Early Sandhill Cranes and other Waterfowl

After work, I decided to go over to the Cosumnes Preserve – even though it was hot outside, 92° — to see if any of the birds had started coming in there yet.  They still don’t have all of the wetland area flooded yet, so the bird-watching is kind of nil right now.  A treat for me, though, was when I was walking along the path by the boardwalk area.  I could hear a flock of Sandhill Cranes overhead; the birds have just started returning to the area for the winter.  I watched them for a while and was surprised when about 6 of them whirled their way down to a field right next to the path!  Like all hot days, it’s hard for my camera to focus through the heat-waves coming off the ground, but I managed to get a few good shots.  This was the closest I’d ever gotten to these birds, so I was pleased with that.  I also saw Black-Necked Stilts, Greater Yellow-legs, a Killdeer that was unhappy when he had to share his little mud island in the middle of a shallow pond, some Wilson’s Snipes, a Western Meadowlark, Mallards, Northern Shovelers, including some males in their “eclipse” plumage (the feathers they wear after a full molt before they get their breeding feathers), and a couple of Cinnamon Teals.

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There were lots of dragonflies and damselflies around, too.  I was watching one mated pair of damselflies trying to lay eggs by the water.  They got their act together and the female was laying eggs along a leaf that was half-in and half-out of the water… until a small fish came up to eat the eggs.  D’oh!

I hung around there for about an hour and then headed back to the house.