After I facilitated a volunteer orientation for Tuleyome this morning, I was thinking of running over to my community garden plot to check it out, but I also realized my car was screaming for gasoline… and the gas station and garden are at opposite ends of town. So I opted to put gas in (and will try to get to garden plot tomorrow).
As I was heading home, I still wanted to do something outside, but I hadn’t brought my walking shoes with me to the orientation… So I decided to go over to the Cosumnes River Preserve because I can see some critters from the car, and can walk around the paved boardwalk area. I wasn’t expecting to see a lot; most of the wetland area you can get to is already dry and going green with grasses, weeds, and wildflowers. It’s pretty, but you don’t get a wide variety of birds you’d normally see if the wetlands were actually “wet”. Still, I got the great treat of coming across some egrets in a deep pond-like culvert along the side of the road.
There was a Great Egret and a pair of Snowy Egrets fishing for frogs and crayfish. All of the birds were pretty amenable to having me stand on the side of the road and photograph them as longs as I didn’t get too close or move too much. I got a little bit of video of one of the Snowy Egrets chasing down a meal and then trying to fit it into his mouth and down his throat… and BOTH Snowies also did some displaying for me – lifting up their trailing feathers (like peacocks) and topknots and croaking at each other as they passed one another… I’d seen photos of this kind of display before but had never seen it firsthand. It was awesome. These birds seemed to be a pair; they traveled together, ate together, and snuggled down in a tree top later together… They were both sporting some “rouge” in the skin above their beaks, but that didn’t show up much in the photos. The Great Egret flew off at one point and landed at the other side of the culvert… but then he was chased off by a Red-Winged Blackbird that was singing over there. Guess the blackbird didn’t want to share the stage. Hah!
There were wild bull thistles and spotted thistles everywhere, and tons of wild mustard and other flowering things, so there were lots of bees around… and it was pretty. We’d had a lot of rain last night, and clouds were still threatening in the sky, but had broken up into giant sofa-masses, so I got some neat cloud photos, too. It was a good spur-of-the-moment excursion.