I went out to the American River Bend Park around 9:00 am, and it was still cold (about 35°). The sun was out for a little bit, but then a thick overcast rolled in and covered it up. I had gone on my walk with no real agenda in mind; just wanted the exercise and to see whatever Nature wanted to show me today. Two people with dogs passed me on the trail and both of them remarked that there was a pair of coyotes behind them on the trail, stalking them, and that nothing seemed to intimidate them. One guy described the pair as “brazen”. Being the idiot that I am, I immediately turned around and went back along the trail to find the coyotes. I never did find them, but I did get to see a lot of birds along the river’s edge, and also came across a large Mule Deer buck napping in among the trees.
Among the birds I saw were Bufflehead and Goldeneye Ducks, Great Blue Herons, seagulls, Snowy Egrets, Mallards, Lesser Goldfinches, a Spotted Sandpiper, a Belted Kingfisher, Oak Titmice, and lots of Turkey Vultures. Some of the Vultures were sitting up in the trees, and actually had frost clinging to some of their feathers. Other vultures I saw were standing on the rocks in the river eating fish leftovers. One of the Great Blue Herons was also eating fish leftovers – including big segments of bones — from the rocks and stood and posed for me for almost 20 minutes. Got LOTS of photos of that guy.
In the non-animal realm, I also got some photos of rust fungus (Puccinia baccharis?) erupting out of the stems of a coyote brush. I’d seen stem galls created by midges, wasps, and mites, but had never seen ones created by fungus before. They were kind of cool: swellings in the stem filled with rust-colored spores that were erupting out through gaps in the wood… Nature is so… variable.
I walked for about 2 ½ hours and by the time I headed back home it was in the 40’s.