Tag Archives: pyracantha

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,

So Many Flowers, Goslings and Ducklings Today, 05-04-19

I got up around 6:00 this morning and headed out to William Land Park and the WPA Rock Garden. I was hoping to see lots of bugs, but it was still too early for that, I guess. Instead, I focused on the flowers which were in abundance, and also got to see some ducklings and goslings, and a Green Heron, too.

CLICK HERE for the album of photos.

There were two Mallard mamas with babies. One had three ducklings, and another one had five. In that group of five there were two that looked like Swedish Blue ducklings. I guess the Mallards don’t care. There were 15 goslings in one of the groups, called a crèche, that was being overseen by two pairs of adults. All the fuzz. Soooo cute!

I wanted to go through the garden, then around both the middle pond and the larger pond further on in the park. But there was some event happening in that end of the park – I think it was the Doggie Dash — so access to the larger pond was completely blocked off. So, when I was done at the middle pond and garden, I went to the store and picked up some groceries. I walked for about 2 hours at the park, and another half hour in the store, so I got my exercise in for the day.  I was back home before 10:00 am.

I spent part of the afternoon trying to identify all of the flowers I’d seen at the garden. I totally suck when it comes to ID-ing cultivated garden flowers (because there are so many varieties, and so many weird things thrown in from other countries), so I tried using the iNaturalist app and Calflora.org to help me.  Between the two of them, I was able to identify most of the things (but I might be way off on some of them). I had to laugh, though, when iNaturalist identified a seed pod as a “Dwarf Mexican Tree Frog”. Hah! Apparently, face-recognition doesn’t work well on plants and seeds.

Species List:

1. Albanian Spurge, Euphorbia characias,
2. Aloe, Aloe maculata,
3. Anna’s Hummingbird, Calypte anna,
4. Autumn Sage (red), Salvia greggii,
5. Beaver Tail Cactus, Prickly Pear, Opuntia basilaris.
6. Birch Tree, Betula sp.,
7. Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans,
8. Brass Buttons, Cotula coronopifolia,
9. Brazil Raintree, Brunfelsia pauciflora,
10. Bronze Fennel, Foeniculum vulgare,
11. California Buckeye, Aesculus californica,
12. California Pipevine, Dutchman’s Pipe, Aristolochia californica,
13. Calla Lily, Zantedeschia aethiopica,
14. Canada Goose, Branta canadensis,
15. Cleveland Sage, Salvia clevelandii,
16. Coast Redwood, Sequoia sempervirens,
17. Columbine, Aquilegia sp.,
18. Common Borage, Borago officinalis,
19. Common Bracken, Pteridium aquilinum,
20. Common Hibiscus, Hibiscus syriacus,
21. Creeping Lantana, Lantana montevidensis,
22. Crevice Alumroot, Heuchera micranthai,
23. Crevice Alumroot, Heuchera micrantha,
24. Dwarf Morning Glory, Convolvulus tricolor,
25. Egg Leaf Spurge, Euphorbia oblongata,
26. Elegant Clarkia, Clarkia unguiculata,
27. Firethorn, Pyracantha, Pyracantha coccinea,
28. Fleabane, Seaside Daisy, Erigeron glaucus,
29. Fountain Grass, Pennisetum setaceum,
30. Freshwater Snail, unidentified,
31. Garden Geranium, Pelargonium ×hortorum,
32. Garden Snail, Cornu aspersum,
33. Giant Fennel, Ferula communis,
34. Greater Honeywort (orange), Cerinthe major,
35. Greater Honeywort (purple), Cerinthe major,
36. Green Heron, Butorides virescens,
37. Hooker’s Evening Primrose, Oenothera elata,
38. Hummingbird Sage, Salvia spathacea,
39. Iceplant, Carpobrotus edulis,
40. Introduced Sage, Salvia pratensis,
41. Iris, Iris sp.,
42. Jerusalem Sage, Phlomis fruticosa,
43. Lacy Phacelia, Phacelia tanacetifolia,
44. Lamb’s Ear Hedgenettle, Stachys byzantina,
45. Love-in-a-Mist, Nigella damascene,
46. Mallard, Anas platyrhynchos,
47. Many Flowered Tobacco, Nicotiana acuminata var. multiflora,
48. Mediterranean Catchfly, Silene colorata,
49. Mediterranean Sage, Salvia aethiopis,
50. Money Plant, Silver Dollar Plant, Lunaria annua,
51. Nightshade, New Zealand Nightshade, Solanum aviculare,
52. Pacific Bleeding Heart, Dicentra Formosa,
53. Pekin Duck, Anas platyrhynchos domesticus var. Pekin,
54. Peruvian Lily, Alstroemeria aurea,
55. Pincushion Flower, Scabiosa atropurpurea,
56. Red Hot Poker, Kniphofia uvaria,
57. Red Poppy of Flanders, Corn Poppy, Papaver rhoeas,
58. Red Valerian, Jupiter’s Beard, Centranthus ruber,
59. Red-Eared Slider Turtle, Trachemys scripta elegans,
60. Rocket Larkspur (purple), Consolida ajacis,
61. Rocket Larkspur (white), Consolida ajacis,
62. Rose, Rosa sp.,
63. Sacred Lotus, Nelumbo nucifera,
64. Sage, Salvia officinalis,
65. Silver Sage, Salvia argentea,
66. Smokebush, Cotinus coggygria,
67. Spice Bush, Calycanthus occidentalis,
68. Spittlebug, Meadow Spittlebug, Philaenus spumarius,
69. Swedish Blue duck, Anas platyrhynchos domesticus var. Swedish,
70. Sweet William, Dianthus barbatus,
71. Tasmanian Flax-Lily, Dianella tasmanica,
72. Toadflax, Linaria sp.,
73. Tower of Jewels, Echium wildpretii,
74. Trailing Abutilon, Callianthe megapotamica,
75. Unidentified Fern, possibly Polystichum sp.,
76. Unidentified Plantain, Plantago sp.,
77. Western Bluebird, Sialia mexicana,
78. Western Columbine, Aquilegia Formosa,
79. Western Redbud, Cercis occidentalis,
80. White Valerian, Centranthus sp.,
81. Wood Duck, Aix sponsa,
82. Wood Pink (white variation), Dianthus sylvestris,

Young Deer and Squirrels, 10-06-18

DAY 1 OF MY VACATION. Even so, my body woke me up at 5:00 am because that’s when it’s used to getting up. Even Sergeant Margie was awake, so I made him breakfast and made some coffee for myself and worked on my journal until about 7:00 am. Then I headed over to the Effie Yeaw Nature Preserve for a walk.

It was 55º when I got there; perfect walking weather. It remained sunny and breezy all day and got up to about 80º by the late afternoon.

At the preserve, I saw a lot of deer including does, fawns, and bucks… and the big 4-pointer buck that is so impressive. He was sitting off to the left side of the Meadow Trail, just looking majestic. I saw the fawn with the chewed-up neck again; he’s healing nicely. And there was another fawn with his mom at the opposite end of the preserve from the other deer. That one has a really broad nose and looks so cute in photos.

CLICK HERE for the album of photos.

I could hear Cooper’s Hawks, Killdeer on the river, and Belted Kingfishers but wasn’t able to actually see them.

There is more Sulphur Shelf fungus around than I have ever seen in the preserve. I wonder if it’s a result of the 2017 flooding in the park…

I also got to see a group of about six baby California Ground Squirrels scampering around outside their burrow. They were fully furred, but still about half the size of mom. They ran in circles, rolled around in the grass, jumped on top of one another, and explored the world outside their front door. I got a little bit of video of them, but it doesn’t do their cuteness justice.

I walked for about 3 hours and then headed back to the house.

At the West Pond in Davis, 03-07-18

Gene Trapp and his wife Jo Ellen headed up one of their monthly walks at the West Davis Pond site this morning. He thought it might be good spot to bring the naturalist class, but I wanted to check it out first. (I also thought that after a few visits, I can add this to my own walk list here on this site.) It can be found in the city of Davis, California, off of Covell and Denali, where Isle Royale Land and Bryce Lane merge together. Look for the large white gazebo-like structure and park on the street.  (There are no restrooms along the path, but you can find a public restroom in the medical facility across the street from the short end of the trail.) You can see more information at Friends of West Pond on Facebook.

I had never been to the pond before, but was pleased at it was so easy to  locate – with a paved trail that was super easy to walk. Our group was unusually large, though (about 27 people) so that was a lot of bodies moving along a tight walkway all at once. I’d take smaller groups if I go with the naturalist students.

CLICK HERE for an album of photos.

Because it was chilly and overcast outside, we didn’t see much of anything.  I can tell by looking at the area, however, that in another month or so, when things start to green up and the critters all go into mating mode, it should be a very interesting, very pretty place. Lots of trees (including some gorgeous Cork Oaks, Quercus suber) and pretty shrubbery along the route (including some lovely quince bushes). Most of the stuff is non-native, of course, but Gene and Jo Ellen oversee the construction and maintenance of a large native-plant garden along the path as well as a large butterfly garden. They hold a lot of promise for future photo-taking / naturalist opportunities.

I did see some wildlife: Canada Geese, Mallards, Crows, Black Phoebes, Wood Ducks, Scrub Jays, Mockingbirds, lots of Anna’s Hummingbirds and Fox Squirrels, White-Crowned Sparrows, Golden-Crowned Sparrows, a couple of Spotted Towhees, House Finches, and a very red, very wet Purple Finch… things you’d typically see in an urban wildlife area. The not-too-seeable critters included Nutthall’s Woodpeckers, a Hairy Woodpecker and a Red-Breasted Sap Sucker that teased us with their presence, but made photo-taking difficult because they kept flitting around.

When someone mentioned that are sometimes Wilson’s Snipes along the edges of the ponds, a newbie birder who had brought her Sibley’s guide with her tried to look it up. Oddly, there were no Wilson’s Snipes mentioned in her guide even though they’re fairly common in this area. So I opened up the Merlin app on my phone and showed her a picture of it. That app is one of the easiest birding apps to use, and it’s free!

Gene and Jo Ellen were fun to walk with; they have so much knowledge and so many area contacts. Someone found a skull on the side of the path and Gene identified it as a raccoon skull. Very cool.

The walk was a good one, very informative, and I look forward to visiting the pond again.

Saturday 10-24 at Lake Solano Park

Vacation Day 8.  I got up around 7:00 am today, and headed off to Lake Solano Park in Winters around 8:00.  The weather was nice – about 70° — but it felt really humid there, and some haze was still hanging around all the foothills.

There were a lot of peahens out there with their babies today.  Some were little guys, just getting their feathers, and some looked like mini versions of their moms.  So cute!  I’d never seen baby peafowl before, so that was kind of cool.  There were a few males out, too, but they didn’t have all of their long trailing feathers on their tails.  That didn’t stop them from try to display to the females, though… who pretty much just ignored them and pecked at the ground.  Hah! The males are so pretty, I ended up taking lots of photos of them anyway – even without their full tail-fans.   I also came across Scrub Jays, Crows, Great Egrets, a Great Blue Heron, Ruby-Crowned Kinglet, Hairy Woodpeckers, Nutthall’s Woodpeckers, Cedar Waxwings, a Red-Breasted Nuthatch, Northern Flickers, and lots of Acorn Woodpeckers. An adult male California Quail jumped up onto the side of an old scag of a tree by the lakeside and did his “Chi-ca-go!” call for me.  I got some good shots of him.

I also got to see a male Phainopepla and about three females all in the same area.  I’ve been trying to get a photo of this bird from the first time I heard about it. The males are iridescent black and the females are sort of buff-gray but they both have long tails and a crest on their heads.  One of the females got close enough so I could get some fairly decent shots of her – right down to her red-orange eyes.  So beautiful.

Then I watched some Bufflehead ducks doing their bobbing-head and splash-and-dash dances for some females.  They were pretty far away, so the video I got is kind of washed out, but they’re soooo funny to watch.  According to Cornell’s “All About Birds” website: “…Males court females by flying over them, skiing to a stop on the water with their crests raised, and bobbing their heads. During the breeding season, territorial birds attack intruders by flying or swimming underwater at them and thrashing at them with their wings. When a pair intrudes into a territory, the territorial male often chases the intruding female while the intruding male chases after them both. Males leave their mates during incubation in order to molt, but return to the same mate multiple years in a row (one of the few duck species in which this is true)…”

The oak trees were dropping acorns everywhere… some of them plopping into the lake scaring the birds.  The toyon bushes and pyracantha bushes were all decked out in their red berries; and the mistletoe was full of berries, too. So fall has “fallen” around the lake.

I found a ragged Monarch Butterfly resting in the weeds, and also came across a caterpillar that kind of freaked me out.  It’s body was black with red spikes like a Pipevine Swallowtail caterpillar, but it’s head and butt were bright orange – absolutely the wrong shape and color for a Pipevine Swallowtail.  I took a lot of photos of it, and when I went home, I tried to figure out what it was.  I’m still not certain, but I think it was a Spotted Fireworm (Choristoneura parallela).  I put in a request to Bugguide.net to see if their people can get me a better ID.  ((Hmmm… the folks at Bugguide.net say it’s a Battus philenor, a kind of Pipevine Swallowtail, but different from the subspecies we have at the American River which is Battus philenor hirsuta.  I’m not sure I believe that, but I’ll accept it for now.))

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When I finished the trail on one side of the park, I was going to continue to on to the trail along the river by the campground (which is across the road from the park), but the entrance was all blocked off.  I looked like they were trying to replace a bridge there (while the water is low).  So that cut about an hour off my walk.  I went back to the car, had a light lunch (crackers, tuna fish, grapes and cucumbers) and then headed back home.