Tag Archives: katydid

Mostly Bugs and Birds, 05-08-19

I got up around 6:00 and headed over to the Effie Yeaw Nature Preserve for my weekly volunteer trail-walker thingy.  It was totally overcast and about 53° when I arrived at the preserve, but it was sunny and about 65° when I left. Such a huge change in just a few hours.

I saw a lot of different things on my walk today, but the standouts were the European Starlings and Black Harvester Ants.

CLICK HERE for the album of photos.

The Starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) had a nesting cavity that was perfectly viewable from the trail.  The cranky babies inside (I saw two but there might have been more) were almost fully fledged but still demanding room service from their folks, who diligently brought them beakfuls of insects. At one point, one of the parents apparently got tired of me watching them and taking photos, and it spat the insects onto the ground before glaring at me from the side of the tree. Hah!

And the Black Harvester Ants (Messor pergandei) always fascinate me. They’re always so busy, hard-working and determined. I saw some heaving large seeds around and carrying dead bees and some kind of grubs to their nest. ((The photos and video snippets I got of the ants were taken with my cell phone.))

I walked for about 4 ½ hours. Phew!

Species List:

1. Acorn Woodpecker, Melanerpes formicivorus,
2. American Bullfrog, Lithobates catesbeianus,
3. Asian Lady Beetle, Harmonia axyridis,
4. Bedstraw, Velcro Grass, Galium aparine,
5. Bewick’s Wren, Thryomanes bewickii,
6. Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans,
7. Blessed Milk Thistle, Silybum marianum,
8. Blue Elderberry, Sambucus cerulea,
9. Bushtit, Psaltriparus minimus,
10. California Ground Squirrel, Otospermophilus beecheyi,
11. California Pipevine Swallowtail caterpillar, Battus philenor hirsuta,
12. California Pipevine, Aristolochia californica,
13. California Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma californica,
14. California Towhee, Melozone crissalis,
15. California Wild Grape, Vitis californica,
16. California Wild Rose, Rosa californica,
17. Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus,
18. Common Yarrow, Achillea millefolium,
19. Coyote Brush Bud Midge Gall, Rhopalomyia californica,
20. Coyote Brush, Baccharis pilularis,
21. Cranefly, family Tipulidae,
22. Cricket, Arboreal Camel Cricket, Gammarotettix bilabatus,
23. Dogtail Grass, Cynosurus echinatus,
24. Eastern Fox Squirrel, Sciurus niger,
25. European Starling, Sturnus vulgaris,
26. Fruit-tree Leafroller Moth, Archips argyrospila
27. Great Horned Owl, Bubo virginianus,
28. Green Lacewing, Chrysoperla carnea,
29. Green Leafhopper, Nephotettix virescens,
30. Green Plant Bug, Chinavia hilaris,
31. Harvester Ant (black), Messor pergandei,
32. Himalayan Blackberry, Rubus armeniacus,
33. House Wren, Troglodytes aedon,
34. Housefly, Musca domestica,
35. Italian Thistle, Carduus pycnocephalus,
36. Katydid, Bush Katydid nymph, Scudderia sp.,
37. Leaf Beetle, Chrysolina sp.,
38. Lesser Goldfinch, Spinus psaltria,
39. Mallard, Anas platyrhynchos,
40. Miniature Lupine, Lupinus bicolor,
41. Mourning Dove, Zenaida macroura,
42. Mugwort, California Mugwort, Artemisia douglasiana,
43. Oak Apple Wasp Gall, Biorhiza pallida,
44. Oak Titmouse, Baeolophus inornatus,
45. Obliquebanded Leafroller, Blackberry Leafroller caterpillar, Choristoneura rosaceana,
46. Pacific Poison Oak, Toxicodendron diversilobum,
47. Painted Lady caterpillars, Vanessa cardui,
48. Pineapple Weed, Matricaria discoidea,
49. Poison Hemlock, Conium maculatum,
50. Pyracantha, Pyracantha coccinea,
51. Red-Shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus,
52. Rio Grande Wild Turkey, Meleagris gallopavo intermedia,
53. Robber Fly, Promachus princeps,
54. Rose Clover, Trifolium hirtum,
55. Rusty Tussock Moth caterpillar, Orgyia antiqua,
56. Seep Monkey Flower, Mimulus guttatus,
57. Showy Milkweed, Asclepias speciose,
58. Spittle Bug, Meadow Spittlebug, Philaenus spumarius,
59. Spotted Towhee, Pipilo maculatus,
60. Sudden Oak Death pathogen, Phytophthora ramorum,
61. Tree Swallow, Tachycineta bicolor,
62. Wavy-Leaf Soap Plant, Soap Root, Chlorogalum pomeridianum,
63. Western Bluebird, Sialia mexicana,
64. Western Fence Lizard, Sceloporus occidentalis,
65. White Horehound, Marrubium vulgare,
66. Winter Vetch, Vicia villosa,

Before Work: Deer, a Young Coyote, Squirrels and a Female Quail

I headed over to the Effie Yeaw Nature Preserve for a walk. It was 59º when I headed out, and stayed nice all the while I was out there. When I first started out on the trail, I was kind of surprised to see a male Wild Turkey just standing in the middle of the trail looking at me. He actually let me walk up very near to him before he started walking up the trail ahead of me. I eventually passed him, and he didn’t run or fly away – just kept an eye on me. It was kind of cool and kind of creepy at the same time…

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

A few feet further up the trail, I suddenly saw a small head pop up from a small knoll covered with long dried grass and weeds. It was a young coyote! It didn’t see me right away, and I got to see it pounce through the grass after a mouse or vole or something. Then the coyote realized I was there and just stood there for a second trying to decide whether to run or keep hunting. It trotted off down the other side of the knoll, and I saw it circle back to see if I was still around where its would-be meal was. It saw me once more and decided to just split…

There’s one spot on the trail where there are signs warning about a nest of ground-dwelling Yellow Jackets. I always slow down around there to try to listen for the wasps. Today, when I paused there, a mother deer walked out of the woods with her two young fawns and started chewing on the leaves of a black walnut tree right on the trail in front of me. The babies moved in under the tree, in the shade, and tasted some of the leaves, too.

I was actually able to get pretty close to them before mom decided she’d had enough of me encroaching on her breakfast, and walked off quickly with her youngsters behind her. Later on, on a different part of the trail, I was taking some photos of a ground squirrel, and another fawn, out of its spots but still small, came stotting down a hill and toward me on the trail. It was all happy and goofy… and then it saw me, and skidded to a halt. It was only there for a second before it bounded off into the woods. Hah!

The black walnut trees in the woods are heavy with walnuts this time of year… and the Fox Squirrels love them. Everywhere you go in the preserve, you can hear the squirrels stripping the husk off and trying to crack open the nuts. Scritch-scritch-scritch. The noise makes it easy to spot the squirrels to get photos of them…

I also came across a covey of California Quails. I could hear the male, and got a glimpse of him and the other females in his harem, but only one female came out where I could actually get some photos of her. They’re such pretty, funny-looking little birds…

I walked for about 3 ½ hours and then headed back home. Time for work…


I got up at 5:00 again this morning,  It was about 10º cooler outside this morning than it was yesterday at the same time, so maybe we’ll get a little relief today…  I headed out about 5:30 am to the Effie Yeaw Nature Preserve.  I knew that this time of year a lot of the female deer are having their babies, the male deer are starting to go into their “velvet”, and the Monarch Butterflies are laying eggs… and I was hoping to see at least ONE of those things.

You can see an album of today’s photos at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/mkhnaturalist/albums/72157683338248433

As soon as I drove into the parking lot at the preserve I saw a buck in his velvet walking along the fence line between the preserve and the houses next door to it. So, I quick parked the car and hurried out to see if I could get some photos of him.
By the time I reached another spot where I could see him, he was up an embankment, but my new Nikon didn’t disappoint me.  I was able to grab quite a few shots of him.  What was even more awesome was that he led me right to a female deer with her new fawn, a little baby still in its spots.

At first they were in a weird spot at the top of the embankment and backlit by the sky, so at first I was just getting a lot of really badly lit shots – even ones of the baby nursing for a little bit, dang it!  Then the mama caught sight of me and she bounded off with the baby scrambling behind her.

I followed them around the nature center buildings, and saw mom jump the fence at the low deer-crossing point, but the baby couldn’t make the jump, so it ran off along one side of the fence crying for mom who was on the side.  The mom came to a standstill under the branches of an elderberry bush, and I was able to get some really good close-ups of her.  But the baby was still on the other side.

I saw him run to another slightly older fawn that was with its mom – which meant even more mama-and-baby photos opportunities.  The second mama sniffed at the baby fawn but offered its no solace, and when the baby realized she wasn’t HIS mom, he kept crying and crying.  It wasn’t a bleating sound like a goat might make, it was more like a high pitched meow-like sound (but only one syllable, if that make any senses to you). Like, MEW-MEW-MEW…

Its noise attracted the attention of several other female deer in the vicinity who came out of the woods onto the trail to see what the fuss was about. It took him about 15 minutes, but the baby finally figured out where his own mother was and waited for her to jump back over the deer-crossing to reunite with him.  So I got to witness a kind of Sunday morning mini-drama… And all of it happening within the first few minutes of my getting to the preserve.

There were also Red-Tailed Hawks all over the preserve this morning. I think all of the springtime babies are now learning how to fly and hunt.  It seemed like there was hawk-screeching from every part of the trail I was walking.

I also got to see a Wild Turkey sitting up in a tree over my head. He was upset about something and I assumed the coyotes were out and about beneath him somewhere.  I caught a fast glimpse of a coyote, but only got photos of its back and rear end as it moved quickly through the tall grass. Right after the coyote ran off, a jackrabbit came racing out from under a blackberry thicket that was just inches from where the coyote had been.  Lucky “bunny”! I walked for about 2 ½ hours and then headed back home.  I didn’t see any Monarchs or their caterpillars, but I still enjoyed what I DID see during my walk.

One sad sight on the road: just as I came out of the backside of the preserve, I saw a dead buck (in its velvet) lying next to someone’s driveway. It was hard to tell how long it had been there.  The carcass stank to high heaven, and the part of the belly that was lying closest to the pavement was thick with flies and maggots… But the eyes were still there (and those are one of the things the carrion eaters go for first.)  You’d think the people who lived there would call Animal Control and have the body taken away… Maybe they’re on vacation, though, and don’t know it’s there…

One happy sight on the road: As I was driving down Howe Avenue near the American River, I saw a female Wild Turkey walking along the greenbelt with six poults!  I hardly ever get to see the poults, so that was a fun sighting. I wish I could’ve stopped the car to get some photos, but there was too much traffic.

I’m still learning the basic functions of the new camera, and have realized I need to (1) stop forcing the focus and pull back from the subject to make sure the camera can do its thing, and (2) I need a faster memory card.  The one I have is about a 4 or 6, and I need a 10 – and 64 MB instead of 32.  There are a whole slew of special settings, including one that’s specifically for birding, I’ll need a WEEK just to sample them all!

A Cool Katydid and some Fall Color

Katydid. Copyright © 2015, Mary K. Hanson. All Rights Reserved.
Katydid. Copyright © 2015, Mary K. Hanson. All Rights Reserved.

Before going home, I took the dog over to the William Land Park for a short walk.  Not a lot to see today but we did meet a katydid and saw the Green Heron there today; and there were a few trees showing off some fall coloring, so it was nice.

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Saturday at the Rock Garden

After a very good night’s sleep, I was up around 6:30 am and headed out with the dog to the WPA Rock Garden.  We didn’t stay there for very long, though.  The city is hosting some kind of huge Kids Fair there this weekend (of which I was blissfully unaware) and the place was already crawling with security people and vendors settings things up for the day.  So, as I said, I cut our walk short, but we still got to see a lot of flowers and bugs and stuff.  Among all the blossoming things, I came across a katydid nymph and several assassin bug nymphs, and a pink and yellow striped Raspberry Pyrausta Moth (Pyrausta signatalis).  The star of the garden show, though, was a huge Jack-in-the-pulpit – and when I say huge, I mean the flower from top to bottom was as long as from the top of my head to my waist.  Incredible.  They don’t last very long — only a day or two — so I was happy to be able to see it.