Vacation Day 10. I got up around 6:30 and headed over to the Cosumnes River Preserve for my walk. Usually, they don’t open their gates until 9:00 am, but they must’ve had a lot of people complaining about that – including me. In the late spring and summer months, 9:00 am is already “too late” in the day to see anything, and it gets too hot to walk more quickly in the day… So, now their gates are open a lot earlier. Even so, there wasn’t a lot to see there. The wetland areas are drying up, and it’s not quite warm enough for the dragonflies to emerge or for the midges and wasps to start forming their galls on the oak trees (although I did see some of the big “oak apple” galls on a Valley Oak)… But there were TONS of mosquitoes. I got bitten all over my arms. Need to remember to buy some bug spray next time I got to the store. Blug!
I was surprised to see American Avocets at the preserve. I’d never seen them that far “south” in the region before. They use California as their migration corridor — breeding in the north, then traveling south to rest – but it seems like I’ve seen a LOT more of them this year than in previous years. And they’re all in their breeding plumage… There were also a few Green-Winged Teals and Cinnamon Teals, some Black-Necked Stilts, Northern Shovelers, Dowitchers and tiny Dunlins but they were few and far between. The largest populations were of Killdeer and Red-Winged Blackbirds – who are nesting now – some Marsh Wrens, and loads of Coots. I got a glimpse of a Lesser Goldfinch and some Song Sparrows along the boardwalk area. And I saw a gorgeous California Sister butterfly, but I couldn’t get my camera to focus on it before it flew off. Dang it!
There was wild mustard and charlock (a kind of wild radish) in bloom everywhere, and the dock plants and scrubby willows were leafing out… some of them covered with Ladybeetles and their tiny alligator-looking larvae… In the native plant garden the purple and red Penstemon were in bloom along with some California Poppies. Very pretty… In some of the muddy areas, I found the footprints of Raccoons, but didn’t see any of the beasties myself… I saw some Paper Wasp nests alongside an abandoned must nest (made by House Finches, I think) under the awning over a sign… I also found a single bright green dragonfly hiding in the grass: a female Western Pondhawk. I don’t know how I spotted her; pure luck.
Best photos of the day were of a Song Sparrow and a Mockingbird.