Visiting the Reverend Mother Tree, 07-19-22

I got up around 5:30 this morning, fed and pottied the dogs, and then headed out for a walk at William Pond Park. I knew the walk was going to be a short one. When I got to the park it was already 68º… and by the time I left it was 80º.  I can’t walk in the heat. Anything over 70º is too warm for me. The high today was 102º. Gross. When I drove into the park, it was partly cloudy so a tiny but humid on top of everything else.

I wanted to check out what I call the Reverend Mother tree at the park. She’s a huge Valley Oak that stands by herself at the intersection of several trails. Every year she gets a wide variety of wasp galls on her.

Near the parking lot, I could see Yellow-Billed Magpies all over the place. As abundant as they are sometimes, they can also be difficult to photograph because they move quickly, turn their back to you a lot, and then fly away just as you get them into focus. Hah! In the same area there were groups of House Finches. Some of the males were sooooo colorful. Everyone was looking for seeds among the Doveweed.

As I started out on the trail I could hear quail vocalizing from under the mounds of blackberry vines. When I was taking photos of some Lesser Goldfinches eating the seedy tufts on the top of the star-thistle plants, a cottontail rabbit came wandering down the trail and stopped right in front of me as though, for a second, it didn’t know what I was.  Then it scurried off.

Desert Cottontail, Sylvilagus audubonii

The Reverend Mother tree was just starting to show off some galls. Many of them were tiny, just starting to bud out. Spined Turbans, Red Cones, Flat-Topped Honeydew galls, Round Galls, some Club Galls, and Yellow Wigs. There were also some Oak Apple galls and some Rosette galls. A nice variety. In another week or two she should really be showing off what she has.

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

I stopped down by the permanent pond at the end of the boardwalk. I seldom rarely see anything of interest down there, but the site is pretty, so I took a few photos. I could hear Belted Kingfishers chattering to each other, and saw them swoop over my head as they chased each other through the trees and into the lawn area.  I also saw an Ash-Throated Flycatcher feeding its fledgling. Then the adult flew off, leaving the baby behind so I could get some photos of it.

As I left, there were some Black Phoebes flitting around under a sycamore tree. One or two of them stopping long enough for me to get some fast photos.

I was out for about 2½ hours. This was hike #42 of my #52HikeChallenge for the year; and for the Summer Series, this was 2½ more hours of a required 20 hours for the challenge [so, 12½ hours toward that total thus far. The summer challenge ends on August 28th].

Species List:

  1. Ash-Throated Flycatcher, Myiarchus cinerascens
  2. Belted Kingfisher, Megaceryle alcyon
  3. Bindweed, Convolvulus sp.
  4. Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans
  5. Blackberry, Armenian Blackberry, Rubus armeniacus [red canes]
  6. Blue Elderberry, Sambucus nigra cerulea
  7. California Quail, Callipepla californica [heard]
  8. California Sycamore, Western Sycamore, Platanus racemose
  9. California Wild Grape, Vitis californica
  10. Canada Goose, Branta canadensis
  11. Club Gall Wasp, Atrusca clavuloides
  12. Desert Cottontail, Sylvilagus audubonii
  13. Fennel, Sweet Fennel, Foeniculum vulgare
  14. Flat-Topped Honeydew Gall Wasp, Disholcaspis eldoradensis
  15. Goldwire, Hypericum concinnum
  16. Gouty Stem Gall Wasp, Callirhytis quercussuttoni
  17. Graylag Goose, Domestic Graylag Goose, Anser anser domesticus
  18. Grebe, Pied-Billed Grebe, Podilymbus podiceps
  19. Greylag × Canada Goose, Anser anser × Branta canadensis
  20. House Finch, Haemorhous mexicanus
  21. Lesser Goldfinch, Spinus psaltria
  22. Mallard Duck, Anas platyrhynchos
  23. Mourning Dove, Zenaida macroura
  24. Mullein, Turkey Mullein, Doveweed, Croton setiger
  25. Northern Mockingbird, Mimus polyglottos
  26. Oak Apple, California Gall Wasp, Andricus quercuscalifornicus
  27. Oak, Coast Live Oak, Quercus agrifolia
  28. Oak, Interior Live Oak, Quercus wislizeni
  29. Oak, Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
  30. Prickly Lettuce, Lactuca serriola
  31. Red Cone Gall Wasp, Andricus kingi
  32. Red-Eared Slider Turtle, Trachemys scripta elegans
  33. Rosette Gall Wasp, Andricus wiltzae [on Valley Oak]
  34. Round Gall Wasp, Burnettweldia washingtonensis [on valley oak]
  35. Spined Turban Gall Wasp, Cynips douglasii [summer gall, pink, spikey top]
  36. Sycamore Powdery Mildew, Erysiphe platani
  37. Telegraphweed, Heterotheca grandiflora
  38. Towhee, California Towhee, Melozone crissalis
  39. Tree-of-Heaven, Ailanthus altissima
  40. Western Fence Lizard, Blue Belly, Sceloporus occidentalis
  41. Yellow Star-Thistle, Centaurea solstitialis
  42. Yellow Wig Gall Wasp, Druon fullawayi
  43. Yellow-Billed Magpie, Pica nuttalli

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