29° at the Cosumnes Preserve

Well, my holiday weekend has been so busy so far, I really just wanted to sleep in a bit today… but I was up at about 7:00 am and out the door by 7:30 to go over to the Cosumnes River Preserve.  It was 31° in Sacramento and 29° at the preserve.  Brrrr! I’m going to have to pull out my winter coat!

Coyote. Copyright © 2015, Mary K. Hanson. All Rights Reserved.
Coyote. Copyright © 2015, Mary K. Hanson. All Rights Reserved.

As I was driving up to the preserve, I saw a huge handsome coyote along the roadside, so I pulled over to get a few photos of him.  That as a nice way to start my nature-watching stint.  There was a herd of sheep out there eating the grass and scrub.  They were watched over by a pair of large white dogs that eventually got tired of rounding up the sheep and just laid down in the sun to try to get warm…  The dog were effective at keeping the lone coyote away, though.

I also saw Red-Tailed Hawks, American Kestrels, Turkey Vultures, House Finches, White-Crowned Sparrows, Great Egrets, Meadowlarks, a Great Blue Heron, quite a few Cinnamon Teals and loads of other ducks, Greater White-Fronted Geese, Canada Geese, Red-Winged Blackbirds, Black-Necked Stilts, Killdeer (one flew right down in front of me and landed in the water), Snipes, American Coots, and ground squirrels…

It was cold enough so some of the water in shallower parts of the ponds and wetland areas was frozen.  I watched a tiny sparrow “walking on water” over the top of the ice.  In some places, where the ice had already started to melt as the sun came up, small round “maws” started to appear in the ice where the water percolated and lapped up as the wind moved the unfrozen part of the ponds around.  I got some photos of some of the Coots swimming right along the edge of the ice, poking at it to try to figure out what it was.  It wasn’t very dense, but it was enough that they didn’t want to cross the boundary it made.

Just as I was heading out the area, I saw a Great Egret poised in its strike-position, so I pulled over to the side of the road to see if would catch anything.  I was really surprised when it stabbed into the brush and brought out a huge RAT!  Then it carried the rat in its bill over to the nearest pond, and drowned it before swallowing it whole.  I’ve seen these big egrets eat all kinds of insects and crustaceans, but never saw one eat something this furry or this big before. It was creepy and awesome at the same time. I got some video of it, too, but the camera didn’t know what to focus on so some of it’s blurry.

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