4 August, 2019
This past week I was able to assist my wife in running from Marysville, Kansas to Beatrice, Nebraska along a trail that runs along the Big Blue River. I help by stopping at the trailheads in towns that are about 6-8 miles apart by trail and waiting for her to show up and refill water or grab a small snack. This also allows me to get some birding done in places that I might not ever go to otherwise.
The birding was great throughout the day as she made her way further and further north, but the diversity I saw in Beatrice was nothing like what I was able to find at some of the other stops. What Beatrice lacked in diversity it more than made up for with the experiences that I shared with the birds that I saw, starting with a lone male American Kestrel.
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Two juvenile Great Blue Herons (Ardea herodias) and a Great Egret (Ardea alba) were hanging out at the same “water” in Green-Wood recently. Ardea is Latin for heron, herodias is Greek for heron. Alba is white. The egret was scarfing down small fry with abandon. Never saw either of the herons make a strike. (“Heron” and “egret” are basically interchangeable, but we’ll go with the common name distinction.)And the herons were much jumpier, stirred up by people and vehicles. Last year a juvenile here seemed quite unconcerned by people. Different experiences, different personalities.
Looking a bit like mushrooms, these galls on the leaves of this white oak in Green-Wood are the results of yet another Cynipidae gall wasp, Phylloteras poculum. Mine was the third iNaturalist report of this species. I tracked the species down on bugguide.net. Bugguide.net doesn’t have an image of the actual (tiny) wasp.
So this one oak tree has a minimum of three different galls on it.