At the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge, the wetlands areas aren’t completely flooded yet, so it’s not as full of birds as it could be… but there were a lot of the early-arrival species like the White-Fronted Geese, Snow Geese, Ross’s Geese, Northern Pintails, Northern Shovelers, and Gadwalls. I also saw a few different species of sparrow including Song Sparrows, White-Crowned Sparrows, and Savannah Sparrows, a Dark-Eyed Junco, and a Nutthall’s Woodpecker. Among the other birds I saw – like the Wilson’s Snipes, Killdeer, Black-Necked Stilts, and American Pipits — a nice surprise was spotting the local Peregrine Falcon who was sitting up in “the eagle-tree”. He was obscured by branches and twigs, but I got a few fair photos of him.
Later on, I came across a trio of mule deer browsing in the tall grass and weeds. One was a male, a two-pointer, and I couldn’t see any details but could tell there was a big lump – like a knot made out of hide — on the side of his head near one of his eyes. It looked like the eye was missing, but I’m not sure; it could have just been that the knot was casting a shadow over the eye socket. It didn’t seem to inhibit the buck or interfere with his ability to move around…
The big surprise of the day, though, was when I saw a skunk moving along the tules and weeds on the edge of one of the wetland ponds, and stopped to take some photos and video of it. As I watched it, I could hear it nattering angrily at something and thought maybe there was another skunk or a snake or something near it in the weeds… When a raccoon climbed out over the vegetation and moved gingerly past the skunk I had to laugh. I wasn’t expecting that at all! You can see the video here: https://youtu.be/yrja6wSMtxA.
I saw another raccoon further along the auto tour route near the large viewing platform. I heard first as it went scuffing through the fallen dried leaves under the platform, and then saw it as it was walking away along the edge of the slough near the base of the platform.
Here is an album of pix: https://www.flickr.com/photos/mkhnaturalist/albums/72157665598291929
I was at the refuge for about 3 ½ hours and then turned around and headed back home.