I got up around 6:00 am today and was out the door by 6:30 to head out for some nature walking with my friend and fellow naturalist Roxanne. After stopping at a drive-through for some breakfast, we went first to the Cosumnes River Preserve, taking Franklin Blvd. instead of the freeway. Once we got near the preserve, we drove down Bruceville and Desmond Roads to see if there was anything interesting in the agricultural fields yet. We were going on the hunt for Sandhill Cranes which had been reported in the area.
All along the route, we saw large flocks of Wild Turkeys in the empty lots and fields. They’re getting ready for the males to do their fall/winter strut.
We saw lots of sparrows and finches in the brambles and tules on the roadside, including Song Sparrows, Savanah Sparrows, House Sparrows, White-Crowned Sparrows, House Finches and Lesser Goldfinches. Among them was a bird I’d never seen before: a little bright yellow fellow with a black mask. He was in among some tules and I kept saying, “what IS that?!”, as I tried to get his picture. The shots I got weren’t all that good, but they were good enough to make an ID. He was a Common Yellowthroat, Geothlypis trichas. They’re migrating through the area now, so several people have seen them.
Another nice sighting further along the road was a Say’s Phoebe, Sayornis saya. We see Black Phoebes all the time, but the Say’s not so much. There were also Red-Winged Blackbirds and Brewer’s Blackbirds feeding and flying in small flocks; some singing from the tree tops.
It was so great to see all bird-life activity again after the dearth of it for the past several weeks. Migrations are starting. We should be seeing tons more birds over the next several months. The only thing that really seemed to be obviously missing were the hawks. We only saw a couple of them during the whole trip.
There were lots of cattle in the fields, some of them bellowing loudly. In one field, close to the fence line, there were whitish Charolais Cattle: moms with calves. Some of the calves were playing with one another, bouncing around, jostling and head-butting each other. So cute!
At the preserve itself, there still isn’t very much water; most of it is still bone dry which doesn’t bode well for the migratory birds. We did see a lot of Least Sandpipers in one little marshy area along with some Killdeer and one or two Greater Yellowlegs.
Along the boat ramp, we found several trashline spiders and their webs, and some larger orb-weaver webs (some with spiders, some without). There were some dragonflies flitting about, but none of them would sit still for any length of time. I think I got a single photo of a Variable Meadowhawk. Down by the water, I could see the Water Hyacinth was still clogging part of the waterway, but they must’ve cleared it out around the dock because it wasn’t around there.
CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.
We when got back to the car, we headed over to Staten Island Road. On the way there, we had to stop for a bit while a farmer used his tractor to clear a fallen tree limb off the road. We gave him a thank-you wave when he was done.
Along Staten Island Road, nothing much is flooded there yet, so there weren’t a lot of different waterfowl that we could see. We did see lots of Sandhill Cranes, though, which is what we were hoping to see. Adults and juveniles were in the fields, doing their crackling-calls to one another, feeding, flying overhead. It was great to see them. We also saw a flock of Cackling Geese, the shorter cousins of the Canada Geese.
We drove up and down the road once, and then headed over to the Woodbridge Ecological Preserve.
On the way there, we saw a Northern Mockingbird posing nicely on top of a road sign, but just as I raised my camera to take its picture, the battery died. I told the bird to wait while I changed out the spent battery for a new one, and Roxanne quipped, “Watch. It will wait until you’re ready again, and then fly away.” And sure enough. The bird sat there, looking handsome, while I changed out the battery and as soon as I lifted my camera to take its photo, it flew away. Hah!
There were more cranes at the preserve, but they were in the fields across from the fenced-in preserve. In one field there was over 200 of them! Amazing.
There was water on the ground in the preserve itself, on the other side of the fence, and there were birds in the water, but everything was too far and backlit, so we couldn’t get any decent photos of any of them. We did see a flock of White-Faced Ibis flying overhead, and could also hear lots of Red-Winged Blackbirds in the elderberry bushes along the road. In the culverts on one side of the road, water was running and there was more water hyacinth growing in there, and Great Egrets fishing.
We saw signage for The Black Hole wetland preserve, a privately owned preserve overseen by the Wetland Preservation Foundation. I sent them an email to see if I can get Roxanne and I onto the property to do some photography and species identification.
We were out and about for about 6 hours and headed back home.
- Alfalfa, Medicago sativa
- Amaranth, Redroot Pigweed, Amaranthus retroflexus
- Azolla, Water Fern, Azolla filiculoides
- Bagrada Bug, Bagrada hilaris
- Black Angus Cattle, Bos Taurus var. Black Angus
- Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans
- Blue Elderberry, Sambucus nigra cerulea
- Boxelder, Box Elder Tree, Acer negundo
- Brewer’s Blackbird, Euphagus cyanocephalus
- Buttonbush, Cephalanthus occidentalis
- Cackling Goose, Branta hutchinsii
- California Quail, Callipepla californica
- California Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma californica
- Charolais Cattle, Bos Taurus var. Charolais
- Club Gall Wasp, Atrusca clavuloides
- Common Crow, American Crow, Corvus brachyrhynchos
- Common Duckweed, Lemna minor
- Common Yellowthroat, Geothlypis trichas
- Convoluted Gall Wasp, Andricus confertus
- Coyote Brush, Baccharis pilularis
- Dead Man’s Foot Fungus, Pisolithus arhizus
- Deer Grass, Muhlenbergia rigens
- Devil’s Beggarticks, Bidens frondosa
- European Honeybee, Western Honeybee, Apis mellifera
- Flat-Topped Honeydew Gall Wasp, Disholcaspis eldoradensis
- Fremont’s Cottonwood, Populus fremontii
- Fuzzy Gall Wasp, Disholcaspis washingtonensi [round faintly fuzzy galls on stems]
- Goldenrod Bunch Gall, Goldenrod Floret Gall Midge, Solidago canadensis
- Goldenrod, California Goldenrod, Solidago velutina californica
- Great Blue Heron, Ardea herodias
- Great Egret, Ardea alba
- Greater Yellowlegs, Tringa melanoleuca
- House Finch, Haemorhous mexicanus
- House Sparrow, Passer domesticus
- Hoverfly, Margined Calligrapher Fly, Toxomerus marginatus [very tiny]
- Interior Sandbar Willow, Salix interior
- Killdeer, Charadrius vociferous
- Least Sandpiper, Calidris minutilla
- Lesser Goldfinch, Spinus psaltria
- Marsh Wren, Cistothorus palustris [nest]
- Mistletoe Gall, caused by Mistletoe haustorium growing on a tree
- Mistletoe, American Mistletoe, Big Leaf Mistletoe, Phoradendron leucarpum
- Narrowleaf Milkweed, Asclepias fascicularis
- Northern Harrier, Marsh Hawk, Circus hudsonius
- Northern Mockingbird, Mimus polyglottos
- Oak Apple Gall Wasp, Andricus quercuscalifornicus
- Oleander Aphid, Aphis nerii
- Orange Sulphur Butterfly, Colias eurytheme
- Pin Mold, Order: Mucorales
- Potato, Russet Potato, Solanum tuberosum
- Red Cone Gall Wasp, Andricus kingi
- Red-Winged Blackbird, Agelaius phoeniceus
- Rio Grande Wild Turkey, Meleagris gallopavo intermedia
- Rough Cocklebur, Xanthium strumarium
- Sandhill Crane, Grus canadensis
- Sandhill Skipper, Polites sabuleti
- Savannah Sparrow, Passerculus sandwichensis
- Say’s Phoebe, Sayornis saya
- Small Honey Ant, Prenolepis imparis
- Song Sparrow, Melospiza melodia
- Spiny Turban Gall Wasp, asexual, fall generation, Antron douglasii
- Swainson’s Hawk, Buteo swainsoni
- Swamp Smartweed, False Water-Pepper, Persicara hydropiperoides [pink]
- Tall Flatsedge, Cyperus eragrostis
- Trashline Orb Weaver Spider, Conical Trashline Spider, Cyclosa conica
- Turkey Vulture, Cathartes aura
- Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
- Variegated Meadowhawk Dragonfly, Sympetrum corruptum
- Water Hyacinth, Eichhornia crassipes
- Western Fence Lizard, Blue Belly, Sceloporus occidentalis
- Western Meadowlark, Sturnella neglecta
- Western Spotted Orbweaver Spider, Neoscona oaxacensis
- White-Crowned Sparrow, Zonotrichia leucophrys
- White-Faced Ibis, Plegadis chihi
- Yellow Wig Gall Wasp, Andricus fullawayi
- ?? spider egg sac