Herons, Egret and Beaver at the American River Bend Park

I was able to sleep in a little bit this morning, but was still out the door by about 6:15 am.

I went over to the American River Bend Park and walked around for about three hours.  Parts of the bike trail were closed off while it’s being repaved, and there were detours all over for the bikers… but some of them decided to ride their bikes on the nature trails (where I was walking, and where the bikes are not allowed) so that kind of irritated me.  I’d get my camera lined up to take a photo and some biker would come up behind me and yell, “On your left!”  Rrrrgh!

While I was on the trail, I inadvertently thwarted two hawks’ attempts at breakfast.  I walked up on one hawk that was sitting on the ground.  When it saw me it took off… and so did the jackrabbit it was sitting on. Oops!  Then when I was walking along the bank of the river I saw a Belted Kingfisher flying ahead of me… and I spooked a hawk that flew out of a tree from behind me.  It tried making a grab for the Kingfisher in mid-air, but because I’d startled it, it was off on its trajectory, and missed its meal by just an inch or so.  In between those two incidents, I came across a place on the trail that was covered in bird feathers.  A fox or hawk had been successful in killing a bird, but had snapped the head off and left it behind.  A Mourning Dove by the look of the head.  The attack must’ve been recent, too, because the bird’s eyes were still intact, and the blood was still red and not fully congealed.  I know it sounds weird, but I thought the head was so beautiful, I wanted to keep the skull, so I wrapped it in a receipt inside my carry bag and took it home.

Along the trail, I also came across a couple of Great Blue Herons, a Great Egret, and some Common Mergansers, along with dragonflies and other small critters.  The cool find of the morning, though, was when I was heading back to the car.  I looked down from the trail to the bank of the river below and saw something large and hairy rummaging around in the water.  Even with my telephoto lens, it was hard for me to make out what it was, so after taking a few still shots, I started taking video of it.  It turned out to be a large beaver that was eating freshwater clams along the bank.  It rolled up in the water, chewing on the clam, and then dove under the surface again.  I was able to see it moving under the water for a while, then lost it.  Cool!

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Here’s the beaver video snippet: https://youtu.be/luROAWjxW-g