Red-Shouldered Hawks and a Very Brave Fawn, 01-27-18

While I was driving into the Effie Yeaw Nature Preserve, I came across a huge flock of male Wild Turkeys, all big gobblers showing off to one another. Most of them were in nearby front yards, but some of them were right in the middle of the road, and weren’t too keen on moving out of the way. I had to stop the car and then inch it forward to get the birds to move. One persistent one stood right in front of my car and stayed there – even when I was close enough so that all I could see of him was his head looking up over the hood my car – until I honked the horn at him. He finally, if very slowly, got out of the way but then jogged alongside my car for a while as I continued down the road. Goofy birds.

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At the preserve itself, I came across that large group of hikers that I’d seen there before: about 15 or 20 of them, all gabbing loudly, scaring off the wildlife… I let them all pass me, and then I turned around and went in the opposite direction of where they were going. As I did this, I came across another hiker who said to me, “They really disturb the peace, don’t they?” That’s for sure! I don’t understand why they can’t do their group walk and SHUT UP at the same time. What a racket they make!

I saw many of the usual suspects on my walk: Acorn Woodpeckers, Lesser Goldfinch, Turkey Vultures, Canada Geese, some Herring Gulls and Common Goldeneye in the river, a Ruby-Crowned Kinglet, European Starlings, Golden-Crowned Sparrows, Scrub Jays…

But there were a lot of Red-Shouldered Hawks around including a trio that soared and dashed through the trees chasing one another. One of the hawks even flew down and perched right on the top of an old, weathered skag of a tree. By its coloring and size, I assume it was female. So lovely.

There were also a lot of deer out today, too, including one very curious and brave fawn who came right up to the side of the trail to check me out (while he pretended to browse in the tall grass). He was so close, I could have reached out and touched him. I also came cross a doe who seemed to be intrigued by my hat. She was about 20 feet away, but stepped up to within about 5 feet of me to check me out.

At another point, I saw two does stotting across hillside. Then they made a left turn and came running straight at me, only seeing me at the last second when they veered off sharply to the right to avoid hitting me. I could feel the “wind” of their passing they were so close.

The other cool deer sighting was to be able to see two of the dominant males jousting with one another. I’d gotten photos and video snippets of the younger males head-butting one another, but this time it was two of the largest males – one a four-pointer. I don’t understand how they can wrestle the way they do, antlers locked, without poking each other’s eyes out.

I left a little bit earlier than I normally would – only walking for about 2½ hours instead of the regular 3 or 3½ — because the weather was so nice “everyone” decided to converge on the preserve.

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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.