Vacation Day 10: At the River Bend Park

Day Ten of my Vacation.  I got up about 6:30 am and was out the door around 7:00 to head out to the American River Bend Park for a walk.  It was chilly (about 38°) when I got there, and was up about 61° by the time I headed home.  Surprisingly, I was able to walk for about FIVE HOURS today.  That’s the longest I’ve ever gone in one trip.  My feet and ankles were complaining, but I made it.  I figure I walked about 10 miles all together.  Phew!

When I first got to the park, I pulled over into a turnout on the road where I saw about a half dozen jackrabbits gathered in the grass.  I got out of the car to take a photo of them, but before I could get the camera on and focused, they suddenly scattered.  I didn’t think they could see me, so I wondered what had spooked them… and then I saw the coyote come loping up.  That’ll do it.

I saw lots of dragonflies and damselflies, but could get photos of all of them.  Among the larger dragonflies, I saw a female Neon Skimmer, a Widow Skimmer, and a Bison Snaketail.  I also saw some Red-Shouldered Hawks, jackrabbits, Acorn Woodpeckers, Pipevine Swallowtail butterflies and caterpillars, Ladybeetles and their larvae, Tree Swallows, wrens, Spotted Towhees (including one eating a caterpillar), craneflies, snakeflies, Spotted Sandpipers, a Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Cormorants, Mallard Ducks, Common Mergansers, Coots, a Hover Fly, a Tussock Moth caterpillar, and Starlings.

I was watching some of the ducks and geese on the river bank, and saw a female Common Merganser dive under the water.  The water was so clear and so shallow, that I could see her swimming under the surface.  I tried to get some video of it, but the camera couldn’t figure out what to focus on, and so focused on the reflections on top of the water instead of the bird under the surface.  Dang it!  I need to find a camera on which I can turn OFF the autofocus…  It was so neat to see her moving under the water; she was as sleek and as fast as a fish…

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As I was heading out of the park a man with binoculars passed me and asked if I’d seen the owls.  I told him, no; I wasn’t sure where they were nesting this year.  He said there was a nest in the eucalyptus trees near the path where the road and bike trail intersect, so I went over there… but I couldn’t find a nest or any owls.  They’re pretty good at camouflaging themselves, though, so I’ll keep an eye out for them again next time I go out to the park…