Lots of Critters Around on Sunday, 12-17-17

Sergeant Margie wanted to get up at 4:30, but I made him stay in bed until 6:00.  It’s SUNDAY, little dude… I got my laundry done, rebooted the dishwasher, and took out the trash before heading out to the Effie Yeaw Nature Preserve for a walk.

It was 33º at the river when I got there, and about 54º when I left. When I rounded the corner to go into the drive of the preserve, there were about 20 female Wild Turkeys and their immature (teenager) poults hanging out in the middle of the road.  Most of them scurried to get out of my way, but a couple of the older ones m-o-v-e-d  r-e-a-l-l-y  s-l-o-o-o-o-o-w-l-y. I didn’t want to hit any of them, so I just inched the car forward until I was sure everyone was out of the way and not near the tires.

CLICK HERE for the album of photos and videos.

Once inside the preserve, I saw some European Starlings standing on rocks along the side of the little pond, so I got some photos of them.  Then I heard a snort, and looked around to find the big 4-pointer mule deer buck sitting nearby in the grass with some does around him.  I could see his hot breath streaming out of his nostrils.  I was able to get pretty close to him, but he sat where he was and didn’t startle…

I saw other groups of deer, and some more bucks (some of the banging their heads together). At one point, I spotted one group of does coming toward me through the forest, so I just stayed where I was and videod their arrival.  They were moving pretty fast and “stotting”, so I assumed they were fleeing from something – most likely a pack of coyotes. When the deer got near to me, they all came to a stop, and then tip-toed past me. Hah!

Speaking of coyotes. When I came across a bachelor group of Wild Turkeys on the trail, they and I both stopped moving and perked up our ears when we could hear two packs of coyotes yip-yowling at one another. One pack sounded pretty close to me, to my left; the other one sounded like it was closer to the river. They talked back and forth for a few minutes, and then everything was silent again. It was kind of eerie.

I walked for about 3 ½ hours and then headed back home.

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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.