I got up around 6:30 this morning and headed out to the Cosumnes River Preserve for a walk. It was 38º when I got there, and I was glad I’d brought my heavier coat with me.
There were far less birds there today than there were when my friend Roxanne and I were last there on the 15th, so birdwatching was exceedingly disappointing. I saw two photographers and a small group of birders out along the boardwalk, but none of them were having any luck. The crisp fresh air was nice, but from a nature walk standpoint it was pretty much a bust… But then I saw the North American River Otter, Lontra canadensis.
I took the trail that went from the boardwalk to Franklin Blvd., and then walked along the side of the road where there’s a slough that runs alongside it. I saw the otter on the opposite side of the slough, preening. I moved as quietly as I could and got photos of through the scrubby trees that stand between the road and the water.
I saw the otter preening, swimming, and digging in the mud to roust out some catfish. He caught one of them, ate it and then swam right up in front of me to check me out before heading off on the rest of his morning jaunt. The closest he got was about 8 feet, so I was able to get a good shot of his face floating on the surface of the water, and also got quite a few videos of him.
When I got home, I made sure to get him recorded in the “Otter Spotter” database with the River Otter Ecology Project .
When I was driving home, I saw quite a few hawks in the trees and along the fence lines, a pair of American Kestrels and a Prairie Falcon. But the standout was a gorgeous juvenile Golden Eagle sitting on the top of a short tree right at the freeway access point. I couldn’t get photos because there were cars behind me all the way. Dang it!
- American Coot, Fulica americana
- American Kestrel, Falco sparverius
- American Pipit, Anthus rubescens
- Brewer’s Blackbird, Euphagus cyanocephalus
- Canada Goose, Branta canadensis
- Golden Eagle, Aquila chrysaetos
- Greater White-Fronted Goose, Anser albifrons
- Greater Yellowlegs, Tringa melanoleuca
- House Finch, Haemorhous mexicanus
- Marsh Wren, Cistothorus palustris
- Northern Harrier, Marsh Hawk, Circus hudsonius
- Northern Pintail, Anas acuta
- Northern Shoveler, Anas clypeata
- Pied-Billed Grebe, Podilymbus podiceps
- Prairie Falcon, Falco mexicanus
- Red-Winged Blackbird, Agelaius phoeniceus
- River Otter, North American River Otter, Lontra canadensis
- Rough Cocklebur, Xanthium strumarium
- Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
- White-Crowned Sparrow, Zonotrichia leucophrys