The Butterflies are Returning!

I was going to go to a tracking outing at Cache Creek this morning, but I got up too late, so I packed up the dog and we went to the American River Bend Park instead.  We walked for almost 3½ hours, which is a long walk for the both of us, but we got to see a lot of neat stuff.  The Wild Turkeys were all out strutting on the picnic lawn and on the pathways, and there were deer everywhere.  At one point, I came across a mama with some yearlings.  One of the yearlings was sitting down in the long grass, so I could only see his face at first.  When he stood up a few seconds later, his coat was all wet and cow-licky from the dew in the grass.  Then he stepped up to his mom and put his muzzle against hers like he was going to “kiss” her, and I had it all in focus, looking forward to one of those “National Geographic special” photo opportunities — and right then a group of people came up behind me talking loudly and laughing.  They startled the deer and my shot turned into a blurry mess.  Arrrgh!

As the dog and I walked along, we came across a lot of Pipevine Swallowtail butterflies, including a mating pair, and I even found the first butterfly eggs of the season.  I also found a bright green-gold Tiger Swallowtail chrysalis… While I was getting photos of a large Redbud tree, I found bones strewn all over the area around it.  I assume they were deer bones, and that coyote had pulled the carcass apart.  I found leg bones, most of the spine with the pelvis still attached to it, some ribs and a few other bits.  I don’t know how long they’d been there, but it might’ve been a while.  The bones were pretty white…  In another area I came across a female Mallard duck looking for a place to lay her eggs, and a Mourning Dove gathering up twigs to make her nest.  I also watched an Acorn Woodpecker guarding his cache of acorns.  The tree was so stuffed full with acorns; they were oozing out of some of the holes in it.  Hah!  So, we got lots of exercise today and lots of photos.