At the River Bend Park on Sunday

I got up around 5:30 this morning after a very deep night’s sleep and was out the door by 6:00 to go to the American River Bend Park.  It was already 59° when I went out the door, and by the time I left the park it was 10:00 am and 70° outside.  The high today was 95°… tomorrow it’s supposed to be 103°.  Ick.

At the park, I drove into the camping area – to find campers which, oddly enough, is rare.  It looked like a boy scout troop or something; lots of loud boys and older male chaperones.  I was a little worried about the birds that I know have nests around there.  Some of the tents were right up against the tree where a Bluebird nest is…  And they were so loud that they scared the Red-Shouldered Hawks away from their nest.  I found the mother and her nearly full-grown fledgling  in a tree about a hundred feet away.  The youngster was whining softly under his breath, and the mother was sitting in a couple of branches above him. She flew off, hunt I presume, and he quieted down.

Lots of butterflies were around today: Pipevine Swallowtails, Tiger Swallowtails, some Sulphurs, and some Buckeyes… and I found a few more Black Swallowtail caterpillars on the wild fennel.  I came across two different Wren nests and saw the Tree Swallows at their nest.  Their babies are big enough so they’re all very loud and the parents have to feed them constantly.  The Wrens at one nest were picking up any bugs they could find in the high grass and weeds around the base of their tree and taking turns both feeding the babies and cleaning the baby poop out of then nest.  The chicks’ poop comes out in a sort of sac of heavy mucus that the parents can pick up and remove – flying off with it and dumping it somewhere away from the tree. Not all birds are that good at housekeeping…

As I was walking on the trail by the river side, I saw a Canada Goose, three female Common Mergansers and one male, a Spotted Sandpiper, two Bank Swallows, two Double-Crested Cormorants and a Great Egret all sharing the same rock in the middle of the water.  Made for some interesting photo taking opportunities.  I also got to see a lot of Acorn Woodpeckers, a Hairy Woodpecker, and some cute tiny Bushtits along the way, and there seemed to be Western Fence Lizards everywhere… I also found one lizard that was more brightly speckled than the others and had yellow armpits.  I think it was a Side-Blotched Lizard, but I’m not sure. I walked around for about three hours and then headed home, stopping at BelAir on the way to pick up some fruit and something for lunch.

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