Hawks, Deer and a Handsome Turkey

Up at 6:30 am again.  It was colder today (32° when I headed out), but we didn’t have any rain.  Overcast broke up by the afternoon to show off blue sky, brought sunshine and a few fluffy clouds…

I headed over to the Effie Yeaw Nature Preserve for my walk today, and for the first two hours pretty much had the whole place to myself.  It was cold enough so there was still frost on the ground, and as the sun came up further in the sky, fog developed close to the ground in some places… I had on a long-sleeved shirt and a jacket, but had to keep my hands in my pockets as I walked to keep them warm; only taking them out when there was something to photograph.

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I was greeted by a Spotted Towhee and then heard the Red-Shouldered Hawks screeching, so I went to check out their nest.  I think they have nestlings already – because mom doesn’t sit non-stop – and I saw her leave the nest and come back with a snake… which may have been her own breakfast snack, but I think she was feeding babies.  Because of the way the nest sits up in its tree, I can’t see down into the nest… so I can’t see any babies until they get big enough to lift their heads up over the side of the nest…  But mama is always fun to watch (and papa was right nearby, too), so I think I was standing under their tree for 15 or 20 minutes, just watching and listening to them…

Then I heard a ruckus in a nearby tree and saw some Acorn Woodpeckers trying to oust a European Starling from “their” tree.  The Starling was pretty brazen, flying to and from the tree, ducking into a nest hole and daring the Woodpeckers to touch her.  One of the Woodpeckers kept poking its head into the hole, trying to stab and harass the Starling but the Starling wasn’t budging…  I came across a few other Starling nest-holes along my walk. They seemed to be all over the place…

I also got to see California Towhees, a couple of Northern Flickers, Golden-Crowned Sparrows, and Mourning Doves.

At one point along the trail, I came across a small herd of mule deer (mostly moms and their kids) and a flock of female Wild Turkeys.  I stood in one spot and got photos from all around me.  It was neat; 360° nature.  As I was taking photos, a buck (sans antlers) walked into view and a male Wild Turkey came up the trail in full strut…  I got quite a few good shots of everyone. Some of the deer were pretty scruffy-looking, almost “mangy”, but I think they’re shedding their winter coats right now…  I also got to see some California Ground Squirrels and tree squirrels along the way.

I walked for about 3 hours (which is pretty much my limit), and headed back to the house, stopping at BelAir and picked up some stuff for lupper.

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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.