I got up around 5:30 this morning, fed and pottied my dog Esteban, and then went over to the Gristmill Recreation Area for a walk. I got out early in an attempt to beat today’s forecasted heat. I was hoping to see some butterflies and dragonflies but didn’t see a single one. *Sad face emoji*
Most of the flowering trees and plants were near or at the end of their bloom period, so offering few options for pollinators. I did see a lot of bees all along the trail flying low to the ground. This is usually the behavior of ground-dwelling bees looking for a new nesting spot.
According to an article posted on the 8 Billion Trees website, “Ground-Nesting Bees Identification Chart: 77 Kinds of Bees Live in the Ground”, the wild Western Honey Bee is a ground dweller, although they can develop hives in a variety of places. The bees I saw didn’t seem to be “coordinated”; they weren’t swarming. They seemed to be flying independent of one another, but also seemed to be everywhere I looked.
One of the first places I went was down the boat ramp to the rocky bank of the American River. I wanted to check out the cottonwood and willows along there. It’s really hard for me to walk on such uneven ground, so I had to move very slowly, and kept as close to the trees and shrubs along the bank. The water in the river has gone down quite a lot, exposing more of the bank, but not so much that I could walk down the bank as far as I wanted to.
I saw the ubiquitous Canada Geese and Mallard, but among them, on the rocks and “islands” in the river, were lots of Spotted Sandpipers in their breeding spots. They were fun to see. I also saw some Bushtits, and heard birds like Scrub Jays, Nuttall’s Woodpeckers, Spotted Towhees, and Oak Titmice.
On the cottonwood trees along the bank, I saw both the Bead-Like aphid galls along the edges of the leaves, and the more hefty Cottonwood Petiole Galls. I don’t usually see galls, other than the Oak Apples, on the oak trees in this area, but today I found quite a few Spined Turban Galls. On the willow trees were both the Willow Rose Galls (found on the terminal end of branches) and the similar Willow Rosette Gall (found on the stems of the plant), and some Willow Apple galls.
I don’t know if the “convulsive” weather we’ve had this year has been messing with the gall formers (resulting in fewer galls seen overall so far), or if the gall formers themselves are dying out (like other insect species are around the globe). It will be interesting to see what the gall numbers are like by the end of the year.
Among the mammals, I saw Black-Tailed Jackrabbits, California Ground Squirrels, and some Eastern Fox Squirrels (one with a mouthful of nesting material that it carried up a tree). And the reptiles were represented by the Western Fence Lizard.
I was out for about 2 ½ hours. This was hike #41 of my #52hikechallenge for 2023.
- Ash Flower Gall Mite, Aceria fraxiniflora
- Ash Leafcurl Aphid, Prociphilus fraxinifolii
- Ash Petiole Gall Midge, Dasineura tumidosae
- Bead-Like Cottonwood Gall Aphid, Thecabius populimonilis [leaf edges]
- Bees, European Honeybee, Western Honeybee, Apis mellifera
- Black Locust, Robinia pseudoacacia
- Black Walnut, Northern California Black Walnut, Juglans hindsii
- Blackberry, Armenian Blackberry, Rubus armeniacus [red canes, white flowers]
- Black-Tailed Jackrabbit, Lepus californicus
- Blue Elderberry, Sambucus nigra cerulea
- California Black Walnut Pouch Gall Mite, Aceria brachytarsa
- California Ground Squirrel, Otospermophilus beecheyi
- California Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma californica
- Canada Goose, Branta canadensis
- Cottonwood Petiole Gall Aphid, Pemphigus obesinympha
- Coyote Tobacco, Nicotiana attenuata
- Eastern Fox Squirrel, Sciurus niger [rusty belly]
- Elm Tree, Field Elm, Ulmus minor
- Fennel, Sweet Fennel, Foeniculum vulgare
- Fremont’s Cottonwood, Populus fremontii
- Green Lacewing, Family: Chrysopidae
- Leaf-Miner Flies, Family: Agromyzidae
- Mallard Duck, Anas platyrhynchos
- Mourning Dove, Zenaida macroura
- Nuttall’s Woodpecker, Picoides nuttallii [heard]
- Oak Apple, California Gall Wasp, Andricus quercuscalifornicus
- Oak, Coast Live Oak, Quercus agrifolia
- Oak, Interior Live Oak, Quercus wislizeni
- Oak, Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
- Pumpkin Gall Wasp, Dryocosmus minusculus
- Roses, California Wild Rose, Rosa californica [pink]
- Spined Turban Gall Wasp, Cynips douglasii, unisexual, Summer generation [on leaf]
- Spotted Sandpiper, Actitis macularius
- Towhee, Spotted Towhee, Pipilo maculatus
- Western Fence Lizard, Blue Belly, Sceloporus occidentalis
- Willow Apple Gall Sawfly, Euura californica
- Willow Rose Gall Midge, Rabdophaga rosaria [on the terminal end]
- Willow Rosette Gall Midge, Rabdophaga salicisbrassicoides [on the stem]
- Willow, Arroyo Willow, Salix lasiolepis
- Willow, Narrowleaf Willow, Sandbar Willow, Salix exigua