I got up around 6:00 this morning, so I could get the dog fed and get myself dressed to go to the Effie Yeaw Nature Preserve for my weekly volunteer trail walking gig there.
My friend Roxanne joined me at the preserve. We saw and heard quite a few raptors throughout our walk, especially at the beginning of it. A pair of Red-Shouldered Hawks were calling to one another across the treetops along the trail, and we were able to get photos of the female sitting in the top of a tree.
A little while later, the male, who had been calling to the female, flew up and we got to see them mating. The female was on a kind of precarious perch, so the male had to struggle to stay on top of her. Eventually, he moved off to the side of her and then flew off. Later, as we were leaving the preserve, we saw the female up near the rim of a nest that she and the male had built earlier in the year. She didn’t linger near it though, so I don’t know if she’s going to choose that nest to lay her eggs and raise her brood. [[Hawks may build several different nests in a breeding season, and then the female chooses which one she likes.]]
After seeing the Red-Shouldered Hawks mating, we caught sight of another hawk in the top of a tree further along the trail. When we got abut closer we could see it was what I thought was a juvenile Cooper’s Hawk and it was eating its breakfast. We were able to get quite a few photos of it from slightly different angles as it ate. At first, we couldn’t tell what it was eating; and I had to wait until I got home and blew up the photos to see that the breakfast was some kind of bird. The hawk had yanked out the majority of the feathers, so, on the trail all we could see was pink skin and flesh.
CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.
Later, Ken Ealy, one of my naturalist class graduates and a birding expert, took a look at my photos and corrected the ID. It was actually a Tiaga morph a Merlin, Falco columbarius! My first close-up of a Merlin; so exciting! The Merlins in the US have three color morphs: Tiaga, Black and Prarie.
As we were walking away from the Merlin, I saw a bird fly into a tree back down the trail and by its shape and size I thought it might be a Kestrel. I used my camera’s telephoto lens like a monocular and could see that it was indeed a Kestrel – a male, and there was a female on the branch below it. I alerted Roxanne to the birds, and we back-tracked down the trail to see them. [[I wonder if this was the same pair I’d seen last week.]]
So, that was three different species of raptors on just one part of one trail, one after the other. An auspicious start to our walk… we thought. For most of the rest of the walk, however, we were able to HEAR a lot of birds, but couldn’t see them, or could see them but couldn’t get decent photos of them.
We did see quite a few deer, small groups of bucks and small groups of does with their fawns and yearlings. We saw a big 4-pointer buck who was still sporting his antlers.
The wildflowers are just starting to appear – well, their leaves are anyway; no flowers just yet. And we looked over some lichen on both the trees and the rocks.
We walked for about 3 hours before heading out.
- Acorn Woodpecker, Melanerpes formicivorus
- Alder Tongue Gall Fungus, Taphrina alni
- Almond Tree, Prunus dulcis
- American Kestrel, Falco sparverius
- Bark Rim Lichen, Lecanora chlarotera [looks like Whitewash Lichen but has apothecia]
- Bedstraw, Velcro Grass, Cleavers, Galium aparine
- Bewick’s Wren, Thryomanes bewickii [not sure; saw some kind of wren]
- Black Grain-Spored Lichen, Sarcogyne hypophaea [black, grainy, on rocks]
- Black-Tailed Jackrabbit, Lepus californicus [scat]
- Blue Elderberry, Sambucus nigra cerulea
- Blue Oak, Quercus douglasii
- Bushtit, American Bushtit, Psaltriparus minimus
- California Buckeye Chestnut Tree, Aesculus californica
- California Ground Squirrel, Otospermophilus beecheyi
- California Manroot, Bigroot, Marah fabaceus
- California Mugwort, Artemisia douglasiana
- California Pipevine, Dutchman’s Pipe, Aristolochia californica
- California Quail, Callipepla californica [heard]
- California Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma californica
- California Towhee, Melozone crissalis
- Canada Goose, Branta canadensis
- Cinder Lichen, Aspicilia cinerea [gray to light gray/white on rocks with or without small black dots]
- Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus
- Common Merganser, Mergus merganser
- Common Stork’s-Bill, Red Stemmed Filaree, Erodium cicutarium
- Coyote Brush, Baccharis pilularis
- Crater Lichen, Diploschistes scruposus [gray/dark grey on rocks with dark apothecia]
- Cumberland Rock-Shield Lichen, Xanthoparmelia cumberlandia
- Eastern Fox Squirrel, Sciurus niger
- European Starling, Sturnus vulgaris
- Farinose Cartilage Lichen, Ramalina farinacea [like Oakmoss but very thin branches]
- Giraffe’s Spots Fungus, Peniophora albobadia
- Gold Dust Lichen, Chrysothrix candelaris
- Golden Crowned Sparrow, Zonotrichia atricapilla
- Green Shield Lichen, Flavoparmelia caperata
- Green Trichoderma Mold, Trichoderma viride
- Himalayan Blackberry, Rubus armeniacus
- Hoary Lichen, Hoary Rosette, Physcia aipolia
- Interior Live Oak, Quercus wislizeni
- Lesser Goldfinch, Spinus psaltria [fly by]
- Lords and Ladies, Wild Arum, Arum maculatum
- Mallard duck, Anas platyrhynchos
- Merlin, Falco columbarius
- Miniature Lupine, Lupinus bicolor
- Mourning Dove, Zenaida macroura [heard]
- Northern Flicker, Colaptes auratus [heard; caught a glimpse of]
- Nuttall’s Woodpecker, Picoides nuttallii [heard]
- Oak Titmouse, Baeolophus inornatus [heard]
- Oakmoss Lichen, Evernia prunastri
- Olive Tree, Olea europaea
- Poison Oak, Pacific Poison Oak, Western Poison Oak, Toxicodendron diversilobum
- Red-Shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus
- Rio Grande Wild Turkey, Meleagris gallopavo intermedia
- Scattered Button Lichen, Buellia dispersa [gray/off white on rocks with black spots]
- Shrubby Sunburst Lichen Polycauliona candelaria
- Sierra Plum, Prunus subcordata
- Soap Plant, Wavy Leafed Soaproot, Chlorogalum pomeridianum
- Spotted Towhee, Pipilo maculatus
- Strap Lichen, Western Strap Lichen, Ramalina leptocarpha
- Streambank Springbeauty, Miner’s Lettuce, Claytonia parviflora
- Sunburst Lichen, Xanthoria elegans
- Tile Lichen, Lecidea sp.
- Turkey Tail Fungus, Trametes versicolor
- Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
- Western Fence Lizard, Blue Belly, Sceloporus occidentalis
- Western Gray Squirrel, Sciurus griseus
- White Horehound, Marrubium vulgare
- White-Breasted Nuthatch, Sitta carolinensis
- Witches Butter, Tremella mesenterica
- Yellow Starthistle, Centaurea solstitialis