Category Archives: lichen

Rose Galls at Stone Lake, 05-05-22

I got up around 6:00 AM, got the dogs fed and pottied, and then headed over to the Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge. This is a 18,000 acre site of protected land in the southern portion of the county near Elk Grove, one of the few urban refuges in the nation. Grasslands, vernal pools and diverse wildlife and plant life can be found here, but most of it can only be seen through guided tours that go past the paved Blue Heron loop trails.

Pond which is circled by the paved Blue Heron Loop trail

I seldom see any wildlife there to speak of when I’m there, and more recently I found the place to be a horrible mess: very neglected and unkempt. Today, I was happy to see that they cleaned the place up a lot since the last time I was out there. I went there because I knew they had a great collection of the native California Wild Rose plants there, and this is rose gall season. I saw two species: the galls of the Spiny Leaf Gall Wasp, Diplolepis polita, and galls of the Leafy Bract Gall Wasp, Diplolepis californica. So cool!

The only birds I saw there were the usual suspects: a few Red-Winged Blackbirds, House Finches, some tree Swallows and Mourning Doves, and a Song Sparrow. I could hear Killdeer, but didn’t see them.

The only other creature I saw there was a very pregnant Western Fence Lizard. Her coloration was so bold and bright, you couldn’t miss her. I’ve never seen one colored like that.

I found a few different kinds of lichen on the wood and metal spurs of one of the bridges on the property, including one I’d never seen before.

I walked there for about 2 hours. This was hike #24 in my #52hikeChallenge for the year.

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

Because it was so close, I drove over toward the Cosumnes River Preserve. I didn’t go into the preserve itself, but drove around Franklin, Desmond and Bruceville Roads to see if I came across anything interesting.

There were cattle in some of the ag fields. And across from them were quite a few Purple Salsify. Chicory, and Bristly Oxtongue plants. Along Franklin Road, across from the entrance to the preserve there was a row of fennel plants.

I always check out fennel plants when I find them during this time of the year because they are a host plant for the caterpillars of the Anise Swallowtail Butterfly, Papilio zelicaon. They go through 5 instars (molts) changing in color and size as they mature. They start out looking like bird poop, and end up banded in glorious colors. I found specimens in the first, third, fourth and fifth instars. So cool.

A little bit further on the road was a pond filled with Great Egrets and Snowy Egrets. I assumed they were eating crayfish, which a common inhabitants of the pond.            

I was out for about 4 hours and headed back home.

Species List:

  1. Anise Swallowtail Butterfly, Papilio zelicaon
  2. Baccharis Stem Gall Midge, Rhopalomyia baccharis [creates twisting stems on coyote brush]
  3. Bee, European Honeybee, Western Honeybee, Apis mellifera
  4. Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans
  5. Blessed Milk Thistle, Silybum marianum
  6. Blue Elderberry, Sambucus nigra cerulea
  7. Boxelder, Box Elder Tree, Acer negundo
  8. Bristle Fly, Family: Tachinidae
  9. Bristly Oxtongue, Helminthotheca echioides
  10. California Blackberry, Trailing Blackberry, Rubus ursinus
  11. California Sycamore, Western Sycamore, Platanus racemose
  12. California Wild Rose, Rosa californica
  13. Candleflame Lichen, Candelaria concolor [bright yellow-orange]  
  14. Cattle, Black Angus, Bos Taurus var, Black Angus
  15. Cattle, Charolais Cattle, Bos taurus var. Charolais
  16. Cattle, Guernsey Cattle, Bos taurus var. Guernsey
  17. Chicory, Cichorium intybus
  18. Coyote Brush Bud Gall midge, Rhopalomyia californica
  19. Coyote Brush, Baccharis pilularis
  20. Crustose Pin Lichen, Pseudothelomma occidentale [on fence post, looks like a nipple lichen]
  21. Desert Cottontail, Sylvilagus audubonii
  22. Earwig, European Earwig, Forficula auricularia
  23. European Blowfly, Calliphora vicina
  24. Fennel, Sweet Fennel, Foeniculum vulgare
  25. Fremont’s Cottonwood, Populus fremontii
  26. Grasse, Lesser Canary Grass, Phalaris minor
  27. Grass Fly, Thaumatomyia sp. [small, yellow-orange]
  28. Great Egret, Ardea alba
  29. Greater White-Fronted Goose, Anser albifrons
  30. Green Lacewing, Chrysopa coloradensis
  31. House Finch, Haemorhous mexicanus
  32. Jointed Charlock, Raphanus raphanistrum
  33. Killdeer, Charadrius vociferous [heard]
  34. Ladybeetle, Seven-Spotted Lady Beetle, Coccinella septempunctata
  35. Leaf Curl Fungus, Taphrina sp. [on sycamore]
  36. Leafy Bract Gall Wasp, Diplolepis californica [hard rosette gall on rose bush]
  37. Mourning Dove, Zenaida macroura
  38. Oak Apple, California Gall Wasp, Andricus quercuscalifornicus
  39. Pin-Cushion Sunburst Lichen, Polycauliona polycarpa [bright orange, apothecia, close, piled]
  40. Purple Salsify, Tragopogon porrifolius
  41. Red-Winged Blackbird, Agelaius phoeniceus
  42. Rim Lichen, Lecanora sp. [on metal fence post]
  43. Rose Rust Fungus, Phragmidium tuberculatum
  44. Rose Stem Miner Moth, Marmara spp.
  45. Round Gall Wasp, Burnettweldia washingtonensis [on valley oak]
  46. Sheetweb Spider, Microlinyphia mandibulata [tiny, black with white mottling on abdomen]
  47. Six-Spotted Orbweaver Spider, Araniella displicata [nest]
  48. Snowy Egret, Egretta thula
  49. Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Melospiza melodia
  50. Spiny Leaf Gall Wasp, Diplolepis polita [on rose leaves]
  51. Swallow, Tree Swallow, Tachycineta bicolor
  52. Torrent Sedge, Carex nudata
  53. Tule, Common Tule, Schoenoplectus acutus
  54. Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
  55. Western Fence Lizard, Blue Belly, Sceloporus occidentalis
  56. Western Kingbird, Tyrannus verticalis
  57. Willow, Arroyo Willow, Salix lasiolepis

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City Nature Challenge, Day 3, 05-01-22

It’s the City Nature Challenge Day #3 and my friend Roxanne and I went over to the American River Bend Park with my dog Esteban to look for more species to add to our totals. Esteban walked the whole trail along with us and never complained or asked to be picked up and held. I was very proud of him. The weather was lovely: cool and breezy. It was so nice.

There were so-so many California Pipevine Swallowtail caterpillars everywhere. We even found one that was just starting to go into it’s metamorphosis. CLICK HERE for an excellent video (not mine) about the butterfly’s life cycle.

At one spot, we noticed that a White-Breasted Nuthatch was whizzing back and forth with food for its babies, and followed it back to its nest: a hole at the end of a downed log in the grass. It’s usually really difficult to get clear photos of this species of bird because it’s small, moves a lot, and usually has its back to you. But at this particular nesting site, we were able to get quite a few face and full body photos of the birds.

There were a lot of tiny House Wrens singing from various trees all around us, but it took a while before we were able to find one that was within photographing range.

Roxanne had really wanted to see some of the Rough-Winged Swallows I saw the last time I was at the park, but they were being shy today. We finally did see a few in flight, and one landed on a tree nearby, so at least she was able to get pictures of that one.

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

In the river, we saw a pair (male and female) of Common Mergansers. In this species, the males don’t look anything like the females (sexual dimorphism). According to Cornell: “…Adult sexes strongly dimorphic in size and plumage most of year. Male has iridescent, greenish-black head with rounded crest, brilliant white neck, underparts, and secondaries contrasting with black upperwings, gray back and tail, and long narrow scarlet-orange bill. Female plumage has rusty-brown head with long crest and distinct white chin patch, slaty-gray breast, back, wings and tail, white flanks and belly, and scarlet-orange bill; brown of head and upper neck sharply demarcated from white lower neck..” I’m looking forward to them having lots of red-headed ducklings.

A big surprise, for me, was seeing my first Townsend’s Warbler: a little yellow guy with thick black eyeliner. So cute.  This species is migrating through right now, and flies between because Alaska and Central America each year. The species hasn’t been studied very much, so most of the information on it is anecdotal.

Throughout the park, we found several different kinds of lichen, and also were able to find an identify a few species of grasses.

On our way out, we spotted a mama Wild Turkey with about four or five little poults. As soon as she realized we were trying to get photos of the babies, she hurried them into the long grass where they were all but invisible – except for the grass-tops moving over them.

We were out for about 3½  hours and then headed home. This was hike #23 in my #52Hike Challenge for the year.

Species List:

  1. Acorn Woodpecker, Melanerpes formicivorus
  2. Alder, White Alder, Alnus rhombifolia
  3. Anna’s Hummingbird, Calypte anna
  4. Ash-Throated Flycatcher, Myiarchus cinerascens
  5. Bark Rim Lichen, Lecanora chlarotera [looks like Whitewash Lichen but has apothecia]
  6. Bee, Leafcutter Bee, Megachile sp.
  7. Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans
  8. Blessed Milk Thistle, Silybum marianum
  9. Blue Elderberry, Sambucus nigra cerulea
  10. Bur Parsley, Anthriscus caucalis
  11. Bushtit, American Bushtit, Psaltriparus minimus
  12. California Black Walnut Pouch Gall Mite, Aceria brachytarsa
  13. California Buckeye Chestnut Tree, Aesculus californica
  14. California Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly, Battus philenor hirsuta
  15. California Pipevine, Dutchman’s Pipe, Aristolochia californica
  16. California Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma californica
  17. California Wild Grape, Vitis californica
  18. Canada Goose, Branta canadensis
  19. Chinese Pistache, Pistacia chinensis
  20. Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus
  21. Common European Greenbottle Fly, Lucilia sericata
  22. Common Greenshield Lichen, Flavoparmelia caperata
  23. Common Hover Fly Parasitoid Wasp, Diplazon laetatorius [colorful, yellow legs]
  24. Common Merganser, Mergus merganser
  25. Confusing Petrophila Moth, Petrophila confusalis [tiny, pale, striped]
  26. Cranefly, European Crane Fly, Tipula paludosa
  27. Creeping Woodsorrel, Oxalis corniculata
  28. Crust Fungus, Split Porecrust, Xylodon paradoxus
  29. Deerweed, Acmispon glaber
  30. Dove’s-Foot Crane’s-Bill, Geranium molle
  31. Eastern Fox Squirrel, Sciurus niger [rusty belly]
  32. Elegant Clarkia, Clarkia unguiculata [red line on leaves]
  33. Eurasian Collared Dove, Streptopelia decaocto
  34. European Starling, Sturnus vulgaris
  35. Farinose Cartilage Lichen, Ramalina farinacea [like oakmoss but with very fine strands]
  36. Frosted Lichen, Physconia sp.
  37. Genista Broom Moth, Uresiphita reversalis
  38. Grasses, Bristly Dogtail Grass, Cynosurus echinatus
  39. Grasses, Common Barley, Hordeum vulgare
  40. Grasses, Flowering Oloptum, Oloptum sp.
  41. Grasses, Silver Hairgrass, Aira caryophyllea
  42. Green Shield Lichen, Flavoparmelia caperata
  43. Hairypink, Pink Grass, Windmill Pink, Petrorhagia dubia
  44. Harvestman, Superfamily: Phalangioidea
  45. Humped Trashline Orbweaver Spider, Cyclosa turbinate
  46. Iris, Yellow Iris, Iris pseudacorus
  47. Italian Thistle, Carduus pycnocephalus
  48. Jalisco Petrophila Moth, Petrophila jaliscalis [tiny, black dots long edge of hindwings]
  49. Ladybeetle, Convergent Lady Beetle, Hippodamia convergens
  50. Ladybeetle, Seven-Spotted Lady Beetle, Coccinella septempunctata
  51. Lauxaniid Fly, Family: Lauxaniidae [small, reddish, brown or black]
  52. Live Oak Apple Gall Wasp, Spring generation, Amphibolips quercuspomiformis [upside down volcano on the edge of the leaf, green or brown]
  53. Live Oak Apple Gall Wasp, Summer Generation, Amphibolips quercuspomiformis [spiky ball]
  54. Live Oak Folded Leaf Aphid, Stegophylla essigi [in live oaks, folds the leaf over itself; sometimes the leaf turns red/reddish]
  55. Lupine, Miniature Lupine, Lupinus bicolor
  56. Lustrous Camouflage Lichen, Melanohalea exasperatula [brown, shiny]
  57. Mallard Duck, Anas platyrhynchos
  58. Mantis, Arizona Mantis, Stagmomantis limbata [large ootheca]
  59. Miner’s Lettuce, Claytonia perfoliata
  60. Monkeyflower, Orange Bush Monkeyflower, Diplacus aurantiacus
  61. Mourning Dove, Zenaida macroura
  62. Non-Biting Midge, Cricotopus sp.
  63. Northern California Black Walnut, Juglans hindsii
  64. Oak Titmouse, Baeolophus inornatus
  65. Oak, Coast Live Oak, Quercus agrifolia
  66. Oak, Interior Live Oak, Quercus wislizeni
  67. Oak, Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
  68. Poison Hemlock, Conium maculatum
  69. Popcorn Flower, Rusty Popcornflower, Plagiobothrys nothofulvus
  70. Poplar Sunburst Lichen, Xanthomendoza hasseana [sunburst on Cottonwood]
  71. Poppy, California Poppy, Eschscholzia californica
  72. Red-Eared Slider Turtle, Trachemys scripta elegans
  73. Rim Lichen, Lecanora carpinea
  74. Rio Grande Wild Turkey, Meleagris gallopavo intermedia
  75. Ruptured Twig Gall Wasp, Callirhytis perdens [on live oaks]
  76. Scarab-Hunter Wasp, Toltec Scoliid Wasp, Dielis tolteca
  77. Stork’s Bill, Mediterranean Stork’s-Bill, Erodium botrys
  78. Swallow, Northern Rough-Winged Swallow, Stelgidopteryx serripennis
  79. Swallow, Tree Swallow, Tachycineta bicolor
  80. Towhee, Spotted Towhee, Pipilo maculatus
  81. Townsend’s Warbler, Setophaga townsendi
  82. Two-Horned Gall Wasp, unisexual gall, summer generation,  Dryocosmus dubiosus [small, green or mottled, on back of leaf along the midvein]
  83. Vetch, Hairy Vetch, Vicia villosa
  84. Wax-Leaf Ligustrum, Ligustrum japonicum
  85. Western Fence Lizard, Blue Belly, Sceloporus occidentalis [pregnant female]
  86. Western Hoptree, Ptelea crenulata
  87. Western Redbud, Cercis occidentalis
  88. Western Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly, Papilio rutulus
  89. White-Breasted Nuthatch, Sitta carolinensis
  90. Wren, House Wren, Troglodytes aedon

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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

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Some Firsts at the River Bend, 04-19-22

I headed over to the American River Bend Park, again, for a walk. It’s really close by and is becoming my sort-of go-to place. I tried going down a trail I hadn’t been down before because I thought an owl’s nest had been spotted there, but I didn’t see it.

I DID get to see some galls on the oak trees there that I hadn’t seen in the park before, so that was cool.  I’m still looking for evidence of new Callirhytis quercuspomiformis wasp galls on the live oaks, but I haven’t seen any yet. The springtime galls look like upside down funnels on the edges of the leaves, and the summer galls look like spikey balls on the twigs. I found lots of old ones, but no new ones yet.

I then headed over to my regular haunt, a trail that runs above and alongside the river, and was surprised by the number of bicyclists that were out – even someone the hiking trail where they don’t belong.  Grrr. 

Of my bird sightings today, I saw a pair of Northern Rough-Winged Swallows (Stelgidopteryx serripennis) among all the bug-chasing Tree Swallows yesterday, and found where mama was building her nest in the side of a steep bank off the trail. When she saw me, she stopped working for a bit, not wanting me to spot the exact location of her nest. Dad pretty much just hung out in a nearby tree.

According to Cornell: “…Prefers open areas, including open woodlands. Fairly common throughout breeding range, but local distribution depends on suitable nest sites. Predominantly near rocky gorges, shale banks, stony road cuts, railroad embankments, gravel pits, eroded margins of streams, and other such exposed banks of clay, sand, or gravel. May accept any cavity or crevice in vertical surface, including gutters, culverts, drainpipes, and crevices or holes in walls, wharves, bridges, etc.. Often nests near open water, but water likely coincidental with occurrence of suitable nest site…”

This pair had chosen a spot on a steep bank below the trail. A medium-sized tree had fallen there during the heavier rains earlier this year, and the roots opened up hollows in the dirt. Perfect for the little swallows. I watched as the female collected twiglets and dried grass.

“…All or nearly all nest material collected by female from ground. She seeks materials close to nest site and repeatedly uses same collecting locations. Carries materials to burrow in bill… Bulk consists of woody twigs, weed stems, straw, roots and rootlets, coarse and fine grass (dry and green), sedges, leaves and parts of leaves (sometimes green), wood chips, bark shreds, plant fibers, moss, grass heads, flowers or parts of flowers, seeds, dung, mud, hair, string, and miscellaneous bits of rubbish…Function of dung unknown.”

Incubation of the eggs is apparently exclusively by female. Both parents feed the young after they’re born,  “…Female begins feeding young as soon as they hatch, but male may delay onset of feeding up to 3 d. Once male participates, each parent feeds nestlings and makes trips to nest with about equal frequency (10–20 trips/h, with marked acceleration in frequency as dusk approaches) until young about two-thirds grown. Then female’s activity drops appreciably relative to male; reason unknown…”

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

In the water were Common Mergansers, Mallards, some Snowy Egrets, and some Canada Geese with goslings.  

The number of Pipevine Swallowtail butterflies and caterpillars is increasing. Because they’re toxic, the birds won’t touch them. And there are still craneflies everywhere, of all different colors and sizes, including some Tiger Craneflies.

According to Daniel Stolte, University of Arizona: “…Most of the 15,000-plus species of crane flies in the world spend the larval part of their life living in water bodies, such as rivers and lakes, piles of wet leaves or in damp soil. About 95% of their life is spent in this larval stage, and it can last as long as three years or more. During this time as larvae, crane flies are important for recycling and decomposition – they eat leaves, plants and small bits of organic material in the soil or water bodies where they live… They can pass entire dry years, or perhaps even multiple dry years in a row, in a stage of dormancy called aestivation. When moisture returns to the soil during rainy winters, and wildflowers and grasses start growing again, then crane fly larvae will break from aestivation and spring back into action… Nearly 100% of the energy that crane fly adults have comes from the food they ate as larvae – the adults don’t eat any food at all. Imagine if we stopped eating food at age 18, and had to get by our entire adult lives on the food we ate as children…”

Then I came across something I thought was a cranefly, but it was actually a Hanging Scorpionfly: very large and bright-bright yellow. The was a first for me.

I also saw my first snakefly of the season. They’re such cool-looking insects. “…Females have a large and sturdy ovipositor which is used to deposit eggs in some concealed location. They are holometabolous insects with a four-stage life cycle consisting of eggs, larvae, pupae and adults. In most species, the larvae develop under the bark of trees. They may take several years before they undergo metamorphosis, requiring a period of chilling (32º) before pupation takes place. Both adults and larvae are predators of soft-bodied arthropods… Adult snakeflies are territorial and carnivorous organisms. They are diurnal and are important predators of aphids and mites…”

Is it any wonder why this spot is one of my favorites for nature walking? I see something different each time I go there. This was hike #20 of my #52HikeChallenge for the year.

Species List:

  1. Acorn Woodpecker, Melanerpes formicivorus
  2. Ash-Throated Flycatcher, Myiarchus cinerascens
  3. Ball Gall Wasp, Callirhytis perfoveata [on live oak]
  4. Black Rock Licorice Lichen, Lichinella nigritella
  5. Blessed Milk Thistle, Silybum marianum
  6. Bumpy Rim-Lichen, Lecanora hybocarpa [tan to brown apothecia]
  7. California Ground Squirrel, Otospermophilus beecheyi
  8. California Mugwort, Artemisia douglasiana
  9. California Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly, Battus philenor hirsuta
  10. California Pipevine, Dutchman’s Pipe, Aristolochia californica
  11. California Quail, Callipepla californica [heard]
  12. California Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma californica
  13. Canada Goose, Branta canadensis
  14. Candleflame Lichen, Candelaria concolor [bright yellow-orange]  
  15. Cinder Lichen, Aspicilia cinerea
  16. Clouded Sulphur Butterfly, Colias philodice
  17. Clover, Rose Clover, Trifolium hirtum
  18. Common Merganser, Mergus merganser
  19. Cranefly, European Crane Fly, Tipula paludosa
  20. Cranefly, Tiger Cranefly, Subgenus: Hesperotipula
  21. Damselfly, Bluet, Enallagma sp.
  22. European Starling, Sturnus vulgaris
  23. Funereal Duskywing Butterfly, Erynnis funeralis
  24. Geometer Moth, “Twig Mimic” caterpillars, Family: Geometridae
  25. Green Rock-Posy, Rhizoplaca melanophthalma
  26. Green Shield Lichen, Flavoparmelia caperata
  27. Hanging Scorpion Fly, Bittacus chlorostigma [like a large, bright yellow cranefly]
  28. Iris, Yellow Iris, Iris pseudacorus
  29. Kermes Scale Insect, Allokermes sp.
  30. Live Oak Apple Gall Wasp, Spring generation, Amphibolips quercuspomiformis [upside down volcano on the edge of the leaf, green or brown]
  31. Live Oak Gall Wasp, Summer Generation, Amphibolips quercuspomiformis [spiky ball]
  32. Live Oak Folded Leaf Aphid, Stegophylla essigi [in live oaks, folds the leaf over itself; sometimes the leaf turns red/reddish]
  33. Live Oak Petiole Gall Wasp, Melikaiella flora
  34. Lupine, Miniature Lupine, Lupinus bicolor
  35. Mallard Duck, Anas platyrhynchos
  36. Monkeyflower, Orange Bush Monkeyflower, Diplacus aurantiacus
  37. Mourning Dove, Zenaida macroura
  38. Northern California Black Walnut, Juglans hindsii
  39. Nuttall’s Woodpecker, Picoides nuttallii
  40. Oak Titmouse, Baeolophus inornatus
  41. Oak, Coast Live Oak, Quercus agrifolia
  42. Oak, Interior Live Oak, Quercus wislizeni
  43. Oak, Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
  44. Oakmoss Lichen, Evernia prunastri [like strap but with soredia]
  45. Oregon Sunburst Lichen, Xanthomendoza oregana [yellow/orange thallus bearing granular soredia on the tips and/or underside; looks like leaves with grainy edges]
  46. Poppy, California Poppy, Eschscholzia californica
  47. Red-Eared Slider Turtle, Trachemys scripta elegans
  48. Red-Shouldered Hawk, California Red-Shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus elegans
  49. Rio Grande Wild Turkey, Meleagris gallopavo intermedia
  50. Snakefly, Common Snakefly, Agulla sp.
  51. Snowy Egret, Egretta thula
  52. Sparrow, Golden-Crowned Sparrow, Zonotrichia atricapilla
  53. Stonewall Rim Lichen, Protoparmeliopsis muralis
  54. Stretch Spider, Long-Jawed Orbweaver, Tetragnatha sp.
  55. Swallow, Northern Rough-Winged Swallow, Stelgidopteryx serripennis
  56. Swift Crab Spider, Mecaphesa celer
  57. Towhee, Spotted Towhee, Pipilo maculatus
  58. Turkey Vulture, Cathartes aura
  59. Vetch, Common Vetch, Vicia sativa [pink flowers]
  60. Vetch, Hairy Vetch, Vicia villosa
  61. Wren, House Wren, Troglodytes aedon
  62. Yellow Cobblestone Lichen, Acarospora socialis
  63. Yellow-faced Bumble Bee, Bombus vosnesenskii
  64. Yellow-Rumped Warbler, Setophaga coronata [couldn’t identify sub-species]

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