At the Old City Cemetery

I got up around 6:30 am, and I was out the door with the dog to the Sacramento Historic Old City Cemetery for our walk.  We walked for about two hours, and I got lots of photos of the flowers that were in bloom there: hydrangeas, foxglove, lilies, daisies and Echinacea, roses, pansies, strawberries, freesias, gladiolas, etc.  We also saw a flock of American Goldfinches eating seeds of one of the bushes in the place, and a Painted Lady butterfly (like the ones I’d raided from a caterpillar and released last month).  As we were heading out of the cemetery I passed by a eucalyptus tree and noticed there was some of kind of gall-like formations on many of the leaves.  The formations looked like white pimples, and some had loops coming out of the top if them.  They were all waxy-like and sticky (and the ants seemed to really like them).  They were obviously some kind of insect gall, but I’m not sure what kind of insects made them.  We also saw an abandoned bird’s nest…  So lots of fun stuff to see…

Saturday at the Rock Garden

After a very good night’s sleep, I was up around 6:30 am and headed out with the dog to the WPA Rock Garden.  We didn’t stay there for very long, though.  The city is hosting some kind of huge Kids Fair there this weekend (of which I was blissfully unaware) and the place was already crawling with security people and vendors settings things up for the day.  So, as I said, I cut our walk short, but we still got to see a lot of flowers and bugs and stuff.  Among all the blossoming things, I came across a katydid nymph and several assassin bug nymphs, and a pink and yellow striped Raspberry Pyrausta Moth (Pyrausta signatalis).  The star of the garden show, though, was a huge Jack-in-the-pulpit – and when I say huge, I mean the flower from top to bottom was as long as from the top of my head to my waist.  Incredible.  They don’t last very long — only a day or two — so I was happy to be able to see it.


Came Across the Owlet!

This is the first day of my mini-vacation.  I don’t have to go back to work until Tuesday next week.  I slept in a little bit and got up around 7:00 am.  I was off to the American River Bend Park by about 7:30.

The first thing I saw when I got there was the Great Horned Owls… three of them this time; mama, papa, and their fledgling which was almost as big as the adults but still had a lot of its fluffy down on its body.  I think this might have been one of its first flight days.  Mom and dad would fly from tree cluster to tree cluster, and when the baby had bottled up enough courage, it took a short flight after them.  Because they were moving so much, I didn’t get pictures of the adults, but I was able to get pictures of the youngster when he stopped in a tree to rest for a few minutes.  So kewl-looking with his huge yellow eyes.  After that, I saw more of the usual suspects: Acorn Woodpeckers, Western Bluebirds, Wrens… and lots of butterfly chrysalises including some bright green ones left by Tiger Swallowtails.  At one point along the trail I spotted a jackrabbit, and paused to video it.  It made its way through the tall grass and shrubs, and stepped right out onto the trail in front of me.  It paused for a second when it saw me, like “oh shit!”, and then took off in another direction.  Hah!  There were also a lot of lizards out today: alligator lizards and blue-bellies.  I walked for about 2 ½ hours and then headed back home.



Lots of Birds and Their Babies at the River Bend Park

I got up around 6:30 this morning and was out with the dog by about 6:45 am.  It was cool again today; around 70° with just a few stringy clouds.  Very nice.

Sergeant Margie and I went over to the American River Bend Park and walked around there for about 3 hours.  As soon as we drove in we were greeted by a young Mule Deer (a male I think) walking across the grassy-area.  While I took photos of him, a male Mallard Duck flew in from somewhere, right down next to the deer, and they both started poking at the grass.  I got a little bit of video of them together… so cute.  Right overhead, at the same time, was a small flock of Cedar Waxwings in their mating colors, so I got some photos of them, too.  It was a great way to start off our walk!

Further along the way, we came across a pair of Wrens flitting back and forth around their next inside a hole in a tree.  I could see some of the babies inside, mouths gaping for food.  Hah! It looked like their beaks were bigger than their faces.  I got some video of them, as well.  I also found a Tree Swallow nest – and some of the swallows tending to their babies.  Lots of turkeys, geese, Acorn Woodpeckers, Starlings, Nuthatches, and other birds were out, flying around, singing away… The whole forest was full of noise.

The cow vetch and wild grapevines were all out en masse.  The grapevines are already priming themselves to make grapes, too.  We also found about three Tussock Moth caterpillars in different instars, different sizes, and all sorts of Pipevine Swallowtail caterpillars and their chrysalises… I ended up with over 100 photos.  Here are just a few of them: