Mix Canyon Road Trek, 04-26-23

Holy Cow! [Do people still say that? Hah!] We saw and heard so much on our trek to Mix Canyon Road today. I went with my friend and fellow naturalist Roxanne. We fueled up on coffee first, around 6:30 AM, and then were on our way. There were lots of wildflowers to see, along with ferns, and other plantlife. We ended up with a list of over 120 species!

There were Ithuriel’s Spears, Yerba Santa, Blue Dicks, yarrow, Monkeyflowers, bindweed, lots of Nightshade, Mountain Phacelia, White Nemophila, Wooly Indian Paintbrush, Indian Warriors, Chinese Houses and Poppies. We were also happy to find a large stand of Red Larkspur. I was looking for some Death Camas, but only found a meager two or three specimens of it.

Among the shrubs and trees in the forest that crowded up against both sides of the road in places, there were Mule Fat, California Ash trees, Valley-, Coast Live, Interior Live, and California Black Oak trees, and, of course, lots of Poison Oak The black oaks were just getting their new leaves for the year and were a shocking pink in color.

There were also Big Leaf Maple trees, and Goodding’s and Sand Bar willow trees.

On one of the Goodding’s willows we found samples of new and used “leaf tiers”. I’d seen some earlier this month at the Gristmill Recreation Area in Sacramento County. [Mix Canyon Road is in Solano County.]

“…Insects that construct shelters of willow leaves can be divided into two groups: species that use several leaves (tiers or bundlers), and species that use only one leaf (folders and rollers). Both of these informal groups include multiple species representing different insect groups, so species identification has to be done carefully in order to avoid making serious errors. Willow leaf bundles made of multiple leaves are constructed by moths, sawflies, and beetles, and the bundles tend to look very similar although the construction method is different in each group. In all of these groups the aim of leaf tying is to provide shelter for the growing larvae…”Joensuu Molecular Ecology Group 

A new-to-me plant we came across was a Modesty plant. From a distance, it’s white flowers looked like small collections of soap bubbles to me. I wish I had gotten a better look at it.

I’ll have a full album of photos for you eventually, but first I have to get through this year’s four-day City Nature Challenge and then start sorting photos. Stay tuned!

On a sprig of the Sticky Mouse Ears Chickweed plant, Roxanne and I worked to save what I think was a tiny Mexican Social Spider that had gotten one of his feet stuck on the abundant glandular hairs near the plant’s flowering head. We finally got it free using some paper. [We didn’t want to use our fingers to pluck it off because it was so small, and we worried we might crush it.]

“…Sticky sections of stem which prevent ants climbing up and stealing nectar or pollen without pollenating the flowers. Some suggest that these sticky areas are an early evolutionary step towards becoming carnivorous…” Cape May Plants.

There were a lot of California Pipevine Swallowtail butterflies flitting about, but because they were flying around so quickly, it was hard to get any kind of still shot of them. We also saw the butterflies “puddling”, sucking up water and minerals from a puddle in the road.

“…Mud-puddling, or simply puddling, is a behavior most conspicuous in butterflies, but occurs in other animals as well, mainly insects; they seek out nutrients in certain moist substances such as rotting plant matter, mud and carrion and they suck up the fluid…Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths) are diverse in their strategies to gather liquid nutrients. Typically, mud-puddling behavior takes place on wet soil. But even sweat on human skin may be attractive to butterflies…In many species puddling is more commonly seen in males… The presence of an assembly of butterflies on the ground acts on Battus philenor, for example, as a stimulus to join the presumptive mud-puddling flock…” Wikipedia.

I’ve seen these butterflies puddling on the remains of a deer carcass. Here’s a video from 2022 of that:

We heard and caught glimpses of several species of bird, but weren’t able to photograph them because they either went by too fast or were buried behind bars of branches and twiglets. The favorite bird sighting for me was to be able to see a female Black Grosbeak,

My favorite photo of the day? It was hard to choose but I picked this one I took of a pair of California Ground Squirrels next to their burrow. How cute are they?

California Ground Squirrel, Otospermophilus beecheyi

By the time we got back into Winters and the Putah Creek Café, it was getting warm outside, around 91º . That’s too hot for me to go exploring, so we opted for Raspberry Mimosas and lunch. This was walk #21 of my #52HikeChallenge.

Species List:

  1. Acorn Woodpecker, Melanerpes formicivorus [heard]
  2. Arracacias, Arracacia sp.
  3. Arundo, Giant Reed, Arundo donax
  4. Ash Tree, California Ash, Fraxinus dipetala
  5. Ash-Throated Flycatcher, Myiarchus cinerascens
  6. Bay Laurel, California Bay, Umbellularia californica
  7. Bedstraw, Catchweed Bedstraw, Velcro Grass, Galium aparine
  8. Bee, European Honeybee, Western Honeybee, Apis mellifera
  9. Bindweed, Hillside False Bindweed, Calystegia subacaulis
  10. Birchleaf Mountain Mahogany, Cercocarpus betuloides
  11. Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans [heard]
  12. Blackberry, Armenian Blackberry, Rubus armeniacus [red canes]
  13. Black-Headed Grosbeak, Pheucticus melanocephalus
  14. Blue Dicks, Dipterostemon capitatus ssp. capitatus
  15. Blue Elderberry, Sambucus nigra cerulea
  16. Buttercup, California Buttercup, Ranunculus californicus
  17. Cabbage White Butterfly, Pieris rapae
  18. California Bee Plant, Scrophularia californica [tiny red flowers]
  19. California Buckeye Chestnut Tree, Aesculus californica
  20. California Ground Squirrel, Otospermophilus beecheyi
  21. California Mugwort, Artemisia douglasiana
  22. California Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly, Battus philenor hirsuta
  23. California Pipevine, Dutchman’s Pipe, Aristolochia californica
  24. California Quail, Callipepla californica [heard]
  25. California Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma californica
  26. California Wild Grape, Vitis californica
  27. Canada Goose, Branta canadensis
  28. Cattle, Domestic Cattle, Bos taurus
  29. Chamise, Adenostoma fasciculatum
  30. Checker Lily, Fritillaria affinis
  31. Chicken, Domestic Chicken, Gallus gallus var. domesticus
  32. Chinese Houses, Purple Chinese Houses, Collinsia heterophylla
  33. Clover, Tomcat Clover, Trifolium willdenovii
  34. Coyote Brush, Baccharis pilularis
  35. Crow, American Crow, Corvus brachyrhynchos
  36. Death Camas, Common Star Lily, Toxicoscordion fremontii
  37. Dudleya, Canyon Liveforever, Dudleya cymosa
  38. Duskywing Butterfly, Persius Duskywing, Erynnis persius
  39. Erodium, Redstem Stork’s-Bill, Erodium cicutarium
  40. Eurasian Collared Dove, Streptopelia decaocto [heard]
  41. Fennel, Sweet Fennel, Foeniculum vulgare
  42. Fern, Black Maidenhair Fern, Adiantum capillus-veneris
  43. Fern, California Polypody, Polypodium californicum
  44. Fern, Goldback Fern, Pentagramma triangularis
  45. Fiddleneck, Common Fiddleneck, Amsinckia menziesii
  46. Fremont’s Cottonwood, Populus fremontii
  47. Fringepod, Sand Fringepod, Thysanocarpus curvipes
  48. Globe Lily, Diogenes’ Lantern, Calochortus amabilis [yellow]
  49. Gnats, Suborder: Nematocera
  50. Goat, Domestic Goat, Capra aegagrus hircus
  51. Grasses, Common Soft Brome, Bromus hordeaceus
  52. Grasses, Greater Quaking Grass, Rattlesnake Grass, Briza maxima
  53. Grasses, Ripgut Brome, Bromus diandrus
  54. Grasses, Wall Barley, Hordeum murinum
  55. Grasses, Wild Oat, Avena fatua
  56. Hillside Woodland Star, Lithophragma heterophyllum
  57. House Finch, Haemorhous mexicanus [heard]
  58. Italian Thistle, Carduus pycnocephalus
  59. Ithuriel’s Spear, Triteleia laxa
  60. Larkspur, Red Larkspur, Delphinium nudicaule
  61. Larkspur, Royal Larkspur, Delphinium variegatum [deep purple-blue]
  62. Locust Tree, Black Locust, Robinia pseudoacacia [white]
  63. Locust Tree, Bristly Locust, Robinia hispida [pink]
  64. Lomatium, California Lomatium, Lomatium californicum
  65. Longhorn Seablush, Plectritis macrocera [white]
  66. Manroot, Taw Man-Root, Marah watsonii
  67. Manzanita, Common Manzanita, Arctostaphylos manzanita
  68. Maple, Bigleaf Maple, Acer macrophyllum
  69. Mexican Social Spider, Mallos sp. [tiny, body like an Orbweaver]
  70. Milkmaids, Cardamine californica
  71. Miner’s Lettuce, Claytonia perfoliate [different sizes]
  72. Mirid Bug, Irbisia sp.
  73. Modesty, Whipplea modesta [white flowers, “bubbly” looking from a distance]
  74. Monkeyflower, Orange Bush Monkeyflower, Diplacus aurantiacus
  75. Mourning Dove, Zenaida macroura [along the road]
  76. Mouse-Ear, Sticky Mouse Ears Chickweed, Cerastium glomeratum
  77. Mule Fat, Baccharis salicifolia
  78. Mule’s Ears, Smooth Mule-Ears, Wyethia glabra
  79. Mustard, Field Mustard, Brassica rapa
  80. Nightshade, Bluewitch Nightshade, Solanum umbelliferum
  81. Northern Mockingbird, Mimus polyglottos
  82. Oak, California Black Oak, Quercus kelloggii
  83. Oak, Coast Live Oak, Quercus agrifolia
  84. Oak, Interior Live Oak, Quercus wislizeni
  85. Oak, Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
  86. Oxalis, Bermuda Buttercup, Oxalis pes-caprae
  87. Paintbrush, Woolly Indian Paintbrush, Castilleja foliolosa
  88. Pea, Pacific Pea, Lathyrus vestitus
  89. Peafowl, Indian Peafowl, Pavo cristatus [heard]
  90. Phacelia, Mountain Phacelia, Phacelia imbricata [white]
  91. Pineappleweed, Chamomilla suaveolens
  92. Pipestem Clematis, Old Man’s Beard, Clematis lasiantha
  93. Plantain, Ribwort, Plantago lanceolata
  94. Poison Oak, Pacific Poison Oak, Western Poison Oak, Toxicodendron diversilobum
  95. Poppy, California Poppy, Eschscholzia californica
  96. Poppy, Tufted Poppy, Eschscholzia caespitosa
  97. Raven, Corvus corax
  98. Red-Shouldered Hawk, California Red-Shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus elegans [2, one on the road, one heard]
  99. Red-Tailed Hawk, Western Red-Tailed Hawk, Buteo jamaicensis calurus [7, along the road]
  100. Red-Winged Blackbird, Agelaius phoeniceus
  101. Rio Grande Wild Turkey, Meleagris gallopavo intermedia
  102. Sage, Hummingbird Sage, Salvia spathacea
  103. Silverpuffs, Uropappus lindleyi [pointed tips]
  104. Sparrow, White-Crowned Sparrow, Zonotrichia leucophrys
  105. Sunflower, California Dwarf Sunflower, Helianthella californica
  106. Sunflower, Common Woolly Sunflower, Eriophyllum lanatum
  107. Swainson’s Hawk, Buteo swainsoni [4, along the road]
  108. Swallow, Cliff Swallow, Petrochelidon pyrrhonota
  109. Thistle, Bull Thistle, Cirsium vulgare
  110. Thistle, Italian Thistle, Carduus pycnocephalus
  111. Towhee, Spotted Towhee, Pipilo maculatus
  112. Toyon, Heteromeles arbutifolia
  113. Turkey Vulture, Cathartes aura
  114. Twining Snakelily, Dichelostemma volubile
  115. Vetch, Big Deervetch, Hosackia crassifolia
  116. Vetch, Hairy Vetch, Vicia villosa
  117. Warrior’s Plume, Pedicularis densiflora
  118. Wavy-Leafed Soap Plant, Chlorogalum pomeridianum
  119. Western Morning Glory, Calystegia occidentalis
  120. Western Wallflower, Erysimum capitatum
  121. White Nemophila, Nemophila heterophylla
  122. Willow Leaf tiers, bundles: www.jmeg.fi/IOWleaftiers.htm
  123. Willow, Goodding’s Willow, Black Willow, Salix gooddingii
  124. Willow, Narrowleaf Willow, Sandbar Willow, Salix exigua
  125. Wisteria, American Wisteria, Wisteria frutescens [purple]
  126. Wisteria, Silky Wisteria, Wisteria brachybotrys [white]
  127. Yarrow, Common Yarrow, Achillea millefolium
  128. Yerba Santa, California Yerba Santa, Eriodictyon californicum

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