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