Category Archives: Events

City Nature Challenge, Day 4, 05-02-22

It’s the City Nature Challenge Day #4.  Roxanne and I went to the Yolo Bypass and then to the water treatment plant in Woodland [the Ibis Rookery]to look for more species observations to add to our list.

We were overjoyed to see several Yellow-Headed Blackbirds in the high grass outside the entrance of the bypass. We’d gone to the bypass several times before to try to find them, and they eluded us. Today, we weren’t looking for them – and there they were. They were “lifer” birds for me; so exciting.

A few other cool bird sightings followed. We saw a Great Egret chowing down on what I think was a vole. Of course, the bird was behind a blind of high grass and mustard plants, so I couldn’t get my camera to focus properly on it. We also found a handful of Brown-Headed Cowbirds, males and females together. The males were doing their dominance “bowing” behavior for the females.

According to Cornell: “…Bow: feathers on back, chest raised, wings lifted and spread, tail spread and bowing forward, followed by Bill Wipe, always given with Song. Intensity varies greatly, from slight bow and feather ruffle to full elaborate bow ending with Bill Wipe. Intensity greater when directed to other males than to females; little or no bow given with song if no other cowbirds within 1–2 m (S. Rothstein pers. comm.). A group of males may together perform this ceremony. Male-male bowing displays associated with other agonistic displays…”

I chased a male American Goldfinch around, up and down the auto tour road, then gave up in frustration.  Later, I spotted it sitting high in a tree further down the road, and got a few long-distance photos of him.

We saw hardly any raptors on the drive, besides a Swainson’s Hawk sitting on the ground in a plowed field. I was hoping to see the Great Horned Owl’s babies, but it was chilly and windy outside, and she had them snuggled down in the nest under her. I’ll try going back later to see if I can get a shot of the owlets.

We were surprised to find a pond that was hosting a small group of Cinnamon Teals and Blue-Winged Teals. I seldom see the Blue-Winged ones, so it’s always a treat when we can find them.

We were also surprised by the huge swaths of Flatface Calicoflowers (downingia) that we could see from various vantage points along the auto tour route. Charlie Russell, one of our favorite botanists, had told us the flowers were there, but that was several weeks ago, so we thought they’d all be dried up and gone by now.

One of the really fun finds for me was a new-to-me gall on one of the Goodding’s Willow trees near a parking area along the route. It was listed in Russo as the gall Willow Bud Gall Mite, Aculops aenigma.  The mites cause the tree to create crenulated bunches of plant material on its leaves, catkins and stems. [They kind of look like ash flower galls to me.]

In that same area, I saw several damselflies: Tule Bluets and Pacific Forktails.

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

We then headed over to the Ibis Rookery in Woodland. The pond was flooded, and there were no ibises there yet [they usually nest in the summer months.] It was hard to get close-ups of anyone because what birds there were, were mostly in the ponds and furthest from the edge of the driving route.  There were some of the usual suspects including  Canada Geese, Ruddy Ducks, and Black-Necked Stilts, but a big surprise for us was spotting a solitary Eared Grebe in full breeding plumage.

I’ve seen the grebe before in their dull, gray non-breeding plumage, but not in the breeding plumage which is spectacular. Cornell describes it as: “[having] a black head, neck, breast, and upperparts, cinnamon-brown sides and flanks, white belly, and head with black crest and bright golden ear tufts (elongated feathers extending distally from around rear eye); foreneck sometimes largely tinged brownish; crown feathers erectile, usually forming peaked profile, sometimes crest…”

On our way out of the area, in a drainage ditch on the side of the road, we were looking for turtles or maybe a Green Heron… but instead saw something moving slowly just under the surface of the water! We waited for it to show itself but it disappeared into the tight collection of plant life near the end of the ditch. Dang! We speculated that it might have been a mink, or a small muskrat or maybe a big-ass snake… but we didn’t see enough of it to know for sure. Very creepy.

We were out for about 6 hours. It was a very productive day.

Species List:

  1. Alkali Heliotrope, Heliotropium curassavicum
  2. American Coot, Fulica americana
  3. American Goldfinch, Spinus tristis
  4. Bee, European Honeybee, Western Honeybee, Apis mellifera
  5. Bisnaga, Visnaga daucoides
  6. Black Mustard, Brassica nigra
  7. Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans
  8. Black-Necked Stilt, Himantopus mexicanus
  9. Black-Tailed Jackrabbit, Lepus californicus
  10. Blessed Milk Thistle, Silybum marianum
  11. Blue-Winged Teal, Spatula discors
  12. Brewer’s Blackbird, Euphagus cyanocephalus
  13. Broadleaved Pepperweed, Lepidium latifolium
  14. Brown-Headed Cowbird, Molothrus ater
  15. Bullfrog, American Bullfrog, Lithobates catesbeianus [tadpoles breathing]
  16. Cabbage White Butterfly, Pieris rapae
  17. California Bulrush, Schoenoplectus californicus
  18. Canada Goose, Branta canadensis
  19. Caterpillar Hunter Beetle, Calosoma cancellatum [like a Darkling with a sculpted carapace]
  20. Chamomile, Stinking Chamomile, Anthemis cotula
  21. Cheeseweed Mallow, Malva parviflora
  22. Cinnamon Teal, Anas cyanoptera
  23. Clover, Bur Clover, Medicago polymorpha
  24. Common Spikeweed, Centromadia pungens
  25. Crow, American Crow, Corvus brachyrhynchos
  26. Curly Dock, Rumex crispus
  27. Damselfly, Pacific Forktail, Ischnura cervula
  28. Damselfly, Tule Bluet, Enallagma carunculatum
  29. Desert Cottontail, Sylvilagus audubonii
  30. Double-Crested Cormorant, Phalacrocorax auratus
  31. Downingia, Flatface Calicoflower, Downingia pulchella
  32. Field Bindweed, Convolvulus arvensis
  33. Field Mustard, Brassica rapa
  34. Gadwall Duck, Mareca strepera
  35. Grasses, Lesser Canary Grass, Phalaris minor
  36. Grasses, Rabbitfoot Grass, Polypogon monspeliensis
  37. Great Egret, Ardea alba
  38. Great Horned Owl, Bubo virginianus
  39. Greater Yellowlegs, Tringa melanoleuca
  40. Grebe, Eared Grebe, Podiceps nigricollis
  41. Gumweed, Great Valley Gumweed, Grindelia camporum
  42. House Finch, Haemorhous mexicanus
  43. Jointed Charlock, Raphanus raphanistrum
  44. Killdeer, Charadrius vociferous
  45. Least Sandpiper, Calidris minutilla
  46. Lesser Goldfinch, Spinus psaltria
  47. Mallard Duck, Anas platyrhynchos
  48. Mourning Dove, Zenaida macroura
  49. Northern Harrier, Marsh Hawk, Circus hudsonius
  50. Northern Shoveler, Anas clypeata
  51. Orange Sulphur Butterfly, Colias eurytheme
  52. Pigeon, Rock Pigeon, Columba livia
  53. Pineappleweed, Chamomilla suaveolens
  54. Poison Hemlock, Conium maculatum
  55. Raven, Common Raven, Corvus corax
  56. Red-Winged Blackbird, Agelaius phoeniceus
  57. Ring-Necked Pheasant, Phasianus colchicus
  58. River Bulrush, Bolboschoenus fluviatilis
  59. Ruddy Duck, Oxyura jamaicensis
  60. Saltbush, Big Saltbush, Atriplex lentiformis
  61. Snowy Egret, Egretta thula
  62. Sow Thistle, Common Sow-Thistle, Sonchus oleraceus
  63. Sparrow, House Sparrow, Passer domesticus
  64. Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Melospiza melodia
  65. Swainson’s Hawk, Buteo swainsoni
  66. Swallow, Cliff Swallow, Petrochelidon pyrrhonota
  67. Tamarisk, Saltcedar, Tamarix ramosissima
  68. Tick, American Dog Tick, Dermacentor variabilis
  69. Western Kingbird, Tyrannus verticalis
  70. Western Meadowlark, Sturnella neglecta
  71. White Blister Rust Disease, Wilsoniana bliti [looks like white plaque on the leaves]
  72. White Sweetclover, Melilotus albus
  73. White-Faced Ibis, Plegadis chihi
  74. Willow Bud Gall Mite, Aculops aenigma [look like the ash mite galls]
  75. Willow, Goodding’s Willow, Salix gooddingii
  76. Wren, Marsh Wren, Cistothorus palustris
  77. Yellow-Headed Blackbird, Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus

Buy Me a Coffee!

Donate $5 to buy me a coffee so I have the fuel I need to keep exploring and bring more of nature to you. Thanks! You could also send me a Starbucks gift card if you’re so inclined.

$5.00

City Nature Challenge, Day 1, 04-29-22

This was the City Nature Challenge Day #1 and I got up at 5:30 AM to get the dogs all fed and pottied, and to get myself and Esteban ready for a day out in the field with my friend and fellow naturalist Roxanne. We went into Placer County and up along the length of Drum Powerhouse Road. My right arm still hurt from the COVID booster, all the way down to my wrist. I pretty much tried to ignore it, but sometimes I had to change which hand I held my camera/cellphone in.

On the way up into the foothills, Roxanne took a short detour to show me a spot where there were white globe lilies blooming along the road side. Such pretty things.

Next we stopped at a rest stop along the highway to use the restroom, get Esteban walked and pottied, and check out the colony of Cliff Swallows there. I could watch those little guys all day. They’re so entertaining.

Once we got going, we got confused by some of the road signs, and ended up going down a road we didn’t mean to, but at an intersection there we saw more Cliff Swallows. They were on the ground near a puddle collecting mud for their nests. We noted that the birds were flapping their wings all the while they were on the ground.

I suggested it might be to confuse and ward-off predators, but according to bird-photographer expert Ron Dudley it has a different purpose. He writes: “…It’s thought to be a defensive posture used by both sexes and meant to prevent extra-pair copulations (EPCs). At almost any opportunity males try to copulate with swallows other than their own mates and those sexually aggressive males often mistake other males for females. So swallows on the ground, both males and females, typically raise and flutter their wings in an effort to prevent those unwelcome matings while their gathering behavior makes them more vulnerable. As a result, vicious fights often break out…”

So, the wing-flapping is sort of like the swallows’ version of birth control. Hah!

The drive took us up through the foothills, past huge outcroppings of serpentinite, seeps  and small waterfalls, and one spot where water (from melting snow above) was actually trickling through the rocks and mosses. It seemed that everywhere we stopped along the road, we saw a generous variety of species.

The first spot was one we’d gone to a year or so ago where we saw giant trillium, Bleeding Hearts, and Mountain Misery among other things. And we found some Trumpet Lichen among the moss on the side of a stump.  We also got to see a Brown Creeper bird creeping up the side of a fir tree. It was collecting little bits of bark and needles along the way.

Further along the road we found groupings of Yellow Star Tulips and Rainbow Irises along with Goldback Fern and other plants.

In a more rocky area we found lots of lichen including Emery Rocktripe, Black Eye Lichen, and Yellow Map Lichen.

In between some of the boulders Lace Lip Ferns were peaking out. But the standout find was several flowering Mountain Jewelflower plants. I’ve been trying to find a jewelflower for almost a decade, and this was my first! I was sooooo excited! It was nice to see, too, that there were so many healthy-looking plants growing out from the rocks. Tucked in closer against the rock walls were lots of Canyon Live-Forever Dudleya, most of them in bloom, too.

On the opposite side of the road was a steep drop-off covered in trees. We could hear a loud bird singing from the top of a tree nearby. I caught a glimpse of it, and could see it was a male Black-Headed Grosbeak, but it flew into another tree before I could get a photo of it. Luckily, it didn’t go too far, and we were able to take some photos and a video snippet of it before it flew off.

In other areas we found end-of-the-season larkspur, some Pacific Hounds Tongue (“Dog Lick”), and flowering Broad-leaved Stonecrop.

We also found that several of the Dogwood trees were in bloom. Sooooo lovely. All the “green”, cool temperatures and fresh air was just what I’ve been needing. We were also pleased to see the huge outcroppings of serpentinite along the road: shiny, slick, almost glassy, in varying shades of green.

According to KQED: “…Serpentinite is a metamorphosed version of rocks that make up oceanic crust after they are incorporated into subduction zones (plate boundaries where oceanic plates are thrust under continental plates). The recognition and study of serpentinite in California contributed to the understanding of modern plate tectonic theory… Serpentinite has a unique association with California for many reasons including: its association with gold deposits and the resulting California Gold Rush history, many plants unique to California grow on serpentinite-rich soils, the fact that serpentinite is thought to promote slow (and less hazardous) ‘creep’ along faults, and others…”

In 2009, there was a bill introduced in the state Senate to remove serpentinite as California’s state rock. The bill suggested that serpentinite shouldn’t be the state rock because “serpentine contains the deadly mineral ‘chrysotile asbestos, a known carcinogen, exposure to which increases the risk of cancer mesothelioma.”

The fact that there is no such thing as the mineral chrysotile asbestos was ignored in the bill.  According to KQED: “…There is a mineral ‘chrysotile’ that crystallizes into a fibrous material referred to as asbestos but not all varieties of serpentinite contain it…” The only real danger from the stone was if someone threw a chunk of serpentinite at you and it struck you in the head. So, the bill failed – as it should have.

We drove past the plot of ground, a shallow meadow, that is regularly used as a makeshift shooting range by locals. It’s so sad to see all of this destruction in the middle of such a lovely environment. The ground is literally covered in shot gun shells, shot up boxes and other trash. There are circles cut into the ground by morons doing “donuts” with their vehicles, and rocks painted with lurid green smiley faces and graffiti. It’s all just sickening to look at.

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

We were hoping to get to see the powerplant at the end of the road but access was blocked by a gate that, although it was open, was covered in “no trespassing” and other warning signs. The powerhouse, a hydroelectric plant run by PG&E, is over 100 years old. It’s adjacent to the New Drum Afterbay dam which is over a mile long. There is so little information available about the dam and the powerhouse that it makes me a bit suspicious about it. Like, what’s really going on beyond that closed gate? Hah!

For me, it was extra fun to also be able to find several galls on the canyon live oak trees including Clustered Blister Galls, Fluted Gall, Gouty Stem Galls, and Hair Capsule Gall.

We were out from 6:30 AM to 3:30 PM. Phew! A long day, but we saw over 100 different species. A great start to the challenge.

Species List:

  1. American Robin, Turdus migratorius
  2. American Yellowrocket, Barbarea orthoceras
  3. Aphid, Macrosiphum sp. [pink or green]
  4. Balsamroot, Carey’s Balsamroot, Balsamorhiza careyana
  5. Bedstraw, Velcro Grass, Cleavers, Galium aparine
  6. Bigleaf Maple, Acer macrophyllum
  7. Black Chokeberry, Aronia melanocarpa
  8. Black-Eye Lichen, Tephromela atra
  9. Black-Headed Grosbeak, Pheucticus melanocephalus
  10. Broom, Scotch Broom, Cytisus scoparius
  11. Brown Creeper, Certhia americana
  12. Brown Fritillary, Fritillaria micrantha
  13. Bumpy Rim-Lichen, Lecanora hybocarpa
  14. Buttercup, Western Buttercup, Ranunculus occidentalis
  15. California Black Oak, Quercus kelloggii
  16. California Incense-Cedar, Calocedrus decurrens
  17. California Mugwort, Artemisia douglasiana
  18. California Pipevine, Dutchman’s Pipe, Aristolochia californica
  19. California Saxifrage, Micranthes californica
  20. California Tortoiseshell Butterfly, Nymphalis californica
  21. Ceanothus, Deerbrush Ceanothus, Ceanothus integerrimus
  22. Ceanothus, Mahala Mat, Ceanothus prostrates
  23. Clover, Rose Clover, Trifolium hirtum
  24. Clustered Blister Gall Wasp, Family: Cynipidae [Russo, Plate 230, Page 158. On canyon live oak]
  25. Cobwebby Thistle, Cirsium occidentale
  26. Common Button Lichen, Buellia erubescens [black eye on white]
  27. Common Drone Fly, Eristalis tenax
  28. Common Duckweed, Lemna minor
  29. Conical Brittlestem Mushroom, Parasola conopilea
  30. Crevice Alumroot, Heuchera micrantha
  31. Dandelion, Common Dandelion, Taraxacum officinale
  32. Douglas Fir, Pseudotsuga menziesii
  33. Dudleya, Canyon Live-Forever, Dudleya cymosa
  34. Elegant Clarkia, Clarkia unguiculata [red line on leaves]
  35. Emery Rocktripe Lichen, Umbilicaria phaea
  36. Eucalyptus, River Redgum, Eucalyptus camaldulensis
  37. Fern, Common Bracken, Pteridium aquilinum
  38. Fern, Goldback Fern, Pentagramma triangularis
  39. Fern, Lace Lip Fern, Myriopteris gracillima
  40. Fern, Narrowleaf Sword Fern, Polystichum imbricans
  41. Fig, Common Fig, Ficus carica
  42. Fluffy Dust Lichen, Lepraria finkii
  43. Fluted Gall Wasp, Family: Cynipidae [Russo, plate 231,page 158. On canyon live oak]
  44. Fringepod, Mountain Fringepod, Thysanocarpus laciniatus
  45. Globe Lily, White Globe Lily, Calochortus albus
  46. Gold Dust Lichen, Chrysothrix candelaris
  47. Goldenrod, Coast Goldenrod, Solidago spathulata
  48. Gouty Stem Gall Wasp, Callirhytis quercussuttoni
  49. Grasses, Bulbous Bluegrass, Poa bulbosa
  50. Grasses, Italian Ryegrass, Lolium multiflorum
  51. Grasses, Ripgut Brome, Bromus diandrus
  52. Grasses, Wild Oat, Avena fatua
  53. Hair Capsule Gall Wasp, Heteroecus sp. [Russo, plate 214,page 150. On canyon live oak]
  54. House Sparrow, Passer domesticus
  55. Iris, Rainbow Iris, Iris hartwegii
  56. Jewelflower, Mountain Jewelflower, Streptanthus tortuosus
  57. Larkspur, Zigzag Larkspur, Delphinium patens [dark purple-blue]
  58. Lomatium, Foothill Desert-Parsley, Lomatium utriculatum
  59. Lupine, Arroyo Lupine, Lupinus succulentus
  60. Miner’s Lettuce, Streambank Springbeauty, Claytonia parviflora
  61. Miner’s Lettuce, Claytonia perfoliata
  62. Moss, Bristly Haircap Moss, Polytrichum piliferum [like little porcupines]
  63. Moss, Clustered Feather-Moss, Rhynchostegium confertum
  64. Moss, Fountain Apple-Moss, Philonotis fontana
  65. Moss, Nuttall’s Homalothecium Moss, Homalothecium nuttallii [looks like thread]
  66. Moss, Rough-Stalked Feather-Moss, Brachythecium rutabulum
  67. Moss, Silvery Bryum, Bryum argenteum
  68. Moss, Turf-Forming Moss, Trichostomum sp.
  69. Mountain Misery, Chamaebatia foliolosa [fern-like leaves]
  70. Oakmoss Lichen, Evernia prunastri [like strap but with soredia]
  71. Orange Hangingfly, Bittacus chlorostigma
  72. Pacific Bleeding Heart, Dicentra formosa
  73. Pacific Dogwood, Cornus nuttallii
  74. Pacific False Bindweed, Calystegia purpurata
  75. Pacific Hound’s Tongue, “Dog Lick”, Adelinia grande
  76. Paintbrush, Harsh Indian Paintbrush, Castilleja hispida
  77. Peppered Rock-Shield Lichen, Xanthoparmelia conspersa
  78. Periwinkle, Greater Periwinkle, Vinca major
  79. Phacelia, Virgate Scorpionweed, Phacelia heterophylla
  80. Pine Violet, Viola lobata
  81. Ponderosa Pine, Pinus ponderosa
  82. Poppy, California Poppy, Eschscholzia californica
  83. Powdered Ruffle Lichen, Parmotrema hypotropum
  84. Prettyface, Foothill Triteleia, Triteleia ixioides scabra
  85. Propertius Duskywing Butterfly, Erynnis propertius
  86. Rose, Hoary Rock-Rose, Cistus criticus
  87. Sawfly, Pristiphora sp. [caterpillar]
  88. Sheep’s Sorrel, Rumex acetosella
  89. Solitary Oak Leafminer Moth, Cameraria hamadryadella [form whole-leaf blisters on oak]
  90. Sow Thistle, Common Sow-Thistle, Sonchus oleraceus
  91. Spurge, Eggleaf Spurge, Euphorbia oblongata
  92. Stonecrop, Broad-Leaved Stonecrop, Sedum spathulifolium
  93. Stork’s Bill, Musk Stork’s-Bill, Erodium moschatum
  94. Sunflower, Common Woolly Sunflower, Eriophyllum lanatum
  95. Swallow, Cliff Swallow. Petrochelidon pyrrhonota
  96. Thrip, Subfamily: Thripinae
  97. Toyon, Heteromeles arbutifolia
  98. Trillium, Giant White Wakerobin, Trillium albidum
  99. Trumpet Lichen, Cladonia fimbriata
  100. Tube Lichen, Imshaug’s Tube Lichen, Hypogymnia imshaugii
  101. Twining Snakelily, Dichelostemma volubile
  102. Variable Wrinkle-Lichen, Tuckermanopsis orbata [green or brown]
  103. Velvet Ash, Fraxinus velutina
  104. Vetch, Common Vetch, Vicia sativa [pink flowers]
  105. Vetch, Hairy Vetch, Vicia villosa
  106. Wart Lichen, Verrucaria sp.
  107. Water-Cress, Nasturtium sp.
  108. Wavy-Leafed Soap Plant, Soaproot, Chlorogalum pomeridianum
  109. Western Gray Squirrel, Sciurus griseus
  110. Western Solomon’s Plume, Maianthemum racemosum amplexicaule
  111. Western Stoneseed, Lithospermum ruderale
  112. Western Wallflower, Erysimum capitatum
  113. Western Waterleaf, Hydrophyllum occidentale [looks like phacelia]
  114. White Fir, Abies concolor
  115. White Meadowfoam, Limnanthes alba
  116. White Nemophila, Nemophila heterophylla
  117. Whiteleaf Manzanita, Arctostaphylos viscida
  118. Whitewash Lichen, Phlyctis argena
  119. Woodland Strawberry, Fragaria vesca
  120. Yellow Map Lichen, Rhizocarpon geographicum
  121. Yellow Star-Tulip, Calochortus monophyllus [fuzzy throat]
  122. ?? Ant

Buy Me a Coffee!

Donate $5 to buy me a coffee so I have the fuel I need to keep exploring and bring more of nature to you. Thanks! You could also send me a Starbucks gift card if you’re so inclined.

$5.00

Volunteer Brunch in a Bag, 08-14-20

I got up around 7:00 am with the dog this morning, and after getting some breakfast and letting Esteban out for potty, I took a fast shower and got dressed to go to the Effie Yeaw Nature Preserve with my friend Roxanne. We left the house about 8:30 am and it was already 78° outside. [It got up to 102° today.]]

We went to the preserve for a volunteer brunch.  Before we even got through the front entrance, we saw a lovely female Flame Skimmer dragonfly who had landed on the antenna of a truck in the parking lot. She was very cooperative and we were able to approach her to get a few photos with our cellphones.

Flame Skimmer Dragonfly, Libellula saturata

Usually, these brunches are held indoors with all of the volunteers together in one room. The staff prepares food for everyone and it’s eaten buffet style. Because of COVID, this time, small groups of volunteers were let in in shifts, about 30 to 45 minutes apart. Rather than having a buffet, the staff had put together bagged lunches for everyone, and had personally decorated each bag with their own artwork. I got a bag with a deer on it, and Rox got one with a little gray mouse and sparkly dandelion puffs. So cute! 

My bag had a huge blueberry muffin in it along with a banana, mandarin orange, and hard-boiled egg.  Along with that we each got a cup of apple cider. As free gifts for the volunteers there were “Save the Frogs” water bottles from KEEN, little pins and magnets.

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

And rather than having folks sit close to one another at tables, there were chairs spread out all over the main lawn in the shade.  Rox and I grabbed two of them and got them situated the way we wanted them by the little pond, and then enjoyed our meal. We noticed some Tongue Galls on a nearby alder tree and got some photos of them.  Ever the naturalists.  Hah!

Alder Tongue Gall Fungus, Taphrina alni

After our meal, we headed out to go to William Pond Park and look for some galls there.  On our way out of the preserve, we met with Mary Messenger, a fallow trail steward, who was just coming in. She’d brought me a 2021 wall calendar and a bag of figs from her tree at home to share with everyone.  I thought that was so sweet of her.

At William Pond Park, I was going to show Rox where the “Reverend Mother” tree is, but it was just too hot to do anything.  So, we walked along parts of the manicured lawn there and got some photos of the galls on some of the Valley and Live Oak trees. On our way back to the car, we saw a White-Breasted Nuthatch in a tree, pulling on spiders’ webs and eating bugs.

White-Breasted Nuthatch, Sitta carolinensis

Once I got home, for the rest of the day, I stayed indoors with the dog for the most part, went through my photos, and posted stuff to iNaturalist. 

Speaking of iNaturalist:

A pair of people in California spotted specimens of a species of cicada that haven’t been seen for over 100 years! It was a Clear-Winged Red Manzanita Cicada, Okanagana arctostaphylae. Considered the “holy grail” of cicadas, it hadn’t been seen in the wild since 1915. A woman found one near a standoff blueberry bushes on her property (which is surrounded by manzanita),and the other one was found by a guy who read about her experience and went out to the same area looking for them. 

Clear-Winged Red Manzanita Cicada, Okanagana arctostaphylae. [I did NOT take this photo.]

The cicada is reddish brown and blends into the wood of the manzanita trees. The guy who found it wrote, “…Collecting this species and including it in our research was going to be big news for maybe fifteen people on the entire planet.”   Hahahahahahaha!

He continued: “…Finding that beautiful insect, camouflaged so perfectly against the smooth red bark, and knowing that I’m the first scientist in 100 years to see this creature—that’s a moment I will cherish for the rest of my life…”

CLICK HERE to read more about it. So cool!  You never know what you might see out there, so keep observing and document your observations.

Species List:

  1. Alder Tongue Gall Fungus, Taphrina alni
  2. Coast Live Oak, Quercus agrifolia
  3. Flame Skimmer Dragonfly, Libellula saturata
  4. Flat-Topped Honeydew Gall Wasp, Disholcaspis eldoradensis
  5. Jumping Oak Gall Wasp, Neuroterus saltatorius
  6. Oak Apple Gall Wasp, Andricus quercuscalifornicus
  7. Round Gall Wasp, Cynpis conspicuus [round gall near base of leaf on Valley Oaks, formerly Besbicus conspicuus]
  8. Spiny Turban Gall Wasp, asexual, fall generation, Antron douglasii
  9. Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
  10. Western Sycamore, Platanus racemosa
  11. White Alder, Alnus rhombifolia
  12. White-Breasted Nuthatch, Sitta carolinensis

Attending the Sticker PArty, 03-09-20

Today, I attended a “Sticker Party” at the Effie Yeaw Nature Preserve. My friend and fellow naturalist, Roxanne, volunteered too, as did “The Other Mary” (Mary Messenger). I think there were seven volunteers in all there.

The organization had something like 3500 brochures for their kids/school programs that had been accidentally printed with “2019-2020” on them so we had to put sticky labels over that with the correct “2020-2021” dates.  Some of the school districts also required special liability disclaimers on them, so those brochures also got labels with the language specified by the district.

Some of the brochures we “stickered” today

The Effie Yeaw volunteer coordinator, Rachael, had set up coffee, water and Danishes for us, and while we were working, the Executive Director, Kent, came in with a plate full of Girl Scout cookies for us, too.  That was nice.

Roxanne, The Other Mary and I worked on the brochures for about three hours. Between all of us volunteers we labeled a little over 1500 of them, so we felt really good about that.

One of the other volunteers there was a gentleman named Mike who I had met earlier in the year on a fungus walk I led at the preserve.  He had liked the Nikon the camera I use so much that he went out and bought one for himself.  He showed me some of the photos he’d gotten with it, and they were great! I’m so glad he was as pleased with the camera as I am.

When we were done working, The Other Mary left, but Roxanne and I stopped for a little bit to take photos around the nature center.  Bushtits have setup a nest in a Redbud tree there and I was able to see the mom fly back to the nest with a mouthful of what looks like bits of plant fluff and lichen.  So cute!  The resident Black Phoebes are also nesting under the eaves of the building and I got a few photos of them.

American Bushtit, Psaltriparus minimus,nest in a Western Redbud, Cercis occidentalis, tree
Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans

Species List:

  1. Acorn Woodpecker, Melanerpes formicivorus
  2. Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans
  3. Bushtit, American Bushtit, Psaltriparus minimus
  4. California Pipevine Swallowtail butterfly, Battus philenor hirsuta
  5. European Starling, Sturnus vulgaris
  6. Oak Titmouse, Baeolophus inornatus
  7. Red-Shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus
  8. Spotted Towhee, Pipilo maculatus
  9. Western Redbud, Cercis occidentalis
  10. White-Breasted Nuthatch, Sitta carolinensis