I headed out to the Effie Yeaw Nature Preserve for a walk today. It was about 46° at the river, and while I was walking the clouds parted, leaving things partly sunny and quite lovely outside. I walked for a little over 3 hours and covered about 2½ miles.
One of the first things I saw was a small group of male Western Bluebirds. They’re small birds, but so brilliantly colored it’s hard to miss them even at a distance. Around that same area, I watched as an Eastern Fox Squirrel added foliage to a drey she was building inside and around a mound of mistletoe. Smart squirrel. It’s really hard for predators to see the drey from above or below. Now I know where two dreys are in the preserve; I’ll have to keep an eye on them to see if I can spot any babies (once they’re old enough to emerge).
All of the plants and critters are getting ready for spring. The poison oak is starting to leaf out everywhere, their new reddish leaves vibrant in the morning light. And manroot and pipevine are showing up all over the landscape. In one spot, I found the native manroot intertwining with invasive Periwinkle vines. Elsewhere, the invasive European Starlings are in a battle with native Acorn Woodpeckers for nesting sites. The Starlings can’t drill their own nesting cavities, so they steal from the woodpeckers whenever they can.
I also spotted a tiny female Anna’s Hummingbird plucking the fluff off of the top of dead Yellow Star Thistle blossoms and flying off with it. They use it to line their nests.
I saw a few Red-Shouldered Hawks today, including one that flew over my head with something in its talons. I tried following it, even though it was moving really quickly, and my legs are really short. Then I could hear it calling from somewhere close, and I jokingly said to myself, “Y’know, it would be really nice if you landed on the bat box over there so I could actually get some picture of you.”
And when I finally found it, it had landed on the bat box! Yay!
It stayed there, letting me take photos of it until it had finished it breakfast and flew off again. Awesome. And in many of the photos, you can see that it had a little dark vole. In some of the photos, you can clearly see the vole’s eyes and face.
CLICK HERE for the album of photos.
The biggest surprise of the day was hearing the gravelly call of Sandhill Cranes from overhead. The sound can travel for over a mile, so sometimes they’re REALLY hard to spot, but I managed to see the flock, flying waaaaaaaaay overhead among the clouds. ((Later, when I got home, my sister Melissa and I were able to spot another flock flying overhead.))
I love this time of year.
- Acorn Woodpecker, Melanerpes formicivorus
- American Kestrel, Falco sparverius
- Anna’s Hummingbird, Calypte anna
- Audubon’s Warbler, Yellow-Rumped Warbler, Setophaga coronata
- Black Jelly Roll Fungus, Exidia glandulosa
- Black-Tailed Jackrabbit, Lepus californicus
- Blessed Milkthistle, Silybum marianum
- Blue Elderberry, Sambucus cerulea
- California Ground Squirrel, Otospermophilus beecheyi
- California Pipevine, Dutchman’s Pipe, Aristolochia californica
- California Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma californica
- California Towhee, Melozone crissalis
- Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus
- Eastern Fox Squirrel, Sciurus niger
- European Starling, Sturnus vulgaris
- False Turkey Tail fungus, Stereum hirsutum
- Giraffe’s Head Henbit, Henbit Deadnettle, Lamium amplexicaule
- Golden Crowned Sparrow, Zonotrichia atricapilla
- Haymaker Mushroom, Panaeolus foenisecii
- Manroot, California Manroot, Bigroot Vine, Wild Cucumber, Marah fabaceus
- Miner’s Lettuce, Claytonia perfoliata
- Northern Flicker, Colaptes auratus
- Nutthall’s Woodpecker, Picoides nuttallii
- Oak Titmouse, Baeolophus inornatus
- Periwinkle, Vinca major
- Poison Oak, Pacific Poison Oak, Western Poison Oak, Toxicodendron diversilobum
- Raccoon, Procyon lotor
- Red-Shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus
- Sandhill Crane, Grus canadensis
- Spotted Towhee, Pipilo maculatus
- Western Bluebird, Sialia mexicana
- White-Breasted Nuthatch, Sitta carolinensis
- Wild Turkey, Rio Grande Turkey, Meleagris gallopavo intermedia
- Yellow Field Mushrooms, Agaricus campestris
- Yellow Star-Thistle, Centaurea solstitialis