Tag Archives: caper bush

A Short Visit to the WPA Rock Garden, 06-19-19

After stopping at the Ibis rookery in Woodland, I drove back to Sacramento, and visited the WPA Rock Garden in William Land Park for a short walk.

CLICK HERE to see the album of photos.

Species List:

  1. American Coot, Fulica americana,
  2. American Wisteria, Wisteria frutescens,
  3. Anna’s Hummingbird, Calypte anna,
  4. Bear’s Breeches, Acanthus mollis,
  5. Bird of Paradise, tree, Caesalpinia gilliesii,
  6. Black-Necked Stilt, Himantopus mexicanus,
  7. Black-Tailed Jackrabbit, Lepus californicus,
  8. Blue Corn-Lily, Aristea ecklonii,
  9. Bush Katydid nymph, Scudderia pistillata,
  10. Butterfly Bush, Buddleja davidii,
  11. California Buckwheat, Eriogonum fasciculatum,
  12. Caper Bush, Capparis spinosa,
  13. Cardoon, Artichoke Thistle, Cynara cardunculus,
  14. Cleveland Sage, Salvia clevelandii,
  15. Common Toadflax, Linaria vulgaris,
  16. Day Lily, Hemerocallis sp.,
  17. Desert Cottontail, Sylvilagus audubonii,
  18. Desert Willow, Chilopsis linearis, (pink flowers)
  19. Dianella, Dianella ensifolia, (blue seeds)
  20. Field Bindweed, Convolvulus arvensis,
  21. Fig, Common Fig, Ficus carica,
  22. French Lavender, Lavandula stoechas,
  23. Garden Snail, Cornu aspersum,
  24. Gerber Daisy, Gerbera jamesonii,
  25. Giant Fennel, Ferula communis,
  26. Golden Feverfew, Tanacetum Parthenium aureum,
  27. Great Mullein, Verbascum Thapsus,
  28. Great-Tailed Grackle, Quiscalus mexicanus,
  29. Green Bottle Fly, Lucilia sericata,
  30. Green Lacewing, Chrysoperla carnea,
  31. Grevellea, Grevilerulea sp.,
  32. Jacaranda Tree, Jacaranda mimosifolia,
  33. Killdeer, Charadrius vociferous,
  34. Lacy Phacelia, Phacelia tanacetifolia,
  35. Lavender, Lavandula angustifolia,
  36. Leafcutter Bee, Megachile sp.,
  37. Love-in-a-Mist, Nigella damascena,
  38. Mojave Prickly Poppy, Argemone corymbose,
  39. Money Plant, Silver Dollar Plant, Moonflower, Lunaria biennis,
  40. Myrtle, Myrtus communis,
  41. Northern Catalpa, Indian Bean Tree, Catalpa speciosa,
  42. Painted Lady Butterfly, Vanessa cardui,
  43. Pincushion Flower, Scabiosa atropurpurea,
  44. Pinkladies, Oenothera speciosai,
  45. Rattlesnake Master, Eryngium yuccifolium,
  46. Red Mite, Spider Mite, Tetranychinae sp.,
  47. Rose, Rosa sp.,
  48. Smokebush, Smoke Tree, Cotinus obovatus,
  49. Spice Bush, Calycanthus occidentalis,
  50. Statice, Sea lavender, Limonium perezii,
  51. Steely Wings, Salvia canariensis,
  52. Tree Aeonium, Aeonium arboretum,
  53. Western Fence Lizard, Sceloporus occidentalis,
  54. Western Kingbird, Tyrannus verticalis,
  55. Western Meadowlark, Sturnella neglecta,
  56. White Lily of the Nile, Agapanthus africanus var. albus,
  57. White-Faced Ibis, Plegadis chihi,
  58. Yarrow, Common Yarrow, Achillea millefolium,

At the Ibis Rookery, 06-19-19

This was a busy day, but in a fun way.  I got up at 5:00 am and headed out to Woodland to go to the ibis rookery at the Woodland-Davis Clean Water Agency facility off of Road 102 and East Gibson Road. Then I headed out to the WPA Rock Garden, and later in the day, I attended a Monarch monitoring training. Phew!

 Last year when I went to the rookery, the water was a lot lower in the settling ponds. This year, the water is a lot higher, so all of the scrubby trees and tules the ibises were able to nest in before are now under water, and there was no real shore for them to rest on. All of the birds were clambering to get into the high branches of the few trees that weren’t submerged, and I saw some pretty brutal fights over nesting spots. I also watched as several of the birds pulled dried grasses up from the edges of the pond and flew them over to line their nests.

Some of the ibises, though, had already settled in, and a few of them already had eggs laid in their nests. The eggs are a bright neon-turquoise color so they’re easy to spot even at a distance. 

A mated pair of ibises near their nest.

Amid the ibises there were also Great-Tailed Grackles, American Coots (and a few babies), Killdeer, Black-Necked Stilts, Western Kingbirds and Western Meadowlarks. I also saw quite a few Black-Tailed Jackrabbits and Desert Cottontails. I saw Coot courtship behavior, which I’d never seen before. (I’d read about it but never saw it “live”.) The male and female chased after one another with their wings arched up and their tiny tail fanned out to show of the white patches on it.  They’re kind of dorky-looking birds to begin with, so seeing them hunched up trying to look sexy was a hoot. Hah!

CLICK HERE to see the album of photos. You can also CLICK HERE to access the feature article I wrote about the rookery in 2018 as published in the Lake County News online newspaper.

I took quite a few photos, but because the sun was coming up behind the birds, a lot of the stuff was in silhouette and I had to force the iris of the camera open to let more light in on the subjects.  I might go in again before class one morning to get different light. The area where you view the ibises is relatively small, so I was able to cover it in about an hour or so.

Species List:

  1. American Coot, Fulica americana,
  2. American Wisteria, Wisteria frutescens,
  3. Anna’s Hummingbird, Calypte anna,
  4. Bear’s Breeches, Acanthus mollis,
  5. Bird of Paradise, tree, Caesalpinia gilliesii,
  6. Black-Necked Stilt, Himantopus mexicanus,
  7. Black-Tailed Jackrabbit, Lepus californicus,
  8. Blue Corn-Lily, Aristea ecklonii,
  9. Bush Katydid nymph, Scudderia pistillata,
  10. Butterfly Bush, Buddleja davidii,
  11. California Buckwheat, Eriogonum fasciculatum,
  12. Caper Bush, Capparis spinosa,
  13. Cardoon, Artichoke Thistle, Cynara cardunculus,
  14. Cleveland Sage, Salvia clevelandii,
  15. Common Toadflax, Linaria vulgaris,
  16. Day Lily, Hemerocallis sp.,
  17. Desert Cottontail, Sylvilagus audubonii,
  18. Desert Willow, Chilopsis linearis, (pink flowers)
  19. Dianella, Dianella ensifolia, (blue seeds)
  20. Field Bindweed, Convolvulus arvensis,
  21. Fig, Common Fig, Ficus carica,
  22. French Lavender, Lavandula stoechas,
  23. Garden Snail, Cornu aspersum,
  24. Gerber Daisy, Gerbera jamesonii,
  25. Giant Fennel, Ferula communis,
  26. Golden Feverfew, Tanacetum Parthenium aureum,
  27. Great Mullein, Verbascum Thapsus,
  28. Great-Tailed Grackle, Quiscalus mexicanus,
  29. Green Bottle Fly, Lucilia sericata,
  30. Green Lacewing, Chrysoperla carnea,
  31. Grevellea, Grevilerulea sp.,
  32. Jacaranda Tree, Jacaranda mimosifolia,
  33. Killdeer, Charadrius vociferous,
  34. Lacy Phacelia, Phacelia tanacetifolia,
  35. Lavender, Lavandula angustifolia,
  36. Leafcutter Bee, Megachile sp.,
  37. Love-in-a-Mist, Nigella damascena,
  38. Mojave Prickly Poppy, Argemone corymbose,
  39. Money Plant, Silver Dollar Plant, Moonflower, Lunaria biennis,
  40. Myrtle, Myrtus communis,
  41. Northern Catalpa, Indian Bean Tree, Catalpa speciosa,
  42. Painted Lady Butterfly, Vanessa cardui,
  43. Pincushion Flower, Scabiosa atropurpurea,
  44. Pinkladies, Oenothera speciosai,
  45. Rattlesnake Master, Eryngium yuccifolium,
  46. Red Mite, Spider Mite, Tetranychinae sp.,
  47. Rose, Rosa sp.,
  48. Smokebush, Smoke Tree, Cotinus obovatus,
  49. Spice Bush, Calycanthus occidentalis,
  50. Statice, Sea lavender, Limonium perezii,
  51. Steely Wings, Salvia canariensis,
  52. Tree Aeonium, Aeonium arboretum,
  53. Western Fence Lizard, Sceloporus occidentalis,
  54. Western Kingbird, Tyrannus verticalis,
  55. Western Meadowlark, Sturnella neglecta,
  56. White Lily of the Nile, Agapanthus africanus var. albus,
  57. White-Faced Ibis, Plegadis chihi,
  58. Yarrow, Common Yarrow, Achillea millefolium,

My First Achemon Sphinx Moth and Caper Flower, 07-23-16

I didn’t sleep very well last night; neither I nor the dog could get comfortable for some reason.  Still, I got up at 6:00 and headed out to the WPA Rock Garden and William Land Park for a walk before it got too hot.

As I walked out of the house, I found a huge gorgeous Achemon Sphinx Moth (Eumorpha achemon) on the Bird of Paradise plant on the front porch.  I think it had just come out of its chrysalis and was trying to warm up for the day.  I got my camera and my cell phone out of my bag and took a bunch of photos of it before going any further.

When I got to the WPA Rock Garden, I was on the hunt for “jumping galls” which usually start cascading off of the oak trees this time of year.  And – score! – I found a bunch of them hopping in a gutter alongside the parking lot.  There is a teeny-tiny wasp (Neuropterus saltatorius) larva in each little gall (which are sort of like capsule-shaped “escape pods”). The capsules, which are about the size of millet seeds, form inside somewhat larger round galls on the leaves of oak trees. When it gets hot enough,  the larger galls rupture and dump the little capsules onto the ground by the thousands. The larvae flip around in an attempt to hide their capsule in the leaf litter under the tree… When they land in the cement gutter, though, they’re pretty much doomed.  I took some video of them, and scooped up as many as I could, got them off of the cement and onto softer ground.

CLICK HERE TO SEE A VIDEO OF THE GALLS.

CLICK HERE TO SEE THE ALBUM OF PHOTOS FROM TODAY.

There were other galls on the same tree including some Red Cone galls and some Spiny Turban galls.  This is the best time of year to start seeing all these cool things!

So the moth and the jumping galls were a great start to my morning excursion.  I was hoping to see some praying mantises, but no luck there.  I DID come across a small group of five male Longhorn Bees (Melissodes sp.) sleeping on a sunflower, though, and that was neat.  The males sleep in groups to keep warm overnight, and they collect in the same place every night if they can.  To keep from falling off the plant in their sleep, the bees latch onto the plant with their mandibles (mouth pieces) and “lock” the mandibles shut.

I was hoping to see more insects in the garden, but apparently the city people had just watered in there before I got there.  They use huge hoses to water the garden, and practically “flatten” the plants when they do that, so al the neat bugs get washed down onto the ground under the plants where I can’t find them. Grrr.  I did manage to get a few photos off a female Carpenter Bee doing her “nectar robbing” thing on some flowers.  The Carpenter Bees are too big and fat to fit inside some flowers, so they climb over the top of the flower and bite a hole in the back of it to suck the nectar out through there. It’s called “nectar robbing” because the flower doesn’t get the benefit of pollination from the insect. The Carpenter Bees bypass the pollen and go right for the juice…

I came across a mama Mallard and her fledglings (that were almost as big as she was).  The babies were rooting around in the ground cover under some pine trees while mom kept an eye on them.  I got a few stills and some video of them, and while I was doing that I could hear the “chitter-chitter-chitter” call of a Belted Kingfisher behind me.  I turned around and found the Kingfisher sitting on a small signpost in the middle of the pond.  As you know, Kingfishers are like my “nemesis” bird.  I can never get close enough to one to get a really good photo of it… and today was no different.  But I still managed to get a few shots of it, and got to watch it dive face-first into the pond a few times to catch small fish.  They’re such neat-looking birds.  I wish they weren’t so hard for me to photograph, though!  Hah!

I did get to see some hummingbirds and Bushtits on my walk… and I also came across a flower in the garden I’d never seen before.  I suck at identifying garden plants but I figured this one might be easy to research online – the flower was so distinctive.  I discovered it’s the flower of the caper bush (Capparis spinosa), also called Flinders Rose.  The buds are and berries are the “capers” people eat.  Cool!  As I said, I’d never seen one before, so I can add it to my “firsts” list.  Very pretty!

I walked around for about 2 hours and then headed over to Raley’s to get some groceries for the next few weeks.  That took another half-hour, so I figured I did pretty well getting my exercise for the day.