The Baby Swallow was the Standout Today, 06-09-23

I got my carcass up around 6:00 AM today, got my dog Esteban fed and pottied, and then headed over to the Cosumnes River Preserve for a walk. My cancer-leg was hurting (around a persistent “4”) but I needed to get outside and move around.

The gates were all open when I got there. I was hoping to see some Monarch caterpillars on the narrowleaf milkweed plants near the nature center [as advertised] but I didn’t see any. I wondered if the staff removed them, for their protection, to continue to raise them indoors. I DID get to see some of the metallic blue Cobalt Milkweed Beetles, yellow Oleander Aphids, and black-and-red Large Milkweed Bugs.

A cool sighting was a nest box with a family of Tree Sparrows living in it. The female, and her almost-fully fledged baby took turns sticking their head out of the box, while dad flew in occasionally with food for everyone. Eventually, mom left the box and tag-teamed with dad to feed the youngster.

I saw both parents chasing off Scrub Jays and Western Bluebirds that came near the nest. Mom also buzz-bombed me when I was sitting at a picnic table near the next box.

“…Benefits of territoriality and aggressiveness in male birds of many species are well established, especially when females are limiting. However, much of Tree Swallow biology has probably been shaped by the historical shortage of nest sites rather than mates, leading to strong selection pressure on females to obtain cavities for breeding…female Tree Swallows engaging in greater frequency of aggressive interactions with conspecifics tended to deposit higher amounts of testosterone in their eggs (Whittingham and Schwabl 2002), with possible subsequent effects on growth and survival of nestlings…” Cornell

A couple of weird things: On the paved part of the trail, I kept seeing little things that looked kind of like silverfish, but they hopped! A little research informed me that they were Bristletails. I don’t know that I’d ever seen one before.

…Jumping Bristletails… have a hunched back like a shrimp, but resemble a silverfish with three [tails] at the tip of the abdomen: one long, with two shorter ones on either side of it… Their large eyes sit on top of the head and are so close together that they touch. Their scales are slightly reflective so they may appear to be a coppery metallic color… The Bristletails’ diet includes leaf litter, rotting vegetation, and other organic matter…” —

The other weird thing, was seeing a huge hoard of the white Leafcurl Ash Aphid [Prociphilus fraxinifolii]. My identification of them seemed verified by the fact that, (1) they were on an ash tree that was obviously dealing with leafcurl, and (2) they had spun fine waxy filaments around their bodies. They were producing so much honeydew that it was literally dripping off the leaves of the tree.

On this same tree, I also found several examples of the galls of the Ash Flower Gall Mite. And on the nearby willows there were the galls of both the Willow Bead Gall Mite and the Willow Apple Gall Sawfly. And, of course, there were lots of Oak Apples on the Valley Oaks.

Flowers seen in bloom included: milkweed, wild Chicory, Spikeweed, Pepperweed, Turkey Tangle Frog Fruit, two different species of sage, Crown Brodiaea, the new-to-me Common Flax, and others.

As for birds, besides the Tree Swallows, of course, I saw Western Kingbirds, Red-Winged Blackbirds, House Finches, hummingbirds, Goldfinches, and others.

I walked down the main trail, but only made it to the bridge and back before I had to head back to the car. The pain in my leg had increased to about a “7” by then, and was very distracting (and debilitating). On most days when I walk, the exercise seems to work the pain out. Today, not so much. That’s how it goes with cancer, I guess. *Sigh*

So… I was only out for about 3 hours. But I did get to see quite a bit in that time. This was hike #34 of my #52hikechallenge for the year.

Species List:

  1. Anna’s Hummingbird, Calypte anna
  2. Aphid, Oleander Aphid, Aphis nerii
  3. Ash Flower Gall Mite, Aceria fraxiniflora
  4. Ash Leafcurl Aphid, Prociphilus fraxinifolii
  5. Ash Tree, California Ash, Fraxinus dipetala
  6. Bindweed, Field Bindweed, Convolvulus arvensis
  7. Bird’s-Foot Trefoil, Lotus corniculatus
  8. Bladderpod, Cleomella arborea
  9. Bristletails, Order: Archaeognatha
  10. Broadleaved Pepperweed, Lepidium latifolium
  11. Buttonbush, Cephalanthus occidentalis
  12. California Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma californica [chased off by swallows]
  13. Cattail, Narrow-Leaf Cattail, Typha angustifolia
  14. Chicory, Cichorium intybus
  15. Cobalt Milkweed Beetle, Chrysochus cobaltinus
  16. Common Flax, Linum usitatissimum
  17. Common Hedge Parsley, Torilis arvensis
  18. Common Spikeweed, Centromadia pungens
  19. Crown Brodiaea, Brodiaea coronaria
  20. Cudweed, Western Marsh Cudweed, Gnaphalium palustre [soft, lamb]
  21. Dock, Curly Dock, Rumex crispus
  22. Gumweed, Great Valley Gumweed, Grindelia camporum
  23. House Finch, Haemorhous mexicanus
  24. Kingbird, Western Kingbird, Tyrannus verticalis
  25. Ladybeetle, Variegated Lady Beetle, Hippodamia variegata
  26. Large Milkweed Bug, Oncopeltus fasciatus
  27. Lesser Goldfinch, Spinus psaltria
  28. Milkweed, Narrowleaf Milkweed, Asclepias fascicularis
  29. Oak Apple, California Gall Wasp, Andricus quercuscalifornicus
  30. Oak, Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
  31. Primrose, Tall Evening Primrose, Oenothera elata
  32. Red-Winged Blackbird, Agelaius phoeniceus
  33. Rose, California Wild Rose, Rosa californica [pink]
  34. Rough Cocklebur, Xanthium strumarium
  35. Rushes, Irisleaf Rush, Juncus xiphioides
  36. Sage, Cleveland Sage, Salvia clevelandii
  37. Sage, Hummingbird Sage, Salvia spathacea
  38. Stinking Chamomile, Anthemis cotula [small white daisy-shape]
  39. Swallow, Tree Swallow, Tachycineta bicolor
  40. Tall Flatsedge, Cyperus eragrostis
  41. Turkey Tangle Frogfruit, Phyla nodiflora
  42. Western Bluebird, Sialia mexicana [chased off by swallows]
  43. Willow Apple Gall Sawfly, Euura californica
  44. Willow Bead Gall Mite, Aculus tetanothrix
  45. Willow, Goodding’s Willow, Black Willow, Salix gooddingii
  46. Willow, Narrowleaf Willow, Sandbar Willow, Salix exigua

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