I went out at 6:30 with my friend Roxanne to look for Burrowing Owls again. The last time we went looking for them, we saw nothing. So, we were happily surprised to find them in two different locations today: both sites where they had historically been, but hadn’t been seen for over a year. It was windy outside, and the wind was cold, but the owls were out, trying to soak up some sun anyway.
At our first stop, we found just one owl, but there may have been more in the burrows. (They make their homes in abandoned ground squirrel burrows.) I assumed the one we saw was a male because usually the males stand guard outside the burrow during the day.
His beak looked a little bloodied so I assumed he’d recently had some meaty breakfast. According to Cornell: “…Opportunistic feeders, primarily taking insects (mainly grasshoppers, crickets, moths and beetles) and small mammals (e.g. mice, voles, shrews), but will pursue any potential prey they can physically handle including birds, ground squirrels, frogs, snakes, salamanders, earthworms, bats, scorpions, and caterpillars… During the nesting period, insects (e.g. grasshoppers) are the primary prey during the day and are usually captured by females; vertebrates are captured crepuscularly (low light — dawn and dusk), primarily by males…”
I wondered if the wind interfered with bird’s hearing and hampered its hunting ability.
For the most part, Rox and I were able to use the car as a photo blind, so we didn’t startle or disturb the owl. Some of my photos were taken from the car window, holding the camera lens under the mirror; ya do what ya gotta do. I managed o get some good photos and a video snippet here.
This video and the photos don’t really show you how tiny these owls are. He’s maybe 7 inches from the top of his head to the tip of his tail, so, maybe as tall as your open palm is long.
At the second site, we walked along the ag buffer trail and finally saw one of the top of one of the owl’s head; it looked like a pale stone in the high grass. Then we spotted a second owl standing behind the first one.
When we first saw these two, I thought it was an adult and youngster… but now I think the size difference I was seeing was caused by perspective. I think we were looking at two adults, most likely a male/female pair. The owls are generally monogamous, but studies of them in California seem to indicate that because their populations are declining the owls sometimes take on other partners. “… 5–10% of offspring resulted from extra-pair fertilization…”
Seeing the two there made me hopeful that in a month or so we might be seeing babies. According to the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation:
“…The eggs are incubated for 28-30 days and then the chicks begin hatching asynchronously. At hatching, the chicks are helpless and mostly covered in a white down… After about 14 days, the chicks are big enough to emerge and spend some time outside… After emergence, the chicks spend more and more time outside. They begin learning how to pounce on prey and how to stretch their wings (Figure 5). Feathers continue to grow and develop and the chicks slowly lose the downy look and develop the light brown spotted pattern of an adult.
“Older chicks will also begin to use satellite burrows next door to the main burrow. They will spend time helicoptering their wings as a strength-building exercise, and eventually they begin to fly. After 44 to 53 days post-hatch, chicks are considered fledged and can leave the nest, though many stay longer. By the end of the season, the fledglings are strong flyers and have adult feather patterns, making it very hard to distinguish the adults from the young of the year…”
Because these owls were further away from us and obscured by grass for most of the time, it was more difficult to get clear photos of them. Rox got a good one of the male and posted it to Facebook with the caption, “Tiny experts at judgy face.” Hah!
While we were out, we also saw some White-Tailed Kites, sparrows and Black Phoebes on our walk among other stuff.
I got up with the alarm at 6:30 am and was out the door with my friend and fellow naturalist, Roxanne, to go over to the Hinkle Creek Nature Area in Folsom. We got there a little before 8:00 am and met up with our new acquaintance, Colleen W.
None of us had ever been there before, so we weren’t really sure what to expect. The nature area is just outside the manicured Lew Howard Park. When we first drove in, we didn’t know which was to go to find the trailhead, and ended up in someone’s driveway. D’oh! The owner was outside working on her garden and walked up to the car to see what we wanted, but she hadn’t put her hearing aids in, so she couldn’t hear or understand a word we said. We apologized for trespassing, and drove back out again.
CLICK HERE for the full album of photos from today.
We finally found the little gravel parking area right in front of the trailhead and were parked there for just a few minutes before Colleen showed up to join us. She’s an avid birder, so she was able to help us identify some of the bird by their song. In turn, we were able to help her with plant and lichen identification.
I think we figured we saw and/or heard about 20 different bird species including California and Spotted Towhees, finches, Western Bluebirds, Dark-Eyed Juncos, Audubon’s Warblers, and the like. Nothing really “new” to us.
Among the lichen we saw Gold Dust and Green Shield Lichen on the trees, and Emery Rock Tripe, Crater and Cinder Lichen on the rocks among others.
The trail there is about a mile loop, part of it cut out and part of it more like a game trail with markers all along it. It follows the curves of the hills and can be rocky in some spots and muddy in others. There’s also a foot bridge over the creek. It’s all surrounded by a variety of native and non-native trees and plants. Many of the plants are just starting to come into flower like the miner’s lettuce, chickweed, and manroot. It was really quite lovely…and not too far a drive to go back later in the season when, hopefully, wildflowers will be blooming.
When we were done with our walk there, we bid Colleen goodbye and headed back to Sacramento. We stopped briefly at the Watt Access to the American River before going home. Just as we started home, the winds picked up and blew for the rest of the day.
I got up around 6:30 this morning, and headed over to the American River for a walk. It was partly cloudy when I left the house, but pretty much cleared up by the afternoon. Because it had rained during the night, everything was wet and there were big puddles all around.
I started off by going to the Gristmill Accessto the river; I’d never been there before but wanted to check it out. The entry was another one of those drop-down-off-a-cliff int o the gravel parking area which wasn’t very large. There is a single short trail (about a ½ mile out and back), some porta-potties and ready access to the rocky shore of the river.
Right next to the parking area near the top of a tree was a Red-Tailed Hawk sitting on its nest, squawking away. I got the impression that it was a male, based on its coloring and the fact that it didn’t have a brood patch (where the female hawks lose their feathers to expose their skin to their eggs to keep them warm.)
The trail is narrow and follows the up and down curves of the hillsides. It’s right behind a residential area, so there are a lot of non-native trees and plants mixed in with the wild native stuff. I could identify Live and Valley Oak trees, Cottonwood trees, lots of elderberry trees and some non-native almond trees. I think I also spotted a Silverleaf Oak among the trees, which I’d never seen before. I wonder if it gets any kind of galls on it.
[Speaking of galls, remember that Russo’s new book is coming out in March of this year.]
On the ground were the usual suspects like vetch, manroot, bedstraw, Mugwort, horehound, and miner’s lettuce in the tall grass.
There are bird boxes everywhere, from small bluebird boxes, to duck boxes to larger barn owl boxes. Each box was numbered, so I assumed someone it keeping track of them. I checked that out online after I got home and found that the Sacramento Audubon Society set most of them up and tracks what’s there.
“…An amazing number of rarities have been found here: Eastern Wood-Pewee, Red-eyed Vireo, Tennessee Warbler, Northern Parula, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Blackburnian Warbler, Bay-breasted Warbler, Blackpoll Warbler, Black-and-white Warbler, Hooded Warbler, and Rose-breasted Grosbeak… Jeri Langham and his cadre of friends and students scour it, sometimes several times a day, during migration. Gristmill is big enough to attract and hold interesting birds, but small enough and open enough to allow for good coverage…”
Cool! I don’t know what most of those birds are! And most warblers are tiny, fast-moving birds, so I’ll need to keep a sharper eye out myself. CLICK HERE for more information on what to look for along the river.
I saw a large Blewit and lot of Yellow Fieldcap mushrooms in the grass, but not much else in the way of fungi (although I stuck pretty much to trail during this first time out).
In the surrounding trees, bushes and blackberry vines were White-Crowned Sparrows, Spotted Towhees, and Oak Titmice.
The trail looks down on the river, so I got to see quite a few birds in and around the water including a Snowy Egret, Coots, Common Goldeneyes, Wood Ducks and Common Mergansers (which I’m sure will be occupying some of the duck boxes as spring approaches), and Bufflehead ducks.
Some of the male Buffleheads were doing their head-bobbing courtship dances which is always so funny to watch, but I also saw some of them dive down under the surface of the water — which was clear enough and shallow enough to see through. As I watched, I could see one male dive and launch himself like a torpedo toward another male, then crash into the other male causing it to panic and leap out of the water. Hah! That’s one way to take out the competition.
Back and forth across the river and through the trees was a pair of Belt Kingfishers flying around, chattering at one another, and face-planting into the water for fish. The female stopped a few times so I could get photos of her, but the male just wouldn’t sit still.
I came across some European Starlings fussing near the top of the tree. It looked like one of them had found a nesting cavity, but was doing house cleaning, taking out beakfuls of detritus from inside the cavity and tossing it out onto the trail.
The biggest surprise of the walk was finding a tiny Western Screech Owl napping in one of the duck boxes. It must’ve been dozing during the early morning rain because some of its feathers were still wet. Such a cutie.
I spent about an hour out there, just doing the out and back. I want to get back there, though, to spend more time when the plants are more fully fledged and the birds are doing their thing. I then headed over to the American River Bend Parkto finish off my walk and look for fungi.
At the park, I found some new outcroppings of False Turkey Tail, jelly fungi, and the first emerging horsehair mushrooms. I was hoping for some coral or bird’s nest fungus but I didn’t find any of those.
The Wild Turkeys were out strutting. There was a large group of males near a group of females, and among them was a much-smaller turkey who was the “wrong color”. Adult males have iridescent black bodies; this one was predominantly brown. It was also about half the size of the adult males. Additionally, its face was more like a female’s, without all the heavy red caruncles. So, I didn’t know what I was looking at: was it a horny teenager, or a female with too many male hormones?
I posted video and photos to some birding groups on Facebook so see if I could get an answer. One speculated that it might have been an Alpha Female showing off for the group… But I thought Alpha Females only displayed male behavior when there were no males around. There were plenty of males here. My sister Melissa suggested that it was a lesbian female…which kind of makes more sense to me.
I also saw quite a few deer — most of them at a distance — including some does, and some two- and three-pointer males still hanging onto their antlers.
The big surprise here was seen as I was leaving the park. I stopped by the spot where Great Horned Owls had nested last year… and found mama owl sitting on the nest today. Yay! I’m looking forward to owlets!
I got up around 6:30 am. It was a lovely day; a Goldie Locks day; not too h-ot, not too cold… I had originally planned to go out to Beales Point at Folsom Lake with my friend and fellow naturalist Roxanne, and our new buddy Colleen, but then we discovered that the water in the lake was so low, we’d have to walk as much as a half mile just to get to it. I didn’t think I could manage that — all that walking before getting close enough to see anything — so we re-scheduled with Colleen to go out next week to Hinkle Creek, and Rox and I decided to check out the Watt Avenue accessto the American River today.
We’d never been there before and didn’t really know what to expect. We ended up seeing more than we thought we might.
You enter the park from La Riviera Drive. Pay the day-use fee at the kiosk (or use your annual pass) and then drive forward. You can’t see where you’re going for a moment, because there is a very steep drop from the payment kiosk down to the riverside parking area. It looks like you’re driving off a cliff for a minute! Rox drove down the incline and parked in a designated parking spot. [I took a photo of one car that was parked right next to a NO PARKING sign, blocking part of the boat launch ramp.]
There’s a paved trail that runs alongside the oak and cottonwood tree forested riparian strip that can be used by hikers, bikers and equestrians. But there is also a narrow dirt footpath that runs closer to the riverside and even provides access to shallow beaches and the water. This is the path Rox and chose to start with. One of the first things we found were bug galls on the Coyote Brush bushes.
Most of the trees are pretty much still naked, but some of the willows were bursting with catkins, and so were what looked like red maples and elderberry bushes. The vervain was growing up and leafing out, as were the Mugwort and bur chervil plants. In a couple of months, when things green up more, it should be gorgeous there.
Manroot vines were lifting themselves up off the ground like snakes; we also found one vine that was already in flower with the male and females flowers very evident and identifiable. Some of the female flowers were starting their seed pods. On one of the vines was feeding a troupe of Boxelder Bugs. Because it was still chilly, and a bit damp by the river, the insects were pretty torpid, so it was easy to get photos of them.
The one plant we were expecting but didn’t see much of were pipevines. We only found one small plant near the end of our walk there.
In the water were Great Egrets, Mallards, Common Goldeneye ducks, Common Mergansers, Canada Geese and even a white Chinese Goose. There was birdsong all around us and we were able to identify some of it: Spotted Towhees, Scrub Jays, Starlings, hummingbirds, Red-Shouldered Hawks. We saw one of the hawks land in a nearby tree, but he’d chosen a very spindly soft branch to settle on and it kept bending out from under him. He had to keel adjusting his stance and flapping his wings to keep himself stable. There were also a lot of gulls in the water.
There seemed to be Nuttall’s Woodpeckers all over the place. We were able to get photos of a few of them… and wondered if it was just the same bird that kept moving from tree to tree in front of us. Hah!
We could hear California Quail calling to each other, and eventually came across a spot where they were running through the leaflitter into a clump of wild blackberry vines. They move so fast when they’re on the run, getting picture of them was difficult.
There were a few fungi showing themselves here and there along our route, especially the Yellow Fieldcaps which showed up in fairy circles here and there in the long grass. We found some nice specimens of Splitgills, Silky Pinkgills, Goldenhaired Inkcaps, and also some large Oyster Mushrooms among others.
When I bent down to pull up a piece of a log that had a smudge of what looked like slime mold on it, we discovered a very large Western Toad hiding under it! Although he peed all over me when I picked him up, the toad was pretty amenable and let us take photos of him from every angle until we put him back in the grass. He was a surprise, and one of my favorite finds of the day.
And, yes, there was some slime mold on the log, some Carnival Candy, Arcyria denudata. Woot!
All along the trail, we noticed that there were white spot painted on some of the trees. At first we thought they were marking trees that needed to be cut down, but then we realized that the marks were all at the same height on each of the trees. I speculated that maybe they were indicators of the water level of the river when it rose.
That made me worry a little bit about the homeless people who had camps along the edge of the river. If there was a sudden release from Folsom Dam, they’d all be washed away. We were careful to avoid those encampments, or at least give them a wide berth when we saw them. The mental health of homeless folks is always a concern for me… and those people we saw weren’t wearing masks for COVID.
We walked as far as we could along the dirt trail we were on, then climbed up the bank to the paved trail along the top of the levee, and used that to walk back to the car. The round-trip route was a little over a mile so it counted as hike #18 of my #52HikeChallenge.
CLICK HERE for the full album of photos from the Watt Avenue Access.
We were still feeling strong and nature-curious, so we went over to the Effie Yeaw Nature Preserve and did a mile turn there, too. That’s a lot of walking for me, and I was dragging at the end of it, but there were a few surprises for us along the way here, too.
While I was waiting for Rox to get her annual park pass, I waited outside on the opening of the main trail and saw a Red-Shouldered Hawk sitting on a nearby tree. I kept saying to myself, “Stay there until Rox gets here, stay there until Rox gets here…” Hah! The hawk did stay there, and when Rox joined me on the trail, the hawk’s mate showed up. There was a very brief interaction, and then the two sat side-by-side for a moment before the mate flew off again. Wham-bam, thank you, ma’am.
As we then headed out on our walk there, we found an outcropping of several large Blewit mushrooms. One was around 5 inches wide across the cap! All of them were old specimens that had started to lose their lavender hue, but still held onto some of that on the stipe.
Along the trail, we also found other mushrooms like Yellow Fieldcaps, some Jack-o-Lanterns, Brittlestems, and a Grey Knight. The best find, though, was one by Rox. She found a nice group of perfect little Bleeding Mycena.
The Bleeding Mycena (also called Bleeding Fairy Caps, eew) don’t bleed blood, of course. They bleed a dark red latex when the cap or stipe is broken, but they have a white spore print. These ‘shrooms, along with the mycelia that support them, are supposed to be bioluminescent. The first cluster that Rox found was right near some Jack-o-Lanterns, which are also bioluminescent… so it was like a whole Halloween theme going on there!
Near the back of the nature center there was a pipevine plant that was in blossom. We knew that fungus gnats often get into the calabash shaped flowers to pollinate them, so I held one of the blossoms up to the sunlight. We could see the gnat shadows inside of it, flittering around. As Rox opened up the belly of the flower, the gnats emerged. I tried getting video, but the camera kept shifting its focus. I DID get some still shots, though.
I showed Rox where I had seen the Red Raspberry Slime Mold the other day, and there were still some remnants of it, but it was mostly dark and gone to spore by this time. Further along the trail, we came across some white slime mold, Stemonitopsis typhina, sometimes called White-Finger Slime Mold (or “Dead Man’s Fingers” because the white fingers eventually turn black and disintegrate as they go to spore. Their spores are lilac-brown.)
Remember, that slime molds start out as single-celled amoeba-like critters that roam free all over the forest floor, feeding on detritus and bacteria. When temperatures are right and food sources start to dwindle, the single-celled guys get together with hundreds of others (finding each other through hormone secretions) and form a plasmodium which continues as a group to move along until they find a place that will be support them while they reproduce. Then the plasmodium changes into the sporangia, the fruiting body stage. In some slime molds, some of the critters sacrifice themselves and form the stalks that support fruiting heads. Those that form the stalks die and never reproduce. Those that fruit, go to spore… and then the whole cycle starts again.
The white slime mold we found was in two sections: one was in the sporangia stage with white fruiting heads on top of black stalks, and the other was in the plasmodium stage, the watery-white plasma just starting to form globules. Very cool.
We saw several deer along the trail, including a doe being harassed by a persistent buck. She must have been in estrus because he wasn’t leaving her alone — but she could hardly walk. It looked like one of her hips wasn’t working right and she limped badly as she tried to walk away and avoid the buck’s advances. At one point, she actually fell to the ground and sat there for a moment before getting back onto her feet. We felt sooooo bad for her. When I got home, I sent an email to the nature center to alert them to the does distress.
This interaction was taking place near the bee-tree. I’ve been lamenting because I haven’t seen any bee action at the tree for a couple of months. Today, both Rox and I saw some single bees moving around the tree. I’ll keep an eye on it over the spring to see if the hive revives…
CLICK HERE for the full album of photos from the Effie Yeaw Nature Preserve.
We walked for over a mile here, too, so it counts as hike #19 of my #52HikeChallenge. Of course, it takes us “forever” to go a mile because we stop to look at everything. We were out for about 6 hours!
By the time we were done at Effie, we were both hungry, so Rox treated us to a lunch at Bella Bru. We haven’t been able to do that since COVID started… just about a year to the day. It was a kind of “celebration” for us.
Anna’s Hummingbird, Calypte anna
Bark Rim Lichen, Lecanora chlarotera [looks like Whitewash Lichen but has apothecia]
Valentine’s Day. I was up around 7:00 am and headed over to William B. Pond Parkfor a walk even though I was in pain. It was about 46° when I got there, mostly cloudy and threatening rain, so I had to wear my jacket.
The first thing I noticed were the Yellow-Billed Magpies. There was one on the ground picking up bits of wood chips, and wondered what it wanted those for. Then I realized it was part of a pair of birds that were building a nest in a tree next to the parking lot. They had the cup pretty much completed.
Cornell says: “…Nest is extremely large structure with mud (or dung) and stick base, stick canopy (dome), and mud bowl lined with animal hair, grass, shredded bark, or rootlets…”
So, I figured they were lining the base of the nest with the wood chips. Cool! As I looked around, I could see two other nests being built in other nearby trees. None of them had their domed tops yet, so I figured all of the birds must’ve started building the nests around the same time. Once the domes are in place, you can’t see into the nests, so — no peeking at the babies.
The Silver Wattle trees are in bloom right now, all decorated with bright yellow puff-balls; the first sign of spring while the cottonwood and oak trees are still pretty much naked. There were tiny bittercress plants showing off, along with some of the Bur Chervil and White Horehound.
There seemed to be Spotted Towhees everywhere I looked today; down on the ground, up in the trees and bushes. You could hear their tow-weeeh calls from all around.
I also saw a solitary Red-Shouldered Hawk sitting in a tree, calling out, warming itself up in the morning sun.
The water in this part of the river was exceptionally low. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it that shallow before. If I were more sure-footed, I could have walked right across it in several spots.
The geese were taking advantage of all of the exposed riverbed and rocky sholes. In one spot there was a group of Turkey Vultures working on what I think was a salmon carcass. A Great Blue Heron was standing behind them. In a shallow pond next to them, male and female Wood Ducks were swimming around.
I got to see a Song Sparrow singing away in the branches of a tree near the shore. And later found a Mockingbird trying out his repertoire.
I only walked for about 2 hours and then headed back home, but this counted as hike #17 in my #52HikeChallenge.
Almond Tree, Prunus dulcis
Belted Kingfisher, Megaceryle alcyon [heard]
Bittercress, Hairy Bittercress, Cardamine hirsuta
Bur Parsley, Bur Chervil, Anthriscus caucalis
California Buckeye Chestnut Tree, Aesculus californica
California Ground Squirrel, Otospermophilus beecheyi
California Quail, Callipepla californica [heard]
California Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma californica
California Sycamore, Platanus racemose
Canada Goose, Branta canadensis
Chinese Praying Mantis, Tenodera sinensis [ootheca]
I got up at 6:30 this morning feeling really good; hardly any pain, feeling strong. I did my morning ablutions stuff, took my meds, and headed over to the Effie Yeaw Nature Preservefor a walk. It was 46° when I got there, and got up to about 54° when I left. I didn’t even have to wear a jacket. It was overcast for the first part of my walk, and then the sun came out during the last half of it.
Yesterday’s rain plumped up the jelly fungi, woke up a few more mushrooms, and fluffed up the lichen. Among the ‘shrooms were some lovely specimens of Destroying Angels and Jack-o-Lanterns. I also found a few Silky Pinkgills – which are actually dark brown mushrooms. Their caps curl up, exposing the gills which are a much lighter hue.
The squirrels, especially the Western Gray Squirrels, were totally squirrelly today! They were running all over the place, up and down and around trees, across fields, and even down the trail and around my feet a couple of times. I think they were happy about the weather, and were so full of hormones the couldn’t be still. It was like Spring Break out there. I saw one female squirrel runup the side of a tree, and get grabbed by a male and tackled down to the ground. Sheesh!
At the other end of the squirrel spectrum were the California Ground Squirrels who seemed extra chunky to me today, and posed outside their burrows for photos. Hah!
In two different puddles, I found hairworms snaking around. I picked up one of them and tried again to get closer photos of their “ends”. One end of the worm was “blunted”, like the nose of a bullet, and the other end had a y-shaped appendage at the end. Apparently, the y-shaped end signifies that this one was a female. She lays strings of eggs with that end once she’s fertilized… I learn more about these things every time I encounter them.
“…Adults mate in water and females lay long gelatinous strings of eggs. Depending on water temperature, the eggs hatch in 2 weeks to 3 months. The life of the microscopic larvae is not completely understood. Within 24 hours of hatching, the worm is thought to form a protective covering or cyst. If the cyst is eaten by a suitable insect, the protective covering dissolves and the released larva bores through the gut wall and into the body cavity of the host. There, it digests and absorbs the surrounding tissue. When mature, it leaves the host insect to start the process again…”
I’ll have to keep an eye out, now, for the egg strings. Photos of them make them look like white, snotty strings that look like over-cooked spaghetti wrapped in s-curved lines. Here’s a good resource.
All along the trail, tiny lupine are starting to show up, along with new horehound plants. I also found a pipevine vine in full flower – just the one. It must have been the herald for the coming spring.
Work on the river bed to make it more enticing for salmon meant the water was lower than it normally would be. I could actually get out a little bit further onto the exposed flat parts riverbed than I could before. From that vantage point I saw two Great Blue Herons, a group of Turkey Vultures on the rocks, a Snowy Egret, a tiny sandpiper, Common Mergansers and some Black Phoebes. I saw one of the herons catch a long white fish, but the action happened so fast, I wasn’t able to get my camera to focus properly on it, so I just got some blurry pix.
There was also a small flock of Killdeer, running all over the rocks and peeping loudly at one another.
According to Cornell, a lot of what I was seeing seemed to be distress and alarm calls: “…With slightest provocation, the nervous dee or te-dit notes erupt into more rapid series of dee s, becoming a soft to loud Trill, the increasing amplitude indicating higher levels of alarm. In agonistic encounters, Trill is usually given with head down and feathers of back and scapular region raised in hunched-back posture as bird faces or chases an intruder…”
Some of it may have also been mixed in with courtship. I saw some the birds put their chests down to the ground as they do when they’re checking out a nesting site, and I saw others bow and spread their tail feathers – not quite like the broken-wing display they do when they’re trying to distract an intruder. It’s called an “Ungulate Display”.
“When Killdeer becomes aware of human or other intruder nearby, it stops to look at intruder, and in that instant its body bobs up and down as if the bird just hiccuped. Most encounters are limited to chasing, parallel runs, and upright threat displays.”
The birds were SO noisy, their sound drown out the calls of other birds nearby, like the phoebes, geese and crows.
Later, when I was back on the trail, I could hear the distinct gravely call of Sandhill Cranes. I looked around for them, and saw a small flock of them flying in v-formation waaaaay overhead against the clouds. It always amazes me how far their call scan travel, and how “close” they sound even when they’re a mile away.
As I was heading out of the preserve, I passed a fallen tree and noticed something bright pink showing from nearly underneath it. I reached down and in with my camera to get a few shots of it, and also took some photos with my cellphone. Checking the images out, I confirmed that it was what I thought it might be: Red Raspberry slime mold! This is the first time I’ve seen that at this location.
The last thing I noted before I left was that on the hill behind the nature center there was a herd of about 10 or 11 deer; young bucks and does. They all seemed to be settling down for a morning rest.
I was still feeling strong enough after the long walk to do a little grocery shopping. I went in for bread and strawberries – and got all sorts of stuff EXCEPT the bread and strawberries so I’ll have to go back tomorrow, I guess, to get them. D’oh!
Acorn Woodpecker, Melanerpes formicivorus
Bark Rim Lichen, Lecanora chlarotera [looks like Whitewash Lichen but has apothecia]