The Butterfly was a Surprise, 10-09-18

DAY 4 OF MY VACATION.  I got up around 6:30 this morning and headed over to the Effie Yeaw Nature Preserve again for my walk. It was 53º when I got to the river, and the temperature got up to 84º by the late afternoon.

There were a lot of deer near the front gate area, on the hillside beside the nature center: a doe with a fawn, a few more does, and a pair of young bucks. The buck pestered the doe with the fawn, but she was having none of it. The boys sparred a little, too. Further on along the trail I found the bog bucks, sitting in their favorite grassy spot, and came along another female with a single fawn on the Meadow Trail.

At another part of the trail, I could hear a Wild Turkey giving off an alarm call. The turkeys do that frequently, but usually get over whatever is startling them and stop making noise within a few seconds. This turkey’s call was persistent. After a few minutes, when it didn’t stop, I hurried over to where the sound was coming from to see if I could tell what the bird’s issue was.  I found the turkey that was hollering and took some video of it.

CLICK HERE to see the full album of photos.

Then I looked around – and found what the turkey was upset about. On the opposite side of the trail from the bird was a large (and gorgeous) coyote. It came out from behind a tall pile of twigs and branches, walked past me and down the trail. I bet that coyote had been stalking the turkey from a distance, and the turkey could see it and was warning other turkeys of the coyote’s presence. This was near the same area where, on two occasions, I’d found evidence of turkeys being taken down and eaten by coyotes.

A little further down that part of the trail, I found a wake of Turkey Vultures sitting in a dead tree. There was also one vulture that was off by itself in another tree, half-raising its wings to warm its joints in the early morning sunlight.

Once again, I came across a lot of the squirrels, most of them eating or stashing nuts and acorns for later. One California Ground Squirrel let me get pretty close to its burrow where it was stuffing its cheek pouches with acorns it found on the ground and burying them near the entrance to its burrow. I got both photos and a little video snippet of that guy.

One really odd thing I saw today was a butterfly. It’s late in the season for any of those guys, but beyond that, this butterfly looked something like a Painted Lady, but it was missing the spots on the hind wings – and there was a thin line of blue iridescence at the point where the hind wings met. I looked up all of the butterflies in the Vanessa genus, including the Admirals, and I can’t find one with the markings on the butterfly I saw today. So, I’m not sure the species identification.

I walked for about 3 hours and then headed home.

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Mary K. Hanson is an author, nature photographer and Certified California Naturalist living with terminal cancer.