Looking for Burrowing Owls, 02-03-21

I got up around 6:30 this morning, and was out the door by 7:00 am with my friend Roxanne to go look for Burrowing Owls in Davis. It was breezy and cold, in the high 30’s, in the morning, got more densely overcast by the midafternoon, and then turned sunny by the late afternoon.

We went over to the Wildhorse Ag Buffer because there had been multiple reports that Burrowing Owls had been spotted along the trail there. I had never been to the place before, so I was just going by an eBird sighting to try to find the location where the owls had been seen.  We parked in the parking lot and took what we thought was a sidewalk along the back of the houses in the neighborhood, not realizing that the paved path was actually a golf cart route for the golf course there. 

One of the course markers on the golf course

So, we were getting a lot of dirty looks as we walked along, and finally a guy drove up in a cart and asked if we wanted to get hit by golf balls.  Rox quipped that a hit in the head might be helpful. Hah! The guy laughed. Then he said that we were walking right near where golfers who tee off often hit their balls, and pedestrians weren’t supposed to be walking there. We told him we were looking for the ag buffer, and he pointed ahead of us and said it was over there. He let us continue on our way, but said we’d need to walk back through the neighborhood to get back to the car.

We did eventually get to the ag buffer path which sits between the golf course and an area of protected special habitat that runs alongside some agricultural property. 

When we got to where the owls had previously been sighted, we were angry to find an incredibly stupid and selfish man letting his dog run through the area unleashed. The dog was posturing, threatening us and barking, and the owner didn’t even look at it; he kept walking along looking straight ahead, pretending he didn’t know what was going on. The weather may have been a factor in keeping the owls aground, but I’m certain the dog running back and forth over the spots where their burrows were, barking and growling, pretty much made certain that we would not see the owls this morning. 

So, that part of the trip was pretty much a bust.  However, Rox and I are of the mindset that we are willing to note whatever Nature wants to show us at any given place on any given day, so we were still grateful for the walk.  Along the way, we saw several species of songbirds, and also saw a Kite, a Kestrel and a young Cooper’s Hawk. I think, under better weather conditions we would have seen a lot more. We also know, now, where the buffer is and can get to it more easily without trespassing on the golf course again.

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

Cooper’s Hawk, Acipiter cooperii, juvenile

As we were walking back to the car, we checked out the expensive properties there (over a million $ or more), and took photos of some of the plants in their front yards along the sidewalk. One of the oddest things, to me, was seeing a Buddha’s Hand citron tree heavy with fruit. The fruit looks like a big yellow octopus with fat legs. Rox knew what they were, but I had never seen them before. So weird!

Buddha’s Hand, Citrus medica sarcodactylis

The walk there was over a mile, so I was able to count it as hike #12 on my #52HikeChallenge. Yay!

When we got back to the car, we decided to head over to the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area. It was darkly overcast and a bit windy there, so, once again we were kind of thwarted as to how many birds we could see, but we still managed to see quite a few hawks, herons and egrets, and a smattering of different species of ducks.

Great Blue Heron, Ardea herodias
Great Egret, Ardea alba

We came across a flock of Coots, and found some of them doing that same side-face dirt digging behavior we’d seen before (at a different location). Where they turn their heads sideways to the ground and scoop up dirt with the side of their bill. Trying to get gravel for their crops, I think.

American Coots, Fulica americana,do the side-face digging thing…

We drove the auto-tour route and then headed back home and were back at the house by about 1:00 pm.

Species List:

  1. American Coot, Fulica americana
  2. American Kestrel, Falco sparverius
  3. American Mistletoe, Phoradendron leucarpum
  4. American Robin, Turdus migratorius
  5. Anna’s Hummingbird, Calypte anna
  6. Belted Kingfisher, Megaceryle alcyon
  7. Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans
  8. Bladderpod, Peritoma arborea [kind of looks like Jerusalem sage but gets bladder-like seed pods]
  9. Broadleaf Cattail, Bullrush, Typha latifolia
  10. Buddha’s Hand, Citrus medica sarcodactylis
  11. Bufflehead Duck, Bucephala albeola
  12. Bull Thistle, Cirsium vulgare
  13. Candleflame Lichen, Candelaria concolor [bright yellow-orange]
  14. Carrot, American Wild Carrot, Daucus pusillus
  15. Common Gallinule, Gallinula galeata
  16. Cooper’s Hawk, Acipiter cooperii
  17. Coyote Brush Bud Gall midge, Rhopalomyia californica
  18. Crow, American Crow, Corvus brachyrhynchos
  19. Desert Cottontail Rabbit, Sylvilagus audubonii
  20. Downy Woodpecker, Picoides pubescens
  21. European Starling, Sturnus vulgaris
  22. Golden-Crowned Sparrow, Zonotrichia atricapilla
  23. Great Blue Heron, Ardea herodias
  24. Great Egret, Ardea alba
  25. Green-Winged Teal, Anas carolinensis
  26. Narrowleaf Cattail, Cattail, Typha angustifolia
  27. Northern Flicker, Colaptes auratus
  28. Northern Harrier, Marsh Hawk, Circus hudsonius
  29. Northern Mockingbird, Mimus polyglottos
  30. Northern Pintail, Anas acuta
  31. Northern Shoveler, Anas clypeata
  32. Oak Apple, California Gall Wasp, Andricus quercuscalifornicus
  33. Oyster Mushroom, Pleurotus ostreatus
  34. Pointleaf Manzanita, Arctostaphylos pungens [small leaves and flowers]
  35. Red-Shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus
  36. Red-Tailed Hawk, Buteo jamaicensis
  37. Red-Winged Blackbird, Agelaius phoeniceus
  38. Ruby-Crowned Kinglet, Regulus calendula
  39. Say’s Phoebe, Sayornis saya
  40. Snowy Egret, Egretta thula
  41. Toyon, Heteromeles arbutifolia
  42. Tule, Common Tule, Schoenoplectus acutus
  43. Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
  44. Western Bluebird, Sialia Mexicana
  45. Western Meadowlark, Sturnella neglecta
  46. White Tailed Kite, Elanus leucurus
  47. White-Crowned Sparrow, Zonotrichia leucophrys