|Potato-shaped gall growing on valley oak tree|
|Wood duck illustration on bridge plaque|
|Bridge over Willow Slough|
At the branches of some oak trees you will notice yellowish brown or dark brown galls—often ball-shaped, occasionally potato-shaped like the one shown above. They develop when wasps lay their eggs in the bark. I saw numerous valley oak trees with dense clusters of galls. Judging by tree appearance they do not harm the growth or well-doing of the trees.
The valley oak trees populate most of the area north of the slough between the railroad tracks and Franklin Boulevard. The trail loop intersects with Franklin Boulevard and continues southwest toward the boardwalk and back to the visitor center. At the end of the half-mile-long boardwalk you will find a viewing platform. Wildlife viewing here is most interesting when the ponds are flooded and the area turns into wetland, providing opportunities to see ducks, geese, swans and shorebirds. Wading birds such as ashy gray sandhill cranes with their bare red-topped heads roost in the ponds of the preserve. The significance of the preserve as a crane stop is highlighted by featuring them in the Cosumnes River Preserve logo and in the crane sculpture in front of the visitor center.
|Boardwalk with viewing platform during the dry season|