I got up around 5:30 am. This is one of the few days in the next week or so when the temperatures are going to be in the 70’s. Next week, we’ll be over 100º. I went over to Mather Lake Regional Park for a walk. It was overcast and chilly when I got to the lake, but the morning sun was eventually able to break through now and then to light up the landscape and the lake. Just beautiful. It’s definitely tick season, however. I came home with TWELVE of them on me! [My sister Melissa pulled two off of my back.] Ahhhhhhrgh!
Apropos of nothing… I saw several spots on the lake where the water was “boiling”. I couldn’t tell if it was from fish or something else under the surface.
It looked to me like the trails had been augmented since the last time I was there. The main trail was widened in places making it easier to travel on.
Again, I was hoping to see dragonflies/damselflies and maybe some new-to-me pollinators. I was hoping, too, to maybe seeing some cicadas. Pickings were slim in those areas. The only thing I found were a few cicada exoskeletons clinging to the coyote brush bushes. That told me that the critters were around there somewhere, but I couldn’t see or hear them; too chilly for them in the morning, I guess.
There were tons of aphid galls on the leaves of the cottonwood trees, and lots of midge galls on the coyote brush. I was most surprised, though, by the number of apple galls on the arroyo willow trees (some of them being surrounded by small herds of aphids and some aphid-tending ants). There were also huge groupings of pinecone galls on the narrow leaf willow. I felt the same kind of “panic” in the shear number of galls that I felt about the acorns on the live oak trees at Sailor Bar. Nature is gearing up and back filling, getting ready for a stand against…what? It seems very foreboding to me.
CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.
Among the aphids I could see the abandoned bodies of “mummified” adults. Tiny parasitoid wasps lay their eggs in the body of the aphids. According to the University of Maryland, “…The adult female wasp lays her eggs in aphids. The larva hatches and develops inside the aphid, eventually killing it. The larva is a tiny, white grub. When the larva completes its development, it pupates and turns the aphid body into a “mummy”. The mummies are swollen, brown or blackish (Aphelinids leave blackish mummies behind, and Aphidius create tan or golden aphid mummies), and papery in appearance. The adult parasite may chew a hole in the rear of the mummy to escape. Some species of parasites will pupate beneath the aphid.” You can see the tan mummies with the circular hole in them in the photo I took below:
No dragonflies or damselflies, but I did come across a lot of Yellow-Faced Bumblebees dozing on the leaves of the cottonwood trees and blackberry vines. And a new-to-me insect, the Four-Eyed Sigil Lady Beetle appeared on the coyote bush bushes. These lady beetles are far smaller than the regular Asian Lady beetles we’re used to seeing; they’re about the size of the head of a pin.
There were lots of different rushes showing off along the edges of the lake, along with the tules and the cattails.
I saw quite few California Ground Squirrels (my favorite squirrel) running all over the place and chewing up the plants and grasses around them. When I was taking photos of some birds, one of the ground squirrels ran up near me and sat up, like it was interested in what I was seeing and doing. So cute.
In the water, I saw a few turtles swimming, and also saw some sunning themselves on whatever substrate they could find. One of the turtles had come up out of the water literally covered in duckweed. There were both native Western Pond Turtles and invasive Red-Eared Slider turtles.
I could hear birdsong all around me, but only got a few fairly good photos of a few of them. At one point, I saw a White-Tailed Kite chasing a Red-Shouldered Hawk across the sky away from the lake. There was so much noise between the two birds that all of the fishermen around me stopped what they were doing to watch the birds.
The Mute Swans were floating all over the lake, but I was lamenting the fact that, at first, I didn’t see any cygnets. I was concerned that maybe the department that oversees the lake had killed or removed them to control the swan population. Later, however, I did see a few of the babies hanging out in the water-side nests of their parents across the lake. I look forward to their venturing out in the water where I can get better photos of them.
In the video snippet below, you can see some of the older cygnets standing by while their mom works on repairing the nest.
I walked for four hours before heading home. This was hike #35 in my #52hikechallenge for the year.
- Ant, Argentine Ant, Linepithema humile
- Aphid, Giant Willow Aphid, Tuberolachnus salignus
- Ash-Throated Flycatcher, Myiarchus cinerascens
- Baccharis Stem Gall Midge, Rhopalomyia baccharis [creates twisting stems on coyote brush]
- Beaver, American, Beaver, Castor canadensis [den]
- Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans
- Blackberry, Armenian Blackberry, Rubus armeniacus [red canes]
- Broad-Leaved Cattail, Typha latifolia
- Bull Thistle, Cirsium vulgare
- Bumblebee, Yellow-Faced Bumble Bee, Bombus vosnesenskii
- California Bulrush, Schoenoplectus californicus
- California Ground Squirrel, Otospermophilus beecheyi
- Cicada, Typical Cicada, Family: Cicadidae
- Common Gallinule, Gallinula galeata
- Common Hawkweed, Hieracium lachenalii
- Common Spikeweed, Centromadia pungens
- Cottonwood Leaf Gall Aphid, Pemphigus populivenae
- Coyote Brush Bud Gall Midge, Rhopalomyia californica
- Coyote Brush Stem Gall Moth, Gnorimoschema baccharisella
- Coyote Brush Rust Gall, Puccinia evadens
- Coyote Brush, Baccharis pilularis
- Crab Spider, Goldenrod Crab Spider, Misumena vatia
- Duckweed, Common Duckweed, Lemna minor
- Eurasian Water-Milfoil, Myriophyllum spicatum
- Floating Primrose-Willow, Ludwigia peploides
- Fremont’s Cottonwood, Populus fremontii
- Giant Willow Aphid, Tuberolachnus salignus
- Grebe, Pied-Billed Grebe, Podilymbus podiceps
- House Finch, Haemorhous mexicanus
- Ladybeetle, Four-Eyed Sigil Lady Beetle, Hyperaspis quadrioculata
- Ladybeetle, Seven-Spotted Lady Beetle, Coccinella septempunctata
- Ladybeetle, Sigil Lady Beetles, Hyperaspis sp.
- Mallard Duck, Anas platyrhynchos
- Mourning Dove, Zenaida macroura
- Mute Swan, Cygnus olor
- Northern Mockingbird, Mimus polyglottos
- Nuttall’s Woodpecker, Picoides nuttallii
- Oak, Cork Oak, Quercus suber
- Oak, Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
- Pacific Poison Oak, Toxicodendron diversilobum
- Pacific Pond Turtle, Western Pond Turtle, Actinemys marorata
- Pale-Lined Angle Moth, Digrammia irrorata
- Pennyroyal, Mentha pulegium
- Poplar Petiole Gall Aphid, Pemphigus obesinymphae [new American species, “slit mouth”]
- Red Swamp Crayfish, Crawdad, Procambarus clarkii
- Red-Eared Slider Turtle, Trachemys scripta elegans
- Red-Shouldered Hawk, California Red-Shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus elegans
- Red-Winged Blackbird, Agelaius phoeniceus
- Robber Fly, Subfamily: Asilinae
- Soft-Winged Flower Beetle, Listrus sp.
- Squarestem Spikerush, Eleocharis quadrangulata
- Swallow, Tree Swallow, Tachycineta bicolor
- Swamp Smartweed, Persicaria hydropiperoides
- Tall Flatsedge, Cyperus eragrostis
- Turkey Tangle Frogfruit, Phyla nodiflora
- Vetch, Hairy Vetch, Vicia villosa
- Western Bluebird, Sialia Mexicana
- Western Fence Lizard, Blue Belly, Sceloporus occidentalis
- Western Kingbird, Tyrannus verticalis
- Western Meadowlark, Sturnella neglecta
- Western Mosquitofish, Gambusia affinis
- White Tailed Kite, Elanus leucurus
- Willow Apple Gall Sawfly, Euura californica
- Willow Pinecone Gall Midge, Rabdophaga strobiloides
- Willow Rosette Gall Midge, Rabdophaga salicisbrassicoides [on stem]
- Willow Stem Sawfly, Euura exiguae
- Willow, Arroyo Willow, Salix lasiolepis
- Willow, Goodding’s Willow, Salix gooddingii
- Willow, Interior Sandbar Willow, Salix interior
- Wren, House Wren, Troglodytes aedon
- Yellow Star-Thistle, Centaurea solstitialis
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