Category Archives: Books, Reading

A Pretty Morning at Mather, 03-13-21

 Got up around 6:00 am and headed over to the Mather Lake Regional Park for a walk. On the way there, I saw a White-Tailed Kite “kiting” in the air; and later, when I left, I saw a Say’s Phoebe “kiting” in the air.  Like bookends.

It was about 39°F when I got to the park, and remained relatively cool (under 60°) all day. A lot of the willows are now starting to get their leaves, the wild plum trees were in blossom, and some of the other trees were just starting to bud new leaves and catkins.  Here and there, the Jointed Charlock plants were blossoming. They’re basically “weeds” but I think the flowers are pretty, especially in their variety of colors.

Clouds over the lake.

Among the sparrows, I also saw a couple of chubby Robins. One of them, seemingly, had lost an eye, but it was still able to get around all right. Robins hunt by sound, listening for worms under the surface of the ground…so losing an eye wouldn’t be too much of a disadvantage as far as finding food goes.

American Robin, Turdus migratorius. This one was missing an eye.

There were both Mourning Doves and Eurasian Collared Doves cooing from the trees and telephone lines.  The Great-Tailed Grackles and House Wrens were out singing, too. So much birdsong!

The real standouts of the day, though, were the Tree Swallows. They were everywhere, foraging for bugs, chasing one another, singing their gurgly songs, looking for nesting cavities. One of the folks in the Birding California Facebook group suggested I read “White Feathers: The Nesting Lives of Tree Swallows” by Bernd Heinrich… so that’s on my wish list right now. Heinrich noted that the Tree Swallows line their nests with only white feathers.

 There were lots of Coots and some Pied-Billed Grebes swimming and foraging around the edges of the lake. One of the grebes caught a little fish, and swallowed it down whole. I got a video snippet, but the bird turned its back to me for most of it. Hah!

I also got some really bad, really fuzzy video of a muskrat as it swam its way across the lake. It was headed toward shore, but I can’t move very fast with my cane. When I got to the place where I thought it might have landed, it was already gone. Sigh.

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

One of the last bits of video I got was of a pair of Canada Geese. I’ve seen this species of geese all over the place, in forested areas, along the river, lakes and ponds, and in urban areas. But I’d never seen them mating before. The geese form pair bonds that last throughout their lives, but they won’t form a bond or start mating until they’re about three years old.

A lot of the display I watched, before I started filming, was the typical “Triumph Display” where the pair approach one another honking loudly. The honking is followed by a sort of “snorting” or “snoring” sound and the threat of a bite.  Once in the water, the pair I was watching did the “head-dipping” routine — like they were bathing, dipping their heads into the water and then lifting the head so the water flowed over their neck and body.  Then the male mounted the female. She was bouncing like a bobber, and he had trouble staying on top, so I don’t know if he actually accomplished anything. Poor dude. 

As I mentioned before, on my way out of the park, I saw a brown bird “kiting” in the air over a field. I didn’t recognize what it was at first, so I took some video of it.

Luckily, the bird flew in closer to the edge of the road and landed briefly on the fencepost, so I was able to get a few clear shots of it. I was surprised to realize it was a Say’s Phoebe.

Say’s Phoebe, Sayornis saya

According to Cornell, these phoebes kite when they’re foraging and when the male is displaying around a nesting site to show the female where it is. Say’s Phoebes, unlike the Black Phoebes, don’t make mud nests to they don’t need to nest near a water site. They can sometimes use old nests of Black Phoebes, but otherwise build their nest of a variety of materials, like weeds, wood and other plant fibers, rocks, cocoons and spiderwebs, hair, paper, basically whatever is readily available and can be easily manipulated.

Like the Black Phoebes, the Say’s nest in or around ledges, where the nest can be partially or wholly covered to protect it from the weather, like on rafters, shelves, ledges, drainpipes, eaves, etc. I’ve never found one, but now, at least, I know what I’m looking for.

I walked for about 3½ hours and then headed back home. This was hike #27 in my #52HikeChallenge.

Species List:

  1. Almond Tree, Prunus dulcis
  2. American Coot, Fulica americana
  3. American Mistletoe, Phoradendron leucarpum
  4. American Robin, Turdus migratorius
  5. Anna’s Hummingbird, Calypte anna
  6. Audubon’s Warbler, Yellow-Rumped Warbler, Setophaga coronata auduboni
  7. Azolla, Water Fern, Azolla filiculoides
  8. Beaver, American, Beaver, Castor canadensis [sign on tree]
  9. Bishop Pine, Pinus muricata [fascicles of TWO needles]
  10. Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans
  11. Brewer’s Blackbird, Euphagus cyanocephalus
  12. Bushtit, American Bushtit, Psaltriparus minimus
  13. California Ground Squirrel, Otospermophilus beecheyi
  14. California Quail, Callipepla californica [heard]
  15. California Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma californica
  16. California Wild Rose, Rosa californica
  17. Canada Goose, Branta canadensis
  18. Candleflame Lichen, Candelaria concolor [bright yellow-orange]
  19. Common Stork’s-Bill, Erodium cicutarium
  20. Cork Oak, Quercus suber
  21. Coyote Brush Bud Gall midge, Rhopalomyia californica
  22. Coyote Brush Rust Fungus, Puccinia evadens
  23. Coyote Brush Stem Gall Moth, Gnorimoschema baccharisella
  24. Coyote Brush, Baccharis pilularis
  25. Crow, American Crow, Corvus brachyrhynchos
  26. Double-Crested Cormorant, Phalacrocorax auratus
  27. Eastern Fox Squirrel, Sciurus niger
  28. Eurasian Collared Dove, Streptopelia decaocto
  29. European Starling, Sturnus vulgaris
  30. Fremont’s Cottonwood, Populus fremontii
  31. Golden-Crowned Sparrow, Zonotrichia atricapilla
  32. Goodding’s Black Willow, Salix gooddingii
  33. Great Egret, Ardea alba
  34. Great-Tailed Grackle, Quiscalus mexicanus
  35. House Wren, Troglodytes aedon
  36. Interior Sandbar Willow, Salix interior
  37. Jointed Charlock, Wild Radish, Raphanus raphanistrum
  38. Killdeer, Charadrius vociferous
  39. Mallard Duck, Anas platyrhynchos
  40. Mourning Dove, Zenaida macroura
  41. Muskrat, Ondatra zibethicus
  42. Mute Swan, Cygnus olor
  43. Northern Flicker, Colaptes auratus
  44. Nuttall’s Woodpecker, Picoides nuttallii
  45. Oyster Mushroom, Pleurotus ostreatus
  46. Pied-Billed Grebe, Podilymbus podiceps
  47. Poison Oak, Pacific Poison Oak, Western Poison Oak, Toxicodendron diversilobum
  48. Red-Winged Blackbird, Agelaius phoeniceus
  49. Ruby-Crowned Kinglet, Regulus calendula
  50. Rusty Popcornflower, Plagiobothrys nothofulvus [tiny]
  51. Say’s Phoebe, Sayornis saya
  52. Song Sparrow, Melospiza melodia
  53. Tree Swallow, Tachycineta bicolor
  54. Tule, Common Tule, Schoenoplectus acutus
  55. Turkey Vulture, Cathartes aura
  56. White Tailed Kite, Elanus leucurus
  57. White-Crowned Sparrow, Zonotrichia leucophrys
  58. Willow Pinecone Gall midge, Rabdophaga strobiloides

A Few Firsts for Me, 09-18-20

I got up around 6:00 this morning and was out the door by about 6:30 to go over to the Cosumnes River Preserve.  It was 63° when I left and mostly cloudy. The cooler temperatures lasted until the late afternoon, but it felt a little humid.

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

When I got near the preserve, I drove down Bruceville and Desmond Roads to see if there were any interesting birds out there. I was hoping there would be some water on the preserve now that the migrations have started, but the place still nearly bone dry. Only one of the fields along Desmond was partially filled, and only a small pond on the preserve itself had water in it.  So, that was something of a disappointment. But I DID get to see some things I wasn’t expecting to see.

Tricolored Blackbird, Agelaius tricolor

Along Bruceville Road there was a large covey of quail, some Great Egrets, and several cottontail rabbits. But the big surprise was a large flock of Tricolored Blackbirds, Agelaius tricolor, this morning! One even landed on a fence near my car, so I was able to get some video of it preening. 

“Trikes”, as they’re endearingly referred to, are visually very similar to Red-Winged Blackbirds in that they are also black with red epaulets on their shoulders.  But the Trikes’ epaulets are rimmed with white feathers, not yellow like those of the Red-Wings.

Already listed as Endangered by the IUCN-World Conservation Union, the species has been a candidate for listing under the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA), as well as California’s state ESA. It was given temporary “endangered” status in 2015 but that was only for 6 months and has since expired. As it stands, right now the species is still considered “threatened”. Further consideration of an “endangered” status was dumped when Trump and his crew took over the White House and the Department of the Interior.

In the same area as the Trikes, there was a pair of Brewer’s Blackbirds. The female had what looked like nesting material in her beak, and she was pursued by a male who strutted and postured and cheeped behind her. I got a little bit of video, but it wasn’t in the sharpest focus…and it didn’t help that a car drove past, obscuring my view. Still, the male’s display was so “cute”, I wanted to preserve it.

According to Cornell: “…n resident and many migratory populations, pair formation begins as gradual process in late-winter… As courtship progresses, female initiates Generalized Display, which merges imperceptibly with Pre-copulatory Display, a more fully expressed version of the former with more crouched posture, tail held at higher angle, and accompanied by different call. In both displays, body tipped forward on flexed legs with breast lowered toward ground, bill slightly raised, wings lowered and rapidly shivered while unspread tail is cocked… Male Pre-coitional Display given just prior to mounting and copulation. Feather ruffing more conspicuous than in male Song-spread, bill pointed downward, and yellow eyes bordered by fluffed violet feathers of head appearing prominent. Position of tail and wings more exaggerated than in Song-spread. In this posture, male deliberately approaches female, and if on ground sometimes makes half-circle in strutting motion. Wing and tail feathers scrape ground. Approach sometimes silent, other times accompanied by 1 of the 2 song forms…”

Brewer’s Blackbirds are “seasonally monogamous”, and I’m sure I was seeing the work and displays of a pair bond.

Among the bindweed along the side of the road, I found a new-to-me kind of stinkbug called a Conchuela Bug, Chlorochroa ligata.  It’s black with an orange border.  When I picked it up to get closer photos of it, it pooped out some of its stink-fluid, staining my index finger top orange. The smell was pretty gross, but it dissipated relatively quickly.

Conchuela Stink Bug, Chlorochroa ligata

The trees along Desmond Road and around the preserve are still covered in galls, but it’s near the end of the season, so many of the gall are empty and are shriveling away. The Flat-Topped Honeydew galls are going black with age, but some of them are still producing a little honeydew and still have a few ants in attendance. I wonder if, at this time of year, the honeydew has fermented or if the sugary substance has promoted some fungal development.  The Convoluted galls and Yellow Wig galls are now much larger than they have been as the larvae inside develop and pupate.

As an aside, I was excited to learn (later in the day) that Ron Russo has a new book coming out next year: Plant Galls of the Western United States. Woot!! The book covers 536 gall species with 232 species not previously included in any field guide.  Double-woot!  Russo’s last book is like the bible for us gall chasers, but it’s out of print now, and VERY expensive (anywhere between $80 and $200 depending on who has it). We’ve all been hoping the publishers would re-release it, but with this new book coming out that won’t be necessary   — and maybe any copies of the original book will now drop in price. The new guide is due to be released in late March of 2021, and I’ve pre-ordered one through Amazon.com at the more reasonable price of $29.

While I was checking out the trees along the boat ramp trail, I saw something gray on one of the twiggy branches, and I got closer to investigate.  I was overjoyed when I saw that it was a vase-like pot of a California Potter Wasp, Eumenes sp.  I’ve seen photos before, but never a “live” one. The pots are perfect, beautiful little things.

Clay pot created by a Potter Wasp, California Potter Wasp, Eumenes sp.

The Potter Wasps are a species of solitary wasp that creates these pots to house their larvae. They make a pot out of mud and saliva, fill it full of spiders and caterpillars, lay an egg on the pile of food and then seal the pot shut. The larva develops and pupates, eating from the pantry mom left it, then when it’s a mature wasp, it pops the seal on the pot and climbs out. The pot I found was open and empty.

At the end of the boat launch trail, where there’s river access, I could see that part of the water was already clogged full of Water Hyacinth, Eichhornia crassipes.  Some of the river was still open, but the plants multiply quickly. It’ll only be a matter of time before that whole area is covered with the stuff.  Some of the hyacinth was in bloom, and it’s actually quite pretty.  Too bad it’s so horribly invasive.

Water Hyacinth, Eichhornia crassipes

On other parts of the trail and on the side of the pond across from the nature center parking lot, I saw some Variegated Meadowhawk dragonflies. I also saw some Green Darners, including a mated pair that was flying around near the water’s edge. I lost them in the dried vegetation in the water, and just aimed my camera in the direction where I last saw them. I was VERY surprised when I got home to find that I’d actually gotten a photo of them, still connected, resting on the side of an old cocklebur plant. Sometimes, you get lucky.

Green Darner Dragonflies, Anax junius. Male on top, female below.

In that same pond, I was happy to see some shorebirds and waterfowl, early arrivals from the migrations, among the blackbirds and Brown-Headed Cowbirds.  There were Killdeer, Black-Necked Stilts, a few Dunlin, and lots of Greater Yellowlegs.  There were also some Mallards, and some small flocks of Northern Shovelers.  It looked like all of the Shovelers were females, but closer inspection proved that there were males in there, too, but in their “eclipse” plumage.

Northern Shoveler, Anas clypeata, male in his “eclipse” plumage

“…Eclipse plumage is temporary or transition plumage. Ducks are peculiar in that they molt all their flight feathers; the long, wing feathers; at once. For about a month, they can’t fly and very vulnerable to predators. To provide some protection, particularly for the brightly-colored males, the molt starts with their bright body feathers. These are replaced by dowdy brown ones, making them look much like females. Once the flight feathers have regrown, the birds molt again, and by October the full colors are back and the various species of ducks are easily recognizable once more…”

 You can tell the eclipsed adult males from the females by their bright yellow eyes.

So, although there weren’t a lot of birds to see, it was nice to see that they’re starting to move in.  The biggest flocks of migrating birds should be here in December, but they’ll be trickling in from now until then.

I walked for about 3½ hours and then headed back home.

Species List:

  1. Azolla, Water Fern, Azolla filiculoides
  2. Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans
  3. Black-Necked Stilt, Himantopus mexicanus
  4. Brewer’s Blackbird, Euphagus cyanocephalus
  5. Brown-Headed Cowbird, Molothrus ater
  6. Bur Clover, Medicago polymorpha
  7. Buttonbush, Cephalanthus occidentalis
  8. California Quail, Callipepla californica
  9. California Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma californica
  10. California Wild Rose, Rosa californica
  11. Chicory, Cichorium intybus
  12. Club Gall Wasp, Atrusca clavuloides
  13. Common Crow, Corvus brachyrhynchos
  14. Common Green Lacewing, Chrysopa coloradensis
  15. Common Snowberry, Symphoricarpos albus
  16. Common Sow-Thistle, Sonchus oleraceus
  17. Conchuela Stink Bug, Chlorochroa ligata
  18. Convoluted Gall Wasp, Andricus confertus
  19. Coyote Brush, Baccharis pilularis
  20. Coyote Brush Bud Gall midge, Rhopalomyia californica
  21. Desert Cottontail Rabbit, Sylvilagus audubonii
  22. Disc Gall Wasp, Andricus parmula [round flat, “spangle gall”]
  23. Field Bindweed, Convolvulus arvensis
  24. Flat-Topped Honeydew Gall Wasp, Disholcaspis eldoradensis
  25. Fuzzy Gall Wasp, Disholcaspis washingtonensi [round faintly fuzzy galls on stems]
  26. Goldenrod Bunch Gall, Goldenrod Floret Gall Midge, Solidago canadensi
  27. Goldenrod, California Goldenrod, Solidago velutina californica
  28. Goodding’s Black Willow, Salix gooddingii
  29. Great Egret, Ardea alba
  30. Greater Yellowlegs, Tringa melanoleuca
  31. Green Darner Dragonfly, Anax junius
  32. Green-Winged Teal, Anas carolinensis
  33. Gumweed, Curlycup Gumweed, Grindelia squarrosa
  34. Hayfield Tarweed, Hemizonia congesta [white]
  35. Himalayan Blackberry, Rubus bifrons [white flowers]
  36. Jumping Oak Gall Wasp, Neuroterus saltatorius
  37. Killdeer, Charadrius vociferous
  38. Least Sandpiper, Calidris minutilla [small like a Dunlin but with yellow legs]
  39. Lesser Goldfinch, Spinus psaltria
  40. Mallard duck, Anas platyrhynchos
  41. Mediterranean Praying Mantis, Iris Mantis, Iris oratoria [very narrow ootheca]
  42. Mistletoe, American Mistletoe, Big Leaf Mistletoe, Phoradendron leucarpum
  43. Narrowleaf Milkweed, Asclepias fascicularis
  44. Narrowleaf Willow, Salix exigua
  45. Northern Shoveler, Anas clypeata
  46. Nuttall’s Woodpecker, Picoides nuttallii
  47. Oak Apple Gall Wasp, Andricus quercuscalifornicus
  48. Oleander Aphid, Aphis nerii
  49. Panicled Willowherb, Epilobium brachycarpum
  50. Potter Wasp, California Potter Wasp, Eumenes sp.
  51. Red Cone Gall Wasp, Andricus kingi
  52. Red-Winged Blackbird, Agelaius phoeniceus
  53. Rough Cocklebur, Xanthium strumarium
  54. Showy Milkweed, Asclepias speciosa
  55. Spiny Turban Gall Wasp, asexual, fall generation, Antron douglasii
  56. Trashline Orb Weaver Spider, Conical Trashline Spider,  Cyclosa conica
  57. Tricolored Blackbird, Agelaius tricolor
  58. Turkey Tangle Fogfruit, Phyla nodiflora
  59. Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
  60. Variegated Meadowhawk Dragonfly, Sympetrum corruptum
  61. Vinegarweed, Trichostema lanceolatum
  62. Water Hyacinth, Eichhornia crassipes
  63. Willow Apple Gall Sawfly, Pontania californica
  64. Woolly Oak Aphid, Stegophylla brevirostris (lots of white fluff & honeydew)
  65. Yellow Wig Gall Wasp, Andricus fullawayi

Mostly a “Bee Day”, 06-19-20

I got up around 5:30 this morning and headed out with my friend Roxanne to go check out parts of the Arboretum in Davis.  It was another hot day today (up to 99°), so we only stayed out for a few hours.  At the arboretum, we walked through part of the Peter J. Shields Oak Grove and adjoining gardens.

This grove is only one part of the Davis Arboretum. There are other gardens and collections, including a native plants garden, desert collection, redwood grove and pollinator garden.  The arboretum also abuts the Putah Creek Riparian Reserve.  Each facet is accessible through different streets with varying parking availability.  At the oak grove, there is adequate parking and a restroom facility that is covered in detailed mosaic murals.

One of the murals on the restroom facility walls.

The last time Rox and I were here was in September of last year.  What a difference in what we saw today compared to then: fewer flowers, no galls, few birds, hot temperatures. What we seemed to see the most of today was a lot of different bee species.

Among the bees we saw were a Foothill Carpenter Bees that were sleeping on different stems of the same salvia plant. Because they were dozing, it was easy to get some close up photos of them.  When the male Foothill bee started to wake up, he stretched himself out between two flowers on the plant (like Tarzan going from vine to vine). 

The female bee would have slept in longer if another bee hadn’t jumped her and forced her off the plant.  We weren’t sure if it was an attempt at mating (I think it was) or if it was an aggressive behavior, but the female bee just wasn’t having it.

Roxanne got this photo of them together:

[Photo by Roxanne Moger]

Many of the carpenter bees we saw were “nectar robbing”. I know I’ve mentioned this before, but it bears repeating. Rather than working their way to the nectar through a natural opening in a flower, some bees (and hummingbirds, too) will drill a hole in the base of the flower and take the nectar from there. It’s called “nectar robbing” because the bees get the benefits of the food, but flowers don’t get any pollination action.

A female Valley Carpenter Bee robbing nectar from a salvia flower.

How do you tell the carpenter bees apart? The following is from the UCD Blog:

California has three species of carpenter bees.

The biggest is the Valley carpenter bee, Xylocopa varipuncta. It’s about an inch long. The female is solid black, while the male, commonly known as “the teddy bear bee,” is a green-eyed blond. Why teddy bear? It’s fuzzy and does not sting… “Boy bees don’t sting.”

The second largest is the California carpenter bee or Western carpenter bee, Xylocopa californica, often found in the mountain foothill areas of northern and southern California. It’s known for its distinctive distinctive bluish metallic reflections on the body… The females have dark smoky brown wings.

The smallest is the foothill or mountain carpenter bee, Xylocopa tabaniformis orpifex. The females are black with light smoky-colored wings. The male has bright yellow marks on the lower part of its face and some yellow hairs on the top front of its thorax.

Banded Western Bluebird, juvenile. This one must have been banded right out the nest.

We saw a family of Western Bluebirds on one of the lawns, including this youngster. I was surprised to realize that it was banded, so I reported it to the Bird Banding Laboratory. Some birds aren’t banded with numbers, only color codes, like this one. So, even if you don’t see any alpha-numeric marking on the bands, reporting the birds still helps scientists to track them.

Roxanne and I walked through the Ruth Risdon Storer Garden, and went by the Moon Garden and gazebo.  At the Moon Garden, all of the flowers are supposed to be white but there weren’t many blooms at all this time of year.  The gazebo was occupied by a large group of people without face-masks on, so we didn’t go in there.

On the lawn near the Moon Garden, however, we found a small flock of Mallards (mostly hybrids) stretched out in the grass in the shade, all of them in a well-spaced circle. Social distancing duck-style. Hah!

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

Because of the heat, we walked for about 3 hours before heading out.

When we were done at the oak grove, we stopped briefly at the home of Bob Schneider.  He’d invited us over to pick up copies of his new book, “Exploring the Berryessa Region: a Geology, Nature and History Tour”.  He has advance copies that he’s selling, and all of the profits will be donated to nonprofit conservation organizations. (You can contact him through FB or email him at Verve2006@comcast.net),  The cover art is by Obi Kaufmann.

Here’s a write up on the book from the Daily Democrat newspaper.

Species List:

  1. Acanthus, Acanthus sp. [like bear’s breeches]
  2. Algerian Oak hybrid, Mirbeck’s Oak, Quercus canariensis x Quercus robur
  3. Aloe Vera, Aloe vera
  4. Annual Honesty, Lunaria annua [“Money Plant”, “Silver Dollar”]
  5. Aster, European Michaelmas-Daisy, “Purple Dome”, Aster amellus
  6. Baby Sage, Salvia microphylla [red and white]
  7. Blue Germander Sage, Salvia chamelaeagnea
  8. Buckwheat, Red-Flowered Buckwheat, Eriogonum grande var. rubescens [pink to deep red flowering heads]
  9. Buckwheat, Saint Catherine’s Lace, Eriogonum giganteum
  10. Bur Oak, Quercus macrocarpa
  11. Butterfly Rose, Rosa x odoratus Mutabilis [hybrid]
  12. California Barberry, California Holly-Grape, Berberis pinnata
  13. California Carpenter Bee, Xylocopa californica
  14. California Goldenrod, “Cascade Creek”, Solidago velutina californica
  15. California Ground Squirrel, Otospermophilus beecheyi
  16. Calla Lily, Zantedeschia aethiopica var. Green Goddess
  17. Chilean Lily-of-the-Valley Tree, Crinodendron patagua
  18. Chinkapin Oak, Quercus muehlenbergii
  19. Cleveland Sage, Salvia clevelandii [purple, circles]
  20. Coast Live Oak, Quercus agrifolia
  21. Common Green Lacewing, Chrysoperla carnea [eggs]
  22. Common Soapwort, Saponaria officinalis [“balls” of pink flowers, look like phlox]
  23. Common Whitetail Dragonfly, Plathemis Lydia
  24. Coral Tree, Indian Coral Tree, Erythrina variegata
  25. Cornelian Cherry, Cornus mas
  26. Cypress Oak, Quercus robur f. fasigiata
  27. Desert Willow, Chilopsis linearis
  28. Dog-Rose, Rosa canina [similar to wild rose]
  29. Eastern Fox Squirrel, Sciurus niger
  30. English Oak, Quercus robur
  31. European Honeybee, Western Honeybee, Apis mellifera
  32. Field Bindweed, Convolvulus arvensis
  33. Foothill Carpenter Bee, Xylocopa tabaniformis orpifex
  34. Garden Sage, Salvia officinalis [pale purples age]
  35. Garnet Geranium, Pelargonium sidoides
  36. Indian Blanket Flower, Gaillardia pulchella
  37. Jimsonweed, Sacred Thorn-Apple, Datura wrightii
  38. Laurustinus Viburnum, Viburnum tinus [white flowers, purple-blue berries]
  39. Leaf Gall Wasp/ Unidentified per Russo, Tribe: Cynipidi [on Valley Oak]
  40. Ligated Furrow Bee, Halictus ligatus [tiny bee, b/w striped abdomen, yellow legs]
  41. Madeiran Germander, Teucrium betonicum
  42. Magnolia Tree, Magnolia grandiflora
  43. Mallard duck, Anas platyrhynchos
  44. Metallic Sweat Bees, Subgenus: Dialictus
  45. Mission Prickly-Pear Cactus, Opuntia ficus-indica
  46. Mournful Duskywing Butterfly, Erynnis tristis
  47. Oak Aphid Leaf-Curl Gall, Tuberculatus annulatus [on Coast Live Oak]
  48. Peach Leaf Curl Fungus, Taphrina deformans
  49. Peach Tree, Prunus persica
  50. Persian Oak, Quercus castanelfolia
  51. Peruvian Lily, White Peruvian Lily, Alstroemeria inticancha “Magic White”
  52. Pincushion Flower, Cream Scabious, Scabiosa ochroleuca [white/cream colored]
  53. Pincushion Flower, Small Scabious, Scabiosa columbaria [little, purple]
  54. Pink Sedum, Iceplant Stonecrop, Hylotelephium spectabile
  55. Purple Sage, Silverleaf, Cenzio, Leucophyllum frutescens
  56. Purpletop Vervain, Verbena bonariensis
  57. Red Coral Fountain, “St. Elmo’s Fire”, Russelia equisetiformis
  58. Resin Bee, Heriades sp. [nests in bee-condo block]
  59. Rocky Mountain Sage, Salvia lanceolata
  60. Rosemary, Salvia rosmarinus
  61. Santa Barbara Daisy, Mexican Fleabane, Erigeron karvinskianus [small yellow and white daisy-likeflowers]
  62. Sedge, Family: Cyperaceae
  63. Shrubby Hare’s-Ear, Bupleurum fruticosum [umbrels of yellow flowers]
  64. Silver Texas Mountain Laurel, Sophora secundiflora [dangling hard seedpods, fasciation]
  65. Smooth Blue Aster, Symphyotrichum laeve
  66. Spined Stilt Bug, Jalysus wickhami [look like tiny Craneflies]
  67. Star of Persia, Allium christophii [giant onion]
  68. Three-lined Potato Beetle, Lema daturaphila
  69. Tree-Anemone, Carpenteria californica [post-blooms, “yellow-green stars”]
  70. Valley Carpenter Bee, Xylocopa varipuncta
  71. Variegated Agave, American Century Plant, Agave americana
  72. Western Bluebird, Sialia mexicana
  73. Western Spotted Orbweaver Spider, Neoscona oaxacensis
  74. Western Sunflower Longhorn Bee, Svastra obliqua ssp. expurgata
  75. White Crepe Myrtle, Lagerstroemia subcostata var. fauriei
  76. White Oak, Quercus alba
  77. Yarrow, Achillea millefolium
  78. ?? black discoloration/gall on Valley Oak leaves

Napa Trip Day Two, 02-05-20

Once we got the car loaded, my friend Roxanne and I were off again back toward Sacramento.  [[ CLICK HERE for the write up on Day One.]]

We took Highway 128 again and stopped three times along the way to look at the lace lichen on the trees and walk a little bit along Putah Creek.  At the first stop, where we were looking at the lichen, Roxanne realized that under the leaf litter, all over the area, was a huge crop of Sulphur Tuft mushrooms.  The mycelial web underground that supported them must have been huge!

Then we stopped briefly at the Monticello Dam and got a look at the Glory Hole. Water wasn’t flowing into it, but it was nice to see Lake Berryessa so full just the same.  We saw quite a few Robins there and some midges lighting along the rock retaining wall.  From a geological standpoint, the rock formations all around that area are quite impressive.  Lots of layers, all tipped up onto their side by plate tectonics.

“…Most of Northern California’s bedrock is part of just three large bodies: the granite of the Sierra, the metamorphic rocks of the Coast Range, and the sedimentary rocks of the Central Valley. All three are parts of one entity: a former subduction zone. Picture the Pacific seafloor plate being carried eastward against the North American continental plate and plunging underneath it—subduction…” READ MORE HERE.

Male midge. (The males have fluffy antennae)

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

At the third stop, along Putah Creek at one of the fishing turnoffs, we were “harassed” by a Mourning Cloak butterfly that at first seemed to want to avoid us, but then followed us all over the place and landed in conspicuous sots where we were able to get a lot of photos of it. 

And we saw our first Pipevine of the season in full bloom. The pipevine gets its flowers first and then leave follow. Each blossom is like a fat Calabash pipe. Here’s an interesting article on the plant.

California Pipevine, Dutchman’s Pipe, Aristolochia californica

We actually have an endemic subspecies of Pipevine Swallowtail butterfly in Sacramento County that would go extinct in just one season if the pipevine disappeared.     

The Mourning Cloaks are interesting, too, in that they estivate (like hibernation but in the hotter months) over the late summer, wake up in the fall and winter to feed, and then mate in the spring.  Some of them migrate; some don’t. Females lay their eggs all the way around the stems of willows, cottonwood trees, and other host plants, and when the babies emerge, they form a communal web around themselves and feed together until they’re bigger and stronger and able to go off on their own. In their butterfly stage, they don’t like nectar and feed instead on tree sap and rotting fruits and berries.  The caterpillars are black with black spikes and a row of bright red spots down the back.

The big deal to me at this stop was the number of different lichens on the boulders there. I found Stonewall Rim, Ink Lichen, several different kinds of Cobblestone lichen, Tan Nipple Lichen, Sidewalk Firedot Lichen and others. They were all relatively small (in comparison to the substrate) but really showed off under the macro attachment on my cellphone.

When we got into Winters, we stopped briefly for some extra coffee, and then continued on to Sacramento. I got to the house right around 2:00 pm. 

Species List from Both Days:

  1. Acorn Woodpecker, Melanerpes formicivorus
  2. American Robin, Turdus migratorius
  3. Arundo, Giant Reed, Arundo donax
  4. Bay Laurel Tree, Laurus nobilis
  5. Beaded Tube Lichen, Hypogymnia apinnata
  6. Big-headed Ground Beetle, Scarites subterraneus [black, shiny, large mandibles] ??
  7. Black Cobweb Spider, Steatoda capensis
  8. Black Jelly Roll fungus, Exidia glandulosa
  9. Brewer’s Blackbird, Euphagus cyanocephalus
  10. Bright Cobblestone Lichen, Acarospora socialis [bright yellow, on rocks]
  11. Bufflehead Duck, Bucephala albeola
  12. California Black Oak, Quercus kelloggii
  13. California Pipevine, Dutchman’s Pipe, Aristolochia californica
  14. California Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma californica
  15. California Slender Salamander, Batrachoseps attenuates
  16. Canada Goose, Branta canadensis
  17. Candlesnuff Fungus, Carbon Antlers, Xylaria hypoxylon [upright, branched, white with a layer of spores; spores release at a touch]
  18. Canyon Live Oak, Quercus chrysolepis
  19. Chamise, Adenostoma fasciculatum
  20. Cinder Lichen, Aspicilia cinerea
  21. Coastal Woodfern, Dryopteris arguta [pointed leaves, two rows of spore sites]
  22. Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus
  23. Common Crow, Corvus brachyrhynchos
  24. Common Gold Cobblestone Lichen, Pleopsidium flavum [bright yellow]
  25. Common Gray Disk Fungus, Mollisia olivascens
  26. Common Jelly Spot fungus, Dacrymyces stillatus
  27. Common Merganser, Mergus merganser
  28. Conifer Mazegill, Gloeophyllum sepiarium
  29. Cowboys Handkerchief, Waxy Cap Mushroom, Hygrophorus eburneus
  30. Coyote Brush, Baccharis pilularis
  31. Crabseye Lichen, Ochrolechia subpallescens [creamy colored lichen with white-rimmed pale orange/pink apothecia on trees]
  32. Crampball Fungus, Daldinia concentrica
  33. Dark-Winged Fungus Gnat, Bradysia sp.
  34. Dendroalsia Moss, Dendroalsia abietina [long curling moss on trees]
  35. Double-Crested Cormorant, Phalacrocorax auratus
  36. Douglas Fir Tree, Pseudotsuga menziesii
  37. Dusky Tile Lichen, Lecidea Lichen, Lecidea fuscoatra  [black rimmed apothecia on rocks]
  38. Ear-leaf Lichen, Normandina pulchella [green leaf-like on rocks]
  39. Eastern Fox Squirrel, Sciurus niger
  40. Farinose Cartilage Lichen,  Ramalina farinacea [like Oakmoss but very thin branches]
  41. Fishbone Beard Lichen, Usnea filipendula [hairy eyeballs]
  42. Fluffy Dust Lichen, Pacific Fluffy Dust Lichen, Lepraria pacifica
  43. Fremont’s Cottonwood, Populus fremontii
  44. Fringed Wrinkle Lichen, Tuckermanopsis americana [pale green, brown fringes, on trees]
  45. Globular Springtail, Ptenothrix marmorata 
  46. Goldback Fern, Pentagramma triangularis
  47. Gray lungwort, Lobaria hallii  [gray to green, with soredia on surface]
  48. Gray Pine, Pinus sabiniana
  49. Great Blue Heron, Ardea Herodias
  50. Great Egret, Ardea alba
  51. Green Shield Lichen, Flavoparmelia caperata
  52. Green Trichoderma MoldTrichoderma viride 
  53. Herre’s Ragged Lichen, Platismatia herrei
  54. Hidden Goldspeck Lichen, Candelariella aurella [small, scattered, yellow, on rocks]
  55. House Finch, Haemorhous mexicanus
  56. Ink Lichen, Placynthium nigrum [pitch black, fine grained]
  57. Interior Live Oak, Quercus wislizeni
  58. Lace Lichen, Ramalina menziesii
  59. Lipstick Powderhorn, Cladonia macilenta
  60. Lung Lichen, Lobaria anthraspis
  61. Mealy Pixie Cup, Cladonia chlorophaea
  62. Milky Cap, Hemimycena hirsute [tiny white mushrooms with distant gills]
  63. Mistletoe, American Mistletoe, Big Leaf Mistletoe, Phoradendron leucarpum
  64. Mistletoe Gall, caused byMistletoe haustorium growing on a tree
  65. Mourning Cloak Butterfly, Nymphalis antiopa
  66. Mourning Dove, Zenaida macroura
  67. Non-biting Midges, Family: Chironomidae
  68. Northern Flicker, Colaptes auratus
  69. Oakmoss Lichen, Evernia prunastri
  70. Oleander Aphid, Aphis nerii
  71. Orange Bonnet Mushroom, Mycena acicula
  72. Pacific Madrone Tree, Arbutus menziesii
  73. Pigeon, Domestic Pigeon, Columba livia domestica
  74. Pin-cushion Sunburst Lichen, Polycauliona polycarpa
  75. Pink Elongated Springtail, Podura sp.
  76. Pink Honeysuckle, California Honeysuckle, Lonicera hispidula
  77. Ponderosa Pine, Pinus ponderosa
  78. Poor Man’s Slippery Jack, Suillus fuscotomentosus [sort of looks like a bolete]
  79. Powderhorn Lichen, Common Powderhorn, Cladonia coniocraea
  80. Powdery Sunburst Lichen, Xanthoria ulophyllodes [yellow, leafy, rare on rocks but does sometimes appear on them]
  81. Red-Shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus [heard]
  82. Red-Tailed Hawk, Buteo jamaicensis
  83. Red-Winged Blackbird, Agelaius phoeniceus
  84. Rove Beetle, Quedius sp. [red-orange] ??
  85. Ruby-Crowned Kinglet, Regulus calendula
  86. Scaly Rustgill Mushroom, Gymnopilus sapineus
  87. Shield Lichen Parmelia sulcata [gray foliose lichen on trees]
  88. Sidewalk Firedot Lichen, Xanthocarpia feracissima  [bright orange, on rocks]
  89. Silky Piggyback Mushrooms,  Asterophora parasitica
  90. Slime Mold, Carnival Candy Slime Mold, Arcyria denudata
  91. Slime Mold, Honeycomb Coral Slime Mold, Ceratiomyxa fruticulosa
  92. Slime Mold, Insect Egg Slime Mold, Badhamia sp. [early stages of plasmodium]
  93. Slime Mold, Spotted Trichia Slime Mold, Trichia botrytis
  94. Soaproot, Amole, Chlorogalum pomeridianum ssp. pomeridianum
  95. Speckled Greenshield, Flavopunctelia flaventior
  96. Stonewall Rim Lichen, Lecona muralis [ pale green/gray thallus with rose/tan apothecia gathered in the center; color can be quite variable]
  97. Stonewall Rim Lichen, Protoparmeliopsis muralis [tan, pebbled with leafy edges, orange-tan apothecia]
  98. Striped Skunk, Mephitis mephitis [road kill, saw 5]
  99. Sulphur Tuft Fungus, Hypholoma fasciculare 
  100. Tan Nipple Lichen, Thelomma santessonii [gray/tan, deep holes in the structures]
  101. Tanoak, Tanbark Oak, Notholithocarpus densiflorus
  102. Toy Soldiers, Cladonia bellidiflora  [stalks are crusty, heads are split with red faces]
  103. Toyon, Heteromeles arbutifolia
  104. Trembling Crust Fungus, Merulius tremellosus [with guttation]
  105. Turkey Tail Fungus, Trametes versicolor
  106. Turkey Vulture, Cathartes aura
  107. Velvety Tree Ant, Liometopum occidentale
  108. Western Gray Squirrel, Sciurus griseus
  109. White Leaf Manzanita, Arctostaphylos viscida ssp. viscida
  110. Winter Moth, Operophtera brumata [larvae, green inchworm with orange head]
  111. Woolly Bird’s Nest Fungus, Nidula niveotomentosa
  112. Wooly Foam Lichen, Stereocaulon ramulosum [like Oakmoss but very crusty with small brown apothecia at the end of the branches]
  113. Yellow-Billed Magpie, Pica nuttalli