Valentine’s Day Walk

Red-Shouldered Hawk. © 2016 Mary K. Hanson. All rights reserved.
Red-Shouldered Hawk. © 2016 Mary K. Hanson. All rights reserved.021416

Happy Valentine’s Day I got up about 7:30 am and headed out to the American River Bend Park for a walk.  I wasn’t looking for anything in particular, and I was trying to be conscientious about not forcing my body to do more than it could, so instead of a 3 or 4 hour walk, I cut it down to about 2 hours.  I did a figure-8 loop through the upper campsite area and came across a large group of birders looking for birds along the river.  There were so many people, though, that they scared off whatever birds might’ve normally been visible to them.  Large groups also play havoc with some of the weaker parts of the trail (which is mostly on sandy cliffs along the riverside).  The group leaders should have known better…

As I said, I wasn’t looking for anything special, and just walked at a slow pace trying to get the crap out of my lungs and watching for whatever Nature wanted to show me.  The long grass is growing in now and everything looks green-green.  The pipevines already have blossoms on them, and the manroot vines are starting to come up.  They’re thick and ropey and look like snakes; they rear straight up off the ground in places looking for low-ling tree branches to grab a hold of.  The Miner’s Lettuce is also growing quickly and is working itself up into secondary leaves and blossoms…

I saw 28 species of bird on my walk today including:  Acorn Woodpecker Melanerpes formicivorus, Anna’s Hummingbird Calypte anna, Belted Kingfisher Megaceryle alcyon, Bushtit Psaltriparus minimus, California Gull Larus californicus, Common Goldeneye Bucephala clangula, Common Merganser Mergus merganser, Cooper’s Hawk Accipiter cooperii, Double-crested Cormorant Phalacrocorax auritus, European Starling Sturnus vulgaris, Great Egret Ardea alba, House Wren Troglodytes aedon, Lark Sparrow Chondestes grammacus, Mallard Anas platyrhynchos, Mourning Dove Zenaida macroura, Northern Flicker Colaptes auratus, Nuttall’s Woodpecker Picoides nuttallii, Oak Titmouse Baeolophus inornatus, Red-shouldered Hawk Buteo lineatus, Snowy Egret Egretta thula, Spotted Sandpiper Actitis macularius, Spotted Towhee Pipilo maculatus, Tree Swallow Tachycineta bicolor, Turkey Vulture Cathartes aura, Western Scrub-Jay Aphelocoma californica, White-breasted Nuthatch Sitta carolinensis, White-crowned Sparrow Zonotrichia leucophrys, Wild Turkey Meleagris gallopavo.

There was one gorgeous Red-Shouldered Hawk that sat on a stumpy branch on the outside of a tree where I could get some good photos of him.  The Red-Shouldered hawk and a Cooper’s Hawk kept shadowing one another through the forest, like they were both scouting nesting sites and didn’t want the other one to get the best spot.  The Cooper’s Hawk gave up, though, when the Red-Shouldered Hawk met up with its mate.  Two against one…

As I was leaving the park, I came across a small bachelor group of mule deer grazing in the long grass. I pulled off to the side of the road and photographed them through the passenger side window of the car.  They eyed me every now and then, but didn’t bolt or run off, so I got a few good shots of them, too.

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As I said, I had cut my walk a bit short, and on the way home I stopped off at Bel Air to get some stuff for lunch.  I was so exhausted when I got back to the house that I went into my bedroom and pretty much just stayed in bed for the rest of the day.