. There were a few that made themselves visible, but during this time of the year, they should be “annoying”. I did see a few species, but still… The lack of “bugs” really worries me.

I was hoping to see dragonflies along the riverside, but I didn’t see any. I knew the overcast and wind would affect the dragonflies’ ability to fly and there were no real sunny places for them to perch, nevertheless, I said to the Universe: “Seriously? Just show me one Widow Skimmer. How hard would that be?”  And, in truth, not 20 minutes later a Widow Skimmer flew into view and landed on some blackberry vines right in front of me. How cool is that?!

I walked for about 3 hours and then headed back home. This was hike #33 of my #52hikechallenge for the year.

Species List:

  1. Acorn Woodpecker, Melanerpes formicivorus
  2. Ash Leaf Curl Aphid, Prociphilus fraxinifolii
  3. Blackberry Orange Rust, Gymnoconia peckiana
  4. Blackberry, Armenian Blackberry, Rubus armeniacus [red canes]
  5. Bumblebee, Yellow-Faced Bumble Bee, Bombus vosnesenskii
  6. Caddisfly, Black Dancer Caddisfly, Mystacides sepulchralis
  7. Caddisfly, White Miller Caddisfly, Nectopsyche sp.
  8. California Bordered Plant Bug, Largus californicus
  9. California Quail, Callipepla californica
  10. Canada Goose, Branta canadensis
  11. Cassin’s Kingbird, Tyrannus vociferans
  12. Catalpa, Northern Catalpa, Catalpa speciosa
  13. Clustered Dock, Rumex conglomeratus
  14. Common St. John’s Wort, Hypericum perforatum
  15. Coyote Brush Bud Gall Midge, Rhopalomyia californica
  16. Coyote Brush Stem Gall Moth, Gnorimoschema baccharisella
  17. Coyote Brush, Baccharis pilularis
  18. Coyote, Canis latrans [scat]
  19. Damselfly, Tule Bluet, Enallagma carunculatum
  20. Dog, Canis lupus familiaris
  21. Eucalyptus Gall Wasp, Ophelimus maskelli [speckled; flat galls all over the leaf surface]
  22. Eucalyptus Stemgall Wasp, Leptocybe invasa [galls can also appear on the midvein]
  23. Eucalyptus, River Redgum, Eucalyptus camaldulensis
  24. Floating Water Primrose, Ludwigia peploides ssp. peploides
  25. Fly, Common Flesh Fly, Sarcophaga sp.
  26. Forget-Me-Not, Bay Forget-Me-Not, Myosotis laxa [tiny pale blue flowers]
  27. Fremont’s Cottonwood, Populus fremontii
  28. Goldenrod Crab Spider, Misumena vatia
  29. Grasses, Bermuda Grass, Cynodon dactylon
  30. Great Blue Heron, Ardea herodias
  31. Horsetail, Smooth Horsetail, Equisetum laevigatum
  32. Iris, Yellow Iris, Iris pseudacorus
  33. Jumping Spider, Arboreal Jumping Spider, Colonus hesperus
  34. Ladybeetle, Asian Lady Beetle, Harmonia axyridis [lots of variation]
  35. Live Oak Leafminer Moth, Stigmella variella 
  36. Mallard Duck, Anas platyrhynchos
  37. Mantis, Arizona Mantis, Stagmomantis limbata [large ootheca]
  38. Manyflower Marshpennywort, Hydrocotyle umbellate [round leaves, small white flowers on stalk]
  39. Mealy Plum Aphid, Hyalopterus pruni         
  40. Mullein, Moth Mullein, Verbascum blattaria [thin stick, white or yellow]
  41. Muscoid Fly, Superfamily: Muscoidea [red eyes, wings have black dot]
  42. Nuttall’s Woodpecker, Picoides nuttallii
  43. Oak Apple, California Gall Wasp, Andricus quercuscalifornicus
  44. Oak, Coast Live Oak, Quercus agrifolia
  45. Oak, Interior Live Oak, Quercus wislizeni
  46. Oak, Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
  47. Oleander, Nerium oleander
  48. Oregon Ash, Fraxinus latifolia
  49. Persian Silk Tree, Mimosa Tree, Albizia julibrissin
  50. Plantain, Ribwort Plantain, Plantago lanceolata
  51. Poplar Petiole Gall Aphid, Pemphigus populitransversus
  52. Queen Anne’s Lace, Daucus carota
  53. Red Gum Lerp Psyllid, Glycaspis brimblecombei [on eucalyptus]
  54. Rose, Woods’ Rose, Rosa woodsia [dark pink]
  55. Rosilla, Sneezeweed, Helenium puberulum
  56. Rush, Canada Rush, Juncus canadensis [small flowering heads at the top of the stem]
  57. Rush, Soft Rush, Juncus effusus
  58. Slender Centaury, Centaurium tenuiflorum [pink flowers]
  59. Tall Flatsedge, Cyperus eragrostis
  60. Tick, American Dog Tick, Dermacentor variabilis
  61. Tobacco, Tree Tobacco, Nicotiana glauca
  62. Towhee, Spotted Towhee, Pipilo maculatus
  63. Treehopper, Green Treehopper, Tortistilus pacificus
  64. Trefoil, Bird’s Foot Trefoil, Lotus corniculatus
  65. Turkey Tangle Frogfruit, Phyla nodiflora
  66. Western Yellowjacket, Vespula pensylvanica
  67. White-Breasted Nuthatch, Sitta carolinensis
  68. Widow Skimmer Dragonfly, Libellula luctuosa
  69. Willow Apple Gall Sawfly, Euura californica
  70. Willow Rose Gall Midge, Rabdophaga rosaria [on terminal bud point]
  71. Willow Rosette Gall Midge, Rabdophaga salicisbrassicoides [on stem]
  72. Yellow Starthistle Flower Weevil, Larinus curtus
  73. Yellow Star-Thistle, Centaurea solstitialis
  74. Yellow-Billed Magpie, Pica nuttalli
  75. Yerba Santa, California Yerba Santa, Eriodictyon californicum

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