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