I have the day off and got up around 6:00 am to head over to the Effie Yeaw Nature Preserve.
There were a lot of deer out at the preserve today. The bachelor groups of bucks are starting to move back in, and I saw spike bucks, two-pointers and three-pointers; some in their velvet, some not. No fawns today, though.
I saw a Red-Shouldered Hawk stalking what I think was a snake along the ground. The snake must’ve found a hole to duck into, though, because after a few minutes, the hawk gave up and flew away.
At another point along the trail, I saw two juvenile California Ground Squirrels in the grass to my right. You can tell the juveniles from the adults not only by their smaller size, but also by the nearly white collar around their neck and shoulders. The two kids rushed across the trail in front of me, and one of them ducked into the cover of a twiggy, low-lying Blue Elderberry tree. I got a couple of photos of it before it got itself into an area where there were so many twigs I could barely see it anymore.
The second juvenile remained in the middle of the trail, and I was able to get a lot of photos of it while it foraged for little seeds and stuff on the ground. Then suddenly it was like it realized it needed to be under better cover, and it rushed up the side of a tree. It peeked around the trunk to look at me, and then jumped down and buried itself in the long grass. Hah! So cute!
At the little pond, I saw a handful of Bullfrog tadpoles, including one that already had its legs but hadn’t lost its tail yet.
I’m a bit concerned that one of the trees on the property – the Half-Blood, part Valley Oak, part Blue Oak – still doesn’t have more than a handful of galls on it. It’s usually covered in them, especially the Crystalline Galls, but this year there’s nothing. I wonder if the preserve crew sprayed Round-Up or some other killer around the base of it, and the tree is still suffering so it can’t support its normal load of wasp galls…
I walked for about 3 ½ hours and then headed back home.