Tag Archives: pipevine swallowtail caterpillars

Second Photo-Walk with the CalNat Graduates, 05-05-18

I left the house about 7 o’clock to go to the Effie Yeaw Nature Preserve for a second photo-outings with my naturalist class graduates .

We had lots of time to practice with lighting and focus settings. There was an overcast that sort of “diffused” the light so we weren’t dealing with harsh shadows or glare most of the time we were out. The insects are all out doing their thing, and we got to see some katydid nymphs, lots of Pipevine Swallowtail, Tussock Moth and Monarch butterfly caterpillars. I was surprised the Monarch babies were out so early. Last year, they didn’t show up until almost October!

The Lady Beetle larvae and pupa were out in force, too, and all of them gave us lots of practice with macro settings and close-up shots.

CLICK HERE for the album of photos.

The Tree Swallows were very cooperative and posed for lots of photos. We also saw a couple of Red-Shouldered Hawks that sat still for quite a while, letting us shoot them from different angles. Mama R-S H was up in her nest, but we only caught glimpses of her head and tail. I also spotted a Cooper’s Hawk dashing through the trees, but only got a handful of bad photos of it before it took off again.

We saw a small herd of mule deer, but not as many as we normally might at the preserve. I figured maybe the pregnant moms were off having their babies and so were making themselves scarce.

On our way back to the nature center we saw a firetruck, ambulance and police car pull up next to the building. By the time we got to the center, the emergency personnel were gone, but there were two docents with snake hooks and a bucket poking and prodding along the stone in the nature flower garden by the Maidu Village. A young girl had been bitten by a rattlesnake (thus the ambulance) and the docents were trying to locate it. They found it rather quickly and deposited it in the bucket – and let us take photos of it before carrying it off to show it to a Ranger. The snake will be relocated but will not be killed. It was a young one, almost “cute”.

The docents were quick to reiterate that the notion that young rattlers are more dangerous than adult ones is a complete myth. Young rattlesnakes’ venom sacs are so small that even if they gave you everything they had in a single bite, it wouldn’t amount to much. It also takes a long time for a rattler to produce venom between bites, and without it they’re pretty vulnerable, so they don’t discharge venom unless they have to and control what they do discharge – even the baby rattlers.

When we’d started on the walk it was about 53º at the preserve, but by the time we left, around 1:00 pm, it was 80º and we were ready to quit for the day. Too hot for walking! We sat around the picnic area for a little while, sharing looks at the photos we all got on our cameras… and finding several more Tussock Moth caterpillars. #CalNat

Some Shinrin-yoku after the BIGDOG on Wednesday

Mallard Duckling. Copyright © 2016 Mary K. Hanson. All rights reserved.
Mallard Duckling. Copyright © 2016 Mary K. Hanson. All rights reserved.

Well after the debacle that was this year’s Big Day of Giving (CLICK HERE to read more about it) and my working a 20 hour shift for Tuleyome on Tuesday and a 10 hour shift on Wednesday trying to keep donors engaged and happy, I was exhausted in every aspect of my being, so I shut off the computer and my phone and took a walk in nature for a little while.

Nature heals.  It’s been documented.  The Japanese call it “shinrin-yoku” (forest bathing / walking) and it always seems to work for me.  I couldn’t get out to a forest today, but I did manage to get over to the WPA Rock Garden and duck pond.  Saw lots of beautiful flowers, interesting bugs, and cute ducklings and goslings… got some fresh air… walked around for a little over an hour to get my body moving again after sitting hunched over in front of a computer for 2 days.  Just what I needed.

Here’s a video of some fry in the pond.

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If you want to learn more about the healing effects of nature on the body and mind here are a few articles you can read: 

 

Vacation Day 7: Effie Yeaw Nature Preserve

Mule Deer. Copyright © 2016 Mary K. Hanson. All rights reserved.
Mule Deer. Copyright © 2016 Mary K. Hanson. All rights reserved.

Vacation Day Seven. I got up around 7:00 this morning and headed over to the Effie Yeaw Nature Preserve for my walk.  It was lovely outside: in the 50’s, sunny and breezy.  There wasn’t a lot to see this trip, but the walk was really nice.  My favorite photo of the day was of a Starling perched outside of its nest hole. The picture was hard to get because the sunlight was right behind the tree where the Starling was (which made everything look black).  The dark bird in the intense shadow was hard to see, so I had to open up the iris of the camera to let more light in… which then washes out the bright background…  I got photos of a Red-Shouldered Hawk nest, and I could hear mama hawk screeching inside of it, but she never lifted her head up enough for me to get a picture of her.  There were a few mule deer around, but they were all napping in the grass, so I got photos of the top of their heads.  Hah!

I also got some good shots of coyote scat that I’ll use in my next “Cool Stuff on the American River” book.  Naturalists get excited about stuff like that. Hah-2!

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No Foolin’ on April Fool’s Day

Starling emerging from tree cavity nest. Copyright © 2016 Mary K. Hanson. All rights reserved.
Starling emerging from tree cavity nest. Copyright © 2016 Mary K. Hanson. All rights reserved.

Even though I have today off, I got up around 6:00 and was out the door to the American River Bend Park by about 6:30 am.

The vetch and Tule Peas are starting to bloom at the park, along with Sticky Monkey Flowers and Miniature Lupine.  The fennel is just starting to sprout, but already parts of the trail smell of licorice.  And there’s Pipevine everywhere.  I’m both pleases and surprised by how many of the vines are sporting butterfly eggs.  Should be a banner year for the caterpillars here.  I already found a few first and third instars (different sizes of the caterpillars as they go through several successive molts and start to mature). Right now, they’re still reddish-brown.  They’ll turn black as they get older and bigger…

The birds are starting to pair off and get their nests in order.  I found nesting spots of some Starlings, a White-Breasted Nuthatch, and a hummingbird so far!  I also found a peacock (!) in the park chasing after the female turkeys.  Hah!  I wonder what they thought of him!

Here’s a little videohttps://youtu.be/E2krSO9NgOo 

Also saw a lot of Tree Swallows and House Wrens, some Scrub Jays, and a Nutthall’s Woodpecker.  The Red-Shouldered Hawks were taking turns at the nest they built over the trail, but they’re careful to keep themselves camouflaged well.  I only got a shot of one of their backs today.  Dang!  Lots of bugs, of course… including loads of Crane Flies (Mosquito Hawks), and I came across some Spittle Bug spit.  With the bugs come the first onset of galls on the plants, too.  I found some on a Coyote Brush bush and on some Goldenrod.

Since I wasn’t looking for anything in particular and just walked until I finished a figure-8 of the part of the park I was in – almost four hours walking – it was very relaxing.