Lots of Critters on Saturday

My plan was to sleep in today until at least 8:00 am…but I got up right around 7:00 to let the dog out to pee, and then I couldn’t get back to sleep… So I got dressed and headed out to the American River Bend Park for a walk.

The first thing that greeted us was an Acorn Woodpecker pounding an acorn into a tree right near the car…  There were several Pipevine Swallowtail Butterflies that looked like they’d just come out of their chrysalises, and were trying to warm up – although with all of the overcast, there wasn’t much sunlight for them to work with… And it was nice to see the wild turkeys were back after they went AWOL for several months.  Further along the trail we came across a mama Mule Deer and her daughter.  I actually crossed paths with them a few times along my walk… Lots of Jackrabbits running around.  I also found one of their “forms”.  (They don’t sleep in burrows or warrens like rabbits; they rough out little hollow forms in the ground or in the shrubbery and sleep in those instead.)  One of them was very brave and kept poking his head up to see where I was; and I came across one that was apparently blind in one eye.

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On the bird front: I photographed my first Hermit Thrush, so I was able to add him to my 1000-species list.  Along the riverside, I saw geese, Goldeneyes, Mallards, Common Mergansers and other water birds, Starlings, Flickers, Spotted Towhees, Tree Swallows, a White Breasted Nuthatch, several pairs of Western Bluebirds, lots of Scrub Jays…  I was surprised to see some Killdeer right along the shore (usually they’re not there because the fishermen disturb their nests), along with a tiny Spotted Sandpiper (a non-breeding adult without its tell-tale spots).  I also spotted a tiny green-backed Lesser Goldfinch (male) singing in an Alder tree along the shore while the wind jostled him around.  As I was watching the Goldfinch, a Snowy Egret flew across the river and landed on the stones below the footpath, so I got some photos of him, too.  He was in his mating regalia with curling feathers covering his tail.  I actually saw quite a few pairs of the Snowy Egrets on the island in the middle of the river.  There are no tall trees on the island, so they can’t make a rookery there – but they can along either shore…

I saw a guy digging for clams along the shore; I’m not sure if that’s legal at the park or not.  And I came across several people walking their dogs – unleased.  Guh!  Pet peeve.  (Pun intended.)  Anyway, I ended up walking for over 3 hours!  So, I headed back home, stopping off at Togo’s for sandwiches for lunch…