I was supposed to go to a dragonfly course over this weekend, but just couldn’t face other people as I deal with my grief (over the death of my brother Mark Jr., aka “Beaky”). My hotel was already paid for, though, so I got up at 5:00 am and headed up north anyway with the dog.
I stopped at the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge and went through the driving tour route there. I was the only person out there; had the place all to myself. Among the things I was able to photograph at the park included: Killdeer, Mourning Doves, dragonflies and damselflies, butterflies, Jackrabbits and Cottontail rabbits, a big-ass snake, mule deer, Egrets, Great Blue Herons, some Western Grebes sitting on and building their nests in the middle of the water, many-many spiders (including one building its web), Pelicans on three of the “islands”, a Bald Eagle who only sat still long enough for me to get on or two not-so-good shots of it, a mother Raccoon and her five babies (including a “blond” one), Flycatchers, and an otter… Cool.
There was one Killdeer that “paced” my car for several hundred feet. I could see it out the driver’s side window, running right along the edge of the trail. It tilted its head up to look at me now and then. When I accelerated, so did the bird. When I stopped, so did the bird. Goofy thing. I wonder what it thought it was “challenging”.
And the snake I saw was something of a surprise. Oh, there are always snakes around and this one was just a Gopher Snake, but it was pretty long – and healthy looking. It must eat well. What’s the average distance between the two front tires of a car? The snake was longer than that. He came up beside the car, tongue flicking. The heat of the tires must’ve set him off. I backed away (so as not to run over him) and took a different route so he could sunbathe at his leisure.
I finished the tour by about noon, and headed in to the hotel.
Here’s a video of the snake: https://youtu.be/-I6EKdsw3H4
Western Grebes building their nest: https://youtu.be/Jvhe8bX3GI8
Raccoon mama and babies: https://youtu.be/-frsgGx-ZPY
Big-a$$ spider: https://youtu.be/CLWnsRRQ8g4
I’ve decided to try going up to Mount Lassen tomorrow. When I lived in Old Shasta, Beaky and I climbed to the summit of that mountain (about 11,000 feet). It took me forever to get up there, but he was patient and stayed with me, even though I was sure he could have made it to the top and back down again before I made it up there; hah! I remember us watching chipmunks running around with long flags of toilet paper that they’d stolen out of one of the porta-potties on the trail, and taking pictures of what we called the “Belly-Button Rock” and “Velcro Rocks” on the side of the mountain. And when we got to the summit, Beaky walked out to the skinny, craggy, tippy-top point – despite the hard winds that threatened to knock us down the mountainside — to sign his name in the book there. When he came back to where I was, we hunkered down among some boulders and ate PB&J sammiches for lunch – which tiny Golden-Mantled attack-squirrels tried to steal right out of our hands. One of the squirrels got on a boulder above me, and dive-bombed right into my lap to try to grab my sandwich. Hah-ha-ha-ha-ha. That day is one of my favorite memories of Beaky. I’ll say goodbye to him up there tomorrow…