4-Hour Walk at the River Bend Park

The dogs got me up around 6:30, so I did my morning ablutions stuff and headed out to the American River Bend Park for my walk.  It was super foggy in Sacramento, but when I crossed the Watt Avenue off-ramp, it was almost clear.  Tried out my new hiking/walking shoes, and they seemed to be able to survive the dirt and the wet of the park.  There still isn’t a lot of fungi out yet, but I got some photos of deer and several birds… and it was cool (about 48º) and quiet there; a nice walking environment.  There was a young mule deer who seemed to be following me around; it seemed like every time I looked up, he was within sight.  I finally just walked out toward him to get some close up photos and he let me get to within about 10 feet of him before he turned to walk away.  He had an “ow-ee” over one eyes and a gash in his neck behind his left ear (along with a considerable amount of hair raked off); I wonder if he got them fighting with the more mature bucks over females…  Or if maybe some big predator (coyote or mountain lion) had tried to get a hold of him…

At another point, I encountered a doe with her yearling, and it looked like the doe had the mumps; her cheeks were totally pooched out!  I’d never seen that before.  It was like she ate a bunch of bees or something and they stung her.  I wonder if she just had a big mouthful of food or if she was having an allergic reaction to something.  It looked soooo odd!

I looked the swollen face thing up online when I got home, and several different things can cause it – and none of them are good news for the deer.  “Bottle Jaw” is caused by flukes or worms in the deer’s system (that may be able to be cured with a de-wormer); the lumps are soft and movable.  “Lumpy Jaw” is caused by an infection in the jaw; tissue fills with puss and distends.  Then there’s “Food Impaction” which occurs when the deer eats something that cuts the inside of the cheek open.  Rather than healing up, the wound remains open and fills with more food debris as the deer eats until the whole mass forms a hard ball in the deer’s face that it can’t get out or swallow…  I was concerned, so I sent some of the photos to the park rangers via email and told them where I’d seen the deer.  I hope they can help her.

As I was walking, I also came across a tree where the Acorn Woodpeckers had drilled two nesting holes, and I watched as they flew back and forth from that tree to their “granary tree” (an old scag they’d plugged full of acorns), pulling acorns out of the granary tree and dumping them into the nest holes.  Hah!  They’re so funny to watch.  I tried to get video of them dumping the acorns into the nest-holes, but every time I lifted my camera up to zoom in on the front of the hole, the birds spooked and flew off.  Fussy little birds!  I did manage to get a photo of one of the bird’s butts hanging out of the tree, though.

I walked for almost 4 hours today (and my back and joints felt it!)  But it was a good walk!