Ducks and a Woolly Caterpillar

I had today off, so I stayed in bed until about 7:30 and then eased into my day.  I had some breakfast and then headed out by myself to the Cosumnes River Preserve.  Normally, I would take Sergeant Margie with me on my walks, but dogs aren’t allowed in this preserve…  It’s still too early in the birding season to see many migrating birds.  I got mostly photos of ducks, Coots, and Stilts… but I did catch sight of several large hawks in flight, and even about a half dozen cranes (but they were too far away to get any clear photos of them).  I’m hoping that by mid-November the numbers of birds will be a lot greater and I can get a lot more interesting photos.  I was able to test out my telephoto lens quite a lot today.  One the “macro” side, as I was walking along the paved path I came across a fuzzy red Salt Marsh Moth caterpillar (Estigmene acrea).  They look like Banded Woolly Bears, are of the the same family, but are all red (rather than red and black).  The little guy I saw was moving pretty fast, but I was able to catch up with it, and get some photos.

According to my research, “…Saltmarsh caterpillars usually are infrequent early in the season, but may attain high numbers by autumn… The eggs are nearly spherical in shape, and measure about 0.6 mm in diameter. Initially they are yellow, but soon become grayish in color. Females commonly produce 400 to 1000 eggs in one or more clusters. It is not unusual to find a single egg cluster containing 1200 eggs. Eggs hatch in four to five days… Populations of saltmarsh caterpillars are highest late in the season and sometimes large numbers may be seen migrating across roads as weed hosts dry out and they search for new food…”

I walked around the preserve for about 2 hours, and then headed back home.

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