Dragonflies, B.A.S.’s, Grebes and Pelicans

I got up around 6:00 am and headed out with the dog to the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge because there had been reports of Western Grebes there — and I didn’t have any photos of them yet. It was overcast but warm all day, in the 90’s by the afternoon, so it was muggy outside.  The good thing about the refuge, though, is that I can travel through the auto-tour part of it in the car with the air conditioner on.

I did see the Grebes which are beautiful long-necked birds with bright red eyes — and some awesome American White Pelicans — but the story of the day was the HUNDREDS of dragonflies that were out all along the driving tour road. In some places they were literally on every tule and plant I saw. There were also dozens of B.A.S’s (big-a$$ spiders) everywhere. I would’ve gotten more and better photos, but for some reason my camera reset itself to some weird picture size mode, so most of the pictures I got were about a third of the size I normally want them. Don’t know how that happened…

When I do the driving tour, I leave the windows open so I can hold the camera out through them… and along the way several of the dragonflies and one damselfly, flew into the car and landed on me or the dog. Hah!

Most of the dragonflies were Meadowhawks. On some of the tules the dragonflies perched on there was also “exuvia”.  When the dragonfly nymphs climb out of the water, they shed their skin and emerge as winged dragonflies.  The shed skin is the exuvia.

I also came across several Great Egrets that were fishing in the shallow stands of water, and I saw one catch several HUGE dragonfly nymphs…  I drove so slowly through the preserve that the 4-mile circle took me about 5 hours…

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When I finished the route, I drove straight home… so that was a long day in the car.


Video of a Great Egret stalking dragonfly larvae: https://youtu.be/RoEfUcTuHzU.

Marsh Wren singing: https://youtu.be/Y5Ivw-aXtCo


Babies… and a Snake on Sunday

I got up at 5:30 and went out to the American River Bend Park.  Not a lot to see out there today, but I did get to see a HUGE garter snake, and some ducks and geese with their babies.  It bothered me, though, that the birds let me get to within about 5 feet of them and didn’t startle.  It’s not good for them to be so complacent around humans.  And someone had left seed and bread for them on the shore…  which is probably by the snake was down there.  Humans bait the birds, and then the snake comes in and picks off the babies… Stupid humans…  On my way out of the park I came across a male mule deer in his  velvet.  It looked like he was working on a pretty big rack so he must be well over 2 years old…

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A Very Hot Squirrel

There’s a huge bracket fungus at the base of the Mulberry tree in the backyard, and I noticed that a neighborhood squirrel often sought it out in the heat of the day — like a little shelf it could lay on.  I took some ice and water out and left it on the bracket to cool it off… and this is how I found the squirrel about an hour later… It was HOT out there, man…. but my squirrel was chillaxin’.
Copyright ©2015.  Mary K. Hanson.  All rights reserved.

Copyright ©2015. Mary K. Hanson. All rights reserved.

In Norden, CA for a Few Days

I was in Norden, California, in Nevada County (sort of around where the Sugarbowl Ski Resort is) for a Tuleyome staff strategic planning meeting, but I also had some time to get out into the forest and get some photos.  The pine forest — at almost 7000 feet — is a very different kind of terrain than I’m used to (I’m a riparian habitat kind of person), so the nature sounds were unfamiliar as were a lot of the plants and trees I saw.  It gave my new “naturalist” brain a real work out.

I got to see a lot of little Dark-Eyed Juncos, a Steller’s Jay and a Hairy Woodpecker, and was able to catch glimpses of some Phainopeplas (both males and females), but the Phainopeplas didn’t sit still long enough for me to get any photos of them.  Soooo frustrating.  Because of the higher elevation, the wildflowers there were at their peak and I was able to get a lot of photos of those — including the new-to-me Pussy Paws which I just fell in love with.

Here are photos I took on the first day:

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As an aside, I learned that the colorful Wolf Lichen, which can be used to make dyes, is also toxic.  It contains vulpinic acid, a toxin that attacks the respiratory system.  It used to be used to kill wolves and foxes.  (The toxin would be delivered into the carcass of a dead prey animal, and when the wolves ate the prey, they were poisoned by it.)  So it’s beautiful but deadly stuff.

On the last day of the meetings, my coworkers and I also did some sightseeing of other creeks and lakes in the surrounding area, including a stop at the Cisco Grove Gould Park along the South Yuba River (which in this drought year was looking more like a creek). Got even more wildflower photos that day.  It was a very busy, productive, and interesting few days… but, as always, it was nice to get back home.

Here are some photos I took that day:

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