Nothing Dramatic, But 35+ Species Today

Up at 6:30 am and I headed out to the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge again. [I go there  A LOT through the winter and spring months because there’s so much to see there.]  It was about 38° when I left the house with a high overcast.  There were also areas where there was dense fog.  By the end of the day, the overcast was still holding on, but it was up to 48°… On the way to the refuge, I counted 26 hawks, 6 Great Egrets, and 2 Cattle Egrets along the sides of the road.

CLICK HERE to see the full album of photos.

And here are links to the videos taken today:

There was nothing super dramatic happening at the refuge today, but I still managed to get quite a few photos.  One nice moment was when I stopped along the side of the road on the auto-tour to finish off my breakfast sandwich.  While the car was quiet and not moving, a bunch of little finches flew in to pull the last remaining seeds off the weeds on the roadside… and among them was a yellow-orange House Finch!  I usually just see red ones, and I’ve only seen another yellow one once, so that was a nice surprise.  In the same little group was a pair of Lesser Goldfinches.

Toward the end of the route, a mother deer and her fawn jumped out from a tule thicket and ran across the road in front of me.  Good thing you can only go 15 miles per hours on that road. They rushed into the tules on the opposite side of the road, and I could hear them sloshing through the water there, but couldn’t see them.  Then they emerged from the overgrowth onto slightly high ground and  I could see that the baby was wet up to his shoulders.  Awwww…  Mama was wet too, but only to her knees, and I could see how heavy with milk she was.  My appearance must’ve interrupted a nursing session…

When I finished the auto-route route at the refuge it was only about 10:30, so I went over to the Colusa National Wildlife Refuge before heading back home.  Some of the best photos I got there were at the viewing platform.  Lots of ducks had come in close to rest and I got a few really close ups, especially of a fat male American Widgeon duck who gave me a few different poses before he fell back to sleep.

About halfway through that tour, I came across a pair of male Ring-Necked Pheasants who had squared off on the side of the road and where posturing and battling with one another. Lots of head bobbing, fanned tails and jumping at each other…  I didn’t want to get too close to them and disturb them, so I stayed back a bit and got a little video of them before they disappeared into the willows and brush.

I took over 1400 photographs today (!), so it’s going to take me a while to go through all of them.  All in all, I figured I saw over 35 different species between the two refuges, so even though there was no drama – like seeing eagles – it was still a nice drive.

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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.