Cosumnes, Staten and Woodbridge, 02-08-20

I got up at 6:00 am and was out the door by about 7:00 am to go to the Cosumnes River Preserve with my friend Roxanne.   On the way there we hit a patch of dense fog, but then drove out of it again after just a few miles.

We saw a lot of hawks along the roadside in the trees, on the fences and upon the telephone poles, mostly Red-Tailed Hawks, but a few Red-Shouldered Hawks, too.  We had gone out looking for any Sandhill Cranes that might still be lingering in the area.

At Cosumnes, we didn’t see any cranes, but we did get to see a variety of waterfowl including Coots, Northern Shovelers and Pintails, Greater Yellowlegs and Killdeer.  At the boardwalk we stopped briefly in the parking lot to walk around the pond where an obliging Great Egret posed for us in a tree. 

Great Egret, Ardea alba

The best shot for me, though, was of a Wilson’s Snipe, the first one I’d seen this year. He was lingering near the edge of the pond, and I managed to get a few photos of him before he walked up into the overgrowth and disappeared.

Wilson’s Snipe, Gallinago delicata

Then it was down the freeway a bit to Staten Island Road.  We got luckier there as far as the Sandhill Cranes went, but many of them were pretty far from the road, so photo taking was a bit “iffy”. As we were approaching Staten Island Road, we saw a large flock of the cranes feeding in a field and stopped to look at them. I counted about 113 birds nearest to the road, and then may another 60 further away. Wow.  That was one of the largest flocks I’ve seen on the ground.

Sandhill Cranes, Grus canadensis

There were lots of Brewer’s and Red-Winged Blackbirds out there along with flocks of House Finches on the fence lines (and we think some Purple Finches, too.)  At one wetter spot we saw small flocks of tiny Dunlins poking around in the mud, then taking to wing with a flash of white as the whole little flock turned to the sunlight in tandem. And at another point, Roxanne spotted a White-Tailed Kite hovering, kiting over a field. They’re such beautiful birds, like feral angels.

The wild mustard, charlock and cheeseweed are starting to come up and flower. The heralds of spring. Oh, and I spied some Tundra Swans in the distance.  The last hangers-on for the season, I think.

A fuzzy photo of Tundra Swans, Cygnus columbianus, in the distance

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

We then decided to continue up the freeway a bit to the Woodbridge Ecological Preserve to see if there were any cranes there.  We didn’t see any on the preserve itself (what little you can see of it without a guide), but further down the road there was another turnout with small flocks of the cranes on either side of the road.  The best photos I got of birds at the preserve were of obliging Mockingbirds, some of them fluffed up against the chilly breeze.

And I also got some close-ups of some Coyote Brush Bud galls, and several different kinds of lichen on the wood railings on some of the fences. A new one for me was Cottonthread Lichen, Leprocaulon americanum. It’s green and kind of mealy looking to the naked eye, but when you get in close, you can see it’s made up of short “twisted threads” that kind of look like carpet.  Very cool.

Cottonthread Lichen, Leprocaulon americanum

By the time we were done at Woodbridge, we decided to head back to Sacramento.  When we got to Elk Grove, we stopped off at The Flaming Grill Café.  After lunch we continued back to Sacramento and I got home around 2:00 pm

Species List:

  1. American Kestrel, Falco sparverius
  2. American Pipit, Anthus rubescens
  3. American Robin, Turdus migratorius
  4. American Wigeon, Anas Americana
  5. Audubon’s Warbler, Setophaga coronata auduboni
  6. Black Angus Cattle, Bos Taurus var. Black Angus
  7. Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans
  8. Black-Necked Stilt, Himantopus mexicanus
  9. Boxelder, Box Elder Tree, Acer negundo
  10. Brewer’s Blackbird, Euphagus cyanocephalus
  11. Bufflehead Duck, Bucephala albeola
  12. Cackling Goose, Branta hutchinsii
  13. California Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma californica
  14. Canada Goose, Branta canadensis
  15. Cheeseweed Mallow, Malva parviflora
  16. Cinnamon Teal, Anas cyanoptera
  17. Coast Live Oak, Quercus agrifolia
  18. Common Crow, Corvus brachyrhynchos
  19. Common Sunburst Lichen Xanthoria parietina
  20. Cottonthread Lichen, Leprocaulon americanum [mealy, short threads on wood/trees]
  21. Coyote Brush Bud Gall midge, Rhopalomyia californica
  22. Coyote Brush, Baccharis pilularis
  23. Crescent Frost Lichen, Physconia perisidiosa [green or gray green on trees/wood]
  24. Downy Woodpecker,  Dryobates pubescens [shorter bill]
  25. Dunlin, Calidris alpina
  26. European Starling, Sturnus vulgaris
  27. Fishpole Bamboo, Phyllostachys aurea
  28. Gadwall duck, Mareca Strepera
  29. Golden Shield Lichen, Xanthoria parietina
  30. Great Blue Heron, Ardea herodias
  31. Great Egret, Ardea alba
  32. Greater White-Fronted Goose, Anser albifrons
  33. Greater Yellowlegs, Tringa melanoleuca
  34. Green-Winged Teal, Anas carolinensis
  35. House Finch, Haemorhous mexicanus
  36. Interior Live Oak, Quercus wislizeni
  37. Jointed Charlock, Wild Radish, Raphanus raphanistrum
  38. Killdeer, Charadrius vociferous
  39. Mallard duck, Anas platyrhynchos
  40. Narrowleaf Cattail, Cattail, Typha angustifolia
  41. Northern Mockingbird, Mimus polyglottos
  42. Northern Pintail, Anas acuta
  43. Northern Shoveler, Anas clypeata
  44. Oak Apple Gall Wasp, Andricus quercuscalifornicus
  45. Red-Shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus
  46. Red-Tailed Hawk, Buteo jamaicensis
  47. Red-Winged Blackbird, Agelaius phoeniceus
  48. Ruddy Duck, Oxyura jamaicensis
  49. Sandhill Crane, Grus canadensis
  50. Snow Goose, Chen caerulescens
  51. Tree Swallow, Tachycineta bicolor
  52. Tundra Swan, Cygnus columbianus
  53. Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
  54. Western Meadowlark, Sturnella neglecta
  55. White Alder, Alnus rhombifolia
  56. White Tailed Kite, Elanus leucurus
  57. White-Crowned Sparrow, Zonotrichia leucophrys
  58. Wilson’s Snipe, Gallinago delicata