Category Archives: birding

Back to the Reverend Mother, 09-12-22

I got up about 5:30 AM and got myself ready to go to the William B. Pond Park with my friend Roxanne. It was warm and very humid all the while we were out, and the air quality is still bad at  434 AQI (Hazardous)  Ick!

At the park, I wanted to see the Reverend Mother tree, and find out if she had any new galls on her since the last time I visited her. The Reverend Mother is a huge Valley Oak that stands by herself at the intersection of several trails. Every year she gets a wide variety of wasp galls on her. I’d last seen her around mid-July.

Roxanne suggested that, because of my cancer and the pain my left leg – and the heat/humidity – that we go find her first, and then look around elsewhere if we still have strength left. So, on toward the Reverend Mother we went. Of course, we got waylaid by nature along the way.

We found some wasps that looked like Yellowjackets but seemed unusually small. They were clustering around a tuft of grass, and we wondered if maybe they were going to set up a winter burrow there or something. But then it occurred to me… usually these wasps all die out in the winter, and only the queen survives to find somewhere to overwinter until the spring. Could have been a bunch of fertilized females from the same nest all looking for overwintering spots, but it seemed weird that they were all grouped together. So, I don’t know what they were doing. We also found quite a few sleepy honeybees resting on dried plant stems, and some vinegarweed plants that were blooming. [Doesn’t take much to get our attention. Hah!]

Among the galls we found were Red Cones, Spined Turbans, Yellow Wigs, a few Club galls, Round galls, Flat-Topped Honeydew galls [I followed the wasps to find out where the ones that were seeping honeydew were], just a couple of Disc galls, plenty of Oak Apples [some trees were covered in them]. The Reverend Mother had a lot of galls, but far fewer than in previous years, and without the variety of species I normally find on her.

On other oak trees we found a Rosette gall, Gouty Twig galls, Pumpkin galls, Folded Leaf galls, Erineum Mite galls, worn down Two-Horned galls [which had lost their horns], and some aphid galls on the nearby Fremont’s Cottonwood.

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos

On some of the trees we were inundated with whiteflies and lacewings. Green lacewing eggs seemed to be sprouting from everywhere. I also found a cluster of assassin bug eggs with some kind of midge stuck to it; and there was a pale little skipper chilling out on a leaf.

As we were heading back to the car, Rox spotted a hawk in a distant tree, and it was surrounded by squawking magpies. After a few minutes, the hawk flew off with the magpies flying after it, continuing to harass it.

Red-Tailed Hawk taking a break from being harassed by Yellow-Billed Magpies. Photo by Roxanne Moger.

Speaking of the magpies, I got some photos and a video snippet f one of the magpies walking with its tail straight up in the air behind it as it walked through the grass. According to Cornell, “…Tail-up Display often included in the Parallel Walk; this display, which does not occur in Eastern Hemisphere magpies (and probably not in North American Black-billed Magpies), consists of holding the long tail almost vertical for many seconds…” and is part of a territory-marking display.

We also found some nice firm specimens of the Shaggy Parasol mushroom. This was hike #50 of my #52HikeChallenge for the year.

We walked for about 3½ hours and then headed down Arden Way to have some breakfast at Bella Bru. We haven’t eaten there in ages. I was loving my mocha freezo a lot!

Species List:

  1. American Black Nightshade, Solanum americanum
  2. American Pokeweed, Phytolacca americana
  3. Ant, Fusca-Group Field Ants, Formica fusca
  4. Assassin Bug, Leafhopper Assassin Bug, Zelus renardii [eggs]
  5. Bee, European Honeybee, Western Honeybee, Apis mellifera
  6. Brazilian Vervain, Verbena brasiliensis
  7. California Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma californica
  8. California Sycamore, Western Sycamore, Platanus racemose
  9. Canada Goose, Branta canadensis
  10. Chinese Hackberry Tree, Celtis sinensis
  11. Club Gall Wasp, Atrusca clavuloides
  12. Disc Gall Wasp, Andricus parmula [round flat, “spangle gall”]
  13. Downy Woodpecker, Dryobates pubescens
  14. Drippy Nut Disease, Lonsdalea quercina [Proteobacteria]
  15. European Starling, Sturnus vulgaris
  16. Fennel, Sweet Fennel, Foeniculum vulgare
  17. Flat-Topped Honeydew Gall Wasp, Disholcaspis eldoradensis
  18. Fuzzy-Gall Wasp, Cynips conspicuus [round mealy bumpy; on Valley oak]
  19. Gouty Stem Gall Wasp, Callirhytis quercussuttoni
  20. Green Lacewing, Chrysopa coloradensis
  21. Live Oak Erineum Mite Gall, Aceria mackiei
  22. Live Oak Folded Leaf Aphid, Stegophylla essigi [in live oaks, folds the leaf over itself; sometimes the leaf turns red/reddish]
  23. Meshweaver Spider, Family: Dictynidae
  24. Non-Biting Midges, Family: Chironomidae
  25. Oak Apple, California Gall Wasp, Andricus quercuscalifornicus
  26. Oak Titmouse, Baeolophus inornatus
  27. Oak, Coast Live Oak, Quercus agrifolia
  28. Oak, Interior Live Oak, Quercus wislizeni
  29. Oak, Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
  30. Poplar Petiole Gall Aphid, Pemphigus populitransversus [on cottonwood]
  31. Pumpkin Gall Wasp, Dryocosmus minusculus
  32. Red Cone Gall Wasp, Andricus kingi
  33. Rosette Gall Wasp, Andricus wiltzae [on Valley Oak]
  34. Round-Gall Wasp, Burnettweldia washingtonensis [round, fuzzy, on twigs]
  35. Shaggy Parasol Mushroom, Chlorophyllum brunneum [common lawn mushroom]
  36. Silver Wattle, Acacia dealbata
  37. Spined Turban Gall Wasp, Cynips douglasii [summer, asexual generation, pink, spiky top]
  38. Two-Horned Gall Wasp, unisexual , summer generation,  Dryocosmus dubiosus [small, green or mottled, on back of leaf along the midvein]
  39. Vinegar Weed, Trichostema lanceolatum
  40. Western Bluebird, Sialia mexicana
  41. Western Yellowjacket, Vespula pensylvanica
  42. Woodland Skipper, Ochlodes sylvanoides
  43. Yellow Star-Thistle, Centaurea solstitialis
  44. Yellow Wig Gall Wasp, Druon fullawayi
  45. Yellow-Billed Magpie, Pica nuttalli

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Disappointed at Lake Solano Park, 09-10-22

I was supposed to go gall hunting with my friend Roxanna up Drum Powerhouse Road, but the Mosquito Fire thwarted us. Smoke from the wild fire was making conditions hazardous, and emergency and fire-vehicles were blocking some of the roads. The galls don’t migrate so they will still be there when the danger has passed, just not in time for Gall Week, which ends tomorrow. I’m still looking forward to be able to go up there again.  In Sacramento, the temperature got up to a smoky and very humid 87º, but the air quality was bad: 484 AQI (Hazardous)  .

Since Drum Powerhouse was off the table, we decided instead to try Lake Solano Park. We hadn’t been there for a while, and it was further away from the wildfire than we were in Sacramento. Last year we found some galls, and also saw an osprey with a fish and a family of otters in the lake. CLICK HERE for last year’s photo album. We were hoping for a lot, but got very little.

In the parking lot, kitty corner from the Putah Creek Café, we knew there was a nonnative Southern Live Oak tree hat had galls on it in the years before, so we went looking for it. I had remembered it being closer to the edge of the parking lot, but it was more toward the middle. We were able to find the galls, so I was happy about that and hoped it bode well for our day’s excursion. The galls were of the Wool-Bearing Gall Wasp, Andricus quercuslanigera, another nonnative.

According to cecidologist Joyce Gross: “…This oak is not native in California but is sometimes planted in parks and other locations in the state. The galls on this oak are made by wasps also not native to California. Both the oak and wasp are native to the eastern U.S…” I think that is sooooo cool!

We knew the park didn’t open until 8:00 AM, so we decided to go to the café for some breakfast. Roxanne treated. So nice!  Oddly enough, it didn’t open until 8:00 AM either, so we had to sit and wait anyway. *Sigh* I was impatient to get moving.

When we finally got inside the café, we noticed that their menu had shrunk significantly since the last time we were there. Roxanne and I both had biscuits and gravy, with two over-medium eggs, and a side of bacon. Their food is really good there, and the portions are generous. I wasn’t able to eat everything on my plate.

Certified California Naturalist Roxanne at the Putah Creek Café.

A little before 9:00 AM, we headed over to Lake Solano Park, and pulled into Parking Lot E where we usually park and then walk along the edge of the lake. The whole lot was taken over by a group of exceeding rude people who hogged the parking spaces with big-ass trucks and SUVs, and had their inflatable boards and kayaks spread out all over the open bits of asphalt. 

I had forgotten my handicapped placard, so we couldn’t park in the only two spaces available. It was so frustrating. As we turned around and drove out of the lot, the fat male who was at the center of the group gave us an overly dramatic crooked smirk, made a big show of waving bye-bye, and made some rude remark under his breath. It was like dealing with a bunch of ill-mannered five-year-olds. That kind of ruined our whole experience at the park. We didn’t feel like we could walk where we wanted to, or see what we wanted to see because those horrible people cut off our access on land and then occupied the water.

It seemed to me that most of the oak trees I would normally visit had been removed or so devastated by last year’s fires that they hadn’t recovered enough to put out sufficient leaves for the gall wasps to lay their eggs on.

We saw petiole galls on the cottonwood trees, and were surprised that they had a pink blush on them.  We also found some Oak Apple that looked pink. I wondered if the pigment was related to last year’s wildfires; if the ground had been contaminated by the fire and the lack of a lot of clean water (rain) in the area. I also found what looked like a petiole gall on the BRANCH of a tree instead of on the petiole of the leaf.

Roxanne came across a very large, beautiful spider sitting on a live oak leaf, and near the same area I found a small colorful jumping spider. On any other day, those finds would have lifted my spirits, but I had been so knocked down by the mob of rude people, that I just couldn’t enjoy the moments of discovery.

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

Galls were few and far between, but Roxanne found what looked like a Crystalline Gall on the leaf of a Valley Oak. Usually, those are on Blue Oaks, not Valley.  But the Blue and the Valley are both in the “white oak” lineage, and the galls can occasionally cross from one white oak to another. The same wasp galls that lay eggs on white oaks, won’t cross the line to lay their eggs on red or intermediate oaks, however. Here’s a simple graph of the oak lineages of California oaks.

There are 18 oak trees that are native to California. Here you see them broken down by “lineage”.
Lineage is defined by the color of the wood of the trees and the kind of acorns they carry.
White oaks may cross breed between other white oaks, but they won’t cross breed with Red or Intermediate oaks.

The birdwatching aspect of our walk was pretty unproductive; I think it just gets too hot and muggy for them to be out much. We did see some Turkey Vultures hanging out on a burned up tree; black on black, it was kind of eerie. We also caught a glimpse of a peahen with one little poult before they ran off down a slope – that was right where the rude people were, so we missed seeing the mama and baby again. *Sigh*

We saw the ubiquitous Acorn Woodpeckers, some Bushtits and White-Breasted Nuthatches, a few Lesser Goldfinches, and a new-to-me Willow Flycatcher. In the water were some Double-Crested Cormorants, Canada Geese, and a small flock of female Mergansers who seemed to be catch a lot of little fish as they swam along. 

The big surprise, though, was seeing a trio of American White Pelicans drifting through the water.

We walked for about 2½ hours, by which time it was getting way too hot and humid for me, so we headed home. This was hike #49 of my #52HikeChallenge for the year.

All the while we were on our walk, and for hours after I got home, I didn’t open my new little Hydro Cell thermos. Around 4:00 PM, I finally opened it with the intention of cleaning it out, and was VERY surprised to find that the ice I had put into it around 5:30 this morning was still there! Wow! I’ve never had a thermos work this well before. It’s a keeper. [[Mine is the wide mouth version. Sooooo impressed!]]

Species List:

  1. Acorn Woodpecker, Melanerpes formicivorus
  2. American White Pelican, Pelecanus erythrorhynchos
  3. Anna’s Hummingbird, Calypte anna
  4. Arabesque Orbweaver, Neoscona arabesca [related to Spotted Orbweaver]
  5. Black Walnut, Eastern Black Walnut, Juglans nigra
  6. Bushtit, American Bushtit, Psaltriparus minimus
  7. California Buckeye Chestnut Tree, Aesculus californica
  8. California Mugwort, Artemisia douglasiana
  9. California Sycamore, Western Sycamore, Platanus racemose
  10. Cattail, Broad-Leaved Cattail, Typha latifolia
  11. Club Gall Wasp, Atrusca clavuloides
  12. Common Merganser, American Common Merganser, Mergus merganser americanus
  13. Cottonwood Stem Gall Aphid, Pemphigus populiramulor
  14. Crystalline Gall Wasp, Andricus crystallinus [on Valley Oak!]
  15. Damselfly, Familiar Bluet, Enallagma civile
  16. Disc Gall Wasp, Andricus parmula [round flat, “spangle gall”]
  17. Double-Crested Cormorant, Phalacrocorax auratus
  18. Flat-Topped Honeydew Gall Wasp, Disholcaspis eldoradensis
  19. Goldenrod, Western Goldenrod, Euthamia occidentalis
  20. Gray Buckeye Butterfly, Junonia grisea
  21. Johnson’s Jumping Spider, Phidippus johnsoni
  22. Jumping Gall Wasp, Neuroterus saltatorius
  23. Leafhopper Assassin Bug, Zelus renardii [eggs]
  24. Lesser Goldfinch, Spinus psaltria
  25. Mallard Duck, Anas platyrhynchos
  26. Mistletoe, Broadleaf Mistletoe, Phoradendron macrophyllum
  27. Mullein, Great Mullein, Verbascum thapsus
  28. Nuttall’s Woodpecker, Picoides nuttallii [heard]
  29. Oak Apple, California Gall Wasp, Andricus quercuscalifornicus
  30. Oak, Blue Oak, Quercus douglasii
  31. Oak, Coast Live Oak, Quercus agrifolia
  32. Oak, Interior Live Oak, Quercus wislizeni
  33. Oak, Southern Live Oak, Quercus virginiana [endemic to the southeastern U.S.]
  34. Oak, Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
  35. Otter, North American River Otter, Lontra canadensis [scat]
  36. Peahen, Peafowl, Indian Peafowl, Pavo cristatus
  37. Poplar Petiole Gall Aphid, Pemphigus populitransversus [on cottonwoo
  38. Red Cone Gall Wasp, Andricus kingi
  39. Spined Turban Gall Wasp, Cynips douglasii [summer, asexual generation, pink, spiky top]
  40. Turkey Vulture, Cathartes aura
  41. White-Breasted Nuthatch, Sitta carolinensis
  42. Willow Flycatcher, Empidonax traillii
  43. Willow, Arroyo Willow, Salix lasiolepis
  44. Wool-Bearing Gall Wasp, Druon quercuslanigerum

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A New-to-Me Spider, 09-01-22

I got up around 5:30 this morning, and gave Esteban his breakfast before we both headed out to the Cosumnes River Preserve before the day’s heat rolled in.  It got up to 104º today. And the super-high temperatures are supposed to last through this week and into next week.

I just needed to get out somewhere; I was going a bit stir-crazy in the house, not having been out in nature since Saturday because of pain in my leg and the heat. Oh, the heat. My left leg was aching a little bit, but not bad. When I take Esteban with me to places like this, there are a lot of areas where pets aren’t allowed, so I have to restrict my explorations to places where he can go. He did really good on the whole trip.

There is virtually no water at the preserve. I saw one pond filled, but everything else was bone dry.  The Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge posted information about the fact that they were only allowed to operate with 40% of their normal water allowance this year, and I’m assuming the Cosumnes Preserve was likewise constrained. Some of the rice fields, also owned by the preserve, however, were full of water. That’s “farm” money, not preserve money.

Canada Geese, Branta canadensis, and Black-Necked Stilts, Himantopus mexicanus, in one of the few flooded rice fields.

No one really knows how the migrating birds coming through these areas for the next several months are going to react to the extreme lack of water. They may fly off to somewhere else, and they may all collect in the few filled ponds and fields available to them. That would mean the birders and photographers might get to see a lot of different birds in a very small area… but it might also mean that the birds, confined to smaller areas, all pooping and peeing in the same water, might be subject to a lot more disease – like bird flu or cholera. Not good.

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

I looked at the Valley Oaks along Desmond Road to look for galls and also checked out the trees by the now-empty pond near the boardwalk area. Found clusters of Red Cones, Yellow Wigs, and Club galls but nothing out of the ordinary. What seemed to be conspicuously missing were the honeydew galls. They provide extra sugar to ants and wasps in the summer months when most of the flowers have died out.  I only found one of those galls.

I did find a new-to-me spider, a Humped-Back Orbweaver (Eustala sp.), and that’s always fun.

I didn’t see a whole lot of birds, even in the few flooded areas, but I did get to see both a Red-Shouldered Hawk and a Red-Tailed Hawk on the telephone poles along the road. On my way to the preserve, I actually saw five other hawks, so it was a pretty fair raptor-sighting day.

It was also fun to see Cattle Egrets in among the cattle in the fields. When the herd of cattle ran off to the back of the field, one mama stayed still because her calf needed to nurse. So cute!

I was out for about 2½ hours, and was feeling pretty good for quite a while after my walk.

Species List:

  1. Aphid, Woolly Oak Aphid, Stegophylla brevirostris [lots of white fluff, honeydew]
  2. Ash Flower Gall Mite, Aceria fraxiniflora
  3. Ash Leaf Curl Aphid, Prociphilus fraxinifolii
  4. Black-Necked Stilt, Himantopus mexicanus
  5. Brewer’s Blackbird, Euphagus cyanocephalus
  6. Canada Goose, Branta canadensis
  7. Cattle Egret, Western Cattle Egret, Bubulcus ibis ibis
  8. Cattle, Black Angus, Bos Taurus var, Black Angus
  9. Club Gall Wasp, Atrusca clavuloides
  10. Downy Woodpecker, Dryobates pubescens
  11. Flat-Topped Honeydew Gall Wasp, Disholcaspis eldoradensis
  12. Flax-Leaved Horseweed, Erigeron bonariensis
  13. Fly, Stable Fly, Stomoxys calcitrans
  14. Grasses, Barnyardgrass, Echinochloa crus-galli
  15. Great Egret, Ardea alba
  16. Greater White-Fronted Goose, Anser albifrons
  17. Greater Yellowlegs, Tringa melanoleuca
  18. Green Lacewing, Chrysopa coloradensis
  19. House Finch, Haemorhous mexicanus
  20. Humpbacked Orbweaver Spider, Eustala sp.
  21. Humped Trashline Orbweaver Spider, Cyclosa turbinata
  22. Jumping Gall Wasp, Neuroterus saltatorius
  23. Killdeer, Charadrius vociferous
  24. Lady’s Thumb Smartweed, Persicaria maculosa
  25. Lesser Goldfinch, Spinus psaltria
  26. Mallard Duck, Anas platyrhynchos
  27. Milkweed, Narrowleaf Milkweed, Asclepias fascicularis
  28. Northern Mockingbird, Mimus polyglottos
  29. Oak Apple, California Gall Wasp, Andricus quercuscalifornicus
  30. Oak Ribbed Casemaker Moth, Bucculatrix albertiella
  31. Oak, Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
  32. Red Cone Gall Wasp, Andricus kingi
  33. Red-Shouldered Hawk, California Red-Shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus elegans
  34. Red-Tailed Hawk, Western Red-Tailed Hawk, Buteo jamaicensis calurus
  35. Red-Winged Blackbird, Agelaius phoeniceus
  36. Rosette Gall Wasp, Andricus wiltzae [on Valley Oak]
  37. Rough Cocklebur, Xanthium strumariumswal
  38. Round-Gall Wasp, Burnettweldia washingtonensis [round, fuzzy, on twig]
  39. Small Milkweed Bug, Lygaeus kalmii
  40. Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Melospiza melodia
  41. Spined Turban Gall Wasp, Cynips douglasii [summer, asexual generation, pink, spiky top]
  42. Swallow, Barn Swallow, American Barn Swallow, Hirundo rustica erythrogaster
  43. Western Bluebird, Sialia Mexicana
  44. Woolly Oak Aphid, Stegophylla brevirostris (lots of white fluff & honeydew)           
  45. Wren, House Wren, Troglodytes aedon
  46. Yellow Wig Gall Wasp, Druon fullawayi

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Zoo Day, 08-12-22

I got up a little before 7:00 AM, got the dogs pottied and fed and had some breakfast. Then I took a shower before heading over to the Sacramento Zoo for a zoo day. Yay! It was 68º F when I got there and 80º when I left two hours later. Guh! I don’t do well in the heat.

A lot of the birds in the zoo were off exhibit and the flamingo pond had been drained in response to avian flu.  According to the zoo: “…The Sacramento Zoo is committed to the health and safety of every animal in our care. As a part of our ongoing efforts to keep our animals safe, we carefully monitor and track the occurrence of disease outbreaks, like avian influenza (or the “bird flu”), that may be a safety concern for the zoo’s animals. Avian influenza is a viral infection that occurs naturally in wild birds. Some species of birds can carry and spread the disease without becoming ill while others can develop severe illness or even die when infected by certain strains of the virus. Avian influenza is not considered a significant public health threat to people, although individuals that work closely with sick birds can sometimes become infected.

Avian influenza outbreaks began to occur on the east coast of the United States earlier this year and the disease has continued to spread west. On July 13th, the USDA confirmed the first cases of a highly pathogenic strain of avian influenza from wild birds in several Northern California counties. The zoo’s veterinary medicine program is directed by the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, and we are working with our veterinary partners to implement safety protocols for the birds under our care. Due to the potential risk to birds at the zoo, we are taking a variety of precautionary measures and have activated a comprehensive disease prevention plan.

The zoo has already implemented many prevention measures including strict biosecurity procedures, increased monitoring of flock health, and staff training related to avian influenza response. As risk for an outbreak in our area increases, the zoo will implement additional measures as needed to help keep its animals safe. Future steps include use of enhanced biosecurity protocols, placement of tarp covers or netting over some aviaries, and movement of some birds to more protected areas of the zoo.

In some cases, birds – like the flamingos and others who live on the zoo’s open-air lake habitat – will be temporarily relocated to safer housing off exhibit. Some of the larger birds – ostrich and emu – are currently remaining in their habitats under the watch of the animal care and veterinary teams but may be moved into shelters…”

Seems kind of like a knee-jerk reaction to me, but I guess they’re going with the better safe than sorry tactic – especially with migration season starting.

Oddly, the Thick Billed Parrots and some of the other caged birds were still out in the open. And although the flamingo pond was drained, the alligator pond right next to the flamingo still had water – and alligators – in it. I guess they’re not affected by avian flu…but their water DOES attract wild birds, so… I don’t get it, I guess.

It did attract quite a few dragonflies, too, and I saw a male Common Green Darner and lots of Flame Skimmers dashing around the gators.

Anyway, I was there mostly to see the new baby Mongoose Lemur, and, man, was it CUTE.  I was surprised by how little it was, no bigger than my palm, and I was captivated by its antics. It wasn’t really ready to go exploring on its own, so it clung to its mom with one tiny hand and reached out with the rest of its body to check out what was around it. It also jumped from mom to dad and back again so it could get a look at everything. The photos I got of it don’t do the little thing justice. It was beyond adorable.

The Snow Leopards weren’t out (I’m assuming that was because of the heat),but I did get to see the jaguar, the tips of the Cheetahs’ ears, and the lions (Cleo and Kamau). Cleo was hanging out in the glassed-in hallway between the segments of their exhibit while the male paced back and forth. You don’t get a sense of how big these cats are until you see them, literally, just a few inches away from you. Magnificent. The cheetahs Rowdy and Zig Zag, are twins, and they have a birthday on Sunday; they’ll be 5 years old.

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

The kangaroos were just lounging around their enclosure, resting in the shade. One of them did move enough for me to get some profile photos of it. Next door to them was the Kookaburra on one side, and the Galapagos tortoises on the other. I’d never seen the tortoises there before so that was a first. The larger of the two came closest to the edge of the enclosure, so I could get some semi-closeup photos of him. According to the zoo he weighs in at 285 pounds and is 28 years old.

I saw the chimps, but the baboons weren’t out. The Meercats were doing their meercattery thing, and apparently some of the female giraffes are going into season again. The big male followed them around and drank their pee (to test it for hormones) – much to the chagrin of nearby mothers and evoking, “eeeeeeeww!” responses from their children.

As I said, I as there for about 2 hours before it got too warm for me to do any more walking. Outside the zoo there are several oak trees (including live oaks, cork oaks and valley oaks). I looked for jumping galls but didn’t find any sign of them. I’ll go again after the upcoming heatwave to see if that will wake them up.

I did find some Iceplant Scale, Pulvinariella mesembryanthemi, on some of the iceplant growing near the valley oak. [It’s other common name is “Cottony Pigface Scale”. Hah!]

Classified as insects, the scales are unlike any other. This species originated in southern Africa, but it was apparently inadvertently imported into California on the plants. It’s the brown sculptured bit you see in the photos.

Females are green when they’re hatched (and called “crawlers”), but turn brown as they mature and grow larger. In some of the photos, you can see some of the youngsters around the base of the ovisac, the white cottony-looking formation at the rear of the mother that can be twice as long as the mother’s body is wide. Around 800 eggs are laid inside the sac. Males are armored and are winged in their adult form. Males, which are short-lived and do not feed, die within 3 to 7 days of emergence. CLICK HERE for a great PDF on the iceplant scale.

Species List:

  1. Aardvark, Orycteropus afer
  2. African Cheetah, Acinonyx jubatus jubatus
  3. African Lion, Panthera leo
  4. American Alligator, Alligator mississippiensis
  5. Bee, Western Carpenter Bee, Xylocopa californica
  6. Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans
  7. Blue Elderberry, Sambucus nigra cerulea
  8. Bushtit, American Bushtit, Psaltriparus minimus
  9. Cattail, Narrowleaf Cattail, Typha angustifolia
  10. Cherry Laurel, Prunus laurocerasus
  11. Chimpanzee, Pan troglodytes
  12. Coast Redwood, Sequoia sempervirens
  13. Common Squirrel Monkey, Saimiri sciureus
  14. Creeping Lantana, Lantana montevidensis [pink flowers]
  15. Dragonfly, Flame Skimmer Dragonfly, Libellula saturata
  16. Eastern Bongo, Tragelaphus eurycerus isaaci
  17. Fig, Common Fig, Ficus carica
  18. Galápagos Giant Tortoise, Chelonoidis niger
  19. Grevy’s Zebra, Equus grevyi
  20. Iceplant Scale, Pulvinariella mesembryanthem
  21. Iceplant, Pigface Iceplant, Highway Iceplant, Carpobrotus edulis
  22. Jaguar, Panthera onca
  23. Laughing Kookaburra, Dacelo novaeguineae
  24. Leaf Gall Wasp/ Unidentified per Russo, Tribe: Cynipidea [on Valley Oak]
  25. Masai Giraffe, Giraffa tippelskirchi
  26. Meerkat, Suricata suricatta
  27. Mongoose Lemur, Eulemur mongo
  28. Oak, Coast Live Oak, Quercus agrifolia
  29. Oak, Cork Oak, Quercus suber
  30. Okapi, Okapia johnstoni
  31. Red Cone Gall Wasp, Andricus kingi
  32. Red Kangaroo, Macropus rufus
  33. River Otter, North American River Otter, Lontra canadensis
  34. Sage, Salvia sp.
  35. Siberian Crabapple, Malus baccata
  36. Thick-Billed Parrot, Rhynchopsitta pachyrhyncha
  37. Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
  38. Western Fence Lizard, Blue Belly, Sceloporus occidentalis
  39. Wolf’s Guenon Monkey, Cercopithecus wolfi

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