Deer, Squirrels and Vultures on 10-27-18

I got around 6:30 am and headed over to the Effie Yeaw Nature Preserve. It was a little foggy and about 49º at the preserve when I got there but went up to about 77º by the afternoon.

The first thing I saw when I got into the preserve was a large 3-pointer buck. He was moving through the meadow with the fog around his flanks and ankles. He was really too far away to get any super good photos of him, but I was still able to get a handful of fairly good images.

Then I came across a group of females, one fawn and a spike buck. Because the group was so close to one another, I was able to get a few two-fer shots which I always like. One female stepped forward to act as a barrier between me and the rest of the group. She eventually crossed the trail and hung out in the shallow pasture on that side. Among the deer there, I’m able to recognize a few individuals, especially one with a very long face. That one was a part of this group, so I was able to get photos of her. The deer seemed fine with me there (all dressed in black and not moving much) but were startled when a pair of other walkers came by (dressed in more brightly colored clothing and walking somewhat quickly).

The “shy mama” deer and her fawn were on the other side of the preserve. She doesn’t seem to be in any hurry to introduce her baby to the rest of the herd.

There were a LOT of Turkey Vultures out thus morning, including a couple of juveniles (with their steel-black beaks). At one spot I was able to see seven or eight of them all standing with their wings out in the “heraldic” pose. I think they’re such neat birds.

I also saw quite a few Northern Flickers out today, a Red-Shouldered Hawk hunting in the same field he was the last time I was out at the preserve, and a Cooper’s Hawk that only show me its back. I caught a glimpse of a coyote but was unable to get any photos of it.

I was able to get some video footage of an Eastern Fox Squirrel worrying the meat out of an old black walnut shell, and more footage of a California Ground Squirrel pealing and eating an acorn, and another Ground Squirrel working on the front of its burrow. I’m always fascinated by how well and quickly they can manipulate things with their front paws.

Showy Milkweed is all dying right now and going to seed. Only one or two Monarch caterpillars early in the year and nothing this fall. Much less than last year.

I walked for about 3 hours and then headed back home,

The Cows Were More Obvious Today, 10-20-18

I had decided to just rest up over this weekend, but I couldn’t resist heading out to the Cosumnes River Preserve in the early morning. The preserve had posted that 90% of their wetland areas had water in them, so I wanted to see what it was like out there.

Uh. If what I saw out there was indeed 90%, then there are huge areas that the public can never see. The slough and some of the rice fields adjacent to the preserve were full of water, but there was no water in the wetland areas around the boardwalk or Desmond Road (which is where the public is allowed to do viewing). So, I was super disappointed as I felt the public had been lied to by the preserve.  Apparently, quite a few other people had also been duped by the announcement; there were cars cruising up and down Desmond and Bruceville Roads looking for birds.

The lack of water also meant a distinct lack of wildlife viewing. I did get to see COWS in some of the fields, and some Sandhill Cranes in other fields (but too far away for my camera to get any good shots of them). *Sigh* There was one Red-Tailed Hawk that was hunting near the boardwalk area and sat on the top of a short tree, so she could see what was around her. I saw her go to ground at one point, but don’t think she caught anything. The only other birds I saw were the common Canada Geese, Greater White-fronted Geese, Mallards, Brewer’s and Red-Winged Blackbirds, and some Bushtits and White-Crowned Sparrows. Nothing special.

I saw a few tiny damselflies that I think were Paiute Dancers, and also came across two large praying mantises, gravid females looking like they were ready to lay their eggs.

But overall, I felt the trip was a bust.

Lots of Photos from the Zoo, 10-17-18

DAY 12 OF MY VACATION. I headed over to the Sacramento Zoo for a walk there.

Wednesdays are apparently a good day to go to the zoo because there were hardly any people there and I got the first spot in the parking lot (closest to the crosswalk from the lot to the zoo gate). The weather was lovely all the while I was there (about 56º when I got there, about 76º when I left.) Bookends: as I was going into the zoo I saw a squirrel and took its picture, and when I came out of the zoo, I saw another squirrel and got his picture, too.

I had gone specifically to see Coconut again, the baby Snow Leopard. When I first stopped at the Snow Leopard enclosure, the dad, Blizzard, was out, so I walked on. When I came back to the enclosure about an hour later, the keeper was cleaning it out and setting out toys for Coconut to play with. So, I was one of the first people at the enclosure when she opened up the door and let out Coconut and his mom, Misha. I think I took over 200 photos of them. They’re so beautiful, and the baby is so funny.

He’s at the “let’s pounce on mom” stage, and play-attacked her from different angles. Most of the time, she saw him coming and just braced herself for the impact. (She’s really gentle with him.) But, once he came at her from a ledge above her and startled her enough to make her run off a bit. You could almost see how proud he was about that. Hahahaha!

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

As an extra fun moment, baby Cosmo, this year’s only baby Flamingo, was also out and walking around. She’s all gray right now and hasn’t started to pink up yet. Because she was the only flamingo born this year, was rejected by her mom and had no siblings, her keepers are allowing her to bond with them in the hopes that even when Cosmo joins the flock in the zoo later, she’ll still come to them whenever they lay down a little white blanket for her.

They were working with her today where everyone could see her, giving her hugs and praise and a clicker-treat (brine shrimp) when she came to her white blanket (“station”). Later, as the keepers were walking away, one of them had the white blanket with her, and little Cosmo walked right along after her on the sidewalks and paved paths of the zoo (without any enclosure or leash or anything else). It was so cute!

Among the other birds, they have a Plain-colored Amazon parrot who’s learning to “talk” and interact with people. It said “Hello” to me several times and made a “purring” sound. The sign beside its cage suggested that you sing and dance for the birds, but… uh, no. I wasn’t going to do that. Hah!

About halfway through my visit, I stopped at the café to have some lunch: a tri-tip sandwich, fries and a large soda. Their food is always good, but their portions are so large I can never finish it all. The food is expensive, too, but you have to keep in mind that about 30% of the price goes to the animals so… eat and shut up. Hah-2!

Other critters that I hardly ever get to see were also out: The sloth was moseying around in its enclosure, but it’s hard to get photos of it because its in a cage with tiny openings in the mesh that my camera can’t see through. The male jaguar was also out, but he was upset and pacing, so I couldn’t get any clear photos of him either. In the reptile house, though, I had better luck and got pretty good photos of the chuckwalla, Amazon Milk Frogs, and Dart Frogs… and also got to see the Rhinoceros Iguana, which I had never seen before. He was a big dude, about the size of my leg. It would have made a good “dinosaur” in a cheap monster movie.

I ended up seeing about 45 different species and getting some good photos, so I was very pleased.

So Many Squirrels, 10-16-18

DAY 11 OF MY VACATION. I headed out to the Effie Yeaw Nature Preserve for a walk.

On the way out of the neighborhood, I saw what looked like a pair of squirrels or something “fighting” near a sewer grate. I stopped to take a closer look and realized it was actually two racoons trying to squirm their chubby butts through the openings in the grate, so they could get into the sewer. I was shocked but also amused. I thought for sure they were too fat to fit, through the grate, but they actually made it! Hah! So, now I know where the neighborhood raccoons hang out during the day. (When the rains start, they’re going to have to find somewhere else to live.)

My diverticulitis pain was bad (around an “8”) but I thought I could walk it off. No such luck. It actually got worse a couple of times, and the pain referred down into the front of my thighs during those moments, making walking somewhat difficult. Ugh! So, I was distracted by the pain throughout my walk.

It was only about 44º at the river when I got there, and I actually had to wear a jacket for most of the time I was out there. The river was steaming when the sun came up over the hillsides; and at one point, when I was walking the trail, I came across a bachelor group of Wild Turkeys, and could see their breath streaming out of their beaks. Chilly!

I don’t know if the pain-distraction was a factor, but it seemed like I didn’t see much of anything today – except for squirrels. There were a LOT of squirrels: Eastern Fox Squirrels, Gray Squirrels, California Ground Squirrels… They were all over the place – including the babies I’d seen a few weeks ago. The deer; not so much.

I also saw some Cooper’s Hawks and got photos and video snippets of a Red-Shouldered Hawk in the meadow area, both on the ground and in a nearby tree. It was watching the field from the trees and would fly down to grab little things in the grass, then fly back up to the trees again. I think I saw it catch a few Jerusalem Crickets.

CLICK HERE for the album of photos.

I walked for about 3 hours, but it was a slow walk, and I could hardly wait to get back home to lie down.

The Bugs Were More Interesting Today, 10-15-18

DAY 10 OF MY VACATION.  I got up around 6:30 this morning, expecting to meet with an on-line friend, Dee, at the Nimbus Fish Hatchery. Dee had to cancel at the last minute because her dog got skunked, but I decided to go to the hatchery for a walk anyway.

There wasn’t much of anything at all to see there.  The migrating waterfowl haven’t arrived yet, and the salmon ladder wasn’t operating.  But I did get to see some of the salmon in the river; their humped backs appearing through the surface of the water here and there. I also got to see a few birds: California Gulls, Herring Gulls, Common Mergansers, and a female Belted Kingfisher rushing back and forth along the riverbank. There was a Great Egret walking along the netting on the top of the fish raceways, trying to find a way in, and it actually made it in somehow for a little while. As soon as the employees realized it was in the raceway, they opened gates and shooed it out again.  I’ve seen Green Herons (who are much smaller and can hide more easily) inside the raceways just gorging on fish.  That Great Egret could’ve taken a lot of the larger fish if it hadn’t been seen as early as it was.

CLICK HERE for the album of photos.

The fish in the raceways “know” that when a shadow moves along the side of their enclosure, food is probably coming, so they go crazy – jumping and splashing, opening their mouths for fish-food to fall into. There are buckets along the raceways filled with food you can take to the fish, and every now and then, a truck goes by spewing food out of the side of it like a leaf-blower.

In a sort of gully/barrow pit next to the raceway area there were several Mallards, a Great Blue Heron and a Snowy Egret wading through the rocks and water looking for tidbits. I was able to get quite a few photos of the heron, but actually, some of the insects in the area were more interesting. I found a Mayfly, several ladybeetle nymphs and pupa cases, a large gravid praying mantis, and Green Stinkbugs, some of their eggs and several nymphs in different stages of development.

As I was leaving, I got a glimpse of a beaver swimming on the edge of the bank but lost it when it ducked underwater.