I got up around 6:00 am, and was out the door around 6:45 to head out to Mather Lake Regional Park. There are a few more wildfires started up, so we’re getting air quality alerts again. Not too bad: 102 AQI (Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups)
When I arrived at the park the sun was just starting to come up over the horizon, and the first thing I saw was movement on the surface of the lake. I thought, “oooo, muskrat!”, but then I realized there was more than one thing moving in the water.
It was a raft of FIVE RIVER OTTERS!
I was one of two people with a camera on the shore, and the other guy spotted the otters about the same time I did. He rushed down one side of the lake, and I “rushed” (which is hard with a cane) down another. The male photographer was moving so fast, he startled the otters and they turned my way. It was hard to get photos of them because the rising sun was behind them for the most part, but I did get a tiny bit of video of the otters when they lifted up in the water to look at a fisherman near the water’s edge. So cool!
Of course, I reported the sighting to the River Otter Ecology Project, Otter Spotter.
When the otters dove near a small flock of Canada Geese, the geese took off with a lot of clamoring noise. The otters must have “goosed” them. Hah!
CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.
I caught glimpses of a Belted Kingfisher that was flying between the trees, but it wouldn’t sit still anywhere long enough for me to get photos of it. When I watched a Double-Crested Cormorant flying over the water, its flight path was interrupted by a Green Heron who then lighted on the twiggy remnants of a submerged log. Even though the heron was pretty far away, I was able to get a couple of photos of it…and the small turtle sitting on a rock near the twigs.
I also saw my “spirit bird”, a Black Phoebe. It was flitting back and forth from snags over the water and back again. On one trip, it caught an insect midair, then returned to snag to swallow it down.
There were a lot of Pied-Billed Grebes in the water, adults and juveniles, all of them swimming and fishing among rafts of water vegetation. The Mute Swans were all about, of course, along with the geese. I also saw small flocks of Bushtits and Lesser Goldfinches. I heard California Quail and Northern Flickers, but couldn’t catch sight of them. It was nice to see and hear the familiar song of White-Crowned Sparrows who are just now starting to migrate back into the area.
Blue damselflies were still decorating the plants at the water’s edge, but their numbers are dwindling. And I only saw two dragonflies. There were lots of midges in the air, and I was also aware of the mosquitoes today (having pretty much missed them otherwise this year).
I walked for about 3 hours, and then headed back home.
- American Bugleweed, Water Horehound, Lycopus americanus
- Anna’s Hummingbird, Calypte anna
- Argentine Ant, Linepithema humile
- Belted Kingfisher, Megaceryle alcyon
- Bishop Pine, Pinus muricata [fascicles of TWO needles]
- Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans
- Brewer’s Blackbird, Euphagus cyanocephalus
- Bushtit, American Bushtit, Psaltriparus minimus
- California Ground Squirrel, Otospermophilus beecheyi
- California Quail, Callipepla californica [heard]
- California Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma californica
- Canada Goose, Branta canadensis
- Common Spike-Rush, Eleocharis palustris [has a head somewhat like SB Sedge]
- Cottonwood Petiole Gall, Poplar Petiole Gall Aphid, Pemphigus populitransversus
- Coyote Brush, Baccharis pilularis
- Desert Cottontail Rabbit, Sylvilagus audubonii
- Double-Crested Cormorant, Phalacrocorax auratus
- European Starling, Sturnus vulgaris
- Familiar Bluet Damselfly, Enallagma civile
- Fremont’s Cottonwood, Populus fremontii
- Great Egret, Ardea alba
- Great-Tailed Grackle, Quiscalus mexicanus
- Green Heron, Butorides virescens
- House Finch, Haemorhous mexicanus
- Killdeer, Charadrius vociferous
- Largemouth Bass, Micropterus salmoides
- Lesser Goldfinch, Spinus psaltria
- Mallard duck, Anas platyrhynchos
- Mosquito, Common House Mosquito, Culex pipiens
- Mourning Dove, Zenaida macroura
- Mute Swan, Cygnus olor
- Narrowleaf Cattail, Cattail, Typha angustifolia
- Narrowleaf Willow, Salix exigua
- Northern Flicker, Colaptes auratus [heard]
- Northern Mockingbird, Mimus polyglottos
- Pacific Forktail Damselfly, Ischnura cervula
- Pied-Billed Grebe, Podilymbus podiceps
- Red-Eared Slider Turtle, Trachemys scripta elegans
- Red-Winged Blackbird, Agelaius phoeniceus
- River Otter, North American River Otter, Lontra canadensis
- Soft Rush, Juncus effusus
- Tule, Common Tule, Schoenoplectus acutus
- Tule Bluet Damselfly, Enallagma carunculatum
- White-Crowned Sparrow, Zonotrichia leucophrys
- Willow Bead Gall Mite, Aculus tetanothrix
- Willow Herb, Epilobium brachycarpum [tiny pink flowers, seeds almost like soaproot]
- Willow Pinecone Gall midge, Rabdophaga strobiloides