Quite a Variety Between River Bend and Gristmill, 06-06-23

I was up around 6:00 AM and headed over to the American River Bend Park for a walk. It was overcast, breezy and about 58º F when I got to the river. Before that, though, I stopped at Starbuck’s to get some coffee and a protein box for breakfast. (Thank you, by the way, to all of you who have provided me with coffee money. I really appreciate it.)

When I got to the park, I saw a group of Columbian Black-Tailed Deer near the kiosk at the entrance. It looked like three does, but I’m not sure. [They were being modest. Didn’t see anyone’s privates.] They were browsing, but each one in turn lifted its head to look at me so I could get photos of them.

There was a phalanx of county trucks and equipment coming up behind me on the road inside the park, so I pulled off into a turnout by the manicured lawn and let them pass.

While I was stopped there, I saw a pair of Fox Squirrels scrambling around a tree. I assumed it was a male chasing a female who just wasn’t that into him. When he caught up with her and grabbed her around the waist, she squeaked and shrieked and tried to get away from him. She found a small twiggy branch to grab hold of, and when the male persisted, she let go and dropped them both onto the ground. The female recovered first and ran backup the tree. The male was a little more stunned, but went right after her again when he recovered. Then a third squirrel, an Eastern Gray Squirrel, joined the pair and they all ran off, up into the tree.

When I was able to get closer to the river, I could see that it was still running fast, and the only waterfowl I saw were some Canada Geese. Other birds spotted on my walk were Rio Grand Wild Turkeys, some of the males strutting on the road in front of the car; House Wrens singing in the trees, and Black Phoebes doing their flycatcher thing along the river’s edge, Mourning Doves… So… not a lot.

There were still wildflowers blooming in the tall grass, along the edges of the trails, and near the water’s edge. Other flowers included Yellow Water Irises, Saint John’s Wort, vetch, Sulphur Peas, Jimsonweed, Elegant Clarkia, Deerweed, and Orange Bush Monkeyflowers.

The rabbitbrush plants are starting to get galls on them, and there are lots of Oak Apples. One odd find was a small, round belly-button-like gall growing on the bark of an Interior Live Oak tree. I entered it into iNaturalist as a Live Oak Bud Gall, but I’m not sure about that. We’ll see if anyone corrects me.

I stopped briefly at the equestrian water trough to see if anything would come by for a drink. I saw Wild Turkeys and a jackrabbit in the rearview mirror, but they didn’t approach the trough. Finally a Mourning Dove showed up. The Mourning Doves are the only birds, I believe, that can drink without lifting its head.

“… [They] are able to drink by dipping their bills into water and sucking up the liquid. As a rule, doves require more water than other birds and this ability to sip allows them to swallow more water and watch for predators as they drink…” Menunkatuck Audubon Society

I was at River Bend for about 2 hours, and then drove down the road to the Gristmill Recreation Area to see if there was anything new there. Some of the willow and cottonwood trees were “cottoning”, so, everything was covered in white fluff in spots along the trail.

I was a little surprised by how many Oak Apple galls there were on the Valley Oak trees; so-so many galls, some in large clusters. I also saw some dense clusters of Black Walnut Erineum Mite Pouch galls.

I saw a couple of different species of Darkling Beetles, some hoverflies, honeybees and bumblebees, and a new-to-me leafhopper [that was jet black with a white line down each side.] The best insect find of the morning, though, was finding Lace Bugs on the leaves of a Mugwort plant. They’re so pretty — even though they are plant blood suckers.

Not a lot of flowering stuff at the recreation area right now, but what I did see seemed to be all “white” flowers: a few of the late-blooming Black Locust trees, Moth Mullein, and Coyote Tobacco plants.

The only mammal I saw along the trail I walked was the California Ground Squirrel. I just love these little critters; they’re my favorite squirrel.

I walked here for another two hours, so I walked a good four hours today. This was hike #33 of my #52hikechallenge for the year.

Species List:

  1. Acorn Woodpecker, Melanerpes formicivorus
  2. Anna’s Hummingbird, Calypte anna
  3. Aphid, Black Bean Aphid, Aphis fabae
  4. Ash Leafcurl Aphid, Prociphilus fraxinifolii
  5. Ash Tree, California Ash, Fraxinus dipetala
  6. Bees, European Honeybee, Western Honeybee, Apis mellifera
  7. Bees, Yellow-Faced Bumble Bee, Bombus vosnesenskii
  8. Black Locust, Robinia pseudoacacia
  9. Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans
  10. Black Walnut, Northern California Black Walnut, Juglans hindsii
  11. Blackberry, Armenian Blackberry, Rubus armeniacus [red canes, white flowers]
  12. Black-Tailed Jackrabbit, Lepus californicus
  13. Blue Elderberry, Sambucus nigra cerulea
  14. California Black Walnut Pouch Gall Mite, Aceria brachytarsa
  15. California Broad-Necked Darkling Beetle, Coelocnemis dilaticollis
  16. California Buckeye Chestnut Tree, Aesculus californica
  17. California Ground Squirrel, Otospermophilus beecheyi
  18. California Mugwort, Artemisia douglasiana
  19. California Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly, Battus philenor hirsuta
  20. California Pipevine, Dutchman’s Pipe, Aristolochia californica
  21. California Wild Grape, Vitis californica
  22. Canada Goose, Branta canadensis
  23. Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus
  24. Common Flax, Linum usitatissimum
  25. Common Saint John’s Wort, Hypericum perforatum
  26. Coyote Tobacco, Nicotiana attenuata
  27. Darkling Beetle, Coniontis sp. [shiny, smooth carapace]
  28. Deerweed, Acmispon glaber
  29. Eastern Fox Squirrel, Sciurus niger [rusty belly]
  30. Eastern Gray Squirrel, Sciurus carolinensis [white belly]
  31. Elegant Clarkia, Clarkia unguiculata [red line on leaves when young]
  32. European Starling, Sturnus vulgaris
  33. Flies, Large-Tailed Aphideater, Eupeodes volucris [hoverfly]
  34. Free-Living Caddisfly, Rhyacophila sp.
  35. Fremont’s Cottonwood, Populus fremontii
  36. Grasses, Greater Quaking Grass, Rattlesnake Grass, Briza maxima
  37. House Finch, Haemorhous mexicanus
  38. Lace Bug, Corythucha sp.
  39. Lady Beetle, Seven-Spotted Lady Beetle, Coccinella septempunctata
  40. Leafhopper, Cochlorhinus pluto [black and white, endemic to western US]
  41. Leafy Cone Gall Tephritid Fly, Aciurina idahoensis
  42. Live Oak Bud Gall Wasp, Callirhytis quercusagrifoliae
  43. Lucerne Moth, Nomophila nearctica
  44. Mourning Dove, Zenaida macroura
  45. Mullein, Moth Mullein, Verbascum blattaria [thin stick, white or yellow]
  46. Northern Mockingbird, Mimus polyglottos
  47. Nuttall’s Woodpecker, Picoides nuttallii [heard]
  48. Oak Apple, California Gall Wasp, Andricus quercuscalifornicus
  49. Oak Titmouse, Baeolophus inornatus
  50. Oak, Coast Live Oak, Quercus agrifolia
  51. Oak, Interior Live Oak, Quercus wislizeni
  52. Oak, Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
  53. Pea, Sulphur Pea, Lathyrus sulphureus
  54. Puffball, Lead-Grey Puffball, Bovista plumbea
  55. Rabbitbrush, Chrysothamnus sp.
  56. Red-Winged Blackbird, Agelaius phoeniceus
  57. Rio Grande Wild Turkey, Meleagris gallopavo intermedia
  58. Ruptured Twig Gall Wasp, Callirhytis perdens [on live oaks, black oaks]
  59. Sacred Datura, Jimsonweed, Datura wrightii
  60. Speckled Greenshield Lichen, Flavopunctelia flaventior
  61. Towhee, Spotted Towhee, Pipilo maculatus
  62. Turkey Vulture, Cathartes aura
  63. Vetch, Hairy Vetch, Vicia villosa
  64. White Horehound, Marrubium vulgare
  65. White-Breasted Nuthatch, Sitta carolinensis
  66. Willow, Arroyo Willow, Salix lasiolepis
  67. Willow, Goodding’s Willow, Black Willow, Salix gooddingii
  68. Willow, Narrowleaf Willow, Sandbar Willow, Salix exigua
  69. Wren, House Wren, Troglodytes aedon

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