Category Archives: birding

A Day in Yolo County, 06-22-22

I got up around 5:00 AM this morning and got the dogs fed and pottied before getting myself ready to go out on outing with my friend Roxanne. We ended up going up to Woodland with stops at County Road 22 and the Ibis Rookery, and then circling around to Davis afterward. So it was a Yolo County day.

It was another hot day (got up to 100º), so we knew that wherever we went, we’d have to cut our outing a little short to beat the heat. When we got to Woodland, we went down Road 22 which parallels the freeway. There’s a slough there that usually has some water in it, and I knew there were rose bushes, buttonbush, tules, willows and other shrubs long there that I hoped would present us with some insects, galls and spiders.

What originally caught my attention, though, were spiny clusters of sort of prickly burs on plants all along part of the road. I at first thought the clusters were a kind of gall I’d never seen before and I was super-excited about that. Then Rox calmed me down and we studied the plant more closely; no thorns, burs were like cocklebur but in bunches, compound leaves,  the leaves and stalks were slightly sticky (glandular)… I took some photos and posted them to iNaturalist. The plants were Wild Licorice! I’d never seen that plant before, so even though it wasn’t a new kind gall, it was a new plant I could add to my species list for the year.

We saw cities of Spotted Orb-Weaver Spiders, but none of the spiders were very big yet. Give them a few weeks; they’ll bulk up. I also found one crab spider. But overall the showing wasn’t as impressive as I thought it might be.

We did see galls on some of the willows (which I think were Interior Sandbar Willows because that’s the species most often associated with ag land in that area): a few pinecone galls and some stem galls.

On the rose bushes we found a few Spiny Leaf Galls and some fat Leafy Bract Galls. I also found a few midvein galls on the leaves of some of the bushes. I don’t know if they were “aborted” spiny galls or something else. I found them on several different bushes, but they were all the same: brown, hard, on the midvein, and about the same size.

There was one other rose bush that looked all but dead, but with a few leaves at the very top of the otherwise gray leafless canes, and some green canes sticking out of the bottom of it. At the base of that were tufts of “witch’s broom”: tough but pliable filaments in clusters attached to the stem. This is evidence of Rose Rosette Virus (RRV). Very cool. I was hoping to find some Mossy Rose Galls on the bushes, but I didn’t see any.  Definitely worth going back in a week or so to see how things have developed.

“…Rose Rosette Disease (RRD) is a devastating disease of roses. It makes the rose unsightly because of abnormal growth of the rose plant tissue. Symptoms such as witches’ brooms, excessive thorniness, enlarged canes, malformed leaves and flowers are associated with this disease. This disease has been reported since the early 1940s but only in 2011 did research demonstrate that it is caused by a virus, aptly named the Rose Rosette Virus (RRV). Diagnosis of RRD prior to 2011 was primarily done based on observed symptoms and the presence of the eriophyid mite that is believed to be the vector of RRV…” (https://roserosette.org/

There was a small stand of Showy Milkweed plants in another spot on the roadway, but we didn’t see any Monarch eggs or caterpillars. In fact, the plants were pretty much devoid of all insects – which freaks me out.[READ THIS article about the collapse of insect populations in California.]

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

Showy Milkweed, Asclepias speciosa

There were two dead animals on either side of the road at one spot: a raccoon and a deer. The raccoon carcass was pretty well gone-over, but there was a lot left for the vultures and other critters on the deer carcass. I know some folks think its gruesome that I take photos of the dead things, but death is all part of the cycle…and it’s interesting to me to see how the carcasses are broken down by the scavenging cleanup crews.

We then drove over to the former Ibis Rookery to see what might be there. There were may three or four Ibises sitting on nests in the main settling pond, but they were so far away, there was no way I could get photos of them. That is sooooo disappointing.

There were a few Barn Swallows flitting around the fence lines, and a flock of American White Pelicans fishing together very near the edge of the pond. I think they were actually scooping up frogs along with little fish. In the video snippets I took, I thought I could see frogs jumping away from them.

Along another side of the pond there were some Black-Necked Stilts, some of them wading, some of them swimming, and some of them screaming loudly and doing this odd repetitive wing-flapping thing.  I also saw one fly up onto the road and sit down, like it was sitting on a nest, then got up and flew off in another directions.

I looked up these behaviors in Cornell, and found the following: “…During Wing-flagging Display, calls resemble a warble… Distraction displays include Wing-flagging Display (while both sitting and standing), [and] False Incubation Display… In Wing-flagging Display, wings are partly extended and raised up and down; often only one wing at a time is extended, and the individual may sit, stand, or alternate between sitting and standing while performing the display. In False Incubating Display, individuals crouch on the ground as if incubating eggs, then rise and move to another spot and sit again…”

There were several different species of dragonflies buzzing around, but no one stopped long enough for me to get a photo of them. Dangit! I did get to capture some photos of a pair of damselflies “in wheel”, though, and that’s always cool.

We saw quite a few cottontail rabbits and one young jackrabbit while we were heading out. 

A drive past the smaller settling ponds yielded little because all of the birds were outside the range of my camera. (Sooooo frustrating!) I did manage to spot and get some VERY blurry images of a Redhead Duck, some Rudy Ducks, and a pair of grebes. The only fairly good photo I got from that side of the road was of some Black-Crowned Night Herons standing on the rocks along the edge of the pond.

After that, we drove into Davis for some brunch at the Crepeville restaurant. On the way, we passed fields of safflower and stopped at a sunflower field to get some photos. Oddly, only every third row or so of the sunflowers were in bloom. We wondered if those were a different species than the others.

By the time we got back to the house, it was100º F outside – and completely overcast. So weird. I think we were getting the edge of a passing monsoon. We were out for about 6 hours.

Species List:

  1. Alkali Heliotrope, Heliotropium curassavicum
  2. Alkali Mallow, Malvella leprosa
  3. American Avocet, Recurvirostra americana
  4. American Coot, Fulica americana
  5. American White Pelican, Pelecanus erythrorhynchos
  6. Ant, Immigrant Pavement Ant, Tetramorium immigrans
  7. Bee, European Honeybee, Western Honeybee, Apis mellifera
  8. Bisnaga, Visnaga daucoides
  9. Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans
  10. Blackberry, Armenian Blackberry, Rubus armeniacus [red canes]
  11. Black-Crowned Night Heron, Nycticorax nycticorax
  12. Black-Necked Stilt, Himantopus mexicanus
  13. Black-Tailed Jackrabbit, Lepus californicus
  14. Blessed Milk Thistle, Silybum marianum
  15. Boxelder, Box Elder Tree, Acer negundo
  16. Brown-Headed Cowbird, Molothrus ater
  17. Case-Bearing Leaf Beetle, Cryptocephalus castaneus
  18. Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus [road kill]
  19. Crab Spider, Goldenrod Crab Spider, Misumena vatia
  20. Damselfly, Familiar Bluet, Enallagma civile
  21. Desert Cottontail, Sylvilagus audubonii
  22. Great Egret, Ardea alba
  23. Grebe, Pied-Billed Grebe, Podilymbus podiceps
  24. Grebe, Western Grebe, Aechmophorus occidentalis [black below the eye]
  25. House Finch, Haemorhous mexicanus
  26. Hoverfly, Margined Calligrapher, Toxomerus marginatus
  27. Killdeer, Charadrius vociferous
  28. Leafhopper, Tribe: Empoascini
  29. Leaf-Mining Trumpet Moth, Tischeria sp.
  30. Leafy Bract Gall Wasp, Diplolepis californica [hard rosette gall on rose bush]
  31. Mallard Duck, Anas platyrhynchos
  32. Mantis, Arizona Mantis, Stagmomantis limbata [large ootheca]
  33. Milkweed, Showy Milkweed, Asclepias speciosa
  34. Mourning Dove, Zenaida macroura
  35. Northern Mockingbird, Mimus polyglottos
  36. Pacific Pond Turtle, Western Pond Turtle, Actinemys marorata
  37. Raccoon, Common Raccoon, Procyon lotor [road kill]
  38. Redhead Duck, Aythya americana
  39. Red-Tailed Hawk, Western Red-Tailed Hawk, Buteo jamaicensis calurus
  40. Rose Rosette Disease, Rose rosette emaravirus [carried by mites]
  41. Rose, California Wild Rose, Rosa californica [pink]
  42. Ruddy Duck, Oxyura jamaicensis
  43. Safflower, Carthamus tinctorius
  44. Slough Sedge, Carex obnupta
  45. Snowy Egret, Egretta thula
  46. Spiny Leaf Gall Wasp, Diplolepis polita [on rose leaves]
  47. Sunflower, Common Sunflower, Helianthus annuus [agricultural]
  48. Swallow, Barn Swallow, American Barn Swallow, Hirundo rustica erythrogaster
  49. Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
  50. Western Kingbird, Tyrannus verticalis
  51. Western Spotted Orbweaver, Neoscona oaxacensis
  52. White-Faced Ibis, Plegadis chihi
  53. Wild Licorice, Glycyrrhiza lepidota
  54. Willow Beaked-Gall Midge, Rabdophaga rigidae
  55. Willow Pinecone Gall Midge, Rabdophaga strobiloides
  56. Willow Stem Sawfly, Euura exiguae
  57. Willow, Interior Sandbar Willow, Salix interior
  58. ?? Hard gall on the midvein of rose leaves

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The Usual Suspects at Gristmill, 06-19-22

I got up around 5:30 this morning so I could get outside for a walk before the heat of the day came on. Walking in the summer is harder for me because I have to get up earlier to catch the few hours of comfortable temperatures… and going out early means I miss a lot of the insects that don’t come out until it gets warmer. Grrrr.

I went over to the Gristmill Recreation Area and didn’t see much of anything that I haven’t seen already.

The galls on the willows are getting more impressive and easier to see as the larvae inside of them grow. I did find one that didn’t look like others I’d previously seen. I don’t know yet if it’s a “new” gall or just an early iteration of a gall I’ve already seen. I’m not seeing any new galls on the oak trees yet.

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

I saw a few Black-tailed Jackrabbits around, and a couple of them let me take their pictures. No such luck with the California Ground Squirrels, though.

I watched a male Downy Woodpecker hanging around the hole to what I assumed was a nesting cavity. But I don’t think it was HIS nesting cavity. I saw a beak poke out toward him that looked “heavier” than a Downy beak would be… so I’m not sure what kind of bird was in there. I later saw the woodpecker going through the leaves of nearby trees collecting insects.

There were a lot of White-Breasted Nuthatches climbing the trees all around the trail looking for food. And I saw a Spotted Towhee stuffing its face with elderberries before flying away.

Elsewhere on the trail I found a Bewick’s Wren fledgling that was looking pretty rough, but that didn’t stop it from singing.

I walked for about three hours and then headed home. This was hike #36 in my #52HikeChallenge for the year.

Species List:

  1. Ant, California Harvester Ant, Pogonomyrmex californicus [red]
  2. Black Walnut, Eastern Black Walnut, Juglans nigra
  3. Black-Tailed Jackrabbit, Lepus californicus
  4. Blackberry, Armenian Blackberry, Rubus armeniacus [red canes]
  5. Blue Elderberry, Sambucus nigra cerulea
  6. Boxelder, Box Elder Tree, Acer negundo
  7. California Black Walnut Pouch Gall Mite, Aceria brachytarsa
  8. California Ground Squirrel, Otospermophilus beecheyi
  9. California Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma californica
  10. California Wild Grape, Vitis californica
  11. Canada Goose, Branta canadensis
  12. Darkling Beetle, Blapstinus sp.
  13. Downy Woodpecker, Dryobates pubescens
  14. Elm Tree, Field Elm Tree, Ulmus minor
  15. Fennel, Sweet Fennel, Foeniculum vulgare
  16. Fremont’s Cottonwood, Populus fremontii
  17. Funnel Weaver Spider, Subfamily: Ageleninae
  18. Green Shield Lichen, Flavoparmelia caperata
  19. Mallard Duck, Anas platyrhynchos
  20. Meshweaver Spider, Mallos sp. [small, pale tan with dark dot on the abdomen]
  21. Oak Apple, California Gall Wasp, Andricus quercuscalifornicus
  22. Oak, Coast Live Oak, Quercus agrifolia
  23. Oak, Interior Live Oak, Quercus wislizeni
  24. Oak, Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
  25. Red-Eared Slider Turtle, Trachemys scripta elegans
  26. Swallow, Tree Swallow, Tachycineta bicolor
  27. Towhee, Spotted Towhee, Pipilo maculatus
  28. Western Boxelder Bug, Boisea rubrolineata
  29. Western Fence Lizard, Blue Belly, Sceloporus occidentalis
  30. White Horehound, Marrubium vulgare
  31. White-Breasted Nuthatch, Sitta carolinensis
  32. Willow Apple Gall Sawfly, Euura californica
  33. Willow Beaked-Gall Midge, Rabdophaga rigidae
  34. Willow Fold Gall Sawfly, Euura sp. [Phyllocolpa sp.]
  35. Willow Petiole Gall Sawfly, Subfamily: Nematinae
  36. Willow Rosette Gall Midge, Rabdophaga salicisbrassicoides [on stem]
  37. Willow, Arroyo Willow, Salix lasiolepis
  38. Willow, Goodding’s Willow, Salix gooddingii
  39. Willow, Interior Sandbar Willow, Salix interior
  40. Wren, Bewick’s Wren, Thryomanes bewickii
  41. Wren, House Wren, Troglodytes aedon

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Ask and You Shall Receive, 06-12-22

I got up around 5:00 AM, got the dogs all fed and pottied, and got myself ready for a walk at William B. Pond Park. It was overcast when I first went out, and in the high 60’s. As I walked, there were a couple of light downpours of rain, and then the clouds started to shift and split apart. Got a lot of cloud photos. The wind also started to pick up and was really blowing by the time I headed back to the car.

As I was driving into the park and heading for my favorite parking space, I saw a small flock of Yellow-Billed Magpies gabbing at one another. I realized it was a group of adults and newly fledged youngsters that, although they were full grown, were begging for food. One jumped up on top of a fence post to beg from there. So noisy. The magpies are a favorite, though, because they’re a species that’s endemic to the Central Valley of California, which means they live and breed here and nowhere else on earth.

Among the bird species, I also saw a few California Quail, including a handsome male who jumped up on top of a stand of blackberry vines and posed for a little while. And a “lifer” bird for me: a Cassin’s Kingbird. I see the Western Kingbirds often, but this is the first time I’ve seen a Cassin’s.  Cassin’s have a darker breast than the Westerns, and have a white tip on their tail feathers.

The initial thing that struck me as I walked into the river side of the park (as opposed to the manicured part) was the dense overgrowth of Yellow Star Thistle. This is fragile riparian habitat; it shouldn’t be allowed to be overrun by star thistle. Where are the “stewards” who are supposed to be taking care of this place?

Yellow Star-Thistle, Centaurea solstitialis

CLICK HERE for the album of photos.

I was looking for the tarweed species and some Vinegar Weed, but either they’re not awake yet, or they had been dug up and turned away.  I did find some lovely pink centaury flowers along the river, some Yerba Santa that was just starting to bud, Queen Anne’s Lace, California Wild Rose, and some Manyflower Marshpennywort.

On the eucalyptus trees, I found a lot of fresh lerps made by Lerp Psyllids, and two kinds of galls. I also found galls on some of the willow trees, including those of two different species of midges. Nothing on the oak trees yet.

I’m still not seeing enough insects, though. There were a few that made themselves visible, but during this time of the year, they should be “annoying”. I did see a few species, but still… The lack of “bugs” really worries me.

I was hoping to see dragonflies along the riverside, but I didn’t see any. I knew the overcast and wind would affect the dragonflies’ ability to fly and there were no real sunny places for them to perch, nevertheless, I said to the Universe: “Seriously? Just show me one Widow Skimmer. How hard would that be?”  And, in truth, not 20 minutes later a Widow Skimmer flew into view and landed on some blackberry vines right in front of me. How cool is that?!

I walked for about 3 hours and then headed back home. This was hike #33 of my #52hikechallenge for the year.

Species List:

  1. Acorn Woodpecker, Melanerpes formicivorus
  2. Ash Leaf Curl Aphid, Prociphilus fraxinifolii
  3. Blackberry Orange Rust, Gymnoconia peckiana
  4. Blackberry, Armenian Blackberry, Rubus armeniacus [red canes]
  5. Bumblebee, Yellow-Faced Bumble Bee, Bombus vosnesenskii
  6. Caddisfly, Black Dancer Caddisfly, Mystacides sepulchralis
  7. Caddisfly, White Miller Caddisfly, Nectopsyche sp.
  8. California Bordered Plant Bug, Largus californicus
  9. California Quail, Callipepla californica
  10. Canada Goose, Branta canadensis
  11. Cassin’s Kingbird, Tyrannus vociferans
  12. Catalpa, Northern Catalpa, Catalpa speciosa
  13. Clustered Dock, Rumex conglomeratus
  14. Common St. John’s Wort, Hypericum perforatum
  15. Coyote Brush Bud Gall Midge, Rhopalomyia californica
  16. Coyote Brush Stem Gall Moth, Gnorimoschema baccharisella
  17. Coyote Brush, Baccharis pilularis
  18. Coyote, Canis latrans [scat]
  19. Damselfly, Tule Bluet, Enallagma carunculatum
  20. Dog, Canis lupus familiaris
  21. Eucalyptus Gall Wasp, Ophelimus maskelli [speckled; flat galls all over the leaf surface]
  22. Eucalyptus Stemgall Wasp, Leptocybe invasa [galls can also appear on the midvein]
  23. Eucalyptus, River Redgum, Eucalyptus camaldulensis
  24. Floating Water Primrose, Ludwigia peploides ssp. peploides
  25. Fly, Common Flesh Fly, Sarcophaga sp.
  26. Forget-Me-Not, Bay Forget-Me-Not, Myosotis laxa [tiny pale blue flowers]
  27. Fremont’s Cottonwood, Populus fremontii
  28. Goldenrod Crab Spider, Misumena vatia
  29. Grasses, Bermuda Grass, Cynodon dactylon
  30. Great Blue Heron, Ardea herodias
  31. Horsetail, Smooth Horsetail, Equisetum laevigatum
  32. Iris, Yellow Iris, Iris pseudacorus
  33. Jumping Spider, Arboreal Jumping Spider, Colonus hesperus
  34. Ladybeetle, Asian Lady Beetle, Harmonia axyridis [lots of variation]
  35. Live Oak Leafminer Moth, Stigmella variella 
  36. Mallard Duck, Anas platyrhynchos
  37. Mantis, Arizona Mantis, Stagmomantis limbata [large ootheca]
  38. Manyflower Marshpennywort, Hydrocotyle umbellate [round leaves, small white flowers on stalk]
  39. Mealy Plum Aphid, Hyalopterus pruni         
  40. Mullein, Moth Mullein, Verbascum blattaria [thin stick, white or yellow]
  41. Muscoid Fly, Superfamily: Muscoidea [red eyes, wings have black dot]
  42. Nuttall’s Woodpecker, Picoides nuttallii
  43. Oak Apple, California Gall Wasp, Andricus quercuscalifornicus
  44. Oak, Coast Live Oak, Quercus agrifolia
  45. Oak, Interior Live Oak, Quercus wislizeni
  46. Oak, Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
  47. Oleander, Nerium oleander
  48. Oregon Ash, Fraxinus latifolia
  49. Persian Silk Tree, Mimosa Tree, Albizia julibrissin
  50. Plantain, Ribwort Plantain, Plantago lanceolata
  51. Poplar Petiole Gall Aphid, Pemphigus populitransversus
  52. Queen Anne’s Lace, Daucus carota
  53. Red Gum Lerp Psyllid, Glycaspis brimblecombei [on eucalyptus]
  54. Rose, Woods’ Rose, Rosa woodsia [dark pink]
  55. Rosilla, Sneezeweed, Helenium puberulum
  56. Rush, Canada Rush, Juncus canadensis [small flowering heads at the top of the stem]
  57. Rush, Soft Rush, Juncus effusus
  58. Slender Centaury, Centaurium tenuiflorum [pink flowers]
  59. Tall Flatsedge, Cyperus eragrostis
  60. Tick, American Dog Tick, Dermacentor variabilis
  61. Tobacco, Tree Tobacco, Nicotiana glauca
  62. Towhee, Spotted Towhee, Pipilo maculatus
  63. Treehopper, Green Treehopper, Tortistilus pacificus
  64. Trefoil, Bird’s Foot Trefoil, Lotus corniculatus
  65. Turkey Tangle Frogfruit, Phyla nodiflora
  66. Western Yellowjacket, Vespula pensylvanica
  67. White-Breasted Nuthatch, Sitta carolinensis
  68. Widow Skimmer Dragonfly, Libellula luctuosa
  69. Willow Apple Gall Sawfly, Euura californica
  70. Willow Rose Gall Midge, Rabdophaga rosaria [on terminal bud point]
  71. Willow Rosette Gall Midge, Rabdophaga salicisbrassicoides [on stem]
  72. Yellow Starthistle Flower Weevil, Larinus curtus
  73. Yellow Star-Thistle, Centaurea solstitialis
  74. Yellow-Billed Magpie, Pica nuttalli
  75. Yerba Santa, California Yerba Santa, Eriodictyon californicum

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North Pond and the Bypass, 05-28-22

I got up at 5:30 this morning to go out for an excursion with my friend and fellow naturalist, Roxanne, to the North Davis Pond and the Yolo Bypass.  I was looking for dragonflies, and we found a few, but not as many as I was hoping for. Might be too early in the season yet.

At the Pond, there were LOTS of Pacific Forktail damselflies all around, but among the dragonflies we saw a bright orange Flame Skimmer, a large male Green Darner, and lots and lots of male and female Blue Dashers (some in their full color, some not).

About the Common Green Darner in the bottom photo, there was some discussion on iNaturalist about whether or not it was actually a Giant Darner. Two (trusted) experts discussed it for a while, and I learned a lot while they were talking to one another. According to expert Jim: “…The abdomen on that species [Giant Darner] is longer in proportion to the thorax/head, and the male’s cerci are shaped differently. You’ll also see a difference in the abdominal pattern if you compare them…” It always helps me so much when folks can give me field markings and other information to check against my IDs. I also learned that the Giants have a blue cast on the top of the eyes, which this one lacked. So… Common Green Darner it is.

We also found quite a few Spotted Cucumber Beetles and Broad-Striped Lady Beetles (which look just as their name describes. Instead of spots, they have broad stripes running down their back.) And on one of the bushes we found a small crop of reddish-brown scale insects and their tiny yellowish babies. While Rox and I were taking photos of that, a lady walking by got our attention and showed us that a squirrel was sitting up on the path just a few feet away, watching us.  Hah! So funny.

I’m “collecting” more insect identifications to add to my species list this year, and to help teach me a little bit more about the critters. There are just sooooo many of them, though, that the task is a daunting one. Today, along with the insects listed above, I added the Common Flesh Fly, the European Blowfly, the European Drone Fly (which is actually quite pretty with its orange belt and black-and-shite barred abdomen), a sleepy Longhorn Bee, some Dark Fireflies, Harlequin Bugs, and a Tiger Fly.

There were a handful of flowering plants in one of the planter boxes, but not very many pollinators. Honeybees and some Foothill Carpenter Bees (like the Valley species but smaller).  On the lawn near the permanent pond were trees that had lobed leaves like Valley Oaks, but they were pale green with dark green traces along the veins. I’m not sure, but I think they might have been sickly Hungarian Oaks.

We walked down the long boardwalk, where earlier in the spring there’s some water below the deck, but today, it was dry, dry, dry. Only a couple of Canada Geese with their goslings could be seen. And because there isn’t any water, the dragonflies that would normally breed there are nonexistent.  We also walked all the way around the small permanent pond, lamenting over the fact that the Yellow Iris and tule have overgrown so much, you can’t really see the water anymore. We could hear a Sora, but couldn’t see.  We did catch a glimpse of a Common Gallinule, though.

Surprisingly, there weren’t many birds around. In the trees we saw some Song Sparrows, and some Tree Swallows using one of the nesting boxes, but not much else. No insects, no birds. Duh!

We did hear a few Bullfrogs croaking with their deep cello voices from the water, and saw a tiny Chorus Frog jumping through the grass. I tried to catch it to get some photos of it, but it was way too fast for this old woman. Hah!

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

As we were leaving, we saw a black and white cat sitting by the tules along one edge of the pond, and it looked like it was tracking something. A passerby told us that he’s seen the cat out there a lot, and on two occasions saw it jump up onto the bit of wire fencing around the pump’s electrical box, and dive into the water. Both times, the cat came out, dripping wet, with a mouse. Interested to see if it would repeat that performance, Rox and I watched it for a while. We caw it hunker down into stalker mode and twitch before it pounced into the tules, leaving just its back side and tail to our view. A few seconds later, the cat emerged from the tules… but hadn’t caught anything.

I know, I know…Domestic cats that are allowed to roam free kill a LOT of wild birds each year.  According to the American Bird Conservancy, “…Predation by domestic cats is the number-one direct, human-caused threat to birds in the United States and Canada. In the United States alone, outdoor cats kill approximately 2.4 billion birds every year. Although this number may seem unbelievable, it represents the combined impact of tens of millions of outdoor cats…” 

An article published in Nature Communications agrees, but with a slight variation. “…We estimate that free-ranging domestic cats kill 1.3–4.0 billion birds and 6.3–22.3 billion mammals annually. Un-owned cats, as opposed to owned pets, cause the majority of this mortality. Our findings suggest that free-ranging cats cause substantially greater wildlife mortality than previously thought and are likely the single greatest source of anthropogenic mortality for US birds and mammals. Scientifically sound conservation and policy intervention is needed to reduce this impact…”

And cats are NOT a good means of rodent control; they’d rather hunt and play with the things than eat them, so… Free-range and outdoor domesticated cats are a no-no, especially when birds are in their fledging season.

Anyway, after doing the circuit through the park we decided to head over to the Yolo Bypass area to see if the mama Great Horned Owl and her owlets were visible in their nest.

As we were driving in, lamenting over the fact that much of the water has been drained from this wildlife area as well, I spotted something bright yellow moving through the tules and singing a song with which I wasn’t familiar, so Rox stopped the car so we could get a closer look. We were both surprised to find that it was a beautiful male Common Yellowthroat. I’d only seen that species once before, along Bruceville Road, and then it was just for a second (so all I got was a blurry photo). This male flitted around the tules, but would stop long enough during each flit to sing, so we were able to get some photos and a little video snippet of it.

Further along, we did find the owl’s nest and mama Great Horned Owl was sitting in the middle of it with an owlet on each side of her. The owlets are just starting to fledge but they grow up fast, so we may have to go back next week to see if they’re “branching”.

There was Bisnaga (which we call “Bazinga”) flowering all over the place, attracting a lot of wasps and smaller pollinators.  And the Pennyroyal was starting to flower, too.  All of the downingia we saw the last time we were out this way was completely gone. There wasn’t much of anything else to see out there but grasses and rushes, which I don’t know well enough to ID or get excited about. (Maybe next year). So, this drive was a fairly short one. 

We were out for about 6 hours.

Species List:

  1. Bedstraw, Galium pilosum [much  larger than Galium aparine]
  2. Bee, European Honeybee, Western Honeybee, Apis mellifera
  3. Bindweed, Field Bindweed, Convolvulus arvensis
  4. Bisnaga, Visnaga daucoides
  5. Bristly Oxtongue, Helminthotheca echioides
  6. Broad-Striped Lady Beetle, Paranaemia vittigera
  7. Bumblebee, Foothill Carpenter Bee, Xylocopa tabaniformis orpifex
  8. Butterfly Bush, Buddleja davidii
  9. Cabbage White Butterfly, Pieris rapae
  10. Canada Goose, Branta canadensis
  11. Cat, Felis catus
  12. Cattail, Narrowleaf Cattail, Typha angustifolia
  13. Cheeseweed Mallow, Malva parviflora
  14. Chicory, Cichorium intybus
  15. Chinaberry Tree, Melia azedarach
  16. Clover, Strawberry Clover, Trifolium fragiferum
  17. Common Flesh Fly, Sarcophaga sp.
  18. Common Gallinule, Gallinula galeata
  19. Common Hedge Parsley, Torilis arvensis [tiny flowers, spiny seeds are pinkish]
  20. Common Yellowthroat, Geothlypis trichas
  21. Dame’s Rocket, Hesperis matronalis [purple flowers in bouquets]
  22. Damselfly, Pacific Forktail, Ischnura cervula
  23. Dock, Curly Dock, Rumex crispus
  24. Dragonfly, Blue Dasher Dragonfly, Pachydiplax longipennis
  25. Dragonfly, Common Green Darner, Anax junius
  26. Dragonfly, Flame Skimmer Dragonfly, Libellula saturata
  27. Eastern Gray Squirrel, Sciurus carolinensis [white belly]
  28. European Blowfly, Calliphora vicina
  29. European Drone Fly, Eristalis arbustorum [orange belt]
  30. Firefly, Dark Firefly, Pyropyga nigricans
  31. Fremont’s Cottonwood, Populus fremontii
  32. Frog, American Bullfrog, Lithobates catesbeianus [heard]
  33. Frog, Pacific Treefrog, Chorus Frog, Pseudacris regilla [almost caught one]
  34. Great Blue Heron, Ardea herodias
  35. Great Egret, Ardea alba
  36. Great Horned Owl, Bubo virginianus
  37. Harlequin Bug, Murgantia histrionica
  38. Hoary Rosette Lichen, Physcia aipolia [hoary, brown apothecia]
  39. Hyssop Loosestrife, Lythrum hyssopifolia
  40. Iris, Yellow Iris, Iris pseudacorus
  41. Kermes Scale Insect, Allokermes sp.
  42. Long-Horned Bee, Melissodes sp.
  43. Mantis, Arizona Mantis, Stagmomantis limbata [large ootheca]
  44. Narrowleaf Firethorn, Pyracantha angustifolia
  45. Oak, Hungarian Oak, Quercus frainetto
  46. Oak, Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
  47. Pacific Aster, Symphyotrichum chilense
  48. Paper Wasp, Black Paper Wasp, European Paper Wasp, Polistes dominula
  49. Pennyroyal, Mentha pulegium
  50. Pepperweed, Broadleaved Pepperweed, Lepidium latifolium
  51. Poplar Petiole Gall Aphid, Pemphigus populitransversus [on cottonwood]
  52. Poplar Sunburst Lichen, Xanthomendoza hasseana [sunburst on Cottonwood]
  53. Red-Winged Blackbird, Agelaius phoeniceus
  54. Rose-of-Sharon, Hypericum calycinum [a kind of St. John’s Wort]
  55. Sage, Baby Sage, Salvia microphylla
  56. Sage, Cleveland Sage, Salvia clevelandii
  57. Scale Insects, Superfamily: Coccoidea
  58. Sora, Porzana carolina [heard]
  59. Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Melospiza melodia
  60. Sticky Sand-Spurrey, Spergularia macrotheca [mat, purple flowers]
  61. Sunflower, Common Sunflower, Helianthus annuus
  62. Swallow, Tree Swallow, Tachycineta bicolor
  63. Tiger Fly, Coenosia sp.
  64. Toyon, Heteromeles arbutifolia
  65. Tule, Common Tule, Schoenoplectus acutus
  66. Turkey Tangle Fogfruit, Phyla nodiflora
  67. Turkish Pine, Pinus brutia [2 fasicles]
  68. Western Columbine, Aquilegia formosa
  69. Western Spotted Cucumber Beetle, Diabrotica undecimpunctata undecimpunctata
  70. White Mulberry, Morus alba
  71. Willow Bead Gall Mite, Aculus tetanothrix
  72. Willow Bud Gall Mite, Aculops aenigma [look like the ash mite galls]
  73. Willow, Arroyo Willow, Salix lasiolepis
  74. Willow, Goodding’s Willow, Salix gooddingii
  75. Willow, Interior Sandbar Willow, Salix interior
  76. Wren, Marsh Wren, Cistothorus palustris
  77. Yarrow, Common Yarrow, Achillea millefolium
  78. Yellow Sweetclover, Small Melilot, Melilotus indicus
  79. ?? gall on valley oak leaf

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