Around 5:30 this morning, I headed out to the American River Bend Park for a walk. It was in the high 60’s when I got there and heated up quickly; around 71° when I left.
I didn’t have an agenda in mind and was just watching for whatever Nature wanted to show me. I ended up finding a few galls on the oak trees, including one I’d never seen before. I’d seen photos of them but had never seen one “live”. It was a Two-Horned Gall of the wasp Dryocosmus dubiosus. Coolness. They’re found on the underside of the leaves of Live Oak trees, usually along the median vein. Also found the big Oak Apple galls, tiny Pumpkin Galls, and some Goldenrod galls.
In the water fountain near the restroom, I found a large beetle lying on its back. It was about an inch long and really kind of “hairy”. It had lost one of its antennae and was dying, but I still took some photos of it. I wasn’t exactly sure what it was, so when I got home, I Googled “beetle with hairy chest” – Hah! – and the correct identification actually came right up. It was, of course, a “June Bug” or more correctly a May Beetle, Phyllophaga sp. Around that same area, I found the shed skin of a snake, including its face.
I could hear Red-Shouldered Hawks yelling at each other across the forest while I was out there, and at one point a fledgling flew down out of a tree onto the ground beside the trail. I couldn’t tell if he actually caught anything or if he was just practicing, but he sat for a moment and looked over his shoulder at me so I could snap a photo before he flew off again.
Just as I was leaving, I came across the nesting cavity of some Tree Swallows. I watched them take turn flying in and out of the cavity a few times and got some photos before heading back to the house.
Happy 4th of July. Up at 5:30 am, and out the door before 6:00 to go to the American River Bend Park for a walk. It was about 59°when I got there with a slight breeze blowing, so it was nice. I was expecting the place to be crawling with people for the holiday, but nope. I had the trails almost to myself all the while I was out there.
The very first thing I saw when I drove in was a doe crossing the road in front of me. She stopped and looked behind her, and then I saw her fawn come out after her and scurry across the road, too. I tried to get photos, but I had to shoot through the windshield so… nuthin’. Dang it! But the park was otherwise pretty kind, giving me two other surprises with better photo ops.
The first of those two was getting the chance to see some Rio Grande Wild Turkey poults (Meleagris gallopavo intermedia). I hardly ever get to see them because the moms are so good at keeping them hidden. This was a group of three adults and five poults. The poults were all fledged in their first feathers but still too small to fly. Among the adults was the leucistic (black and white) female I see often in the park. She was following after the other two, so I inferred that she was “learning” from them. She mimicked a lot of what they did, and also seemed to be helping out with protecting the babies.
At one point, one of the adults jumped up into an elderberry bush and started pulling berries off and dropping them to the ground so the babies could get them. A few seconds later, one of the poults got up into the bush, as well, but couldn’t reach the berries and jumped down again. So cute. I think that little guy was blind on one side. It kept on eye shut all the time, and the lid looked “flat” in the socket (instead of rounded out by an eyeball).
I walked with the small flock for a while, but the adults were really good about keeping the kids out of the sunlight, for the most part, and keeping themselves between the babies and me. Who says turkeys are stupid?
The second surprise came when I walked down near the shore of the American River because there was a Buttonbush down there in full bloom and I think the flowers are so cool-looking. Anyway, while I was taking pictures of the flowers, I caught a glimpse of something moving past my foot and going behind me, so I turned around and saw a spotted snaky form slipping through the rocks. At first I thought it was a gopher snake because they’re really common in the park, but then I caught a glimpse of the head. Not a gopher snake.
It was a young RATTLESNAKE. It was
about as long as my forearm, so not too-too big, but still large enough to pack
a good supply of venom. What was weird was: when I first saw it, it was in
diffused light so all of the light parts on it looked pale blue and all of the
spots on it looked kind of orangey. Very odd.
I followed after it a little bit to try to get more photos — which is hard for me on the shore because it’s all rocks there and my feet don’t work well on unstable cobbly ground. I stopped when the snake got pissed off at me and wound itself into a striking position. Uh, yikes! I took just a few more photos and then let it be.
I also came across a small family of crows: a parent and two fledglings, I think. I saw the parent hand off a rock to the kids – which they weren’t interested in — and then pick up some seeds from along the shore. The fledglings were very loud and fussy, demanding that mom feed them (even though they were large enough to fly and forage by themselves.) Huge mouths! They cracked me up.
Walking through the rocks on the shore, and then having to climb back up an incline to get to the trail pretty much did me in, though. The bones in my feet are “welding together” like Mom’s did from arthritis, so my feet don’t bend and flex like they should, which is why walking on uneven ground is hard for me these days. Still, I was able to walk for about three hours total before heading back to the house.
Acorn Woodpecker, Melanerpes formicivorus,
Ash-Throated Flycatcher, Myiarchus cinerascens,
Black Nightshade, Solanum nigrum,
Black Walnut, Juglans nigra,
Blue Elderberry, Sambucus cerulea,
Buttonbush, Cephalanthus occidentalis,
California Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly, Battus philenor hirsuta,
I got around 6:00 am this morning and headed out to the American River Bend Park for my walk. It was overcast for most of the day, but I was able to do my walk without getting rained on, so that was good.
The first thing I saw when I got there was the leucistic female turkey and another “normal”-colored turkey walking through the tall grass along the side of the road with one small poult following after them. I don’t know which of the gals had the baby, but they both seemed to be taking care of it. Poults are so hard to photograph most of the time because the moms try to keep them hidden as much as possible. So, I only got a few shots of the baby’s behind.
This is the time of year for caterpillars at the park and you could see Pipevine Swallowtail and Rusty Tussock Moth caterpillars almost everywhere you looked. When I was videoing some of the Pipevine Swallowtail guys eating pipevine a woman and two of her friends came up. The woman plucked a caterpillar from the ground to show it to their friends, and when she came back to set it back onto a pipevine plant, I asked her if she’d seem the Tussocks. She said, no, so I showed her where some of them were and gave her and her friends a mini lesson on the species. Naturalist thing: check.
The pipevine plants were abundant: on the ground, over logs, up into the trees and shrubbery. Some of them were super-thick. The wild grape vines were also everywhere. They seem larger than I’ve seen them in years – but that’s because of the rains, I’m sure. We were living with drought with so long that we don’t recognize the landscapes with water anymore… The Elegant Clarkia was in bloom all over the place; patches of pink – and some white – all along the river trail. So pretty.
Lots of House Wrens around singing today. I saw one male go over to a slit-like cavity in the side of a tree and look in, then he flew up into a nearby tree advertising his find. But the cavity was already taken by a pair of Oak Titmice. The mom came up with a beak full of bugs and started fussing at the Wren. She flew at him a couple of times to drive him off, but he was pretty persistent. When both of them were away from the cavity, I walked up to the tree to see if I could hear any babies inside. When I tapped on the tree, I could hear a hiss from inside. Sometimes, baby birds hiss to make themselves sound like snakes, so predators won’t bother to come inside the nesting cavity – and it also deters human from trying to get a better look inside. Hah!
I walked for about 4 hours and then headed back home.
American Bumblebee, Bombus pennsylvanicus,
Anna’s Hummingbird, Calypte anna,
Bedstraw, Cleavers, Galium aparine,
Blue Elderberry, Sambucus cerulea,
Bush Monkey Flower, Mimulus aurantiacus,
California Buckeye Chestnut, Aesculus californica,
California Hairstreak Butterfly, Satyrium californica,
California Pipevine Swallowtail, Battus philenor hirsuta,
California Pipevine, Aristolochia californica,
California Wild Grape, Vitis californica,
Canada Goose, Branta canadensis,
Common Green Lacewing, Chrysoperla carnea,
Common Hoptree, Ptelea trifoliata,
Cranefly, Tipula spp.,
Creek Clematis, Clematis ligusticifolia,
Destroying Angel Mushroom, Amanita ocreata,
Dog Vomit Slime Mold, Fuligo septica,
Dogtail Grass, Cynosurus echinatus,
Eastern Gray Squirrel, Sciurus carolinensis,
Elegant Clarkia, Clarkia unguiculata,
European Praying Mantis, Mantis religiosa,
Gold Dust Lichen, Chrysothrix candelaris,
Goldwire, Hypericum concinnum,
Gouty Stem Gall, Callirhytis quercussuttoni,
Great Egret, Ardea alba,
Green Shield Lichen, Flavoparmelia caperata,
House Wren, Troglodytes aedon,
Interior Live Oak, Quercus wislizeni,
Italian Thistle, Carduus pycnocephalus,
Lace Lichen, Ramalina menziesii,
Lesser Goldfinch, Spinus psaltria,
Live Oak Gall Wasp, 1st Generation, Callirhytis quercuspomiformis,
Live Oak Gall Wasp, 2nd Generation, Callirhytis quercuspomiformis,
Mourning Dove, Zenaida macroura,
Nuttall’s Woodpecker, Picoides nuttallii,
Oak Leaf-Roller Moth, Archips semiferanus,
Oak Moss Lichen, Evernia prunastri,
Oak Titmouse, Baeolophus inornatus,
Oak Treehopper, Platycotis vittata,
Oregon Ash, Fraxinus latifolia,
Painted Lady Butterfly, Vanessa cardui,
Poison Oak, Toxicodendron diversilobum,
Rattlesnake Grass, Big Quaking Grass, Briza maxima,
Rio Grande Wild Turkey, Meleagris gallopavo intermedia,