Drum Powerhouse Road, 07-12-23

I got up around 5:00 AM, and got myself ready to go with my friend Roxanne to Drum Powerhouse Road. We’d been up there earlier in the year, during the City Nature Challenge, and wanted to see if there was anything different or new-to-us to see. After stopping for coffee, we were on our way.

As we turned onto Ice House Road, the first thing we encountered were some construction workers and their heavy machinery working on a massive wooden retaining wall. Rox pulled off to the side of the road opposite the construction, not to avoid the workmen, but to get some photos of a female Northern Flicker and young fledgling we believe she was helping to feed.

“… Unlike most other woodpeckers, the Northern Flicker feeds mostly on the ground where it laps up insects, primarily ants, with its long, barbed tongue. It also consumes fruits and seeds, especially during winter months… The Northern Flicker was a very efficient predator of larval tiger beetles in their subterranean burrows . Flickers have a remarkable protrusile tongue, derived by great elongation of the basihyal and part of the hyoid horns, that is characteristic of woodpeckers. Its sticky tongue darts out as much as 4 cm beyond the bill tip as it laps up adult and larval ants…” Birds of the World

As we went further along the road, we were seeing flowers we had never seen there before among the more common-to-us species, such as Sierra Milkwort, Rose Campion, Cardinal Catchfly, Scarlet Monkey Flower, California Fuchsia, and Wavyleaf Paintbrush.

Wavyleaf Paintbrush, Castilleja applegatei, and Bluehead Gilia, Gilia capitata

The Bleeding Hearts that had been so prolific in the spring, were now down to a few scraggly specimens. And the jewelflower plants that were just sprouting leaves in the spring, were now gone to see and burned dry by the summer heat. We missed their flowering period altogether. That was disappointing.

What made up for that, though, was the fact that we found several stands of the bright orange Humbolt Lilies (like Tiger Lilies). I’d caught a glimpse of some of them along the freeway before we got to Drum Powerhouse Road, so I was really hoping we’d see some more up close before the day was out. We also found some new-to-me Angelica, California Skullcaps, Deptford Pinks, and Wiry Snapdragons. All along the road, too, we saw lots of pale purple “feathery”-looking flowers that we discovered were California Hairbells.

Humboldt Lily, Lilium humboldtii humboldtii

More of the ferns seemed to be awake and established between the rocks and along the seeps. Specimens we saw included Hairy Brackenfern, Giant Chain Fern, Coastal Woodfern, Narrowleaf Swordfern, Lace Lip Fern, Brittle Bladderfern and Serpentine Fern, among others. A very nice showing.

There was also a great deal of Coyote Mint in bloom all along the road, and some spreads acted as beds for sleepy bees, as well as feeding posts for bees, butterflies, skippers and moths. We actually saw a variety of insects today including Yellow-Faced and Van Dyke’s Bumblebees, California Bumblebees, Western Tiger Butterflies, California Sister Butterflies, Woodland Skippers, and the small Callippe Fritillary Butterflies, which were new to me.

At first, it was as though the butterflies were deliberately avoiding having their picture taken, and I started taking it kind of personally. Eventually, though, I was able to get some shots including some of a new-to-me butterfly: the Clodius Parnassian, one of the Apollo swallowtail butterflies. They seemed to be everywhere, pale white and dusty grey with pale pink spots on the hind wings. Shapiro says, “…Larvae are crepuscular-nocturnal except on cloudy, cool days and mimic poisonous millipedes…” Yikes!

“…Males patrol habitat to find females; after mating they attach a pouch to female to prevent multiple matings. Females lay single eggs scattered on the host plant. Caterpillars feed at night at the base of host plant and pupate in a loose silk cocoon above ground. Overwintering is by the egg stage… Subspecies strohbeeni from California’s Santa Cruz Mountains is extinct…” Butterflies and Moths of North America

Other insects of note on our trip included a young grasshopper, some water striders and Water Scavenger Beetles, some wasps, and several handsome Ornate Checkered Beetles feeding in the Naked Buckwheat.

We were out for about 8 hours, and I really enjoyed it (in spite of being dissed by the butterflies for a while).

Because we were in the car for the majority of this trip, I’m not counting it toward my #52hikechallenge for the year.

Species List:

  1. Alumroot, Crevice Alumroot, Heuchera micrantha
  2. American Robin, Turdus migratorius
  3. Apollo Butterfly, Clodius Parnassian Butterfly, Parnassius clodius [lifer]
  4. Bay Laurel, California Bay, Umbellularia californica
  5. Bedstraw, Graceful Bedstraw, Galium porrigens [very smal]
  6. Bees, California Bumble Bee, Bombus californicus
  7. Bees, Van Dyke’s Bumble Bee, Bombus vandykei [lifer]
  8. Bitter Lettuce, Lactuca virosa
  9. Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans [heard]
  10. Blackberry, Himalayan Blackberry, Rubus bifrons [red canes, pink flowers]
  11. Black-Tailed Jackrabbit, Lepus californicus
  12. Bluehead Gilia, Gilia capitata
  13. Broom, Spanish Broom, Spartium junceum [on freeway]
  14. Brown Fritillary, Fritillaria micrantha [seed pods]
  15. Buckbrush, Ceanothus cuneatus
  16. California Fuchsia, Epilobium canum
  17. California Harebell, Smithiastrum prenanthoides [thin, feathery purple flowers] [lifer]
  18. California Incense Cedar, Calocedrus decurrens
  19. California Mugwort, Artemisia douglasiana
  20. California Sister Butterfly, Adelpha californica
  21. California Skullcap, Scutellaria californica [lifer]
  22. California Tiger Lily, Leopard Lily, Lilium pardalinum [lifer]
  23. Callippe Fritillary Butterfly, Argynnis callippe [small, tortoiseshell] [lifer] The species is declining in the US portion of the range (and subspecies callippe is federally listed as Endangered in the United States) 
  24. Canadian Horseweed, Erigeron canadensis
  25. Catchfly, Cardinal Catchfly, Silene laciniata
  26. Chicory, Cichorium intybus
  27. Chinese Houses, Sticky Chinese Houses, Collinsia tinctoria [white]
  28. Coastal Brookfoam, Boykinia occidentalis [tiny white flowers]
  29. Columbine, Western Columbine, Aquilegia formosa
  30. Common Saint John’s Wort, Hypericum perforatum
  31. Common Selfheal, Prunella vulgaris
  32. Common Water Strider, Aquarius remigis
  33. Creeping Snowberry, Symphoricarpos mollis
  34. Crescent Map Lichen, Rhizocarpon lecanorinum
  35. Deerbrush Ceanothus, Ceanothus integerrimus
  36. Dendroalsia Moss, Dendroalsia abietina
  37. Deptford Pink, Dianthus armeria [lifer]
  38. Douglas Fir, Pseudotsuga menziesii
  39. Dudleya, Canyon Liveforever, Dudleya cymosa
  40. Emery Rocktripe Lichen, Umbilicaria phaea
  41. Fern, Brittle Bladderfern, Cystopteris fragilis
  42. Fern, Cliff Sword Fern, Polystichum imbricans imbricans
  43. Fern, Coastal Woodfern, Dryopteris arguta
  44. Fern, Giant Chain Fern, Woodwardia fimbriata
  45. Fern, Hairy Brackenfern, Pteridium aquilinum pubescens [lifer]
  46. Fern, Lace Lip Fern, Myriopteris gracillima
  47. Fern, Serpentine Fern, Aspidotis densa
  48. Flies, Picture-Winged Fly, Pseudotephritis vau [lifer]
  49. Grasses, Bristly Dogtail Grass, Cynosurus echinatus
  50. Humboldt Lily, Lilium humboldtii humboldtii [lifer]
  51. Irregular Spindle Gall Wasp, Andricus chrysolepidicola [on Canyon Live Oak]
  52. Manzanita, Whiteleaf Manzanita, Arctostaphylos viscida
  53. Monkeyflower, Scarlet Monkeyflower, Erythranthe cardinalis [red lips] [lifer]
  54. Monkeyflower, Seep Monkeyflower, Erythranthe guttata [yellow]
  55. Naked Buckwheat, Eriogonum nudum
  56. Northern Flicker, Colaptes auratus
  57. Oak, California Black Oak, Quercus kelloggii
  58. Oak, Canyon Live Oak, Quercus chrysolepis
  59. Oak, Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
  60. Ornate Checkered Beetle, Trichodes ornatus
  61. Pacific Bleeding Heart, Dicentra formosa
  62. Paintbrush, Wavyleaf Paintbrush, Castilleja applegatei
  63. Pea, Broad-Leaved Sweet Pea, Lathyrus latifolius [large]
  64. Phacelia, Mountain Phacelia, Phacelia imbricata [white]
  65. Pine, Ponderosa Pine, Pinus ponderosa
  66. Pine, Sugar Pine, Pinus lambertiana
  67. Poison Oak, Pacific Poison Oak, Western Poison Oak, Toxicodendron diversilobum
  68. Predaceous Diving Beetles, Family: Dytiscidae
  69. Purple Foxglove, Digitalis purpurea
  70. Rose Campion, Silene coronaria
  71. Rose-of-Sharon, Hypericum calycinum
  72. Rubber Rabbitbrush, Ericameria nauseosa nauseosa [lifer]
  73. Sierra Milkwort, Rhinotropis cornuta [lifer]
  74. Spearleaf Agoseris, Agoseris retrorsa [puffhead like dandelion]
  75. Steller’s Jay, Cyanocitta stelleri [heard several]
  76. Stonecrop, Broad-Leaved Stonecrop, Sedum spathulifolium
  77. Sunflower, Common Woolly Sunflower, Eriophyllum lanatum
  78. Tapered Stem Gall Wasp, Protobalandricus spectabilis
  79. Thistle, Bull Thistle, Cirsium vulgare
  80. Thistle, Spotted Knapweed, Centaurea stoebe
  81. Two-Striped Grasshopper, Melanoplus bivittatus
  82. Water Scavenger Beetle, Family: Hydrophilidae
  83. Wavy-Leafed Soap Plant, Chlorogalum pomeridianum
  84. Western Gray Squirrel, Sciurus griseus
  85. Western Morning Glory, Calystegia occidentalis [like bindweed, yellow tinge]
  86. Western Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly, Papilio rutulus
  87. Western Wallflower, Erysimum capitatum
  88. Western Yellowjacket, Vespula pensylvanica
  89. White Sweetclover, Melilotus albus
  90. Wiry Snapdragon, Sairocarpus vexillocalyculatus [little, pink and white] [lifer]
  91. Woodland Skipper, Ochlodes sylvanoides
  92. Woolly Angelica, Angelica tomentosa [like white ranger buttons] [lifer]
  93. Yellow Salsify, Tragopogon dubius
  94. Yerba Santa, California Yerba Santa, Eriodictyon californicum

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