My First Close-Up View of a Kite

I got up around 6 o’clock this morning, so I could get over to the Caches Creek Conservancy’s Nature Preserve by 7:45 for their birding tour.  Luckily I had more than enough time to stop and put some gas in the car, and go to the office to microwave some coffee first.  I got to the preserve a little earlier than I’d expected to (which, to me, is always nice; I’m one of those people who’d rather be 2 hours early than 2 minutes late), so I as the first guest there.

It was CHILLY out there, about 29°, so I stayed in the car until they were finished setting up their check-in tables and a couple more guests arrived.  They ended up with about 20 people there, and broke us off into two groups for the walks.  While we were waiting for the walks to start we could all hear some Great Horned Owls hooting at each other in the riparian area, but neither group was able to spot them.  My group did a half-way walk around the wetlands area, and then broke off to walk through the riparian area a little bit.  By the time that break-off happened, though, I had already been on my feet for over 2 hours, and was starting to ache all over, so I walked the rest of the way around the wetlands by myself and got to my car before the rest of my group returned.

As a reward for going that way by myself I got a view of a Great Blue Heron hunkered down by a pool, and also got my very first sighting of a handsome Black-Shouldered Kite.  He was sitting in an oak tree right above the path; mostly glistening-white with light grey wings and dark shoulder patches — and bright red eyes.  So kewl!  I’d seen them in flight before, but never saw one sitting down close enough for me to get a photo of it.  They’re the birds you can sometimes see hovering over and buzz-bombing the rice fields along the Yolo Bypass while they’re hunting for mice…  We also saw geese, ducks, several different kinds of sparrows, a couple of tiny Anna’s Hummingbirds, an egret, Starlings, Scrub Jays, a pair of Tufted Cormorants, a Black-Crowned Night Heron, and several Pie-Billed Grebes. There was also a huge hawk in one of the trees which the experts in the group thought might be a Rough-Legged Hawk, but it was too far away, even for my camera, to get a good look at it.

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I’d like to go back there again to explore more of the riparian and grasslands areas.  I couldn’t do them all in a day, but I enjoyed the walk, the exercise and the sights.