They're Baaaaaackkk! Sunday, 10/23/16
Looks like our rainy season has begun, and most, if not all, Californians would give a loud HUZZUH over this news! More rain is in our forecast for the upcoming week, the off-on variety, and we'll take any rain we get. Tomorrow the clouds roll in ... so, today looked like our best chance to get out for a nice walk. I say, "nice," but today was one of those that can't be beat: Sunny, breezy and warm (as in, neither hot nor cold), all just right. We decided to walk on our canal trail, driving and parking this time to start where the trail begins.
I didn't take my camera, just my phone. Above you see Jimmy on the trail beneath deciduous Big Leaf Maple (Oregon Maple) trees. With the wind a-blowin', those oversized golden leaves were spiraling onto the path, but if they hit the water, they floated away downstream like miniature rafts. I liked crunching the crispy ones under my shoes. Some of those leaves are larger than the average dinner plate.
The wooden sign in the shadowy foreground sez: Woodpecker Wildlife Preserve. We can usually count on hearing a woodpecker out here. As we looked across the valley to the hills beyond, we spotted Highway 20 before it ascends into the Tahoe Nat'l Forest -- the way we get to Donner Summit or Reno.
Which end is which on this Woolly Bear? We dodged it and several Banana slugs, sparing lives right and left as we walked along. Woolly Bears are soft, and if you pick one up, it'll curl into a ball in your hand. Cool beans!
I wondered aloud if the ladybugs were back where we saw them last year, so we decided to walk to that area off the main trail. By gum, they ARE back! In droves. Each winter, Convergent Ladybug Beetles hibernate in mountain valleys, far from their aphid food sources, forming huge masses to keep warm, and mate. We are happy they chose this area to hole up!
This area has a large concentration of blackberry bushes ... and ladybugs!
Keeping warm or making babies?
Geez, look at the briars!
One section of a tree trunk (where the bark had split) was simply teeming with ladybugs. We stood still for many minutes, watching the activity, like a beehive. We were fair game, too -- before long ladybugs were crawling on our clothes, hands, etc. Hard to not whack 'em if they land on the back of your neck! They tickle. We watched them soar into the tree tops; they can fly quite high. We didn't see as many as last year, but it may be early for them to congregate. Perhaps more are coming; in fact, I bet there are! We'll check again in a couple of weeks.