Tanoaks 2010

On 7/30/10, JO and I checked out El Corte de Madera’s trees to see if we could find last year’s female flowers. I wish we’d marked them somehow last year. None of the trees on this trip had an obvious odor away from the tree.
We first turned left and went about half a mile. We checked two trees on the right. The first had a few catkins with pollen. A couple of ants roamed around. The second tree, near the first, had small, 1.5cm acorns-in-progress.
We went to where the trail starts to go downhill and meet the road. The third tree, on the left, that we did not observe last year was full of immature acorns. The largest ones were light green.

Along this stretch, we found a labyrinth spider that caught prey, which it held first then spun it while holding it up, and then put it down again. It was a surprise to find a harvestman under a tanoak leaf; usually we only see these close to the ground, at night. We also found one at the opposite end of the trail, a couple of feet off the ground on a plant. Cicadas were ticking and humming.
A thistle had aphids being tended by ants, plus ladybird beetles, which eat aphids.
A metallic green leaf beetle hung around on coyote brush. And under a log was an ants nest, with a pile of larvae and pupae.
Also, we found self-heal next to the trail.

Turning back, we checked the tree near the trailhead. The higher catkins appeared ripe.

Further along, lots of orchids were in bloom.

We stopped for lunch around 12:45-1:00. A robber fly landed on the grass across from us. A few dragonflies patrolled around.

The birds that I heard included Steller’s Jay, Bushtit, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Hutton’s Virero, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Hairy Woodpecker, and Dark-eyed Junco. We saw the woodpecker as we ate lunch.

A tree on the left that we’d noted last year by the nettle patch had long catkins, and some older yellowish green acorns. Another had some leaves that had been chewed upon.

A brown crab spider on nettle appeared to be a male, but after examining the first photo, the palps turned into an ant! Spiders supposedly rarely take ants. We found more true bugs, including a few dark ones on nettle.

The last tree, on Gordon Mill Trail about 1.5 miles from the entrance, had yellow tape from last year. Like last year in August, there was buzzing above our heads. We noted two stages of acorns, and ripe catkins. One had a small black beetle in it. While looking around, I noticed something that I had thought originally was a piece of plant material, but when I looked at it again, it was actually a clump of lacewing eggs attached to the tip of a dead tanoak leaf. After taking several photos, we headed back and finished up at 2:45.

See photos here.