Category Archives: photography

Back to the Reverend Mother, 09-12-22

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

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

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

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

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

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

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos

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

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

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

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

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

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

Species List:

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

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Disappointed at Lake Solano Park, 09-10-22

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

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

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

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

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

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

Certified California Naturalist Roxanne at the Putah Creek Café.

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

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

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

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

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

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Species List:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

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

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

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

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

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

Species List:

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

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Back Up Ice House Road Again, 08-27-22

I got up around 5:00 AM to get ready to head out to Ice House Road with my friend and fellow naturalist, Roxanne. It was cool and breezy all morning; got up to about 88º in the late afternoon. I like weather like that.

I had been looking forward to this excursion all week.  I was hoping to see different galls on the oak trees, willows, and other plants up there. In 2021, we saw Fireweed in bloom and gooseberries fruiting around the end of July. CLICK HERE to see last year’s album.

Although the galls were few and far between (not a lot of oak trees up there; it’s mostly a conifer forest), we ended up finding quit a few things I had never seen before, so that was fun! The only oak trees we found were Black Oaks, and the only gall I saw on the oak was a Ruptured Twig Gall.

One super-cool find on a Black Oak was a little family of Oak Treehoppers. Mom was the “spotted” version of the species. (There’s also a turquoise striped version. Some of the stuff I read about the species is that the spotted may morph into the turquoise version later in the season.) The babies looked like tiny African masks painted red, black and white with black “horns” sticking out of them.

The mom we saw refused to leave the branch her babies were on, even though she was winged and could have fled if she wanted to. She also stuck close to her kids, and some of the photos we got seemed to show her “kissing” her babies.

According to the University of Florida: “…Beamer (1930) even observed maternal instinct in females of Platycotis vittata on oak in California. Females were observed to ‘stand sentinel’ between their respective colonies of nymphs and the body of the tree. A female would allow herself to be picked up rather than fly away from her perch. Beamer watched one female repel a small vespid wasp approximately a dozen times from her colony of nymphs. After the vespid apparently grew discouraged and flew away, ‘…the membracid flew to her young, crawled over the spot where the vespid had alighted, apparently examined to see that they were uninjured; then making sure all was well again flew to the twig just below the nest, turned her head toward her young and stood immobile.’…” Awwww!

According to the North Carolina State University: “…Females mate more than once, but only the sperm of her last suitor is used to fertilize her 40 or so eggs. This insect overwinters as females in leaf litter. They emerge and lay their eggs the following spring. When the eggs hatch, the new nymphs gather around a slit in the bark made by the female. The Nymphs apparently feed at the slit and the female broods over them. Females definitely protect their nymphs by bumping predators. Second generation eggs are laid in August and these hatch and develop into the overwintering forms. Nymphs have two tiny ‘spikes’ on their backs and they tend to be contrastingly marked with white, black, and red…”

AmericanInsects.com reaffirmed the information from the NCSU but offered some more clarifying details: “…Wood, et al. (1984) noted that many females of this species mate more than once, with the first mating often taking place even before the female’s ovaries are mature. The sperm of the last male to mate with a female, however, is the sperm that is used to fertilize the eggs. Wood and his colleagues reasoned that the early matings were ‘insurance,’ with the sperm stored for possible use after the ovaries have matured. This ‘insurance mating’ is necessary because males tend not to live as long as females, and females may not be able to find a mate after the ovaries are mature. However, if the late season mating does take place, it is with a male that presumably has superior genes for longevity, and these are the sperm used to fertilize the eggs. Mating may last up to 24 hours, with the males apparently dragging out the process to prevent another male from mating with the female. Platycotis vittata also has an unusually long ‘waiting period’ between mating and oviposition, ranging from an average of 29 days for females who mated more than once, to 39 days for females who mated just once. Females lay about 40 eggs each…The Spring-hatched treehopper females oviposit in August and the nymphs hatch out in September, in time to feed as the tree sends nutrients from the canopy to the roots…”

That the second season would happen when the sap was flowing DOWN the tree to the roots for the winter, is sooooo interesting to me. Nature thinks of everything and wastes nothing.

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

Other new-to-me species included some small, pouty, yellow Keckiella flowers; some spidery, white White-Topped Aster flowers; a striped Sierra Dome Spider; a bristly yellow-footed Tachina fly; some different Manzanita galls (apparently there’s one species of aphid that makes three kinds of galls of those trees); some frilly, purple Sierra Lessingia flowers; and many, many Bush Chinquapin trees with their hedgehog-like-covered nuts on them. And I think I spotted some flower galls on the drying-up male flowers. So cool! It’s always fun to come across surprises like that.

Among the other insects we saw were some California Sister butterflies (which I get mixed up with the Lorquin’s Admirals all the time), a few Acmon Blue butterflies, an Urbane Digger Bee, and a Weevil Wasp (feeding on buckwheat flowers).

Another surprise was to see several bright green examples of the “witches broom” phenomenon on what we thought might have been bitter cherry or chokecherry trees and twigs.  Rox spotted a tree covered with them, so we pulled off to the side of the road to get a closer look.

“…Witches’ broom is a common affliction of many trees and shrubs. It can be caused by several different vectors. Witches’ broom earns its name by producing a plethora of small, distorted branches that grow very close together, giving these clumps of branches the appearance of a witches’ broom… Though witches’ broom on a cherry can develop from any damage, it can also be caused by a fungal pathogen known as Taphrina, specifically T. cerasi or T. wiesneri. This fungal disease causes close bunches of quick growing, small branches to form on other cherry tree branches. If left alone, these new branches usually bloom and drop their leaves earlier than other branches of the tree…” [GardeningKnowhow.com]

Although we didn’t see many birds or mammals around, we did get to see a couple of chipmunks. We don’t have those down here on the valley floor. Cute little buggers.

We were out for about 8 hours, but that included travel time and a stop for an in-the-car picnic lunch.  It was a long day, but I learned a lot and saw a lot of things I wasn’t expecting to see. Fun!

Species List:

  1. Acmon Blue Butterfly, Icaricia acmon
  2. Bare-Bottom Sunburst Lichen, Xanthomendoza weberi
  3. Bee, Urbane Digger Bee, Anthophora urbana [gray and black, bluish eyes]
  4. Bigleaf Maple Tree, Acer macrophyllum
  5. Bitter Cherry, Prunus emarginata
  6. Bitter Lettuce, Lactuca virosa
  7. Blue Elderberry, Sambucus nigra cerulea
  8. Boreal Button Lichen, Buellia disciformis [pale gray to bluish with black apothecia on wood]
  9. Bristle Fly, Ptilodexia sp.
  10. Broad-Leaved Stonecrop, Sedum spathulifolium
  11. Bull Thistle, Cirsium vulgare
  12. Bumblebee, Yellow-Faced Bumble Bee, Bombus vosnesenskii
  13. Bush Chinquapin, Chrysolepis sempervirens
  14. California Fuchsia, Epilobium canum
  15. California Ground Squirrel, Otospermophilus beecheyi
  16. California Sister Butterfly, Adelpha californica
  17. California Turret Spider, Atypoides riversi
  18. Cherry Tree Witches Broom, Taphrina wiesneri [on Prunus sp. trees]
  19. Chipmunk, Long-Eared Chipmunk, Neotamias quadrimaculatus
  20. Cinder Lichen, Aspicilia cinerea [gray on rocks]
  21. Columbine, Western Columbine, Aquilegia formosa
  22. Devil’s Beggarticks, Bidens frondosa
  23. Dog Pelt Lichen, Peltigera canina
  24. Dog, Canis lupus familiaris
  25. Douglas Fir, Pseudotsuga menziesii
  26. Emery Rocktripe Lichen, Umbilicaria phaea
  27. Fern, Hairy Brackenfern, Pteridium aquilinum var. pubescens [variation of Common Bracken]
  28. Flower Gall Wasp, Dryocosmus castanopsidis [ n the male flowers of chinquapin]
  29. Fly, Bristle Fly, Ptilodexia sp.
  30. Goldenrod, Velvety Goldenrod, Solidago velutina
  31. Grass, Squirreltail Grass, Elymus elymoides
  32. Gray Pine, Pinus sabiniana
  33. Green Lacewing, Chrysopa coloradensis [eggs]
  34. Hooded Tube Lichen, Hypogymnia physodes
  35. Incense Cedar, California Incense Cedar, Calocedrus decurrens
  36. Leafhopper, Momoria sp. [pink and green]
  37. Lupine, Dwarf Lupine, Lupinus lepidus
  38. Manzanita Leafgall Aphid, Flower version, Tamalia coweni
  39. Manzanita Leafgall Aphid, Leaf curl version, Tamalia coweni
  40. Manzanita Leafgall Aphid, Midvien version, Tamalia coweni
  41. Manzanita, Greenleaf Manzanita, Arctostaphylos patula
  42. Mistletoe, Western Dwarf Mistletoe, Arceuthobium campylopodum
  43. Monkeyflower, Seep Monkeyflower, Erythranthe guttata [yellow]
  44. Morning-Glory Leafminer Moth, Bedellia somnulentella
  45. Mortar Rim Lichen, Myriolecis dispersa [black/grey]
  46. Mullein, Great Mullein, Verbascum thapsus
  47. Naked Buckwheat, Eriogonum nudum
  48. Oak Anthracnose Fungus, Apiognomonia errabunda [spots on Chinquapin leaves]
  49. Oak Ribbed Casemaker Moth, Bucculatrix albertiella
  50. Oak Treehopper, Platycotis vittate [looks like a thorn; mother and babies]
  51. Oak, California Black Oak, Quercus kelloggii
  52. Pacific Aster, Symphyotrichum chilense
  53. Pearly Everlasting, Anaphalis margaritacea
  54. Ponderosa Pine, Pinus ponderosa [three needles]
  55. Queen Anne’s Lace, Daucus carota
  56. Rock Greenshield Lichen, Flavoparmelia baltimorensis
  57. Ruptured Twig Gall Wasp, Callirhytis perdens [on live oaks, black oaks]
  58. Sierra Dome Spider, Neriene litigiosa [black and white stripes]
  59. Sierra Lessingia, Lessingia leptoclada [purple fringy-looking flowers in flocculent coverings]
  60. Single-Spored Map Lichen, Rhizocarpon disporum [black/gray on rocks]
  61. Spring King Bolete Mushroom, Boletus rex-veris
  62. Stilt Bug, Family: Berytidae
  63. Sugar Pine Tree, Pinus lambertiana
  64. Treehopper, Gyponana sp. [pink head, yellowish body]
  65. Trembling Aspen, Populus tremuloides [white bark]
  66. Turkey Vulture, Cathartes aura
  67. Variable Wrinkle-Lichen, Tuckermanopsis orbata [green or brown]
  68. Weevil Wasp, Cerceris sp. [small, yellow and black, amber wings]
  69. Western Morning Glory, Calystegia occidentalis [seed pods have 4-5 black seeds in them]
  70. Western Yellowjacket, Vespula pensylvanica
  71. White Fir, Abies concolor
  72. White-Topped Aster, Sericocarpus sp.
  73. Witch’s Hair Lichen, Alectoria sarmentosa [on fir trees]
  74. Wolf Lichen, Letharia vulpine [bright yellow-green]
  75. Woodland Woollythreads, Monolopia gracilens
  76. Yarrow, Fern-leaf Yarrow, Achillea filipendulina [yellow]
  77. Yellow Keckiella Flower, Keckiella sp.
  78. Yellow Salsify, Tragopogon dubius
  79. Yellow-Footed Tachinid Fly, Tachina sp.
  80. ?? flower head gall on goldenrod
  81. ?? tiny cocoon on manzanita leaf

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