Not A Lot Going on Today, 01-12-21

I got up around 7:00 am to overcast skies and high fog, with temps in the 40’s, and headed over to the Cosumnes River Preserve for a walk.  I wasn’t expecting very much, but was hoping to maybe see some fungus along the walkway that goes through the oak forest. Nope. No fungi.  Not even a single little mushroom. I was hoping to see an otter or mink, too, and again, nope. Nothing.

I checked the trees for lichen, and pretty much saw the usual suspects. I also checked out the lichen on the walls of the metal bridge the crosses an especially marshy area at the preserve.

I caught sight of many different waterfowl, but many were too far away to get any good photos of them – which is kind of what I expected. Recent reports have suggested the photo-taking opportunities juts aren’t there…and it may be because it’s still cold, overcast, and intermittently drizzly around here right now. When the sun shows itself, things may be different.

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

I did get to see a small flock of Buffleheads,and in among them was the first Common Goldeneye of the season.

In this video [above] you can see both male and female Buffleheads. In the first part of the video, you’ll see one of the males doing the head-bobbing gesture that’s part of their courtship ritual. You’ll also see a male and female pair fly off from the water, and see a larger male Northern Shoveler come in for a landing.

Cornell explains: “…Head-bobbing is the most common courtship display. The male swims toward a female and starts making a movement in which the head is repeatedly extended upwards and forwards (about 60° to the surface), and then retracted in rapid jerks, with brief pauses in the lowered stance. A characteristic sequence of actions during courtship involves Fly-over and Landing, Head-shake-forwards and Wing-lifting, and small Head-bobbing. Fly-over and Landing occur when a male courts a female in the presence of other males. The male makes a short flight over the female with the head held forward and low. At landing, the male is upright and the crest is erected as he “skis” on water with his feet pointing forward, thereby showing his conspicuous black and white upper plumage and bright pink feet. After he settles on the water, the head is thrust forward (Head-shake-forwards), and the wings are raised sharply behind the head (Wing-lifting). Head-bobbing follows.”

Among Buffleheads monogamy is the rule, but the pair bonds break when the breeding season is over, and then resume again the following year.  The sex ratio favors the males, about 5 (males) to 1 (female). Copulation is brief as the male mounts the female for only 10–15 seconds and like most ducks, male Buffleheads have a penis.

Sparrows and other small birds seemed to dominate my photo-taking today.  At one point, I was getting pictures of a Hairy Woodpecker on one side of the trail, and a Nuttall’s Woodpecker on the other.

In another spot, there were Golden-Crowned Sparrows, some California Towhees, and a Fox Sparrow all sharing the same leaf pile.  More sightings like those would have been most welcome.

All together I walked for about 3½ hours and covered almost 3 miles, so I was pleased by the exercise. This was #3 of my #52HikeChallenge.

Species List:

  1. American Coot, Fulica americana
  2. American Kestrel, Falco sparverius
  3. American Pipit, Anthus rubescens
  4. American Wigeon, Anas americana
  5. Bare-bottom Sunburst Lichen, Xanthomendoza weberi [yellow to orange, shrubby, on rock/metal]
  6. Beaver, American, Beaver, Castor canadensis [sign]
  7. Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans
  8. Black-Necked Stilt, Himantopus mexicanus
  9. Bufflehead Duck, Bucephala albeola
  10. Buttonbush, Cephalanthus occidentalis
  11. California Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma californica
  12. California Towhee, Melozone crissalis
  13. Canada Goose, Branta canadensis
  14. Cat, Felis catus [roadkill]
  15. Chinese Praying Mantis, Tenodera sinensis [largest][ootheca]
  16. Cinnamon Teal, Anas cyanoptera
  17. Common Goldeneye, Bucephala clangula
  18. Common Sunburst Lichen, Golden Shield Lichen, Xanthoria parietina [yellow-orange,on wood/trees]
  19. Cooper’s Hawk, Acipiter cooperii
  20. Coyote, Canis latrans [roadkill]
  21. Curly Dock, Rumex crispus
  22. Ear-leaf Lichen, Normandina pulchella [green leaf-like on rocks/metal]
  23. Downy Woodpecker, Picoides pubescens
  24. Gadwall duck, Mareca Strepera
  25. Gold Dust Lichen, Chrysothrix candelaris
  26. Golden Crowned Sparrow, Zonotrichia atricapilla
  27. Goodding’s Black Willow, Salix gooddingii
  28. Great Egret, Ardea alba
  29. Greater White-Fronted Goose, Anser albifrons
  30. Greater Yellowlegs, Tringa melanoleuca
  31. Green Shield Lichen, Flavoparmelia caperata
  32. Green-Winged Teal, Anas carolinensis
  33. Hermit Thrush, Catharus guttatus
  34. House Finch, Haemorhous mexicanus
  35. Jointed Charlock, Wild Radish, Raphanus raphanistrum
  36. Killdeer, Charadrius vociferous
  37. Mallard duck, Anas platyrhynchos
  38. Mistletoe, American Mistletoe, Big Leaf Mistletoe, Phoradendron leucarpum
  39. Northern Harrier, Marsh Hawk, Circus hudsonius
  40. Northern Mockingbird, Mimus polyglottos
  41. Northern Pintail, Anas acuta
  42. Northern Shoveler, Anas clypeata
  43. Nuttall’s Woodpecker, Picoides nuttallii
  44. Red-Shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus
  45. Red-Tailed Hawk, Buteo jamaicensis
  46. Red-Winged Blackbird, Agelaius phoeniceus
  47. Ruby-Crowned Kinglet, Regulus calendula
  48. Shrubby Sunburst Lichen, Polycauliona candelaria
  49. Snow Goose, Chen caerulescens
  50. Stonewall Rim Lichen, Lecona muralis [pale green/gray thallus with rose/tan apothecia gathered in the center; color can be quite variable]
  51. Strap Lichen, Western Strap Lichen, Ramalina leptocarpha [without soredia]
  52. Tall Flatsedge, Cyperus eragrostis
  53. Tule, Common Tule, Schoenoplectus acutus
  54. Turkey Vulture, Cathartes aura
  55. Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
  56. Western Meadowlark, Sturnella neglecta [heard]
  57. White-Breasted Nuthatch, Sitta carolinensis[heard]
  58. White-Crowned Sparrow, Zonotrichia leucophrys