A Few Surprises at William Land Park, 03-25-18

At the William Land Park, I walked the dog through the WPA Rock Garden and around the middle pond. At the pond, I saw a woman walking with a stroller, and I was astonished to discover that she wasn’t walking with a baby in the stroller. She was walking with a large, brown Flop-Eared Rabbit!  It was soooo adorable!

Other surprises around the pond were Cackling Geese in among the Canada Geese, and a Crested Duck. Cackling Geese are nearly identical to Canada Geese but they’re much smaller in size. The joke is that they look like Canada Geese who were “left in the dryer too long” and shrunk. Hah! I’d never seen them at the park before.  The Crested Duck, which looks like a duck with a powder-puff glued to the top of its head, was a first for me, too. I’d seen photos of them, but never saw a live one before.

CLICK HERE for the album of photos.

The poofy top-knot is specially bred into this species. As cute as it may appear, it’s actually a genetic defect (and covers a soft spot on the skull). Most Crested ducklings die before they hatch because their brains form outside of their skulls. In this instance, “beauty” can literally be lethal.

I saw several Mallard ducks in the midst of mating stuff. Two of the males that I saw were being mounted by other males (one by a Mallard/Swedish Blue hybrid and one by a larger Peking Duck) – to each their own. I worry about the duck at the bottom of the process because they’re often shoved under the surface of the water while the other duck treads on them.  It was horrific to see, then, a female Mallard shoved under the surface by a frantic male, and held down there until she drown. Even after she was dead, the male kept trying to mount her and pull at her.  It wasn’t until she rolled over onto her back and floated there unmoving that he backed off.  When he tried to get near her again, another male Mallard chased him off.  It was too little, too late, of course.  So sad.

I spent about 2 hours at the park, and then headed home.

So Many Tree Swallows, 03-25-18

I got up around 7:30 this morning and headed out with the dog to the Cosumnes River Preserve and William Land Park.

At the Cosumnes Preserve, I was surprised to see dozens of Tree Swallows flying all over the place and congregating in large numbers among the tules and on the road! I guess they were sitting on the road to get warm, but I’d never seen Tree Swallows do that before. There were adults and juveniles in the mix. Because there were so many of the Swallows around, lots of the photos I took there had photo-bombing Swallows in them.

CLICK HERE to see the album of photos.

I walked along the boardwalk and around an adjacent pond, and saw a few birds (maybe about 18 species). There were a lot of Long-Billed Dowitchers “slumming” with the ducks, Killdeer, and other shorebirds; and the tiny Marsh Wrens were singing their buzzy songs from both sides of the boardwalk.

I was there for about 90 minutes and then headed to William Land Park.