I got up around 5:00 AM, got the dogs fed and pottied, and then headed out with my friend Roxanne to check out Sailor Bar. I hadn’t been there for quite a while and, in fact, forgot how rocky and uneven most of the trails are. Walking over the rocky, uneven ground really did a number on my hip joint.
The first thing we found when we got to the park (down by the boat ramp), were some pinecone galls on the willow trees. We also found what looked like Erineum mite activity on the Coyote Brush…It’s the same mite that affects Mule Fat plants. I’d never seen the effect on Coyote Brush before. Once again, we didn’t see any sign of galls on the oak trees.
The live oak trees were overflowing with new acorns; the kind of “panic” seed-making. One theory suggests the trees are frantically trying to reproduce before something bad happens, like an extended drought or other natural disaster.
Another theory says: “…[T]hat there is an evolutionary advantage to producing an unreliable number of acorns each year. If it were too reliable, the theory goes, surrounding wildlife populations like that of squirrels, deer and birds would adjust and learn to eat the entire yearly crop. Mast years stop this from happening. In these years, oak trees flood the ecosystem and produce too many acorns for local wildlife to consume, meaning more will have the chance to grow into saplings come spring…”
Likewise, it looked like there was a bumper crop of berries on the blackberry vines. We also saw some parts of the vines where the edges of the leaves had curled inward. I don’t know if that was a reaction of heat stress, or some sort of fungus or insect infestation.
CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.
There was hillocks covered with Common Madia flowers, some with a red flush in the center but most without. The plants, related to tarweeds, are covered in sticky glands that exude a lemony-resiny smell. “…The ray flowers curl up during the daytime, opening in the late afternoon and staying open all night until mid-morning…” [Calscape] We saw a few with curling petals, but didn’t realize that was part of the flowers’ nature.
There was also quite a bit of the mini-flowered Long-Stemmed Buckwheat plants. They grew along the edges of the trail. “…Flowers occur in knob-like clusters distantly spaced along the long, leafless stems. Flowers are radially symmetrical, bisexual and about 1/10 inch (3-4 mm) across, extending beyond the cluster on short pedicels and drooping downward with age…” (https://thenaturecollective.org).
The “lifer” of the day for me was finding a River Cooter Turtle among the other turtles sunning on branches in the water. Cooters are native to the eastern and central US. They don’t belong in California, but just a week or so ago a friend of mine in Rocklin found one that was very similar.
“…The species P. concinna is highly omnivorous and will eat anything, plant or animal, dead or alive. Diet seems to be determined by available food items. While some writers feel that this species of turtle will not eat meat, predatory behavior has been observed. Although it can’t swallow out of water, it will leave the water to retrieve a tasty bug or worm, returning to the water to swallow. It will also enthusiastically chase, kill and eat small fish. It has also been observed eating carrion found along the river’s edge. The river cooter has tooth-like cusps in the upper jaw, probably an adaptation to aid in eating leaves and fibrous vegetation. Its primary diet includes a wide variety of aquatic plants, and some terrestrial plants that grow near the water’s edge. It will happily take fallen fruits as well. In captivity, any kind of plant will be eaten, and some “meats”, too. Turtles will also take calcium in a separate form, such as a cuttlebone, so that the turtle can self-regulate calcium intake…” [Wikipedia]
According to iNaturalist: “…Introduced in American River Parkway, CA, US: arrived in the region via anthropogenic means…” That’s a polite way of saying humans dumped them in the river.
We walked for about 3 hours before heading home. This was hike #34 of my #52hikechallenge for the year.
- Ash Leaf Curl Aphid, Prociphilus fraxinifolii
- Ash, Oregon Ash, Fraxinus latifolia
- Ash-Throated Flycatcher, Myiarchus cinerascens
- Black Locust Tree, Robinia pseudoacacia
- Black Walnut, Northern California Black Walnut, Juglans hindsii
- Blackberry, Armenian Blackberry, Rubus armeniacus [red canes]
- Brown-Headed Cowbird, Molothrus ater
- Bumblebee, Yellow-Faced Bumble Bee, Bombus vosnesenskii
- Buttonbush, Cephalanthus occidentalis
- California Mugwort, Artemisia douglasiana
- California Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly, Battus philenor hirsuta
- California Pipevine, Dutchman’s Pipe, Aristolochia californica
- California Quail, Callipepla californica
- California Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma californica
- California Wild Grape, Vitis californica
- Canada Goose, Branta canadensis
- Coffeeberry, California Buckthorn, Frangula californica
- Common Madia, Madia elegans elegans
- Coyote Brush Blister Mite, Aceria baccharices
- Coyote Brush, Baccharis pilularis
Coyote Brush Bud Gall midge, Rhopalomyia californica
- Deerweed, Acmispon glaber
- Downy Thornapple, Jimsonweed, Datura innoxia
- Earwig, European Earwig, Forficula auricularia
- Eastern Fox Squirrel, Sciurus niger [rusty belly]
- Elegant Clarkia, Clarkia unguiculata
- Fremont’s Cottonwood, Populus fremontii
- Gossamer-Winged Butterfly, Family: Lycaenidae
- Green Lacewing, Chrysopa coloradensis
- House Finch, Haemorhous mexicanus
- Lesser Goldfinch, Spinus psaltria
- Long-Stemmed Buckwheat, Eriogonum elongatum
- Mallard Duck, Anas platyrhynchos
- Mountain Blue Penstemon, Penstemon laetus
- Mourning Dove, Zenaida macroura
- Muscovy Duck, Cairina moschata
- Non-Biting Midges, Family: Chironomidae
- Oak, Blue Oak, Quercus douglasii
- Oak, Coast Live Oak, Quercus agrifolia
- Oak, Interior Live Oak, Quercus wislizeni
- Oak, Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
- Orange-Crowned Warbler, Leiothlypis celata
- Orb-Weaver Spider, Family: Araneidae
- Pekin Duck, Anas platyrhynchos domesticus var. Pekin
- Pumpkin Gall Wasp, Dryocosmus minusculus
- Purpletop Vervain, Verbena incompta
- Red-Eared Slider Turtle, Trachemys scripta elegans
- River Cooter Turtle, Pseudemys concinna
- Soft-Winged Flower Beetle, Listrus sp.
- Solitary Oak Leafminer Moth, Cameraria hamadryadella [form whole-leaf blisters on oak]
- Spanish Clover, Acmispon americanus [looks like tiny lotus]
- Swallow, Northern Rough-Winged Swallow, Stelgidopteryx serripennis
- Towhee, Spotted Towhee, Pipilo maculatus
- Tree-of-Heaven, Ailanthus altissima
- Turkey Vulture, Cathartes aura
- Willow Beaked-Gall Midge, Rabdophaga rigidae
- Willow Pinecone Gall Midge, Rabdophaga strobiloides
- Willow, Goodding’s Willow, Salix gooddingii
- Willow, Interior Sandbar Willow, Salix interior
- Wood Duck, Aix sponsa [fly by over the water]
- Yellow Star-Thistle, Centaurea solstitialis
- ?? unidentified gall on thin leaves
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