Mostly Bull Frogs, But Some Other Critters, Too on 05-29-17

Memorial Day.  I spent part of my day at the Effie Yeaw Nature Preserve.  The weather was nice. It never got over 74º and there was a slight breeze blowing all day…

At the nature preserve I mostly got photos of Red Shouldered Hawks and Bullfrogs; no deer were around today.  I think the females are off having their babies.  We’ll probably see a lot of fawns in June and July…

See the complete album of video & pix here.

The Red Shouldered Hawk babies in the nest right next to the nature center are out of their white down and into their fledgling feathers.  I got some shots and video of one of them who, still sleepy, poked his head up from the side of the nest when he heard mom and dad screeching from other parts of the preserve.  He looked around and tried to track other birds with his eyes, then just sat there dozing.  Hey, it was still early!  I found another fledgling in a different part of the preserve that was just learning how to fly.  It parent was sitting in one tree, calling soft encouragement to it while it, in a nearby tree, fluttered along the branches.  It was tiring work for the young bird, and it had to stop and take breaks between each attempt to calm itself down, straighten its feathers and rest.

The bullfrogs were the other species of which I saw a lot. They were all over the place in the small ponds on the property.  I saw a lot of minnows and tadpoles, too.  Some of the minnows looked pregnant… One of the bullfrogs started singing, and I was able to get a little of video of that.  I know they’re invasive species, but I love that deep cello-like sound they make.

Among the other critters I saw today were California Scrub Jays, Acorn Woodpeckers, a pair of Mallards, a Black Phoebe singing from the top of the flagpole near the nature center, quite a few Mourning Doves, some Spotted Towhees, a female Common Merganser dozing on the riverbank, and a big ol’ Katydid nymph on a milkweed plant.

I also found a Tree Swallow’s nest and when I waited outside of it to get a photo of mom when she came out again, dad, sitting in a branch over my head, buzz-bombed me several times to get me to move away.  Hah!  While I was there, I saw a woman walk by with a ladder and asked her if she was checking out the nests.  She said the preserve had put up 14 new bird boxes and it was her job to keep an eye on them and count the number of eggs and chicks she found in them.  She stopped, took out her cellphone, and showed me photos: baby House Wrens, baby Tree Swallows, baby Western Bluebirds, and baby Oak Titmice.  What a neat job!  I would LOVE to be able to do that on one of Tuleyome’s properties.

During my walk, I was surprised to see a lot of Brodiaea flowers in bloom in the dry grass; bright purple-blue flowers with white centers. So pretty. And I found the big puffy white heads of Salsify that was going to seed. In that state, they look like humongous dandelions, but the seed-heads are as big as your hand. There were also some late-blooming Elegant Clarkia, Miniature Lupine, tarweed, St. John’s Wort, and deer weed flowering, but the Soap Root plants haven’t opened their buds yet.

There was lots of coyote scat on the trails – some of it pretty fresh – but I didn’t see any of the coyotes themselves…

I walked for about 3 hours and then headed back home.

Posted by

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.