Tag Archives: yellow wig galls

Lots and Lots and Lots of Deer, 09-15-18

OMG it was soooo beautiful outside today I could hardly believe it: around 53º when I got up around 6:30 am, and never made it past 77º by the afternoon. Breezy, sunny… just gorgeous! It had even rained a little bit during the night, so everything had that wonderful earthy smell to it… There were a lot of nimbus clouds in the sky, but they disbursed by the end of the day.

I went to the Effie Yeaw Nature Preserve for my walk and was surprised to find the ambient nature sounds disrupted by the noise of some kind construction (or gravel work) being done further up river. The grinding, crunching, scraping noise lasted for about 90-minutes, and was replaced by the noise of a soccer game or something taking place on the lawn near the entrance to the preserve: men shouting “That’s mine! That’s mine!”, “To me! To Me!” and “Keep it moving!” Guh! So much for a quiet nature walk.  It also didn’t help that the loud, obnoxious group of trail-walkers came up behind me on one of the trails, and the leader yelled to the others, “We found the lone hiker!”  That group has no sense of respect for the place, the animals or the other people on the trails. When you’re out in nature BE QUIET, people!

Despite the noise and interruptions, I did get to see a LOT of deer, including some bachelor groups of bucks and a group of does with a fawn. Another doe on a different part of the trail also had a fawn with her. The baby was still in his spots, but it looked like he might’ve been attacked by something. Most of the hair around his neck was gone (leaving just crusty-looking skin) and he had a gash down his throat. It wasn’t deep but was very red and sore-looking. I wonder if one of the young coyotes had tried to get a hold of him.

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos:

Among the bucks, one was still in his velvet and hanging out with the does. I guess I couldn’t hang with the guys until his antlers were more presentable. Hah!

As far as the birds went, I got photos of Lesser Goldfinches, Acorn Woodpeckers, a White-Breasted Nuthatch, a Black Phoebe eating a Jerusalem Cricket (those bugs are HUGE; it made for a good breakfast for the little bird), and Wild Turkeys. There was one spot along the trail where there was a huge mess of turkey feathers everywhere. A fox or coyote must’ve ambushed one of the turkeys – an early Thanksgiving dinner. I could hear the California Quails shouting out their “chi-ca-go!” call but couldn’t see any of them. I did get some photos of California Scrub Jays, though.

I watched (and videoed) an Eastern Fox Squirrel as it ran with big fat acorn and then buried it in the ground. Stocking up for winter (such as it is here).

You can see the video here: https://youtu.be/EJFjrlyiNmo

I also got to see a few specimens of the first Sulphur Shelf Fungus of the season. They don’t like it when it gets really wet outside, so they usually show up a month or two before the other fungi.

At the little pond in the front of the preserve, I noticed that all of the branches on the alder tree that had been sporting the Alder Tongue Galls I photographed earlier in the month, had all been cut off the tree. So, it was looking pretty barren and wretched around the bottom. I get that the groundskeepers probably don’t want the fungus up so close to the nature center but… it isn’t a “preserve” if all of the elements of the nature area aren’t allowed to do what they normally do – including the Alder Tongue Gall fungus.

I walked for a little over 3 hours and then headed home.

Mostly Galls… which is what I was looking for, 08-06-17

Up at 5:30 again. I hate that I have to get up so early on the weekends just so I can get outside when it’s still cool, but… whatcha gonna do? I went over to the River Bend Park, but rather than going to the area where I usually walk, I crossed the bridge and walked along the west shore of the river.

I didn’t see much in the way of animals during my walk, but I did get to see quite a few different galls – which is what I was really looking for. I did get to see, though, some Canada Geese, Mallards, a Snowy Egret, Acorn Woodpeckers, some European Starlings, some Western Bluebirds, and very young fledgling Scrub Jays. The only mammal I saw (besides humans) was a California Ground Squirrel.

CLICK HERE to see the full album of photos.

Among the galls I found were: prickly Live Oak galls, Oak “apples”, Spiny Turbans and Red Cone galls (which are by far the most numerous around here), Yellow Wig galls, newly forming Spangle Galls, Flat-Topped Honeydew Galls (some tended by ants and protected by Yellow Jackets), and fuzzy Club Galls.  The majority of the gals I found were all on one tree.  Apparently it’s situated at an intersection where a lot of different wasps and other insects meet.  There was one other tree I went looking for, a small one that’s right along the river’s edge where there are usually great specimens of the Wooly Bear galls…  But, alas, in the flooding spring rains, that little trees was swept away (along with the piece of shore it was growing on.

The eucalyptus trees along the river were also covered in lerps (from the Red Gum Eucalyptus Lerp Psyllid).  The lerps are like little pyramids that the psyllid spin out of starch and sugar.  They’re all sticky with the honeydew the psyllids exude.   I also founds lots of clusters of eggs laid by Assassin Bugs. Most of them were already hatched out.  In one place, I came across some off-looking larvae climbing up and around the rushes along the river side. I’m not sure what they were (some sort of beetle, I suspect, based on their shape); I’ll have to investigate those some more.

The oak trees are just starting to sport their acorns. Give them another month and they’ll be shiny brown and ripe enough to pick and plant.  In September, Tuleyome is having Zarah Wyly from the Sacramento Tree Foundation come to do a lecture for us on acorn gathering.  And then on October 1st, if everything works out well, she’ll also lead an outing to collect Blue Oak acorns from the Silver Spur Ranch property.  Fingers crossed on that one…

I walked for about 2 ½ hours and then went back home

Mostly Deer and Galls Today, 08-28-16

I got up at :00 this morning, and headed over to the Effie Yeaw Nature Preserve.  It was another gorgeous day: 56° when I went out to the preserve, and by 10:30 when I was heading home, it was still only 68° outside.  It didn’t get into the high 70’s until the later afternoon…

I was walking for the exercise more than anything else; just open to whatever Nature wanted to show me today.  I saw a lot of mule deer, including some babies just out of their spots and some males sporting new shiny antlers (now that the velvet has all been shed).  There was one grouping of five that stopped right in front of me along the trail near the nature center building, and it was the first time I’d ever heard deer vocalizing at one another.  The group was made up of females and some yearlings, and they made these odd, deep, low-volume “groans” at one another.  Because I’d never heard the deer make so much as a peep before, at first I didn’t believe what I was hearing.  But the sound went on for several minutes, and intensified a little bit when another female joined the group.  I wonder what they were saying to one another…

CLICK HERE for the complete album of photos from today.

All around the preserve I found a lot of galls on the oak trees; nothing new, but a wide variety of them. I also came across a pair of adult female Wild Turkeys.  Each of them had a single surviving poult, one a little older than other.  I got a little video of them walking the trail in front of me pecking at the ground for grit and seeds.

CLICK HERE to see the video.

I also came across one oak tree where some of the acorns had obviously been infested with something and were malformed and “weeping” some kind of fluid.  I know there are wasps, weevils and moths that infest acorns, but didn’t break the acorns open to see what was inside of them… And I got a couple of photos of some katydid nymphs, and the abandoned exoskeleton of a large praying mantis in the brush around the nature center.

At one of the man-made ponds I found some young Bullfrogs loitering on the rocks and fallen tules as I was heading back toward my car.  I found the frogs just as a family was coming up to the pond, so I told them about the frogs and the parents were as excited to see them as the kids were.  The mom told me this was their first time at the preserve and they’d hardly gotten in the front gate and they’d already spotted a small herd of deer and the frogs; they were very happy.

Gall City at the American River, 08-07-16

I got up around 6 o’clock this morning and went over to the American River Bend Park for my walk.  I was looking for summer galls and found ‘em, so my trip was fruitful. I found Red and White Cone galls, Spiny Turbans, Yellow Wig galls, Spangle galls, ash tree galls, willow galls, Woolybear galls, Live Oak Round galls, Flat-Top Honeydew galls… and this is just the start of the season.  Sometimes there were several different galls on the same leaf or stem.

CLICK HERE to see the whole album.

The wasp larvae inside the Flat-Top Honeydew galls produce honeydew that exudes through the surface of the galls. The tree gets no benefit from it, but the honeydew attracts ants and wasps that in turn protect the larvae from parasites that might otherwise prey on them.  I also found some Yellow Jackets feasting on some dead thing, and a lovely Green Lacewing sitting on a leaf… As for other critters, I got to see a Great Blue Heron, some female Common Mergansers resting on stones in the water, and a young male coyote.  He kept moving from bright sunlight to shade among the trees, but I did get a little video of it.