Journal archives for August 2021

August 19, 2021


Friday the 13th! I got up around 6:00 this morning, and decided to go out to Effie Yeaw Nature Preserve for a walk. There was still a bit of smoke in the air, but there were also high clouds so it made things a little humid, too. It was 62° when I got to the river, and it was around 73° when I left.

Before I even got into the parking lot I saw a young female coyote loping through the grass. She took a winding route through the field and toward the car, then saw me, and did around-about through the trees, and finished off on the road. Because she was moving so quickly, it was hard to keep up with her with my camera, so I got some blurry shots of her as she went by.

Later, when I was walking the trail, I could hear a pack of coyotes yip-yowling from across the river. Cool.

When I walked around the nature center to head out for the trails, I came across two live oak trees that were oozing alcoholic flux. Both of the trees had been drilled up by sap suckers, and the sap wells allowed the bacteria to get in under the bark.

Alcoholic Flux bacteria [also known as Foamy Canker, Slime Flux], Phytophthora sp. x other bacteria “…is a stress-related disease that affects sweet gum, oak, elm and willow trees. The disease is caused by a microorganism that ferments the sap that seeps or bleeds from cracks and wounds in the bark. The result is a white, frothy ooze that has a fermenting odor similar to beer.”

The beer smell was obvious around these trees. Usually, you’ll also see insects around the flux, drinking in the ooze, but I only saw a few ants starting to move in. Sometimes, the insects (and other critters like squirrels] that feast on the flux exudate get drunk on it, and stumble around afterwards.

“…The] foamy, flux shouldn’t be something that causes you too much concern. It’s often thought of as benign, as it doesn’t damage the heartwood of your tree, and can often dry up when fall weather becomes cool and dry. And in any case, chemical treatments are typically ineffective…”

I was hoping to see some fawns out and about, but didn’t see any. There were a lot of bucks out, though, all of them still in their velvet.

As I was leaving the preserve, I saw three of the deer walking by me and through a small crowd of visitors, heading for the gardens in front of the building. They stopped to eat soft leaves off the redbud trees and some of the flowering plants like the yarrow, goldenrod and coyote mint. Smart babies.

I was also on the lookout for galls. On the live oak trees, I haven’t seen any of the spikey summer generation galls of the Live Oak Gall Wasp yet, and I didn’t see any today either. I did find the first Kernel Galls of the season, though, so that was nice.

HERE is the link to the full album of photos:

I was happy to see galls forming on the “Frankenstein Tree” (half blue oak, half valley oak) for the first time in years. I’m not certain, but I suspect that Round-Up had been used around the base of the tree to control weeds… and thus poisoned the ground and the tree, making the tree unpalatable to the gall-forming wasps.

On this trip, I found Plate galls, Striped Volcano galls, Clustered galls, and Saucer galls on the tree. So great to see. The tree persevered! On the other go-to Blue Oak, there were Crystalline galls and Hair Stalk galls among others.

The Valley Oaks were just starting to show off large caches of Red Cone galls.

There aren’t a whole lot of bird species out this time of year, but I did see (and hear) a few. There were Red-Tailed Hawks screeling at one another. I figured they were up in a pine tree, but I couldn’t see them. Noisy critters, though. I also saw a Red-Shouldered Hawk fly up from the high dried grass on the ground, cross the trail, and into a tree. I don’t know what it had on the ground, but it wasn’t in the bird’s talons when it flew up.

Acorn Woodpeckers were in one of their granary trees buzz-bombing a California Ground Squirrel that had gone high enough into the tree to steal some of their acorns.

I also saw a scruffy-looking Scrub Jay bopping around with a large Green Darner dragonfly in its beak. It didn’t eat the dragonfly, though; instead, it buried it in a shallow hole under some leaves for later.

And in another area, I was watching some Rio Grande Wild Turkeys walking through the tall, dry grass, and saw the dark forms of quail scurrying out from under the big birds’ feet. I could hear the quail calling and pipping to one another, too, but I couldn’t get a clear photo of them.

I walked for a little over 3 hours, and then headed home. This was hike #69 on my annual hike challenge.

Posted on August 19, 2021 04:05 PM by simpylmare55 simpylmare55 | 0 comments | Leave a comment

August 23, 2021


I got up around 6:00 this morning so I could go out to the William Pond Park by 6:30 am. I wanted to go checkout the Reverend Mother tree again before it got too sunny and hot outside. I was going to go out with my friend Roxanne, but she had family stuff to tend to, so I went out by myself. It was so smokey outside it was tough to stay out and walk in it. The sun was “red”, and its reflection on the river looked like flaming blood. Creepy! Current PM2.5 AQI levels in the area have reached: 170 AQI (Unhealthy). Because of the smoke cover, the temperature never got above 88° today, and there was a bit of a breeze. The breeze brought more smoke in, but at least the air was moving.

Because of the smoke, the Sacramento Zoo has been closing its doors early; and because of the proximity of wildfires, the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge has closed its auto tour route so it can be used by fire fighters for staging their equipment.

At the park, I was pretty much just looking for galls today, so didn’t pay attention to much of anything else. On the Valley Oak trees nearest the parking lot, I found lots and lots of Red Cone galls, Oak Apples, and Spiney Turbans. I also found quite a few Round galls (with their lumpy bumpy surface) on those trees; my first sighting of the season.

The Reverend Mother tree still doesn’t have all the galls she normally has, but I was able to find more Red Cones and Spiney Turbans, along with Fuzzy galls, Convoluted galls, and Yellow Wig galls. I haven’t seen any Club galls, Rosette galls or Disc galls on her yet… There were, however, LOTS of Flat-Topped Honeydew Galls exuding their honeydew. I didn’t see a lot of ants tending to them, but I did see a lot of wasps.

In fact, there seemed to be wasps everywhere. I found them on the lawns, drinking water from the grass (the sprinklers had been on just before I got there), and around the trash cans and remains of what I think was a fish on the ground. It was so deteriorated that it had gone black so it was hard to identify what part of the fish it might have been. In another spot, I found a pair of wasps struggling with a dried leaf; they almost looked like they were in a tug-o-war over it. I wondered if they were masticating it to make wet papery mulch for a nest somewhere nearby. I couldn’t get near enough with my camera to be sure. Here’s a video snippet:

On the live oaks I still haven’t found any of spiney ball galls of the Live Oak Gall Wasp, Summer Generation. They seem really late to me. I found a few Pumpkin galls and some Two-Horned galls, but the stand-out on the live oaks was the number of acorns affected by Drippy Nut, Brenneria quercina, Lonsdalea quercina, a bacterium that infects wounds in oak tissue/acorns. Lots of dark acorns, lots of “foaming” ones, and one that looked like it hadn’t been fertilized yet, so it was just a “female flower”; nothing was left attached to the cap buy a thin, white, skeletal-looking wick. So weird.

Here are the photos from today:

The water in the river is still really low right now; you can walk across it in places. At one spot near the river bank, I saw a Red-Shouldered Hawk in a tree, a Black Phoebe and some Spotted Sandpipers on the rocks, some Mallards in the water, and a Turkey Vulture on the opposite bank. They all pretty much ignored each other. A trio of Belted Kingfishers flew over a couple of times, chattering to one another, but they didn’t land anywhere near me so… no photos of them. I DID see the hawk later on in another tree being beaten up by some Northern Mockingbirds who wanted him to move along.

I also found an Assassin Bug nymph on some of the rushes by the water, and on a Coyote Brush bush, I found some more Lace Bugs. Some of the lace bugs were tannish-brown while others were pure white. I don’t know if that meant they were different species, or simply different instars of the same species. On the underside of some of the leaves, I think I saw the eggs covered in “varnish”.

“… Lace bug eggs are found on the lower leaf surface, usually alongside or inserted into a leaf vein. Adult females secrete a varnish-like substance over the eggs that hardens into a scab-like protective covering…”
I just think they are sooooo interesting.

I walked for about 3 hours and then headed home. This was hike #70 in my annual hike challenge.


  1. Assassin Bug, Leafhopper Assassin Bug, Zelus renardii [nymph]
  2. Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans
  3. Black-Necked Stilt, Himantopus mexicanus [flyby]
  4. California Mugwort, Artemisia douglasiana
  5. California Towhee, Melozone crissalis
  6. Canyon Live Oak, Quercus chrysolepis
  7. Coast Live Oak, Quercus agrifolia
  8. Convoluted Gall Wasp, Andricus confertus
  9. Coyote Brush, Baccharis pilularis
  10. Drippy Nut, Lonsdalea quercina populi [bacterium that affects acorns]
  11. Flat-Topped Honeydew Gall Wasp, Disholcaspis eldoradensis
  12. Formica Ant, Lasius americanus
  13. Gall Inducing Wooly Aphid, Stegophylla essigi [in live oaks, folds the leaf over itself; sometimes the leaf turns red/reddish]
  14. Gouty Stem Gall Wasp, Callirhytis quercussuttoni
  15. Green Lacewing, Chrysopa coloradensis
  16. Jumping Oak Gall Wasp, Neuroterus saltatorius
  17. Lace Bug, Corythucha sp.
  18. Live Oak Bud Gall Wasp, Callirhytis quercusagrifoliae
  19. Mallard Duck, Anas platyrhynchos
  20. Mimosa, Persian Silk Tree, Albizia julibrissin
  21. Northern Catalpa, Indian Bean Tree, Catalpa speciosa
  22. Northern Mockingbird, Mimus polyglottos
  23. Oak Apple, California Gall Wasp, Andricus quercuscalifornicus
  24. Oregon Ash, Fraxinus latifolia
  25. Pennyroyal, Mentha pulegium
  26. Pumpkin Gall Wasp, Dryocosmus minusculus
  27. Red Cone Gall Wasp, Andricus kingi
  28. Red-Shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus
  29. Round Gall Wasp, Cynpis conspicuus [round gall near base of leaf on Valley Oaks, formerly Besbicus conspicuus]
  30. Round-Gall Wasp, Fuzzy Gall, Burnettweldia washingtonensis [round, fuzzy, on twigs]
  31. Soft Rush, Juncus effusus
  32. Spined Turban Gall Wasp, Antron douglasii [summer gall, pink, spikey top]
  33. Spotted Sandpiper, Actitis macularius
  34. Tarweed, Pit-Gland Tarweed, Holocarpha virgata
  35. Turkey Vulture, Cathartes aura
  36. Two-Horned Gall Wasp, unisexual gall, summer generation, Dryocosmus dubiosus [small, green or mottled, on back of leaf along the midvein]
  37. Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
  38. Vinegarweed, Trichostema lanceolatum
  39. Yellow Wig Gall Wasp, Andricus fullawayi
  40. Yellowjacket, Western Yellowjacket, Vespula pensylvanica
Posted on August 23, 2021 04:12 PM by simpylmare55 simpylmare55 | 0 comments | Leave a comment

August 30, 2021

A Lifer and the Bugs, 08-24-21

I got up around 6:00 this morning, and it was a glorious 55° outside. I love the cool air! I got Esteban fed and pottied and was out the door by 6:30 to head over to William Land Park for a walk. I was hoping to find some praying mantises in the gardens, but… I didn’t see a one. It still bothers me how few insects I’m seeing…
I did, however, find a nice collection of Sycamore Lace Bugs on various leaves of a California Sycamore tree; adults and nymphs in various instars.
"...Sycamore lace bug gets its name from the lacy pattern seen on the adult’s wings, head, and thorax (chest region). Adult lace bugs are about 1/8 inch (3mm) in length. The wingless nymphs are smaller, oval and are dark colored. Adults and nymphs occur together in groups or clusters on the underside of leaves. The bug’s life cycle consists of seven different stages of development: an egg stage, five nymph stages and an adult stage, and can have several generations in a year. It can overwinter as eggs in leaves or as adults in protected locations such as under bark and fallen leaves and other debris near host plants..."
In the WPA Rock Garden the Sea Squill were in bloom all over the place; tall white pillars of flowers. They’re so pretty. When the flowers fade, they leave behind stalks of mitered seed pods.
In the middle pond, there are still waaaaay too many Sacred Lotus plants, leaving the ducks and geese only a tiny area of water in which to congregate. I could see some minnows in the water, but none of the crayfish that usually occupy the pond. At least there were bees around the lotus flowers…That made me feel a little better.
In one spot, there was a White-Breasted Nuthatch, a Black Phoebe, and some goldfinches all within viewing distance, along with a Yellow Warbler (a “lifer” for me; I’ve never seen one in the wild before). The warbler flew out into the lotus plants on the water after bugs and was assaulted by an Anna’s Hummingbird.
I was looking for information about the warblers through the Cornell site, and was surprised that a lot of the sections said, “Little information” or “No information”. So apparently, although the bird can be found across the US, it hasn’t been studied very closely by anyone. Amazing.
“…Captures insects by gleaning (picking food from a surface while perched), sallying (flying out after airborne prey) or hovering (picking food from a surface while in flight)… Primarily monogamous, but occasional polygynous matings… Yellow Warbler abundantly recorded host of Brown-headed Cowbird; a consequence, in part, of the warbler's own abundance and broad sympatry with Brown-headed Cowbird…”
I could also see adult and immature Western Bluebirds, some of them drinking sprinkler water from the seat of the stone benches. The adults looked like they were going through a major molt. In fact, a LOT of the birds I saw were at some level in their molts. Everyone’s getting ready for winter. Even the crows were scruffy looking.

Here are my photos from today:

I saw a lot of squirrels, all being… squirrelly. There was one that was eating greens on the lawn, and another one that was scrambling about like madman. I think he was sexually frustrated or something because he kept bouncing off the trees and jumped a piece of wood. Hah!

Squirrel video snippet #1:
Squirrel video snippet #2:

At the large pond, the landscape maintenance crews are letting some of the plants grow wild. There’s now a huge bed of mint plants in one area, and the pokeweed plants are now towering overhead, about 7 feet tall with thick trunks. I’ve never seen them that big anywhere before so it was kind of a shock. They’re pretty plants but very poisonous.
“…Pokeweed is poisonous to humans, dogs, and livestock. In early spring, shoots and leaves (not the root) are edible with proper cooking, but they later become deadly, and the berries are also poisonous… It has simple leaves on green to red or purplish stems and a large white taproot. The flowers are green to white, followed by berries which ripen through red to purple to almost black which are a food source for songbirds such as gray catbird, northern mockingbird, northern cardinal, and brown thrasher, as well as other birds and some small animals (i.e., to species that are unaffected by its mammalian toxins).. The seeds have long viability, able to germinate after many years in the soil...”
I saw a lot of Western Bluebirds flying into and out of the plants stealing the ripe berries, but they moved too fast for me to get photo of them.
Along the edge of the large pond, I also saw a Double-Crested Cormorant, sans crests, drying itself off after a swim, looking for fish in the water. The birds don’t have the water-proofing on their feathers like ducks and geese do, so their feathers can get water logged. Then the cormorants move to a safe spot and stand with their backs to the sun and their wings held up in the “heraldic” position to dry them. This particular cormorant must have been relatively used to humans because it picked a spot where it was approachable, and it didn’t startle or jump back in the water when I walked around it to get a few more photos.
I was also happy to see a group of Muscovy Ducks grooming themselves in the grass. The Muscovy Ducks have knobby, gnarled red modeling on the heads and faces which I think is so interesting looking. And I like their heavy yellowish legs and feet; it looks like they’re wearing big duck-foot-shaped rubber boots. They’re the only domesticated duck that isn’t genetically related to the Mallards (like the Swedish Blues, Pekins, and Indian Runners).
I walked for about 3 hours and by then it was 71° outside. This was hike #72 in my annual hike challenge.

Posted on August 30, 2021 03:54 PM by simpylmare55 simpylmare55 | 0 comments | Leave a comment