The Seasons are Changing, 02-18-20

I got up around 7:00 this morning and was out the door by about 7:30 to head to the Effie Yeaw Nature Preserve for my weekly volunteer trail walking gig.

I was feeling pretty strong today; the pain in my left lower abdomen was very minor and seemed to be “referred” into my groin, so I didn’t have any trouble walking.  And the weather was lovely, too.

CLICK HERE for the album of photos.

As I drove down California Street, I could see a flock of female Wile Turkeys in the street, and slowed down for them.  I was sad to see that someone else, on the other side of the road, had not stopped and had struck one of the hens.  The other hens were gathering around the dead one in what I presume was a “mourning group”. Among them was the leucitic hen I’ve seen at Effie Yeaw on and off for a few years. 

I debated with myself as to whether I should stop and check on the dead one, to make doubly sure it was dead. But I decided against that.  If the downed hen, wasn’t dead, there wasn’t a lot I could do for her.  I didn’t have a blanket to wrap her in or a crate to put her in, and that early in the morning, I didn’t know of a rescue place that would be open… So, sadly, I left her where she was.

On the first part of the trail, I came across a pair of American Kestrels, male and females, high in a tree. They were pretty far away but the light on them was good, so I took a few photos. Because of the distance, the pictures aren’t the best but you can clearly see the two birds and their markings, so I was pleased with that.

A pair of American Kestrel, Falco sparverius. That’s the female on the top of the branch and the male beneath her

Later, I found a small herd of bucks,2-, 3- and 4-pointers, and two that had just lost their antlers.  So, that HAS come earlier this year. It’s because of the warm weather, I’m sure.

According to the Sacramento Bee, Sacramento is heading for the first February on record without rain.  Not good news.  The vernal pools all over the region are dry, or losing the water they got in January due to evaporation, which means the populations of rare and specialized insects and animals they support either have no way of emerging or are dying in their ever-shrinking habitats.  But some people still insist that Climate Change doesn’t exist… It’s just sad.

Further along the trail, I found an Eastern Fox Squirrel grooming himself in a tree, and watched the Acorn Woodpeckers moving their acorns around in their granary trees. Oh, and the bees have left the bee tree, it seems.  No sign of even a single one of them…

Acorn Woodpecker, Melanerpes formicivorus

And then there was the guy with a drone. I could hear this ridiculously loud buzzing sound that seemed to be coming from everywhere around me, and I thought maybe the preserve landscape crews were out with some kind of weird weed-whacker.  Then I saw the drone, a little black job that a bearded guy had sneaked in inside his backpack. As soon a he saw me, he few the thing back to him and walked off with it — which made me conclude that he was flying it illegally and he knew it. 

There are a lot of laws and restrictions about flying drones in California, and Sacramento County has added their own layer of laws and permit requirements. To me, just having that noisy thing inside a designated wildlife preserve was enough to piss me off.  He was scaring the deer and some of the birds.  I saw him off-trail in another part of the preserve, and headed over to him to tell him to get back onto the trail surfaces… but he’d run off and disappeared before I reached him.

I walked for about 3 hours before heading out.

When I went into the nature center after my walk to log my hours, I met two new trail walkers who were just going out for the day.  I’m glad the trails are getting a lot of coverage.

I’d gotten emails from the nature center this morning letting everyone know that Sophia the Saw-Whet Owl at Effie Yeaw had died over the weekend. She actually lived about 10 years longer than she was expected to, so she was a grand old lady.  I saw her every time I went into the nature center to log my volunteer hours, and Melissa and I went to a “painting party” where we painted portraits of her and got to see he face-to-beak. It was sad to see her empty enclosure inside the center today.

RIP, Sophia!

As I was leaving the preserve, I saw two unattended children, a boy and his younger sister, around the small demonstration pool.  First, they set off to chase the turkeys, and I had to ask them to stop.  Then they went over to the pond and tried to climb into it to harass the pair of Mallards that was resting in it.  I went up to the pond, made sure they could see me taking photos of them, and then told them to “please stay out of the water and leave the ducks alone”.  The kids gave me dirty looks, and the boy tried pushing his sister into the water.  She shrugged him off and then both of them stopped their horrid behavior the moment their mother finally walked in from the parking lot. *Sigh*

Species List:

  1. Acorn Woodpecker, Melanerpes formicivorus
  2. Almond Tree, Prunus dulcis
  3. American Kestrel, Falco sparverius
  4. Audubon’s Warbler, Setophaga coronata auduboni
  5. Bark Rim Lichen, Lecanora chlarotera [looks like Whitewash Lichen but has apothecia]
  6. Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans
  7. Blue Elderberry, Sambucus nigra cerulea
  8. Blue Oak, Quercus douglasii
  9. California Ground Squirrel, Otospermophilus beecheyi
  10. California Mugwort, Artemisia douglasiana
  11. California Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma californica
  12. Canada Goose, Branta canadensis [fly overs]
  13. Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus
  14. Common Crow, Corvus brachyrhynchos [heard]
  15. Common Orange Lichen, Xanthoria parietina
  16. Cooper’s Hawk, Acipiter cooperii [heard]
  17. Coyote Brush Bud Gall midge, Rhopalomyia californica
  18. Coyote Brush, Baccharis pilularis
  19. Cranefly, Mosquito Hawk, Tipula sp.
  20. Eastern Fox Squirrel, Sciurus niger
  21. European Starling, Sturnus vulgaris
  22. Farinose Cartilage Lichen, Ramalina farinacea [like Oakmoss but very thin branches]
  23. Fluffy Dust Lichen, Pacific Fluffy Dust Lichen, Lepraria pacifica
  24. Fremont’s Cottonwood, Populus fremontii
  25. Gold Dust Lichen, Chrysothrix candelaris
  26. Golden Shield Lichen, Xanthoria parietina
  27. Green Shield Lichen, Flavoparmelia caperata
  28. Green Trichoderma Mold, Trichoderma viride
  29. Himalayan Blackberry, Rubus armeniacus
  30. Hoary Lichen, Hoary Rosette, Physcia aipolia
  31. Hooded Rosette Lichen, Physcia adscendens [hairs/eyelashes on the tips of the lobes]
  32. Interior Live Oak, Quercus wislizeni
  33. Live Oak Gall Wasp, 1st Generation, Callirhytis quercuspomiformis
  34. Mallard duck, Anas platyrhynchos
  35. Nuttall’s Woodpecker, Picoides nuttallii [heard several]
  36. Oak Titmouse, Baeolophus inornatus
  37. Pumpkin Gall Wasp, Dryocosmus minusculus
  38. Red-Shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus
  39. Rio Grande Wild Turkey, Meleagris gallopavo intermedia
  40. Shield Lichen, Parmelia squarrosa [gray, foliose, on trees, soredia and very branched eyelashes (isidia) on the tips]
  41. Shrubby Sunburst Lichen Polycauliona candelaria
  42. Spotted Towhee, Pipilo maculatus
  43. Strap Lichen, Western Strap Lichen, Ramalina leptocarpha
  44. Turkey Tail Fungus, Trametes versicolor
  45. Turkey Vulture, Cathartes aura
  46. Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
  47. Western Fence Lizard, Blue Belly, Sceloporus occidentalis
  48. Western Redbud, Cercis occidentalis
  49. White-Breasted Nuthatch, Sitta carolinensis