Tag Archives: squirrel

Trying to Beat the Heat on 06-05-19

I got up around 5:00 am this morning so I could get out to the Effie Yeaw Nature Preserve before it got too hot outside. The predicted high for today was 100°. When I got to the preserve, it was already about 67° outside.

Just seconds after I arrived, my CalNat graduate/friend, Roxanne M., showed up to join me and so did “The Other Mary”, Mary M., another volunteer trail walker at Effie Yeaw.  She brought a small bag for me filled with blackberries from her yard. I thought that was so nice of her.

The three of us walked for about 3 hours, but we cut out walk short because it was humid and hot at the river. When we left, it was already about 80°– and it was only a little after 9 o’clock. Pleh!

We weren’t expecting to see a lot, because nature is kind of in a transition period right now. We’re waiting for mammal babies to be born and insects to start showing themselves.  And, we didn’t see a whole lot, but Roxanne and I can always find something to look at and focus on.

Roxanne is doing a seed-collecting thing right now for the naturalist class, and so she stops at different plants to see what kind of seeds they have on them and how the seeds might be disbursed.  She took on this project on all by herself and is volunteering all the time it’s taking her to collect specimens and ID the plants.  I’m so proud of her!

CLICK HERE for the album of photos.

On our walk we saw a group of about four deer including a young buck in his velvet and a very pregnant doe. And later on, we also saw a bunch of baby rusty-headed Common Mergansers zooming down the riverside with their mom. It was so cute to see some of the babies swimming with their face down in the water, like the adults do, looking for things to eat.  Roxanne, The Other Mary and I all tried to get photos of them, but they moved so-so fast, it was really hard!

I also stopped to get some video of a hive of Common Black Ants (yeah, they’re really called that) carrying their larvae from one nest to another — most likely because the old nest was compromised in some way (infested with fungus, collapsing, etc.).

Moving the eggs and babies around can be really risky because they make for tasty treats for other insects and some birds, so the workers who carry them (very gently in their jaws) have to move really fast and know right where they’re going.

Queen ants are pretty awesome. They control the sex of all of their offspring (only creating males when it’s time for nuptial flights; ost ants you see are females); they can live for up to 15 (some say 30) years, and only mate during their nuptial flights… which means they can mate with several males during that short-term flight period, and then hang onto the sperm for the rest of their entire lives.

On our way out of the preserve we noticed leaves with circular cutouts on them. They’re made by Leafcutting Bees (Megachile sp.), a kind of native bee that lives in cavities. They use the bits they cut out of the leaves to line their tube-like nests and build a neat row of individual compartments, in each of which they’ll form a small doughy mound of pollen and nectar. On top of each of these mounds, the bee will lay a single egg.

Mother leafcutters can control the gender of their offspring, and often lay the eggs of their female offspring in the back of the tube-nest and the males in the front. This way, if the nest is invaded by a bird or other insects, it’s the males that will die first, leaving the females protected.

Although they’re solitary bees and don’t produce a lot of offspring, leafcutters are great pollinators. You can encourage them to pollinate your garden by building nesting boxes, called “bee condos”, for them in your yard. Here is a guide from the Xerces Society on how to do that: http://ow.ly/MhVf50uygX1.

Species List:

  1. Acorn Woodpecker, Melanerpes formicivorus,
  2. Asian Ladybeetle, Harmonia axyridis,
  3. Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans,
  4. Blessed Milk Thistle, Silybum marianum,
  5. Bullock’s Oriole, Icterus bullockii,
  6. California Brodiaea, Brodiaea californica,
  7. California Ground Squirrel, Otospermophilus beecheyi,
  8. California Poppy, Eschscholzia californica,
  9. California Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma californica,
  10. Canada Goose, Branta canadensis,
  11. Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus,
  12. Common Black Ant, Lasius niger,
  13. Common Merganser, Mergus merganser,
  14. Coyote Brush, Baccharis pilularis
  15. Coyote Mint, Monardella villosa,
  16. Dogtail Grass, Cynosurus echinatus,
  17. Elegant Clarkia, Clarkia unguiculata,
  18. English Plantain, Ribwort, Plantago lanceolata,
  19. European Starling, Sturnus vulgaris,
  20. Goldwire, Hypericum concinnum,
  21. Green Shield Lichen, Flavoparmelia caperata,
  22. House Wren, Troglodytes aedon,
  23. Interior Live Oak, Quercus wislizeni,
  24. Italian Thistle, Carduus pycnocephalus,
  25. Leaf-Cutter Bee, Megachile,
  26. Long-Jawed Orb-Weaver Spider, Tetragnatha elongate,
  27. Mock Orange, Lewis’s Mockorange, Philadelphus lewisii,
  28. Moss, Bryum Moss, Bryum capillare,
  29. Nuttall’s Woodpecker, Picoides nuttallii,
  30. Oak Titmouse, Baeolophus inornatus,
  31. Oregon Ash, Fraxinus latifolia,
  32. Pacific Bent Grass, Agrostis avenacea,
  33. Praying Mantis, European Mantis, Mantis religiosa,
  34. Rio Grande Wild Turkey, Meleagris gallopavo intermedia,
  35. Showy Milkweed, Asclepias speciosa,
  36. Spicebush, Calycanthus occidentalis,
  37. Turkey Vulture, Cathartes aura,
  38. Valley Oak, Quercus lobata,
  39. Valley x Blue Oak, Quercus lobata x douglasii,
  40. Variable Flatsedge, Cyperus difformis,
  41. Wavy-Leaf Soap Plant, California Soaproot, Chlorogalum pomeridianum,
  42. Western Fence Lizard, Sceloporus occidentalis,
  43. White Alder, Alnus rhombifolia,
  44. White Horehound, Marrubium vulgare,
  45. Winter Vetch, Hairy Vetch, Vicia villosa,
  46. Yellow Water Iris, Yellow Flag, Iris pseudacorus,

A Walk at the Cemetery, 05-11-19

I got up around 6:00 this morning and futz around a little bit so I could get to the Sacramento Historic City Cemetery around 7:00 am (which is when they open their gates). The cemetery has several gardens, so I was basically looking for pretty flowers and pollinator species. It was 54° when I got there, and almost 70° by the time I left.

The gardens include an extensive rose garden, a make-shift Japanese garden, a perennials garden, and a natives garden. I spent most of my time in the perennials garden because there are so-so many different plants there all crammed into a small place. Everywhere you look, there’s something different growing.

As I probably mentioned before, I suck at identifying cultivated plants, so my ID list may be pretty shallow this time around. The roses are all going to be marked “Rosa sp.”, because I don’t know the different varieties.  Same with the irises and most of the geraniums.  The gardens have placards for some of the plants and flowers, but I wasn’t paying attention.

Inside the cemetery, which abuts another large private cemetery, are smaller cemetery areas: one for firefighters, one for the Masons, and one for athletes. Some are decorated with plants; others are bare.

The place was inundated with Painted Lady butterflies all warming themselves on the stones and drinking from the flowers. They photo-bombed a lot of pictures. I was kind of upset to see some kind of weevils sucking the life out of a wide array of the plants. I think they were Fuller’s Rose Weevils (Pantomorus cervinus).  Everything from daisies to roses to irises were rendered ratty-looking by them. The little buggers were chewing on everything. It seemed like an unusually bad infestation.

I also found some pinkish aphids that looked like they had a blood-spot on the back of their bodies. I haven’t IDed them yet. When I first saw them, I thought they were insect eggs, they were so tiny, so I was surprised when I was able to “explode” the image with my cellphone and see they were actually aphids.

Most of the irises were done blooming, but there were still a few that were showing off here and there.  If I had gone in April, I would have seen a lot more.  Still, I found ones that were all dark purple, a mix of purple and lavender, blue and white, all sky-blue, all white, peachy-pink, a mix of pale tan and lavender, a mix of orange and maroon, etc.  I love taking photos of their fuzzy “tongues”.

I also saw a lot of succulents in an unusual variety of colors. Some were the standard green, but some were so dark brown they looked almost black, and there was one that was pale yellow with green stripes. Really pretty.

I’m not much of a rose fan, but I really like the trailing roses, and there’s a variety that looks like candy canes which I think is really pretty. I was a little disappointed that the hydrangeas, which I think are gorgeous, weren’t really in bloom yet – but they give me an excuse to go back there in the next few weeks…

CLICK HERE for Album #1.

CLICK HERE for Album #2.

When I stopped at the fountain to rest for a minute, a woman came up with her Corgi – and the dog jumped right into the fountain, kicked around for a minute and then laid down in the water. Hah!  The woman says she comes to the cemetery a lot, and the fountain is her dog’s favorite resting spot.

If I were going to be buried in a cemetery, this would be the kind of place in which I’d like to end up. (But I want to be cremated, and my ashes scattered in a forest.) This cemetery is “full”, though, so it won’t take in any new bodies unless the person/family already owns a family plot there, so someone sells you their plot.  They do let people volunteer to take over the care of the plots, however, and you can really tell which volunteers have the greenest thumbs. Some of the more well-tended plots are overflowing with flowers and greenery; just beautiful.

The place has been around since the 1800’s, so the majority of the trees inside of it are HUGE; 30-, 40-, 50-feet tall and just so impressive.  There’s a double line of weeping cypress along one walkway that are magnificent.

My walk was very nice; slow paced and relatively quiet (except for the community-service-hours-gardening crew and their leaf-blowers), with nice weather and sunshine. I also got to see a few birds including crows, Northern Mockingbirds, a pair of Mourning Doves, Anna’s Hummingbirds, and a pair of Western Bluebirds. Sometimes the birds would perch on the headstone or on the top of the spire-like monuments, and the photo opps were really neat. One of the hummingbirds was drinking at the flowers of an aloe plant, and rather than hovering under the flowerheads to drink, it perches on the stems of the plant… so, again, a nice photo opportunity.

Revisiting the stonework and taking photos of the headstones, mausoleums and monuments also adds to the experience.  Some of the headstones face west (to the setting sun) while others face east (depending on the individual’s beliefs); some have flowers carved into the stone (full ones for the adults, buds for the ones who died too young), and then of course there was the ones with lambs on them (for children). It’s all so interesting… I need to start going there more often again.

I walked for about 3 ½ hours and then headed back home.

Species List:

1. 14-Spotted Lady Beetle, Propylea quatuordecimpunctata,
2. Aloe, Aloe maculata,
3. Amaryllis, family Amaryllidaceae,
4. Anna’s Hummingbird, Calypte anna,
5. Asian Lady Beetle, Harmonia axyridis,
6. Assassin Bug, Zelus luridus, (green)
7. Autumn Sage, Salvia greggii, (red)
8. Baby Sage, Salvia microphylla, (red and white)
9. Bearded Iris, Iris × germanica,
10. Black-Eyed Susan, Rudbeckia hirta,
11. Blanket Flower, Gaillardia x grandiflora,
12. Bloody Crane’s-Bill, Geranium sanguineum,
13. Blue Flag Iris, Iris versicolor,
14. Boxelder Bug nymph, Boisea trivittata,
15. Brass Buttons, Cotula coronopifolia,
16. California Bumblebee, Bombus californicus,
17. California Carpenter Bee, Xylocopa californica,
18. California Poppy, Eschscholzia californica,
19. Carpet Bugle, Ajuga reptans,
20. Ceanothus, Ceanothus sp.,
21. Clematis, possibly the Romantika Clematis, Clematis sp.,
22. Cleveland Sage, Salvia clevelandii,
23. Common Indian Blanket, Gaillardia aristate,
24. Common Yarrow, Achillea filipendulina
25. Convergent Lady Beetle, Hippodamia convergens,
26. Crimson Bottlebrush, Melaleuca citrina
27. Damselfly,
28. Daylily, Hemerocallis sp.,
29. Deer Fern, Struthiopteris spicant.
30. Eastern Fox Squirrel, Sciurus niger,
31. Eggleaf Spurge, Euphorbia oblongata,
32. European Honeybee, Apis mellifera,
33. Everlasting, Anaphalis sp.,
34. Firecracker Flower, Dichelostemma ida-maia
35. Fortnight Lily, African Iris, Dietes iridioides,
36. Foxglove, Dalmatian Peach, Digitalis sp.
37. Foxglove, Digitalis purpurea, (purple with spotted tongue)
38. Frémont’s Bush-Mallow, Malacothamnus fremontii
39. French Hydrangea, Mophead or Big-Leaf Hydrangea, Hydrangea macrophylla,
40. French Lavender, Lavandula stoechas
41. Garden Geranium, Garden Pelargonium, Pelargonium ×hortorum
42. Geranium, family Geraniaceae,
43. Gerber Daisy, Gerbera jamesonii,
44. Gray Pine, Pinus sabiniana
45. Green Lacewing nymph, Chrysoperla carnea,
46. Green Metallic Sweat Bee, Augochloropsis metallica,
47. Hedge Nettle, Stachys sp.,
48. Hens-and-Chicks, Sempervivum tectorum,
49. Hoverfly, Flower Hoverfly, Syrphus torvis,
50. Hummingbird Sage, Salvia spathacea,
51. Italian Cypress, Cupressus sempervirens,
52. Ivy-Leafed Geranium, Pelargonium peltatum
53. Jerusalem Sage, Phlomis fruticosa,
54. Jupiter’s Beard, Red Valerian, Centranthus ruber,
55. Lace-cap Hydrangea, Hydrangea macrophylla normalis,
56. Lamb’s Ears Stachys byzantina,
57. Lindheimer’s Beeblossom, Gaura lindheimeri (white spidery-looking)
58. Long-Jawed Orb Weaver Spider, family Tetragnathidae,
59. Lyre-leaf Greeneyes, Berlandiera lyrate,
60. Macartney’s Rose, Rosa bracteata,
61. Mexican Firebush, Hamelia patens
62. Mexican Snowball, Echeveria elegans,
63. Monkeyflower, Diplacus sp.,
64. Mourning Dove, Zenaida macroura
65. Northern Mockingbird, Mimus polyglottos
66. Pagoda Village Succulent, Crassula capitella ssp. thyrsiflora
67. Painted Lady butterfly, Vanessa cardui,
68. Panicled Hydrangea, Hydrangea paniculata,
69. Pincushion Flower, Scabiosa atropurpurea,
70. Pink Jelly Bean Sedum, Sedum rubrotinctum
71. Purple Coneflower, Echinacea purpurea,
72. Purple Rose Aeonium, Aeonium arboretum,
73. Purple Sage, Salvia leucophylla,
74. Purple Salsify, Tragopogon porrifolius,
75. Radiation Lantana, Lantana camara,
76. Ranuncula, Ranunculus sp.,
77. Red Bush Monkeyflower, Mimulus aurantiacus var. puniceus
78. Red Dome Blanketflower, Gaillardia pinnatifida
79. Ribwort, English Plantain, Plantago lanceolata,
80. Rock Purslane, Cistanthe grandiflora
81. Rose Campion, Silene coronaria,
82. Rose, Rosa sp. (cultivated)
83. Rosemary Grevillea, Grevillea rosmarinifolia,
84. Rosemary, Rosmarinus officinalis,
85. Sage Leaf Rockrose, Cistus salviifolius
86. Showy Phlox, Phlox speciosa,
87. Silver Ragwort, Jacobaea maritima
88. Silver Ragwort, Jacobaea maritima,
89. Smoke Tree, Smokebush, Cotinus coggygria
90. Southern Magnolia, Magnolia grandiflora,
91. Spring Starflower, Ipheion uniflorum,
92. Spurge, Albanian Spurge, Euphorbia characias,
93. Spurge, Euphorbia sp.,
94. Stalked Aeonium, Aeonium undulatum,
95. Striped Rose, Henri Matisse Rose, Rosa polyantha or Rosa chinensis x Rosa multiflora
96. Sunburst Aeonium, Aeonium decorum,
97. Tower of Jewels, Echium wildpretii,
98. Trailing African Daisy, Freeway Daisy, Dimorphotheca fruticose,
99. Trailing Bellflower, Campanula poscharskyana,
100. Trailing Lantana, Lantana montevidensis,
101. Tropical Milkweed, Asclepias curassavica,
102. Valley Carpenter Bee, Xylocopa varipuncta,
103. Waveyleaf Sea Lavender Statice, Limonium sinuatum,
104. Weeping Cypress, Cupressus cashmeriana,
105. Western Bluebird, Sialia mexicana
106. White Prickly Poppy, Argemone albiflora,
107. Yellow Queen Columbine, Aquilegia chrysantha

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,

Lots of Springtime Insects, 04-20-19

I got up around 6:30 this morning and headed out to the American River Bend Park. It was overcast and in the 50’s when I went out, but by the time I got back home, around noon, the clouds were breaking up, and it was sunny and breezy for the rest of the day. Just lovely.

I wanted to see if I could find butterfly eggs at the park, and I was able to find some, but only on my way out. So, it was a long wait for the pay off, but I found a pipevine with several groupings of eggs on it. Actually, my photos turned into a kind of unintentional “study of pipevines” with pictures of the leaves, twining vines, seed pods, etc. It’s such a cool-looking plant.  In Victorian Era gardens it was all the rage; now people don’t plant it much anymore – and I think that’s partly because everything but the vines themselves die off each year, so it just looks “ropey” for half of the year.  It’s a boon to the Pipevine Swallowtail butterflies, though, who literally can’t live without it.

CLICK HERE for today’s photos.

While I was there, I saw a European Starling come out of her nesting cavity, so I waited by the tree to see if I could get a photo of her when she came back. Smart bird, though, she flew in behind me, making me turn as she went by, and went back into her cavity with an angry grumble.

I also saw some Wild Turkeys, including a leucistic female, and while I was watching them a bonded pair of Mallards came flying in and landed right near my feet. There was also a bonded pair of Common Mergansers on the bank of the river. These ducks are sometimes referred to as “Sawbills” because their bills have a serrated edge, which helps them hold onto the fish they catch. (They’re fish-eating diving ducks, as opposed to filter-feeding dabbling ducks like the Mallards.)

Saw lots of Craneflies (Mosquito Hawks) all over the place and Elder Moth caterpillars in the elderberry leaves. There were also a lot of Tussock Moth caterpillars, little nests of earwigs, some micromoths, and a mayfly that had just shed and was hanging next to its exuvia. This time of the year is soooooooooooooo interesting! I was surprised to see the earwigs snuggled in the tops of mugwort plants. I thought mugwort was a kind of natural insect repellent. I guess no one told the earwigs.

There were a lot of still-green Oak Apple galls in the trees, but I was really happy to come across some second-generation galls from the Live Oak Gall Wasp.  The first-generation galls are really obvious and visible: round balls covered in spines.  The second-generation galls are tiny and sit on the back of the leaves; they look like upside down volcanoes. Finding them is difficult, so I’m always excited when I get to see them.  The first generation of this wasp is comprised of all females that reproduce asexually, and the second generation is comprised of males and females that reproduce sexually. Cool, huh?

And while I was watching a male House Wren, I saw him look down below him. There was female down there with a feather in her beak. I’m assuming they had a nesting cavity near there somewhere and she was literally feathering her nest. Awwww!

I overdid it again today – because there’s so frigging much to see – and didn’t get back home until around 11:30. Four-and-a-half hours of walking; my body was really mad at me for the rest of the day.

Species List:

1. Acorn Woodpecker, Melanerpes formicivorus,
2. Bedstraw, Velcro Grass, Cleavers, Galium aparine
3. Black Walnut, Juglans nigra
4. Black-Tailed Jackrabbit, Lepus californicus
5. Blue Elderberry, Sambucus cerulea
6. California Buckeye, Aesculus californica
7. California Manroot, Marah fabaceus
8. California Mugwort, Artemisia douglasiana
9. California Pipevine Swallowtail butterfly, Battus philenor hirsuta
10. California Pipevine, Dutchman’s Pipe, Aristolochia californica
11. Click Beetle, Conoderus exsul
12. Common Earwig, Forficula auricularia
13. Common Merganser, Mergus merganser
14. Eastern Fox Squirrel, Sciurus niger
15. Elder Moth caterpillar, Zotheca tranquilla
16. European Starling, Sturnus vulgaris
17. Flatheaded Mayfly, family Heptageniidae
18. Green Shield Lichen, Flavoparmelia caperata
19. Hoptree,Common Hoptree, Ptelea trifoliata
20. House Wren, Troglodytes aedon
21. Interior Live Oak, Quercus wislizeni
22. Italian Thistle, Carduus pycnocephalus
23. Lace Lichen, Ramalina menziesii
24. Ladybeetle, Convergent Ladybug, Hippodamia convergens
25. Ladybeetle, Multicolored Asian Ladybug, Harmonia axyridis
26. Large Cranefly, family Tipulidae
27. Little Robin Geranium, Herb Robert, Geranium purpureum
28. Live Oak Gall Wasp gall, Callirhytis quercuspomiformis, 2nd generation
29. Mallard, Anas platyrhynchos
30. Miner’s Lettuce, Claytonia parviflora
31. Mourning Dove, Zenaida macroura
32. Oak Apple Gall Wasp gall, Andricus quercuscalifornicus
33. Pink Grass, Windmill Pink, Petrorhagia dubia
34. Poison Oak, Toxicodendron diversilobum
35. Puffball Fugus, Bovista dermoxantha
36. Rio Grande Wild Turkey, Meleagris gallopavo intermedia
37. Rusty Tussock Moth caterpillar, Orgyia antiqua
38. Santa Barbara Sedge, Carex barbarae
39. Scarab Hunter Wasp, Dielis tolteca
40. Spotted Towhee, Pipilo maculatus
41. Tree Swallow, Tachycineta bicolor
42. Turkey Tail Fungus, Trametes versicolor
43. Twirler Moth, Mompha sp.
44. Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
45. Vetch, American Vetch, Vicia americana
46. Vetch, Winter Vetch, Hairy Vetch, Vicia villosa ssp. villosa
47. Western Bluebird, Sialia mexicana
48. White Horehound, Marrubium vulgare

Saw a Coyote Family Playing in a Meadow, 08-11-18

Got up around 6:00 am after a good night’s sleep. I head over to the Effie Yeaw Nature Preserve and it was already 68º outside (with a “real feel” of 73º according to the weather app on my phone.)

The first thing I saw when I got to the preserve was two coyote pups (teenagers) bouncing through the meadow. I parked the car and got out hurriedly and tried to figure out which way the kids were going. As I entered the grounds, I saw an adult coyote standing next to the nature center. It walked up the side of a hill and then sat down in the tall grass, nearly disappearing as it did so. I continued on down the trail and found the pack in the meadow. It looked like mom and about four pups. They were running around, play-hunting, and jumping up and down. Mom would sit down in the grass, and the pups would run around her and back and forth across the meadow. Then they’d all converge on the mom and pounce on her like she was prey. She’d roll around and nip at them… they were all having such a good time; it was so fun to watch them.

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos. And here are some videos from today:

A little further down the same trail, I came across a trio of does. They were standing in the woods, and all of them had their ears cocked, listening to the coyotes in the field nearby. So pretty.

And still further down the trail, near the pond, I saw a doe to my left, and could hear what I first thought was a kitten mewing to my right. I looked around the tules by the pond and found that the “mewing” was actually coming from a fawn. The fawn was still in its spots and looked as though it had injured one side of its mouth. Its bottom lip was swollen in the corner and that tilted the mouth a bit, so it looked like the fawn had a perpetual “resting bitch face” look. Hah!

I’m not sure, but it looked like maybe the fawn had been stung by bees or wasps. The mouth injury didn’t seem to have interfered with the fawn’s ability to eat, though; it looked chubby and healthy. Its coat was a little ratty-looking but that might be because it was shedding its baby coat and making room for its teenager coat.

The wild mugwort is going into bloom everywhere throughout the preserve, and more wasp galls are appearing on the oak trees.

Another treat was being able to see a large flock of Yellow-Billed Magpies on one of the lawns. They were slumming with a smaller flock of European Starlings. It looked like most of the magpies were going through a molt; you could see all the yellow skin around their eyes…

At one point, one of the magpies jumped on top of another. The magpie on the bottom started screaming and struggling to get up. While it screamed, and the other magpies flew in around it. I got the impression that they weren’t ganging up on the one on the ground, so much as they wanted the magpie that was on top to leave the other one alone. The magpie on top moved to one side, and the pinned one flew away. Wow.

I walked for about 3 hours and then headed home. While I was walking, I had the Pokémon Go game running on my phone and walked enough miles to hatch out two eggs. Both of them were Magnemites. For those of you who don’t play the game, you’ll have no idea what that means. Hah-ha-ha!

Turkey Vultures, Wild Turkeys, Deer and More 01-06-18

It had rained during the night and was overcast when I headed out to the Effie Yeaw Preserve for my walk. (Had to stop and put gas in the car first.)

It was 49º when I got to the river, and the clouds broke up over the following few hours. I came across the usual suspects at the preserve: mule deer, turkey vultures, woodpeckers, wild turkeys…

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos and video.

There were no super-exciting standouts, but I did get quite a few photos. And for some reason, my camera gagged on two of the batteries I put into it. I’d take a photo, and the whole camera would freeze up; nothing worked. So, I popped out the battery, and put in a new one. Same thing. Took a photo, everything froze. I was beginning to worry that the camera was having real issues… but the third battery I put in seemed to do the trick. Maybe the other two had been recharged so many times they just could hole a charge for more than a few seconds anymore. I don’t know… but I’ll keep an eye on that.

One neat find on my walk was a “pellet” coughed up by a hawk. I’m assuming it was a hawk and not an owl because it was smaller than most owl pellets I’ve seen, and only had one tiny bone in it. Most of the pellet was undigested fur, but there were also parts of the armored exoskeleton of a Jerusalem Cricket. Very cool.

I walked for about 3 hours and then headed back home.