Butterfly Eggs, Deer and Fungi

It’s Cesar Chavez Day, and I have the day off.  The last day of my “recovery” period; gotta go back to work tomorrow.  I slept in until around 8:00 am and then went over to the American River Bend Park for a walk.  I wanted to get outside before the next rain storm came through.  It was overcast, in the 50’s, but nice.  As during my trip to the refuge yesterday, I saw a LOT of rabbits today.  It’s reproduction time for all the little “prey animals” so they’re everywhere.  Saw a lot of bugs and fungi on the walk, but mostly came across Mule Deer.  While I was trying to photograph one group, a woman came by with her unleashed (?!?!)  dog.  The dog startled the deer and they jumped out of my view.  I said to the woman, “Thanks a lot.  You ruined my shot,” and she just looked at me. *Sigh*  Later on, I came across another small group of deer, and got some photos and video of a mama deer licking her yearling’s face while he kept his eyes on me.  So cute!

CLICK HERE FOR THE VIDEO.

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Jackrabbit City!

Today is in between two rain storms, so I thought I’d take a run out to the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge in Glenn County to do a little bird-watching with the dog.  The trip makes for a long day: it’s 2 hours in and 2 hours back, and then whatever time I use for walking or diving around the preserve but I like it out there.  There are usually very few people, and I like hearing all the bird noise.  The drive in included miles and miles of dense fog, and I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to see anything at the refuge if the fog persisted.  Luckily, it wasn’t hanging over Glenn County, so it wasn’t an issue.  The day was cool and crisp (around 50° all the while I was there), with intermittent sun and overcast.   It was also very breezy.

Rather than seeing a lot of cool birds around today, it seemed like there were jack rabbits everywhere.  Every time we turned around, there were one or two within eye shot.  Some even (albeit unwittingly) followed us up the trails.  Sergeant Margie was a very good boy, and didn’t try to chase any of them, but he did bark at a few.  Most of the birds we saw were the usual suspects: ducks, geese, Grackles, Sparrows, shorebirds…  All the while we were out walking around, I could hear the loud “angry” calls of ring-necked pheasants, but they were always out of sight or covered by vegetation so I couldn’t get any clear photos of them.  Two kewl sightings were: a flock of American White Pelicans (which I saw at a distance.  At first, I wasn’t sure what I was looking at, they were so far away, but then I saw the big yellow beaks.), and some Black Ibises.  I had been hoping to see an Ibis all day, and just as I started heading around the bend in the trail back to the car, a group of them landed in a shallow puddle near me, so I got some photos of them.  Yay!

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On the way home, I could a huge rain cloud hunkered down over the highway, and just knew I was going to have to drive through that ting to get home.  And sure enough, I did.  It poured so hard for a few minutes that I could hardly see the road.  Yikes!  But once I got through it, it was sun-shiny the rest of the way home.  I got to the house about 3:00 pm, so it was a long day, but I enjoyed myself.  The dog went right to his water dish, drank a lot, and then went to bed.  Hah!

My First Live Sighting of a Great Horned Owl!

Around 10 o’clock headed out to the American River Bend Park again for a walk.  My cold-pneumonia thing is still clinging on, but I actually feel like I have a bit more energy today, so hopefully I’ll be in recovery-mode from here on out.

I went to the park hoping to see some good fungi or slime molds after the rain we had, but there wasn’t much of that to see… Although, I did find a huge specimen of polypore fungus on a stump.  We also saw woodpeckers and other birds, deer, and rabbits.  And I found a few first instar Pipevine Swallowtail caterpillars… just hatchlings… and a female Snakefly (which are cool-looking flies with long extended heads and heavy mouth parts).  I could tell it was a girl by the long ovipositors on the backend.  They lay their eggs in the bark of trees, and the babies eat grubs and other eggs.

But the best sighting of the day was early on:  I could hear a group of Acorn Woodpeckers in a tree just having a fit, jumping up and down, flashing their wings, jabbering… so I went over to see what the fuss was about and if I could get some photos.  I couldn’t get any good photos of the woodpeckers because they kept moving around and the camera didn’t know what to focus on.  I then looked around to see what was setting them off, and spotted it in a nearby tree.  At first I couldn’t really tell what it was.  It was tan and brown and looked like a shaggy heap.  I caught a glimpse of feathers, but they seemed disjointed, and then got a glimpse of “tassels” on the top of the head.  It was so big I thought it might be a bobcat with a bird or something.  But then it straightened itself out, shook out its wings and swiveled its head around and I realized it was huge Great Horned Owl. It just sat up there, blinking slowly, looking like it was dozing off.  I think I ended up standing there for about 20 minutes just watching it.  Half of all the photos I took today were of the owl… It was sooo gorgeous… It was lighter in coloring than I’d expected a Great Horned Owl to be so when I got home, I looked it up in one of my bid books and discovered that its coloring is called “Arctic” and is a “light-morph” variation of the standard coloring.  Neat!

At the Cosumnes River Preserve

I got up around 7:30 am, but didn’t get out until later in the afternoon.  I just took it slow this morning, easing into the day.  I had some eggs and leftover steak with coffee for breakfast, went through my emails, and watched a movie before heading out to the Consumnes River Preserve for a walk.  The dog isn’t allowed there and, as it’s a weekday, there weren’t very many other visitors so I was pretty much by myself.  I just walked along the boardwalk and some of the ponds.  There were all sorts of clouds overhead, but sunshine, too, so the sun was warm and the breeze was cold — my favorite kind of weather.  I saw the ubiquitous ducks and geese, along with sparrows, Red-winged Blackbirds, Phoebes and other birds… It was a slow and relatively uneventful walk but really nice.  Quiet, comfortable, filled with nature…