Birthday Week, Day Three. I had planned for this to be a “crash” day between excursions, but my friend Roxanne invited me to join her on a trip to Yolo County. Yipee!
We went to the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area and then went to the Ibis Rookery in Woodland. So we headed out around 7:00 am. It was super-windy today, though, which meant birding was pretty much a no-go. There was so much chop on the water that there were actual cresting waves across the flooded fields and marshes. And that wind was COLD! As we were driving around, we’d open the car windows to try to shoot some photos through them, only to get blasted by the wind. Some gusts were so strong, they knocked the camera back and forth as I held it up to get a shot.
We saw a few raptors including a couple of White-Tailed Kites, some Red-Tailed Hawks, and a few Northern Harriers. There were also lots of White-Crowned Sparrows hugging the growth closer to the ground and wherever berms shielded them from the wind. There were also “piles” of ducks, different species crammed in against one another for warmth, or feeding with their faces in the water below the chop. Pickings for photos were slim.
The one good thing about this trip is that we figured out the whole circular route through the place this time around, so we know where to go now the next time we head out there.
CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.
As we were heading out of the wildlife area, we saw some Northern Harriers on the ground. One of them had a clod of dirt in its talons and was “playing” with it, lifting it up, letting it fall, picking it up again, tossing it. Apparently, this is common among juvenile Harriers.
Cornell notes: “…In the fledgling stage, juveniles chase and supplant one another, and occasionally pounce on and play with inanimate objects. In winter, Bildstein observed Northern Harriers playing with inanimate objects, both before going to roost in evening and after roosting. Individuals picked up and manipulated vole-size corncobs and other crop residue; birds were more likely to initiate play when a nearby bird did so, and as many as 3 birds played with corncobs…”
As the one we were watching was playing, I noticed that she’d transfer the clod of dirt from one foot to another… almost like she was practicing the “prey transfer” moves that adult Harriers do between them (when the male brings food to the female). I got a little video of it, but it was so windy, the camera moves all over the place.
We then went over to the Ibis Rookery and were surprised by the number of Ruddy Ducks we saw in the water there, but, again because of the wind we didn’t get to see a lot of birds – or anything else. We were also surprised by a new sign that read “No Birder Vehicles Beyond This Point”, so we weren’t able to circle the settling ponds like we normally would. That kind of added insult to injury.
Although we didn’t get much in way of interesting sightings or photos, we had a lot of fun chatting all along the way. Sometime, we need to set up one of the cellphones to record our running commentary… we crack ourselves up. Hah!
We spent about 3½ hours driving around, and because it was all driving and no walking, I couldn’t count it toward my #52HikeChallenge.
- American Coot, Fulica americana
- American Kestrel, Falco sparverius
- American Pipit, Anthus rubescens
- American Wigeon, Anas americana
- Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans
- Black-Necked Stilt, Himantopus mexicanus
- Brewer’s Blackbird, Euphagus cyanocephalus
- Bufflehead Duck, Bucephala albeola
- Canada Goose, Branta canadensis
- Cinnamon Teal, Anas cyanoptera
- Common Goldeneye, Bucephala clangula
- Double-Crested Cormorant, Phalacrocorax auratus
- Golden Crowned Sparrow, Zonotrichia atricapilla
- Great Blue Heron, Ardea herodias
- Great Egret, Ardea alba
- Green-Winged Teal, Anas carolinensis
- Herring Gull, Larus argentatus [spot on bill, gray legs, pale eye]
- House Finch, Haemorhous mexicanus
- Killdeer, Charadrius vociferous
- Mallard duck, Anas platyrhynchos
- Northern Harrier, Marsh Hawk, Circus hudsonius
- Northern Pintail, Anas acuta
- Northern Shoveler, Anas clypeata
- Pied-Billed Grebe, Podilymbus podiceps
- Red-Tailed Hawk, Buteo jamaicensis
- Red-Winged Blackbird, Agelaius phoeniceus
- Ring-Necked Pheasant, Phasianus colchicus
- Ruddy Duck, Oxyura jamaicensis
- Savannah Sparrow, Passerculus sandwichensis
- Snow Goose, Chen caerulescens
- Western Meadowlark, Sturnella neglecta
- White Tailed Kite, Elanus leucurus
- White-Crowned Sparrow, Zonotrichia leucophrys