Mostly Webs at the Cosumnes Preserve, 11-05-16

I got up around 7:15 this morning, and it was foggy and around 48° outside.  I headed over to the Cosumnes River Preserve around 8:00 am to walk their “river trail” and see if there ant neat-looking ‘shrooms out there yet.  I didn’t see of those, but because of the fog all of the spider webs in the trees, thickets and tules were all decorated with dew, and as the sun came up, they really showed off.  I took waaaaay too many photos of webs.

CLICK HERE to see the whole album of photos.

I’d see one web and thing, Oooo, that’s neat-looking.  Snap.  Then I’d see another one and like it better.  Snap.  Then I’d see two together.  Snap…  Photo after photo of nothing but webs.  Hah!

In the fog, I also saw a Gull dragging around what looked like the carcass of an American Coot in the shallow water.  You can see the video here.  I also got photos of a couple of Spotted Towhees, and some of a little Cottontail Rabbit that hopped out of the underbrush onto the trail in front of me… In the leaf litter was an old wasp gall rotted and broken in half, but you could see all of the individual larval chambers inside of it… and the poison oak was showing off a little bit, rosy in part with new and lengthening growth. As the hours went by, the fog lifted and the sun came out… but it was still cool (in the 60’s); nice weather for a stroll.

As I was walking, I could hear my “nemesis bird” (called that because I seldom if ever am able to get even a half-way descent photo of one), the Belted Kingfisher, nattering away along the banks of the river, and when I finally saw it, it was on the opposite bank.  It was sitting out on a small branch, but there was a lot of tangled growth behind it, and it was so far away, I wasn’t sure the camera would be able to focus on it, but I aimed my lens at it and starting taking some photos and video anyway.  None of them were very good, but you can see in the video the Kingfisher – a female – beating a little fish she’d caught against the branch until she got it into a position where she could swallow it whole. You can see the video here.

I had a similar photographing problem with a late-in-the-season female Green Darner Dragonfly.  I saw it flying through the air in front of me,,, and watched it as it flew around looking for a sunny spot to settle onto… and when it settled, it was up in a tree over my head.  I just aimed the camera at the area where I thought it was – a green dragonfly among the green leaves — and shot some photos.  I never know, when I to stuff like that, if the camera is actually going to focus on what I want.  But I managed to get a few semi-clear photos of it.  A few seconds later a male Green Darner flew by, harassed the female for a little bit, and then hung himself between the leaves of a wild grapevine.  He was a little closer to me than the female was, so I got a few better photos of him.

I walked around the preserve for about 3 hours and then headed back to the car which was parked by the visitor’s center.  As I got closer to the center, I could hear it’s alarm going off.  A group of bicyclists in all their fancy expensive gear and thousands-of-dollars bikes were collected outside the building.  One of them wanted to use the restroom on the outside of the building, and when he couldn’t get in, he tried to force the building’s front door and the alarm went off.  They were all standing out there, talking and laughing about it.  Unbelievable.  What jerks!

After I got to my car, I then took a short drive along Desmond Road  before getting on the freeway and heading back home. The only “cooperative” bird along the road was a young Western Meadowlark who popped up along the edge of a gully and gave me front and back views of its feathers.  Hah!

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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.