Up at about 6:00 am and headed out to the Effie Yeaw Nature Preserve for my weekly volunteer trail walking gig. It was 41º at the river when I got there. There was light fog hanging over some of the shady spots in the meadow and on top of the water in the river. And it was cold enough to see my breath.
There were quite a few Turkey Vultures resting in the treetops, waiting for the morning to warm up, and lots of little White-Crowned Sparrows on the ground, gathering up seeds and ants.
I saw a lot of deer today including a few small herds of does and fawns, a pair of young “spike” bucks who play-jousted a little bit while I watched them, and some of the big bucks. I saw a couple of three-pointers and one four-pointer. One of the three-point bucks was chasing after some does, who were avoiding him at all costs. He trotted down a trail and crossed right in front of me.
The four-point buck was sitting on the ground behind a fallen tree and a tangled swath of tall weeds. I only spotted him because the tips of his antlers were sticking up above the weeds, and when I looked closely I could see his eye peeking out through the tangles. When he realized I was watching him, he gave out a few low, grumbling, long snorts to warn me off. Such an odd sound!
There was a three-point buck back there with him who startled when he heard the older buck snort. He rushed out a few feet, then slowly started sidling back toward the four-point buck. When he got close enough, the three-pointer lowered his head down and pushed it against the still seated older buck. Within just a second or two, the older buck jumped up onto his feet and rammed his head into the younger buck’s head and pushed him across the ground, backwards toward some trees. All of this was happening really quickly and behind the blind of weeds, so I wasn’t able to get any clear photos of the clash.
The four-pointer then chased the three-pointer out across the trail in front of me and followed him for a few yards. The three-point buck then stepped off the trail and into the meadow to our right, and the four-pointer followed slowly after him for a few steps. The younger buck didn’t challenge the older one again and walked off. The four-pointer followed after him, but in a casual way, not aggressive.
It’s always so neat to be able to see those big guys. They’re so impressive to look at. And each one has their own unique set of antlers…
CLICK HERE to see the full album of photos.
The Acorn Woodpeckers were all over the place, gathering and transporting acorns back and forth across the preserve. I also heard and caught glimpses of a lot of Northern Flickers. Those guys blend right into the trees when they land on them, so I didn’t get any good photos of them today.
I did get some good photos of California Ground Squirrels today, including some shots of the half-blind one I’ve seen at the preserve several times before. I just love those little critters.
I walked for about 3½ hours and then headed home.
- Acorn Woodpecker, Melanerpes formicivorus
- American Goldfinch, Spinus tristis [glimpses of, no photos]
- Belted Kingfisher, Megaceryle alcyon
- Black Walnut Tree, Juglans nigra
- California Buckeye Chestnut, Aesculus californica
- California Ground Squirrel, Otospermophilus beecheyi
- California Mugwort, Artemisia douglasiana
- California Quail, Callipepla californica
- California Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma californica
- California Sycamore, Platanus racemose
- California Towhee, Melozone crissalis
- California Wild Grape, Vitis californica
- Canada Goose, Branta canadensis [fly over]
- Chinese Pistache Tree, Pistacia chinensis
- Coffeeberry, California Buckthorn, Frangula californica
- Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus
- Common Crow, Corvus brachyrhynchos
- Common Merganser, Mergus merganser
- Coyote Brush, Baccharis pilularis
- Coyote, Canis latrans [scat]
- Desert Cottontail Rabbit, Sylvilagus audubonii
- Eastern Fox Squirrel, Sciurus niger
- English Walnut, Juglans regia
- European Starling, Sturnus vulgaris
- Evening Primrose, Oenothera biennis
- Fig, Common Fig, Ficus carica
- Flax-Leaf Horseweed, Erigeron canadensis
- Fremont Cottonwood, Populus fremontii
- Gray Pine, California Foothill Pine, Pinus sabiniana
- Himalayan Blackberry, Rubus armeniacus
- House Wren, Troglodytes aedon
- Interior Live Oak, Quercus wislizeni
- Killdeer, Charadrius vociferous
- Live Oak Gall Wasp, 2nd Generation, Callirhytis quercuspomiformis
- Mallard duck, Anas platyrhynchos
- Mourning Dove, Zenaida macroura
- Mule Fat, Baccharis salicifolia
- Northern Flicker, Colaptes auratus
- Nuttall’s Woodpecker, Picoides nuttallii [heard]
- Oak Titmouse, Baeolophus inornatus
- Pumpkin Gall Wasp, Dryocosmus minusculus
- Red-Shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus
- Rio Grande Wild Turkey, Meleagris gallopavo intermedia
- Soap Plant, Wavy Leafed Soaproot, Chlorogalum pomeridianum
- Spotted Towhee, Pipilo maculatus
- Swainson’s Hawk, Buteo swainsoni
- Turkey Vulture, Cathartes aura
- Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
- Virginia Opossum, Didelphis virginiana [roadkill]
- Western Fence Lizard, Blue Belly, Sceloporus occidentalis
- Western Gray Squirrel, Sciurus griseus
- Western Gull, Larus occidentalis
- White-Breasted Nuthatch, Sitta carolinensis
- White-Crowned Sparrow, Zonotrichia leucophrys