Spineless Wonders

Near the “mosquito tree” at 8:30 on 4/5

JO, JH and I scouted Windy Hill on 4/5/12 for our 4/7 hike. We started off at 6:05. There was no Azolla on the pond, and we didn’t see much in the water. Pied-bill Grebe and Mallard visited the pond. Purple Finch, Oak Titmouse, Black Headed Grosbeak, Song Sparrow, Orange-crowned Sparrow, Nuttall’s Woodpecker, Hutton’s Vireo, Common Raven, Red-shouldered Hawk, and Bewick’s Wren sang along the way.

We stopped at the bench at 6:20, and noticed a swarm of insects against the sunlight. We managed to catch one to look at; it was a green midge.

These weren’t around on 4/7 at the time that we got to that spot. We stopped at a puddle in the trail, and found many orange ostracods. Our next stop was at the bench, where we had stashed some aquatic invertebrates ahead of time. We looked at a whirlygig beetle, daphnia, damselfly larvae, and scuds. A cooperative damselfly also appeared. Nearby was a puffball, two gilled mushrooms that had been picked by someone else, and galls. On the old wooden chute we looked at red Cladonia fruiting bodies. Unfortunately, the seasonal pool was dry.

At the log piles at 6:30, we found California Slender Salamander, an Arboreal Salamander, and small millipedes (Julida?), and a pile of millipede scat.

JH went ahead near the bridge to stash some creek invertebrates. The rest of the group arrived at 6:50. We found some myxomycetes (slime molds) nearby, maybe Trichia, and a centipede. While we had dinner, we looked at the critters. There were two kinds of caddisflies, one in a pebble case, and one made of vegetation. Mayfly larvae included Heptageniidae and another family, and a small snail.

We continued on at 7:40. At another log, we found termites. At the dirt bank, we stopped to view a turret and Polydesmida millipedes. Our next stop at 8:00 was a tree in which we’ve previously found treehole mosquitoes. There were small insect larvae and springtails. In another such tree, we found “rat-tailed maggots” in the tannic water.

On our scouting trip, a ground beetle grappled with a millipede.

Ground Beetle closeup, Promecognathus laevissimus?

We’d also seen fluorescent Russula mushrooms. Unfortunately, in two days they had disappeared with no sign.

Other sightings included bats fluttering, a crab spider, tiger beetle larvae, Scaphinotus (snail-eating beetles), multiple darkling-looking beetles on two snags, several native Shoulderband snails, ticks, small Hemipterans, a lavender-colored fungus, and a harvestman. On our scouting trip, we’d also seen an odd gall.

Sierran Treefrogs called, and we heard a Barn Owl and Great Horned Owl. We looked at the fluorescent lichens on the fence, and returned to the pond at 9:50 to see Bullfrog eyeshine, continuing to the lot by 10:00.

Here are a few more photos.

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