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.
I got up around 5:00 am, let the dog out to go potty and fed him his breakfast. Then I headed over to the Effie Yeaw Nature Preserve for a walk. I was joined by fellow volunteer trail walker, Mary Messenger (“The Other Mary”). The weather today was beautiful, cool, breezy, sunny… in the 70’s. Just gorgeous. I was able to keep the bedroom window open for most of the day to let the fresh air in.
At the preserve today the sightings were few and far between, and Nature was playing keep-away (we’d see something, but it was gone before we could get any decent photos of it). It took quite a while before we spotted a single deer, and I’m hoping that’s because a lot of the does are off having their babies right now. Among the deer, I did see a couple of bucks in their velvet, including the one with the wonky antlers (long on one side, stunted on the other).
And I came across a male Wild
Turkey that I assumed was sick. It was hunkered down on the ground and
breathing in short breaths, as though it might have been in pain. It let me get to within touching distance of
it and made no effort to get up or get moving.
My brain goes to the two most pervasive threats to the turkeys: rat
poison and West Nile virus. The turkeys
in the preserve are surrounded by a huge residential area… and those nasty
poison-pellets folks put out for rats look like food to the birds. And we’re in the middle of the mosquito
season, so West Nile can be a factor for many animals. There’s no way to know what was affecting
this papa, though, unless he can be caught and examined.
According to the National Wild Turkey Federation, other things can also impact on Wild Turkeys, such as avian pox (which can result in the lesions in the esophagus and make breathing difficult for the birds) and several different kinds of equine encephalitis. (Usually, though, the birds are carriers of the equine diseases and don’t succumb to them themselves.) Avian influenza and Mycoplasmosis can also be problematic, but they usually only affect domestic turkeys kept in small confined areas where they’re breathing each other’s crap for days on end. Poor babies.
On a happier note, we did come across a very cooperative Turkey Vulture who was preening himself on the end of a large barren branch in a tree… and on that same branch was an Eastern Fox Squirrel preening, too. So, we got quite a few photos of both of them.
The Other Mary had to cut her walk short because she had a lunch date with an old friend, but I kept walking for another hour or so after she left, so I put in about 4 hours of walking before heading home again.
Acorn Woodpecker, Melanerpes formicivorus,
American Bullfrog, Lithobates catesbeianus,
American Robin, Turdus migratorius,
Ash-Throated Flycatcher, Myiarchus cinerascens,
Black-Tailed Jackrabbit, Lepus californicus,
Blue Elderberry, Sambucus nigra ssp. cerulea,
Blue Oak, Quercus douglasii,
California Black Walnut, Juglans californica,
California Ground Squirrel, Otospermophilus beecheyi,
California Mugwort, Artemisia douglasiana,
California Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly, Battus philenor hirsuta,