Back to the SNWR for One More Run

American Goldfinch, male. ©2016 Copyright Mary K. Hanson. All Rights Reserved.
American Goldfinch, male. ©2016 Copyright Mary K. Hanson. All Rights Reserved.

I got up around 6:00 am and headed off to the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge again.  This will be my last trip up there this month… On the way out of Sacramento I was surprised to see six  — count ‘em, six – police cars blocking one of the lanes on Fruitridge and surrounding the Shell gas station.  Wonder what was going on there…  The rest of the drive was completely uneventful, and I got to the refuge around 8:00 am.

Starting off on the auto tour the first critter that greeted me was a brightly colored male American Goldfinch eating seeds.  They’re such teeny birds, but such a bright shade of yellow, you can’t miss them… I also was surprised by coming across a river otter.  She was sitting by the side of the road taking a dirt bath, but rushed across the road and slipped into the water when she saw my car.  I’m assuming it was a female because she looked VERY pregnant… I saw mama Great Horned Owl and her owlets all sitting on a long branch on “their” tree.  When a Great Blue Heron landed on the top of their tree, they didn’t seem to mind… I also saw several Bull Frogs, and was kind of proud of myself for being able to spot them since some of them were nothing but eyeballs sitting above the surface of the water…

On the little island where the American White Pelicans and Cormorant usually hang out there were also Wigeons, Ruddy Ducks, and Pintails this morning. I watched a Pied-Billed Grebe gathering grass for its nest… and saw a small flock of adult Canada Geese trying to contain and discipline a rowdy group of fledglings (which were already in their sort-of adult colors but still smaller than the adults)… Among the normal contingency of Cabbage White butterflies, there was a Painted Lady… And I also saw several American Bitterns on the wing, some Black-Crowned Night Herons, and an immature Snowy Egret (without its yellow boots; its feet were black)…

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I usually do two rounds of the auto tour, but today (like yesterday) I did only one, and headed back to Sacramento.  I stopped in Woodland to pick up a few groceries and then headed home.