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…” — Insectidentification.org
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.
- Anna’s Hummingbird, Calypte anna
- Aphid, Oleander Aphid, Aphis nerii
- Ash Flower Gall Mite, Aceria fraxiniflora
- Ash Leafcurl Aphid, Prociphilus fraxinifolii
- Ash Tree, California Ash, Fraxinus dipetala
- Bindweed, Field Bindweed, Convolvulus arvensis
- Bird’s-Foot Trefoil, Lotus corniculatus
- Bladderpod, Cleomella arborea
- Bristletails, Order: Archaeognatha
- Broadleaved Pepperweed, Lepidium latifolium
- Buttonbush, Cephalanthus occidentalis
- California Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma californica [chased off by swallows]
- Cattail, Narrow-Leaf Cattail, Typha angustifolia
- Chicory, Cichorium intybus
- Cobalt Milkweed Beetle, Chrysochus cobaltinus
- Common Flax, Linum usitatissimum
- Common Hedge Parsley, Torilis arvensis
- Common Spikeweed, Centromadia pungens
- Crown Brodiaea, Brodiaea coronaria
- Cudweed, Western Marsh Cudweed, Gnaphalium palustre [soft, lamb]
- Dock, Curly Dock, Rumex crispus
- Gumweed, Great Valley Gumweed, Grindelia camporum
- House Finch, Haemorhous mexicanus
- Kingbird, Western Kingbird, Tyrannus verticalis
- Ladybeetle, Variegated Lady Beetle, Hippodamia variegata
- Large Milkweed Bug, Oncopeltus fasciatus
- Lesser Goldfinch, Spinus psaltria
- Milkweed, Narrowleaf Milkweed, Asclepias fascicularis
- Oak Apple, California Gall Wasp, Andricus quercuscalifornicus
- Oak, Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
- Primrose, Tall Evening Primrose, Oenothera elata
- Red-Winged Blackbird, Agelaius phoeniceus
- Rose, California Wild Rose, Rosa californica [pink]
- Rough Cocklebur, Xanthium strumarium
- Rushes, Irisleaf Rush, Juncus xiphioides
- Sage, Cleveland Sage, Salvia clevelandii
- Sage, Hummingbird Sage, Salvia spathacea
- Stinking Chamomile, Anthemis cotula [small white daisy-shape]
- Swallow, Tree Swallow, Tachycineta bicolor
- Tall Flatsedge, Cyperus eragrostis
- Turkey Tangle Frogfruit, Phyla nodiflora
- Western Bluebird, Sialia mexicana [chased off by swallows]
- Willow Apple Gall Sawfly, Euura californica
- Willow Bead Gall Mite, Aculus tetanothrix
- Willow, Goodding’s Willow, Black Willow, Salix gooddingii
- Willow, Narrowleaf Willow, Sandbar Willow, Salix exigua
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