Vacation Day 10: Cosumnes River Preserve and William Land Park

DAY 10 OF MY VACATION.  I got up a little after 6:00 this morning at the hotel.  We were out of here before 6:30 and headed back to Sacramento, hitting the morning traffic at just the ickiest time. D’oh!  Since we were up and moving anyway, I decided to drive all the way to Elk Grove and the Cosumnes River Preserve.  The dog isn’t allowed in there, so I sat with him in the car and took photos of the birds through the open windows… Got some pretty good shots!

At first I drove along Desmond Road and then I went into the preserve itself.  On October 22nd there was a spotting of about 50 Sandhill Cranes in the field along Desmond Road, some of them within 20 feet of the vehicles that had stopped to look at them.  Today… nuthin’, not a single crane. Nature doesn’t perform on cue.

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

But the first thing I saw along Desmond Road was a group of Great Egrets starting their early morning hunt for voles, so I got some photos of them. I watched a pair goose-step together for a while, and then one of them walked off and back with that same stiff posture.  I don’t know if that territorial behavior or early courtship behavior – (Some of the egrets’ faces are flushing green, but they haven’t grown their long plumes yet.)  It was fun to watch.  I got a little video of that, too.  There was a Great Blue Heron out in the field with the egrets, but he was further away, so I didn’t get any really clear shots of him.  Further along, I came across a Say’s Phoebe that posed for me on the top of a dried weed.

In the preserve, I parked near the front pond and got photos of a variety of ducks and shorebirds – and my first American Pipit(!). The overcast turned the water silvery gray, so a lot of the photos I got there have a silver-white background that makes them look like paintings.  Among the ducks were Northern Shovelers, Cinnamon Teals, Northern Pintails, and Green-Winged Teals.  I got a little video of a pair of males beating the crap out of each other, and also spotted a little female that seemed to be having trouble breathing. She was able to walk around, but was gaping a lot.

Among the shorebirds were Killdeer, Long-Billed Dowitchers (in their nonbreeding plumage), Black-Necked Stilts, Dunlins, American Coots, and a couple of Wilson’s Snipes.  I’m always fascinated by the Snipes.  I don’t know why, but I always find myself focusing on them and taking a lot of photos and video of them whenever I see them.  Maybe they’re one of my “spirit animals”. I also saw a few Brown-Headed Cowbirds, Golden-Crowned Sparrows, and Red-Winged Blackbirds.

When I was done at the preserve,  I drove back to Sacramento again, and figured that dog had been so good on the whole trip I’d treat him to a walk at the William Land Park before going home.  While we were there a Green Heron flew up onto one of plant holders in the pond, so I got some photos of it.  I find these birds intriguing, too, and usually take waaaaay more pictures of them than I really need to… along with the pictures I take of the ubiquitous ducks, geese, and tree squirrels.  Among the ducks today there were a lot of Cayuga ducks, some apricot colored Indian Runners, Swedish Blues, a Silver Appleyard, and some Rouens (all of which are domesticated versions of the wild Mallards).

A very nature-filled morning.

 

 

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Mary K. Hanson is a breast cancer survivor who, at age 61, took coursework to become a Certified California Naturalist. The author of “The Chubby Woman’s Walkabout”™ blog, Ms. Hanson has also written nature-based feature articles published in regional newspapers, authored over ten books, including her "Cool Stuff Along the American" series of guide books, and has had her photographs featured in books, articles, calendars, on the American River Parkway Foundation’s Instagram stream, and even the White House blog. This year Ms. Hanson is helping to launch and teach a new Certified California Naturalist course through Tuleyome, in partnership with the University of California and the Woodland Library, so members of the public can themselves become certified as naturalists in the state. All of the photos seen on her website were taken by Ms. Hanson herself (unless noted otherwise) with moderate- to low-end photographic equipment more easily affordable to the everyday nature enthusiast. She also occasionally leads photo-walks through the American River Bend Park for the public and is sometimes available for public speaking.