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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
- American Kestrel, Falco sparverius
- American Pipit, Anthus rubescens
- American Robin, Turdus migratorius
- American Wigeon, Anas Americana
- Audubon’s Warbler, Setophaga coronata auduboni
- Black Angus Cattle, Bos Taurus var. Black Angus
- Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans
- Black-Necked Stilt, Himantopus mexicanus
- Boxelder, Box Elder Tree, Acer negundo
- Brewer’s Blackbird, Euphagus cyanocephalus
- Bufflehead Duck, Bucephala albeola
- Cackling Goose, Branta hutchinsii
- California Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma californica
- Canada Goose, Branta canadensis
- Cheeseweed Mallow, Malva parviflora
- Cinnamon Teal, Anas cyanoptera
- Coast Live Oak, Quercus agrifolia
- Common Crow, Corvus brachyrhynchos
- Common Sunburst Lichen Xanthoria parietina
- Cottonthread Lichen, Leprocaulon americanum [mealy, short threads on wood/trees]
- Coyote Brush Bud Gall midge, Rhopalomyia californica
- Coyote Brush, Baccharis pilularis
- Crescent Frost Lichen, Physconia perisidiosa [green or gray green on trees/wood]
- Downy Woodpecker, Dryobates pubescens [shorter bill]
- Dunlin, Calidris alpina
- European Starling, Sturnus vulgaris
- Fishpole Bamboo, Phyllostachys aurea
- Gadwall duck, Mareca Strepera
- Golden Shield Lichen, Xanthoria parietina
- Great Blue Heron, Ardea herodias
- Great Egret, Ardea alba
- Greater White-Fronted Goose, Anser albifrons
- Greater Yellowlegs, Tringa melanoleuca
- Green-Winged Teal, Anas carolinensis
- House Finch, Haemorhous mexicanus
- Interior Live Oak, Quercus wislizeni
- Jointed Charlock, Wild Radish, Raphanus raphanistrum
- Killdeer, Charadrius vociferous
- Mallard duck, Anas platyrhynchos
- Narrowleaf Cattail, Cattail, Typha angustifolia
- Northern Mockingbird, Mimus polyglottos
- Northern Pintail, Anas acuta
- Northern Shoveler, Anas clypeata
- Oak Apple Gall Wasp, Andricus quercuscalifornicus
- Red-Shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus
- Red-Tailed Hawk, Buteo jamaicensis
- Red-Winged Blackbird, Agelaius phoeniceus
- Ruddy Duck, Oxyura jamaicensis
- Sandhill Crane, Grus canadensis
- Snow Goose, Chen caerulescens
- Tree Swallow, Tachycineta bicolor
- Tundra Swan, Cygnus columbianus
- Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
- Western Meadowlark, Sturnella neglecta
- White Alder, Alnus rhombifolia
- White Tailed Kite, Elanus leucurus
- White-Crowned Sparrow, Zonotrichia leucophrys
- Wilson’s Snipe, Gallinago delicata