I got up around 5:00 AM this morning and got the dogs fed and pottied before getting myself ready to go out on outing with my friend Roxanne. We ended up going up to Woodland with stops at County Road 22 and the Ibis Rookery, and then circling around to Davis afterward. So it was a Yolo County day.
It was another hot day (got up to 100º), so we knew that wherever we went, we’d have to cut our outing a little short to beat the heat. When we got to Woodland, we went down Road 22 which parallels the freeway. There’s a slough there that usually has some water in it, and I knew there were rose bushes, buttonbush, tules, willows and other shrubs long there that I hoped would present us with some insects, galls and spiders.
What originally caught my attention, though, were spiny clusters of sort of prickly burs on plants all along part of the road. I at first thought the clusters were a kind of gall I’d never seen before and I was super-excited about that. Then Rox calmed me down and we studied the plant more closely; no thorns, burs were like cocklebur but in bunches, compound leaves, the leaves and stalks were slightly sticky (glandular)… I took some photos and posted them to iNaturalist. The plants were Wild Licorice! I’d never seen that plant before, so even though it wasn’t a new kind gall, it was a new plant I could add to my species list for the year.
We saw cities of Spotted Orb-Weaver Spiders, but none of the spiders were very big yet. Give them a few weeks; they’ll bulk up. I also found one crab spider. But overall the showing wasn’t as impressive as I thought it might be.
We did see galls on some of the willows (which I think were Interior Sandbar Willows because that’s the species most often associated with ag land in that area): a few pinecone galls and some stem galls.
On the rose bushes we found a few Spiny Leaf Galls and some fat Leafy Bract Galls. I also found a few midvein galls on the leaves of some of the bushes. I don’t know if they were “aborted” spiny galls or something else. I found them on several different bushes, but they were all the same: brown, hard, on the midvein, and about the same size.
There was one other rose bush that looked all but dead, but with a few leaves at the very top of the otherwise gray leafless canes, and some green canes sticking out of the bottom of it. At the base of that were tufts of “witch’s broom”: tough but pliable filaments in clusters attached to the stem. This is evidence of Rose Rosette Virus (RRV). Very cool. I was hoping to find some Mossy Rose Galls on the bushes, but I didn’t see any. Definitely worth going back in a week or so to see how things have developed.
“…Rose Rosette Disease (RRD) is a devastating disease of roses. It makes the rose unsightly because of abnormal growth of the rose plant tissue. Symptoms such as witches’ brooms, excessive thorniness, enlarged canes, malformed leaves and flowers are associated with this disease. This disease has been reported since the early 1940s but only in 2011 did research demonstrate that it is caused by a virus, aptly named the Rose Rosette Virus (RRV). Diagnosis of RRD prior to 2011 was primarily done based on observed symptoms and the presence of the eriophyid mite that is believed to be the vector of RRV…” (https://roserosette.org/)
There was a small stand of Showy Milkweed plants in another spot on the roadway, but we didn’t see any Monarch eggs or caterpillars. In fact, the plants were pretty much devoid of all insects – which freaks me out.[READ THIS article about the collapse of insect populations in California.]
CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.
There were two dead animals on either side of the road at one spot: a raccoon and a deer. The raccoon carcass was pretty well gone-over, but there was a lot left for the vultures and other critters on the deer carcass. I know some folks think its gruesome that I take photos of the dead things, but death is all part of the cycle…and it’s interesting to me to see how the carcasses are broken down by the scavenging cleanup crews.
We then drove over to the former Ibis Rookery to see what might be there. There were may three or four Ibises sitting on nests in the main settling pond, but they were so far away, there was no way I could get photos of them. That is sooooo disappointing.
There were a few Barn Swallows flitting around the fence lines, and a flock of American White Pelicans fishing together very near the edge of the pond. I think they were actually scooping up frogs along with little fish. In the video snippets I took, I thought I could see frogs jumping away from them.
Along another side of the pond there were some Black-Necked Stilts, some of them wading, some of them swimming, and some of them screaming loudly and doing this odd repetitive wing-flapping thing. I also saw one fly up onto the road and sit down, like it was sitting on a nest, then got up and flew off in another directions.
I looked up these behaviors in Cornell, and found the following: “…During Wing-flagging Display, calls resemble a warble… Distraction displays include Wing-flagging Display (while both sitting and standing), [and] False Incubation Display… In Wing-flagging Display, wings are partly extended and raised up and down; often only one wing at a time is extended, and the individual may sit, stand, or alternate between sitting and standing while performing the display. In False Incubating Display, individuals crouch on the ground as if incubating eggs, then rise and move to another spot and sit again…”
There were several different species of dragonflies buzzing around, but no one stopped long enough for me to get a photo of them. Dangit! I did get to capture some photos of a pair of damselflies “in wheel”, though, and that’s always cool.
We saw quite a few cottontail rabbits and one young jackrabbit while we were heading out.
A drive past the smaller settling ponds yielded little because all of the birds were outside the range of my camera. (Sooooo frustrating!) I did manage to spot and get some VERY blurry images of a Redhead Duck, some Rudy Ducks, and a pair of grebes. The only fairly good photo I got from that side of the road was of some Black-Crowned Night Herons standing on the rocks along the edge of the pond.
After that, we drove into Davis for some brunch at the Crepeville restaurant. On the way, we passed fields of safflower and stopped at a sunflower field to get some photos. Oddly, only every third row or so of the sunflowers were in bloom. We wondered if those were a different species than the others.
By the time we got back to the house, it was100º F outside – and completely overcast. So weird. I think we were getting the edge of a passing monsoon. We were out for about 6 hours.
- Alkali Heliotrope, Heliotropium curassavicum
- Alkali Mallow, Malvella leprosa
- American Avocet, Recurvirostra americana
- American Coot, Fulica americana
- American White Pelican, Pelecanus erythrorhynchos
- Ant, Immigrant Pavement Ant, Tetramorium immigrans
- Bee, European Honeybee, Western Honeybee, Apis mellifera
- Bisnaga, Visnaga daucoides
- Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans
- Blackberry, Armenian Blackberry, Rubus armeniacus [red canes]
- Black-Crowned Night Heron, Nycticorax nycticorax
- Black-Necked Stilt, Himantopus mexicanus
- Black-Tailed Jackrabbit, Lepus californicus
- Blessed Milk Thistle, Silybum marianum
- Boxelder, Box Elder Tree, Acer negundo
- Brown-Headed Cowbird, Molothrus ater
- Case-Bearing Leaf Beetle, Cryptocephalus castaneus
- Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus [road kill]
- Crab Spider, Goldenrod Crab Spider, Misumena vatia
- Damselfly, Familiar Bluet, Enallagma civile
- Desert Cottontail, Sylvilagus audubonii
- Great Egret, Ardea alba
- Grebe, Pied-Billed Grebe, Podilymbus podiceps
- Grebe, Western Grebe, Aechmophorus occidentalis [black below the eye]
- House Finch, Haemorhous mexicanus
- Hoverfly, Margined Calligrapher, Toxomerus marginatus
- Killdeer, Charadrius vociferous
- Leafhopper, Tribe: Empoascini
- Leaf-Mining Trumpet Moth, Tischeria sp.
- Leafy Bract Gall Wasp, Diplolepis californica [hard rosette gall on rose bush]
- Mallard Duck, Anas platyrhynchos
- Mantis, Arizona Mantis, Stagmomantis limbata [large ootheca]
- Milkweed, Showy Milkweed, Asclepias speciosa
- Mourning Dove, Zenaida macroura
- Northern Mockingbird, Mimus polyglottos
- Pacific Pond Turtle, Western Pond Turtle, Actinemys marorata
- Raccoon, Common Raccoon, Procyon lotor [road kill]
- Redhead Duck, Aythya americana
- Red-Tailed Hawk, Western Red-Tailed Hawk, Buteo jamaicensis calurus
- Rose Rosette Disease, Rose rosette emaravirus [carried by mites]
- Rose, California Wild Rose, Rosa californica [pink]
- Ruddy Duck, Oxyura jamaicensis
- Safflower, Carthamus tinctorius
- Slough Sedge, Carex obnupta
- Snowy Egret, Egretta thula
- Spiny Leaf Gall Wasp, Diplolepis polita [on rose leaves]
- Sunflower, Common Sunflower, Helianthus annuus [agricultural]
- Swallow, Barn Swallow, American Barn Swallow, Hirundo rustica erythrogaster
- Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
- Western Kingbird, Tyrannus verticalis
- Western Spotted Orbweaver, Neoscona oaxacensis
- White-Faced Ibis, Plegadis chihi
- Wild Licorice, Glycyrrhiza lepidota
- Willow Beaked-Gall Midge, Rabdophaga rigidae
- Willow Pinecone Gall Midge, Rabdophaga strobiloides
- Willow Stem Sawfly, Euura exiguae
- Willow, Interior Sandbar Willow, Salix interior
- ?? Hard gall on the midvein of rose leaves
Buy Me a Coffee!
Donate $5 to buy me a coffee so I have the fuel I need to keep exploring and bring more of nature to you. Thanks!