Tag Archives: Sacramento County

Lots of Nesting Birds, 04-30-19

I got up around 5:30 and was out the door by about 6:15 am to go to the Effie Yeaw Nature Preserve for my regular Tuesday trail-walking gig. The weather was beautiful: about 53° when I got to the preserve and about 70° when I left. Sunny and a little bit windy.

I saw LOTS of birds’ nests: European Starlings bringing some twigs for the nesting cavity and some bugs and worms for the hatchlings. (I could hear the babies squawking inside the tree); Phoebes bringing bugs for their babies; an Oak Titmouse carrying fecal sacs out of her nest; a male House Wren showing a nesting cavity to a female, even going to far as to get into the cavity himself, stick his head out and sing to her. Hah!

CLICK HERE for the album of photos.

Saw lots of squirrels, especially young Fox Squirrels who were running around, jumping, and putting just about everything they could into their mouths.  Generally, acting “squirrely”. Hah!

I found some caterpillars I’d never noticed before on the Redbud trees. They were pale green and had folded themselves inside the soft leaves of the tree.  You’ll never guess what they’re called…  Redbud Leaf-folder Moth caterpillars. Sometimes the names are like, “Duh!”, obvious.

I also found caterpillars on the leaves of the blackberry bushes, and these guys were tricky. They had an escape hatch, so if I touched the front of their silk “nest”, they would zip out the back and fall onto the leaf below them. Some of them had black faces and some of them had reddish-tan faces. I haven’t really ID-ed them yet.

And, of course, there were Tussock Moth caterpillars everywhere.  Here’s a video snippet of an active guy on the top of one of the water stanchions at the preserve: https://youtu.be/Bj9nZiy_EmI

I think I’d mentioned before about the fact that I was finding tiny dirt-clod turrets on the trail.  They look like “hoodoos”; y’know like the big stone ones at Bryce Canyon, but on a tiny-tiny scale.  I couldn’t figure out what was making them, so I put my naturalist students on the hunt for information. Naturalist graduate Deborah Dash sent me some photos of the Diadasia bees and the turrets they make, but all of the photos were from the top of the turrets not the side, so I couldn’t really compare them to the photos I had.  But, that tip led me to look up other Diadasia bees, and I think I found the right one.  I now believe these are the turrets of the “aggregate nests” of the solitary, native Mallow-Loving Digger Bee, Diadasia sp., subgenus Coquillettapis, This website shows how the turrets are created. So neat! (http://nathistoc.bio.uci.edu/hymenopt/Diadasia%20Coquillettapis.htm)

Near the end of my walk, I couldn’t understand why I was so frigging tired. Then I looked at the time and realized I’d been walking for FIVE HOURS!  Yikes!  I get so wrapped up in what I’m seeing on the trail that I lose track of time.

Species List:

  1. Acorn Woodpecker, Melanerpes formicivorus,
  2. American Bullfrog, Lithobates catesbeianus,
  3. Ants, Little Black Ants, Monomorium minimum,
  4. Ash-Throated Flycatcher, Myiarchus cinerascens,
  5. Asian Lady Beetle, Harmonia axyridis
  6. Azolla, Water Fern, Azolla filiculoides,
  7. Bedstraw, Cleavers, Galium aparine,
  8. Bewick’s Wren, Thryomanes bewickii,
  9. Black Bean Aphid, Aphis fabae,
  10. Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans,
  11. Black Walnut Erineum Mite galls, Eriophyes erinea,
  12. Black Walnut, Juglans nigra,
  13. Blue Elderberry, Sambucus cerulea,
  14. Blue Oak, Quercus douglasii,
  15. California Ground Squirrel, Otospermophilus beecheyi,
  16. California Manroot, Bigroot, Marah fabaceus,
  17. California Pipevine Swallowtail butterfly, Battus philenor hirsuta,
  18. California Pipevine, Dutchman’s Pipe, Aristolochia californica,
  19. California Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma californica,
  20. California Towhee,
  21. Coffeeberry, Frangula californica,
  22. Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus,
  23. Common Catchfly, Silene gallica,
  24. Convergent Lady Beetle, Hippodamia convergens,
  25. Coyote Brush Bud Midge gall, Rhopalomyia californica,
  26. Cranefly, family Tipulidae,
  27. Cutworm, Olive Angle Shade Moth, Phlogophora iris,
  28. Desert Cottontail, Sylvilagus audubonii,
  29. Dog Vomit Slime Mold, Fuligo septica,
  30. Dogtail Grass, Cynosurus echinatus,
  31. Eastern Fox Squirrel, Sciurus niger,
  32. Elder Moth, Achatodes zeae
  33. European Starling, Sturnus vulgaris,
  34. Fiery Skipper, Hylephila phyleus,
  35. Himalayan Blackberry, Rubus armeniacus,
  36. House Wren, Troglodytes aedon,
  37. Interior Live Oak, Quercus wislizeni,
  38. Lazuli Bunting, Passerina amoena (stripe across wing),
  39. Live Oak Gall Wasp gall, 2nd Generation, Callirhytis quercuspomiformis
  40. Mallow-Loving Digger Bee turrets, Diadasia sp., subgenus Coquillettapis http://nathistoc.bio.uci.edu/hymenopt/Diadasia%20Coquillettapis.htm
  41. Northern California Grape, Vitis californica
  42. Oak Apple Wasp Gall, Andricus quercuscalifornicus,
  43. Oak Titmouse, Baeolophus inornatus,
  44. Orange Tortrix Moth, Argyrotaenia franciscana
  45. Painted Lady butterfly, Vanessa cardui,
  46. Periwinkle, Vinca major,
  47. Pipevine Swallowtail butterfly, Battus philenor hirsuta,
  48. Plum, Prunus cerasifera,
  49. Poison Hemlock, Conium maculatum,
  50. Poison Oak, Toxicodendron diversilobum,
  51. Purple Needle Grass, Nassella pulchra,
  52. Redbud Leaffolder Moth, Fascista cercerisella,
  53. Red-Shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus,
  54. Rio Grande Wild Turkey, Meleagris gallopavo intermedia,
  55. Rusty Tussock Moth caterpillar, Orgyia antiqua
  56. Showy Milkweed, Asclepias speciose,
  57. Silver Hairgrass, Aira caryophyllea,
  58. Spittlebug, Meadow Spittlebug, Philaenus spumarius,
  59. Spotted Towhee, Pipilo maculatus,
  60. Tree Swallow, Tachycineta bicolor,
  61. Valley Oak, Quercus lobata,
  62. Western Bluebird, Sialia mexicana,
  63. Western Fence Lizard, Sceloporus occidentalis,
  64. Western Gray Squirrel, Sciurus griseus,
  65. Western Redbud, Cercis occidentalis,
  66. White Horehound, Marrubium vulgare,
  67. Winter Vetch, Vicia villosa,
  68. Woodland Skipper, Ochlodes sylvanoides,

Even in the backyard, nature is awesome!

During my lunch break at the office today, I found a journal online that I’d like to use for my naturalist class and ordered it.  Hopefully it will get here over the weekend, so I’ll have it for class next week.  And my boss, Sara, asked me if I’d seen the Google doodle for the day, and I hadn’t yet. So she asked me to check it out.  It was a little app that let you know what kind of animal you were.  Sara was a “bee”… I came up as a “Komodo Dragon”.  Apparently, I tested out as someone with an “appetite for life – as well as the ability to swallow an entire goat”.  Hah-ha-ha-ha-ha!

komodo dragon

I was home again with the dog by about 3:00 pm and rested up a little bit before going outside to set up the grille to cook some cheap steaks.  While I was doing that, I noticed a large White-Spotted Jumping Spider near the outside wall of the house, so I got my camera and took some photos of him.  The jumping spiders are so cool-looking with their iridescent fangs, and very ferocious.  This one tolerated me for a little while and then reared up and jumped right onto the lens of my camera.  Yikes!  Hah!  Feisty little beastie!

I also found some wild jack-in-the-pulpit (Arum maculatum, I think) growing in the yard and one of them had a blossom on it.  I think those are such neat-looking things… and the “reproductive parts” of them are extraordinarily beautiful to me.  (Eeew… that sounded kind of creepy, didn’t it?)  Anyway, I picked the blossom so I could take photos of the spadix inside of it, and I found a tiny baby snail in here.  As I was photographing the innards of the flower, the snail woke up and stretched itself out.  It was nearly translucent and looked almost like glass… so pretty.

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Even in the backyard, nature is awesome!

Slime Mold in the City!

The weather has shifted slightly, and it was partly cloudy today with big sofa clouds sharing the sky with raggedy rain clouds…  Which is the perfect kind of weather to wake up all different kinds of slime molds.  I sooo much wanted to go out into the woods and look for the stuff rather than go to work, but… I went to work.

When I got home, I let the dogs out like I normally do and walked around the backyard with them… and was rewarded by nature.  The slime molds I’d wanted to see in the wilds earlier in the day, were actually springing up all over the pile of old tree limbs and bits of stump that were piled up behind the shed.  I saw different kinds of slime mold including a kind of Badhamia that look like little grey eggs with brown spores in them, the bright pink Wolf’s Milk Slime Mold, a kind of “weeping” mold, and the yellow-orange Dog Vomit slime mold which was still in the “plasmodium” stage and was reaching spindly tendrils out all around it looking for bacteria to eat.  Awesomesauce! (as my niece would say.)  There was also a big slug in there with little pink baby-things wiggling near it, but I don’t know if they were its babies or someone else’s.

See?  Sometimes wishes do come true…  Hah!

I’m Really Cranky Today… So, Look Out! (*Hah!*)

I’ve had a killer cough for the past day or two and last night it kept me up all night… so I’m exhausted, headachy and cranky this morning.  Look out!  What’s weird is that it’s just a cough with a low-grade fever; no congestion or sinus pain or itchy eyes. I could have stayed in bed all day, but I got up around 7:30 and took Sergeant Margie with me over to the American River Bend Park for our walk.

There were a lot of different kinds of lichen out, along with some Earth Stars, but I only came across one small stand of mushrooms — some “Jelly Babies” growing out of the trunk of a fallen tree.  Lots of birds making noise, but few posed for me — although I did get some shots of a vulture, a Starling and an Egret.  I also came across a young coyote who posed for me for a few minutes.

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As nice as all of that was, I as aggravated by the bunch of stupid humans who let their dogs run around off-leash (the humans carry the leash in their hand, but don’t actually put it on the dog. )  Several of the dogs rocketed past me trying to catch birds and rabbits, and ruined some of my bird shots.  When one woman’s dog took off, she just stood there and shouted, “Kody, what are you doing?!” as though the dog was responsible for being off-leash and chasing rabbits and she wasn’t.  Later, as we were walking through one of the roundabouts, Sergeant Margie just stopped moving, and I looked back at him to see what his problem was.  His hind legs were all tangled up in fishing line that some other terminally stupid human had left on the ground (instead of throwing it in the trashcan that was about 5 feet away).  Fargging bastages! I had to use the little knife on my keychain to cut the snarled up stuff away from my dog’s legs.   Then I came across a crack-pipe that I assumed someone had thrown out of their car so the Rangers wouldn’t find it… I mean, I know I woke up cranky, but…Ugh!  Where are people’s brains?! ?!  

After walking for about 90 minutes I decided I’d better head back home before I murdered someone.  (*Hah!*)  When I got back to the house I had some chicken soup and gulped down some more cough suppressant before taking a short nap.  Sometimes you just need one of those.