I got up about 5:30 and was out the door before 6 o’clock to go over to the Effie Yeaw Nature Preserve for a walk.
Before I even got to the preserve, I came across a group of three mule deer: a yearling, a mama with swollen teaties, and a young male in his velvet, all eating grass along the roadside. I bet there was a younger fawn somewhere; the yearling and the male were too big to be feeding off of mama’s teats…
There was a small flock of Yellow-Billed Magpies in the lawn by the kiosk near the front gate. This species of magpie is special because it’s found in this part of California but nowhere else in the world. Birders come from all over the planet to see them – and here they are, right in our “backyard”….
Near the nature center, there were Monarch butterfly caterpillars chomping up the milkweed in the native plants garden. I’d seen a thing on a nature documentary on TV just last week about them which said that to keep themselves from being caught and drowned in the milky white latex produced by the milkweed plant, the Monarch caterpillars will go onto the back of the leaf and sever the main vein to stop the flow of latex to the rest of the leaf. They then chew through the rest of the leaf without get sticky… And sure enough, on each leaf I checked, I could see where the caterpillar had severed the main the vein of the leaf before it started eating. Cool!
Elsewhere, I could hear the Red-Shouldered Hawks nearby screeching at each other, so I went over to where the noise was coming from. One of the juvenile had caught a snake on the ground, and mama was supervising him. The other juvenile was in a tree nearby, screaming for attention. They youngsters are just learning how to fly and hunt, so they’re not really very graceful yet. I got some photos of the one on the ground, but missed the shot when it flew up off the ground with the snake hanging from its talons. Gotta be fast out there, man!
I walked for about 2 ½ hours and then headed home.