A Windy Day at the PReserve, 10-27-19

I headed out to the Effie Yeaw Nature Preserve for my walk today. When I got there, it was early-morning sunny and very breezy. A sign at the front of the trails let people know that the winds could bring down parts of the trees and trees might fall and block the trails, so take caution.  The winds were about 25 mph and pretty constant; sometimes you’d get a heavy gust but nothing that would knock you or spin you around. Every once in a while, I’d get attacked by a dust devil or swirls of fallen leaves, but I didn’t encounter anything more ferocious than that.

Just listen to the wind in the trees.

Because of the winds, though, I didn’t see any rabbits and the deer where kind of hunkered down in more protected areas rather than being out in the fields.  Prey animals like the big-eared mule deer and rabbits depend a lot on hearing, and when it’s really windy, the sound of the moving air messes up their auditory input.  They can differentiate between a gust of wind moving through the grass and a predator moving through the grass, so they try to stay sheltered from the wind when they can.  The deer I saw were all in the shelter of trees or browsing close to tall stands of bushes.

A Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus, fawn stays in the shelter of the thickets against the wind.

I saw a few of the younger bucks today, including some spike bucks, a 2-pointer and a three-pointer.  One of the spike bucks was feeling his oats and running and stotting all over the place.  He ran across the trail right in front of me and then came to a crashing halt when the 3-point buck stepped into view.  Hah!  You could almost hear the brakes screeching.

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

There were a lot of Turkey Vultures out and about, riding the swirling gusts of wind into the sky and zooming down again.  It looked like they were having fun.  Not too, too many little birds were skittering around, though. I’m assuming the they didn’t want to have to fight the wind unless it was entirely necessary.

Turkey Vulture, Cathartes aura

Although we seldom get a lot, we’re just starting to see some Fall color around here.  The Chinese Pistache trees, Liquidambars, and Trees of Heaven are starting to turn orange and fiery red.  We need one good cold snap for them to go into full-color mode. 

I didn’t see any migrating waterfowl in the river, but there were a few gulls, Mallards, Common Mergansers and a Great Blue Heron.  Oh, and I saw a Spotted Sandpiper (without its spots) bopping around a rock in the water.

A non-breeding Spotted Sandpiper bopping along a rock in the American River.

Among a small group of female Wild Turkeys, I saw the one with the injured leg again.  When I was trying to get some video of her, some of the other ends moved in around her – almost as if in a “protective” mode.  I was expecting them to take advantage of her injury and knock her around, but they didn’t. I was kind of surprised by that.

Not surprisingly, I saw a lot of Wild Turkey tracks on the trails, along with deer track, and what I think were a jackrabbit’s and raccoon’s tracks.

On my way out of the preserve I found a Red-Shouldered Hawk sitting in a tree next to the demonstration pond. He posed for a while and then took off low over the ground, making the ground squirrels “cheep!” their alarm calls.

Red-Shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus

I walked for about 3 ½ hours and then headed back home.

Species List:

  1. Acorn Woodpecker, Melanerpes formicivorus
  2. Black-Tailed Jackrabbit, Lepus californicus
  3. Box Elder Tree, Acer negundo
  4. California Ground Squirrel, Otospermophilus beecheyi
  5. California Sycamore, Platanus racemose
  6. California Wild Grape, Vitis californica
  7. Chinese Pistache, Pistacia chinensis
  8. Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus
  9. Common Merganser, Mergus merganser
  10. Cottonwood, Fremont Cottonwood, Populus fremontii
  11. Coyote Brush, Baccharis pilularis
  12. Eastern Fox Squirrel, Sciurus niger
  13. Feral Honeybees, Apis mellifera
  14. Flax-Leaf Horseweed, Erigeron canadensis
  15. Great Blue Heron, Ardea herodias
  16. Himalayan Blackberry, Rubus armeniacus
  17. Liquidambar, Liquid Amber Tree, Liquidambar styraciflua
  18. Mallard duck, Anas platyrhynchos
  19. Mourning Dove, Zenaida macroura
  20. Northern Flicker, Colaptes auratus
  21. Northern Mockingbird, Mimus polyglottos
  22. Oak Titmouse, Baeolophus inornatus
  23. Raccoon, Procyon lotor
  24. Red-Shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus
  25. Rio Grande Wild Turkey, Meleagris gallopavo intermedia
  26. Spotted Sandpiper, Actitis macularius
  27. Sulphur Shelf Fungus, Western Sulphur Shelf Fungus, Laetiporus gilbertsonii
  28. Tree of Heaven, Ailanthus altissima
  29. Turkey Vulture, Cathartes aura
  30. Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
  31. Western Gull, Larus occidentalis
  32. Western Redbud, Cercis occidentalis