Tag Archives: wand mullein

Looking for Willow Galls, 06-09-19

I got up around 5:30 this morning, and after giving the dog his breakfast, I headed over to the American River Bend Park.  I was in search of willow galls and found oh-so-much more.  The weather behaved itself in the morning hours.  There was a breeze by the river, so it didn’t get too warm for me to walk until around 10:30.  So it was a nice morning. 

First I tried walking along the river at the first pullout, but the water was too high there, so I took a trail that brought me out onto the sandy area close to the bridge.  Lots of willows there, and I found the pinecone-like galls of the midge Rabdophaga strobiloide. They start out looking like little round balls of tightly packed leaves. Then they develop a “beak” that makes them look like pinecones. Each gall contains one midge larva. When the larva matures into an adult midge, the midge escapes the gall through the tip of the beak.

While I was walking through that area, I could hear the nattering of quail in the underbrush, but they kept themselves well-hidden, so I never did see them or was able to get a photo of them. I did get shots of a Spotted Towhee and a House Wren, though. I walked along that part of the river for a little while and then headed back to where I’d parked the car at the pullout.  At one point, the trail was blocked by a fallen tree. My trying to navigate over that obstacle was mildly humorous. Sit on one part of the trunk, lift my leg up, throw it over the other part of the trunk, try to get that foot to touch the ground, then shift my weight, and try to drag my other leg up over the trunk… Phew!

Once I got back to the car, I drove further int the park, got out, and continued my walk along the trail that runs along the riverside, but about 10 feet above the level of the water. I found a few Pipevine Swallowtail caterpillars and saw some of the butterflies flitting near the top of the trees. When the caterpillars ready to build their chrysalis, they attach their back feet to a tree (or other substrate) with silk, and then build a silk sling-shot-like thing that holds them upright but at a slight angle from the tree. (The silk is pulled from spinnerets on the sides of the body.) Then the caterpillar leans back and just hangs there in a kind of torpor as the chrysalis forms UNDER its skin. Once the chrysalis is formed, the caterpillar sheds its skin — including its face — and waits for metamorphosis to begin.

I also found some of their chrysalises. One was so new; it was still bright green. There stills seems to be a LOT fewer than I’m used to seeing out there, though.

CLICK HERE to see the full album of photos.

At one spot, I stopped to watch a pair of House Wrens flying all over the place, the male singing brightly while he flew. They stopped off a few times at a cavity in an oak tree, only to be run off by some Tree Swallows.  Apparently, the Swallows had already claimed the cavity and were trying to keep the Wrens from setting up house there.  I got quite a few good shots of the Swallows.  The Wrens, not so much…

 

A nice surprise was seeing a female Common Merganser swimming near the shore with her three red-headed little ducklings. The mom was swimming up-stream which can be hard on the babies when the current is strong, so they sometimes swim in her wake… or just hop onto her back!  In one photo you can see the mom swimming with her face in the water. This is a typical fishing technique used by these birds; she’s seeing if there’s anything tasty underneath her.  These ducks are sometimes referred to as “saw-bills” for the serrated edges along the rim of their bill. Unlike Mallards, Mergansers are “diving” ducks, not “dabbling” ducks.

I walked for about four hours and then headed back home.  But another surprise happened when I was driving out of the park. I saw something moving near the edge of the road and stopped to get a better look. I realized it was a female Wild Turkey, that was sitting down in the dirt and dried gas.  She was giving herself a dust bath (to rid her feathers of mites). The surprise was when, right behind her, her baby (a little fledgling called a poult) stood up!  Mama turkeys are very protective of their babies, and when the mom realized I’d seen her kid, she got up and hurried him away from the road.

 Species List:
Acorn Woodpecker, Melanerpes formicivorus,
Asian Ladybeetle, Harmonia axyridis,
Black Locust, Robinia pseudoacacia,
Blue Elderberry, Sambucus cerulea,
Bur Chervil, Anthriscus caucalis,
Bush Katydid nymph, Scudderia texensis,
California Pipevine Swallowtail, Battus philenor hirsuta,
California Pipevine, Aristolochia californica,
California Quail, Callipepla californica,
California Scrub Oak, Quercus berberidifolia,
California Sycamore, Platanus racemose,
California Wild Grape, Vitis californica,
Common Merganser, Mergus merganser,
Coyote Brush Bud Gall midge, Rhopalomyia californica
Coyote Brush Stem Gall moth, Gnorimoschema baccharisella,
Darkling Beetle, Pinacate Beetle, Eleodes obscurus,
Deerweed, Acmispon glaber,
Elegant Clarkia, Clarkia unguiculata,
English Plantain, Ribwort, Plantago lanceolata,
European Starling, Sturnus vulgaris,
Fremont Cottonwood, Populus fremontii,
Goldenrod Bunch Gall, Goldenrod Floret Gall Midge, Solidago canadensis,
Goldwire, Hypericum concinnum,
Hoptree, Skunk Bush, Ptelea trifoliata,
House Wren, Troglodytes aedon,
Interior Live Oak, Quercus wislizeni,
Interior Sandbar Willow, Salix interior,
Long-Jawed Orb Weaver, Tetragnatha sp.,
Mallard, Anas platyrhynchos,
Miniature Lupine, Lupinus bicolor,
Moth Mullein, Verbascum blattaria,
Mourning Dove, Zenaida macroura,
Narrowleaf Willow, Salix exigua,
Northern California Black Walnut, Juglans hindsii,
Old Live Oak Gall Wasp Gall, Callirhytis quercuspomiformis,
Oregon Ash, Fraxinus latifolia,
Oystershell Scale Insect, Ceroplastes sp,
Rattlesnake Grass, Big Quaking Grass, Briza maxima,
Red Mulberry, Morus rubra,
Rio Grande Wild Turkey, Meleagris gallopavo intermedia,
Rusty Tussock Moth caterpillar, Orgyia antiqua,
Spotted Towhee, Pipilo maculatus,
Sweet Fennel, Foeniculum vulgare,
Telegraph Weed, Heterotheca grandiflora,
Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
Variable Flatsedge, Cyperus difformis,
Wand Mullein, Verbascum virgatum,
Western Bluebird, Sialia mexicana,
Western Fence Lizard, Sceloporus occidentalis,
Western Goldenrod, Euthamia occidentalis,
Western Leaf-Footed Bug eggs, Leptoglossus zonatus
White Alder, Alnus rhombifolia,
White Horehound, Marrubium vulgare,
Willow Pinecone Gall midge, Rabdophaga strobiloides,
Willow Stem Gall midge, Rabdophaga rigidae,
Winter Vetch, Vicia villosa,
Wooly Mullein, Verbascum thapsusm
Yellow Starthistle, Centaurea solstitialis,
Yellow Water Iris, Yellow Flag, Iris pseudacorus,

At William Land Park on 06-03-19

I got up around 6:00 this morning and headed out to William Land Park and the WPA Rock Garden for a walk.  It was 53° when I got there, but it was up to 72° within about 2 ½ hours. Anything over 70° is really “too hot” for any kind of exertion for me, so I headed back home. Got lots of flower photos, so that will probably take me a day or two to ID all of them.  I also got to see some male Wood Ducks and a Green Heron at the pond, as well as the exuvia of several cicadas.

CLICK HERE for the album of photos.

Species List:

  1. Anna’s Hummingbird, Calypte anna,
  2. Bear’s Breeches, Acanthus mollis,
  3. Beaver Tail Cactus, Prickly Pear, Opuntia basilaris,
  4. Bird of Paradise, flower, Strelitzia reginae,
  5. Bird of Paradise, tree, Caesalpinia gilliesii,
  6. Brazil Raintree, Brunfelsia pauciflora,
  7. Bronze Fennel, Foeniculum vulgare,
  8. Butterfly Bush, Buddleja davidii,
  9. Butterfly Milkweed, Asclepias tuberosa,
  10. Calla Lily, Zantedeschia aethiopica,
  11. Campion, Silene sp.,
  12. Canada Goose, Branta canadensis,
  13. Chameleon Plant, Houttuynia cordata,
  14. Cleveland Sage, Salvia clevelandii,
  15. Columbine, Columbinus sp.,
  16. Common Borage, Borago officinalis,
  17. Common Bracken Fern, Pteridium aquilinum,
  18. Common Hibiscus, Hibiscus syriacus,
  19. Common Lavender, Lavandula angustifolia,
  20. Common Toadflax, Linaria vulgaris,
  21. Cream Spike agave, Blue Agave, Agave applanata,
  22. Crevice Alumroot, Heuchera micrantha,
  23. Day Lily, Hemerocallis sp.,
  24. Douglas Squirrel, Tamiasciurus douglasii,
  25. Dwarf Morning Glory, Convolvulus tricolor,
  26. Elegant Clarkia, Clarkia unguiculata,
  27. European Honeybee, Apis mellifera,
  28. Fir Tree, Abies sp.,
  29. Fleabane, Seaside Daisy, Erigeron glaucus,
  30. Garden Snail, Cornu aspersum,
  31. Giant Fennel, Ferula communis,
  32. Globe Daisy, Globularia x indubia,
  33. Golden Feverfew, Tanacetum Parthenium aureum,
  34. Green Heron, Butorides virescens,
  35. Grevellea, Grevilerulea sp.,
  36. Harvestman, Phalangium opilio,
  37. Hollyhock, Alcea rosea,
  38. Honeysuckle, Lonicera sp.,
  39. Iceplant, Carpobrotus edulis,
  40. Introduced Sage, Salvia pratensis,
  41. Jack-in-the-Pulpit, Arisaema sp.,
  42. Jerusalem Sage, Phlomis fruticose,
  43. Lamb’s Ear Hedgenettle, Stachys byzantina,
  44. Love-in-a-Mist, Nigella damascene,
  45. Mallard, Anas platyrhynchos,
  46. Many Flowered Tobacco, Nicotiana acuminata var. multiflora,
  47. Meadow Sage, Salvia pratensis,
  48. Mediterranean Sage, Salvia aethiopis,
  49. Mexican Bush Sage Salvia leucantha
  50. Mock Orange, Philadelphus coronarius,
  51. Mojave Prickly Poppy, Argemone corymbosa,
  52. Moth Mullein, Verbascum blattaria,
  53. Mountain Cicada, Okanagana bella,
  54. Myrtle, Myrtus communis,
  55. Natal Grass, Natal Redtop, Melinis repens,
  56. Nightshade, New Zealand Nightshade, Solanum aviculare,
  57. Pacific Bleeding Heart, Dicentra Formosa,
  58. Pekin Duck, Anas platyrhynchos domesticus var. Pekin,
  59. Peruvian Lily, Alstroemeria aurea,
  60. Pincushion Flower, Scabiosa atropurpurea,
  61. Pineapple Guava, Acca sellowiana,
  62. Red Hot Poker, Torch Lily, Kniphofia uvaria,
  63. Red Poppy of Flanders, Corn Poppy, Papaver rhoeas,
  64. Red Yucca, Hesperaloe parviflora,
  65. Red-Eared Slider Turtle, Trachemys scripta elegans,
  66. Redwood, California Redwood, Sequoia sempervirens,
  67. Rock Rose, Cistus x pulverulentus, cultivar
  68. Rocket Larkspur (purple), Consolida ajacis,
  69. Rocket Larkspur (white), Consolida ajacis,
  70. Rose Vervain, Glandularia canadensis,
  71. Rose, Rosa sp.,
  72. Sacred Lotus, Nelumbo nucifera,
  73. Sage, Salvia officinalis,
  74. Silver Sage, Salvia argentea,
  75. Smokebush, Cotinus coggygria,
  76. Southern Catalpa, Indian Been Tree, Catalpa bignonioides,
  77. Spurge, Egg Leaf Spurge, Euphorbia oblongata,
  78. Statice, Sea lavender, Limonium perezii,
  79. Strawberry Tree, Arbutus unedo,
  80. Swedish Blue duck, Anas platyrhynchos domesticus var. Swedish Blue,
  81. Sweet William, Dianthus barbatus,
  82. Sword Fern, Polystichum sp.,
  83. Tall Buckwheat, Eriogonum elatum var. elatum,
  84. Trumpet Flower, Iochroma cyanea var. Mr. Plum,
  85. Valley Carpenter Bee, Xylocopa varipuncta,
  86. Wand Mullein, Verbascum virgatum,
  87. Weeping Cedar, Glauca Pendula, Cedrus atlantica,
  88. Western Fence Lizard, Sceloporus occidentalis,
  89. Western Sycamore, Platanus racemosa,
  90. White Lily of the Nile, Agapanthus africanus var. albus,
  91. Wood Duck, Aix sponsa,
  92. Wooly Mullein, Verbascum thapsus,
  93. Yucca, Chaparral Yucca, Hesperoyucca whipplei

Bugs and Birds Mostly, 05-29-19

I got up at 5:30 this morning. I would have slept in a tiny bit more, but Sergeant Margie needed to get outside to pee. Since I was up, I decided to stay up and head over to the Effie Yeaw Nature Preserve for a walk. It was about 55° when I got there, and almost 70° when I left.

I saw a lot of the usual suspects at the preserve. Still very few deer around; the boys are off getting their antlers and the girls are off getting ready to give birth to their fawns.

CLICK HERE to see the album of photos.

I did get to see another pair of Mourning Doves working on their nest. I saw the male first, along the trail picking up twigs and bits of dried grass and flying them over to the female. She was sitting in the back of a half-fallen branch of a tree, tucked in a broken bit of bark. Smart girl!

Later on, along the trail, while I was watching a young Fox Squirrel, a California Ground Squirrel showed up, and then a Scrub Jay landed nearby with a green plum in its beak. Wow, lots of photos just within a few feet of one another. I love moments like that.

I walked for about four hours and then headed home.

Species List:

  1. Acorn Woodpecker, Melanerpes formicivorus,
  2. American Bullfrog, Lithobates catesbeianus,
  3. Azolla, Water Fern, Azolla filiculoides,
  4. Bewick’s Wren, Thryomanes bewickii,
  5. Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans,
  6. Blessed Milk Thistle, Silybum marianum,
  7. Blue Elderberry, Sambucus cerulea,
  8. Bush Katydid, Scudderia furcate,
  9. California Brodiaea, Brodiaea californica,
  10. California Dandelion, Taraxacum californicum,
  11. California Ground Squirrel, Otospermophilus beecheyi,
  12. California Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly, Battus philenor hirsuta,
  13. California Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma californica,
  14. Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus,
  15. Darkling Beetle, Eleodes dentipes,
  16. Eastern Fox Squirrel, Sciurus niger,
  17. Eastern Gray Squirrel, Sciurus carolinensis,
  18. Elegant Clarkia, Clarkia unguiculata,
  19. European Starling, Sturnus vulgaris,
  20. Great Horned Owl, Bubo virginianus,
  21. House Wren, Troglodytes aedon,
  22. Interior Live Oak, Quercus wislizeni,
  23. Italian Thistle, Carduus pycnocephalus,
  24. Lace Lichen, Ramalina menziesii,
  25. Little Black Ant, Monomorium minimum,
  26. Live Oak Erineum Mite gall, Aceria mackiei,
  27. Live Oak Gall Wasp, 2nd generation, Callirhytis quercuspomiformis,
  28. Mallard, Anas platyrhynchos,
  29. Mock Orange, Philadephus lewisii californicus,
  30. Mourning Dove, Zenaida macroura,
  31. Mugwort Weevil, Scaphomorphus longinasus,
  32. Mule Fat, Baccharis salicifolia
  33. Northern Saw-Whet Owl, Sophia, Aegolius acadicus,
  34. Nuttall’s Woodpecker, Picoides nuttallii,
  35. Platygaster, Platygaster california,
  36. Plum, Prunus subg. Prunus,
  37. Poison Oak, Toxicodendron diversilobum,
  38. Red Mulberry, Morus rubra,
  39. Red-Shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus,
  40. Rio Grande Wild Turkey, Meleagris gallopavo intermedia,
  41. Rose Clover, Trifolium hirtum,
  42. Rusty Tussock Moth, Orgyia antiqua,
  43. Showy Milkweed, Asclepias speciosa,
  44. Southern Alligator Lizard, Elgaria multicarinata,
  45. Tree Swallow, Tachycineta bicolor,
  46. Wand Mullein, Verbascum virgatum,
  47. Western Carpenter Ant, Camponotus modoc,
  48. Western Fence Lizard, Sceloporus occidentalis,
  49. Winter Vetch, Vicia villosa