Coyote Morning, 03-11-21

It was still cold (around 34°F) this morning, and there were still hail stones in piles on the ground in the shadier places; nonetheless, around 6:30 am I headed out to the American River Bend Park for a walk. When I arrived there, I could hear a pack of coyotes yip-yowling at one another. I tried recording their calls but there was too much other outdoor noise — wind, cars, etc. — to really hear the ‘yotes.

Inside the park, I stopped off to take a look at mama Great Horned Owl first. She was sitting toward the back of her nest, and was dozing. [I wondered what she did when it was hailing yesterday.] I looked for papa in the surrounding trees, but never caught sight of him. He might have been out hunting.

While I was looking for him, I could hear a Wild Turkey giving an alarm call to my left, so I looked over there. The turkey came up over a rise, running, and behind it was a coyote! As soon as the coyote saw me, it stopped, and then loped off down the drive and into the woods. An owl and a coyote in the first five minutes of arriving! That was an auspicious start to my walk.

Coyote, Canis latrans

At one point, I thought I’d spotted papa Great Horned Owl in a tree, but on close inspection realized it was just Fox Squirrel that was curled up and grooming itself in the tree top. The way the sunlight was hitting it made it almost “glow”.

I stopped to take some photos of a beautiful outcropping of flowering manroot vines before moving on to another part of the park. I didn’t have anything specific in mind to look for, so I just enjoyed the walk and had fun viewing whatever Nature wanted to show me. The water in the river was higher than I’ve seen it recently, and was flowing very quickly. Lots of logs floating in the water faked me out — thought they were beavers.

In and around the water, I saw Common Mergansers, Snowy Egrets and Canada Geese. I also came across a Double-Crested Cormorant who was sporting his crests (that look like bushy eyebrows). The crests of this guy were white, which indicates he probably migrated from Alaska.

Double-Crested Cormorant, Phalacrocorax auratus

I also saw a Spotted Sandpiper (that didn’t have her spots yet), and a male/female pair of Wood Ducks.

I saw some Lesser Goldfinches, Bewick’s Wrens, Oak Titmice, and California Towhees in the wooded areas. One kind of humorous sighting was seeing a troupe of Turkey Vultures sitting in the top of a tree over a fancy house doing their “heraldic” pose.  Looked very “ominous” and “foreboding”.

Turkey Vultures, Cathartes aura, in the “heraldic” pose which allows them to soak up more heat from the sun more efficiently.

Lots of pipevine plants are now coming up, just in time for spring, but the plants here are kind of “behind” the same plants in other areas. They’re just sporting their flowers.  Lots of Mugwort and Bedstraw everywhere; and the clarkia are just starting to emerge. No flowers on them yet.

CLICK HERE to see the full album of photos.

I watched a hummingbird flitting around the outdoor arena along the trail, and it flew up in front of my face a couple of times. I think it was attracted to the colors in my scarf. It then flew down into the fire pit and was eating (or at least licking) something inside the rim of that. It wasn’t gathering spider webs, because it was flicking its tongue in and out. After it left, I looked down into the pit, but I couldn’t see anything it might have wanted to feast on.  Weird. 

The rains and hail of yesterday helped to fluff up all of the mosses and lichen, so I took a few photos of the most impressive ones of those I found.

In one of the puddles there was a Hairworm. When I first saw it, it wasn’t moving, so I thought it was dead. I went to the puddle again on my way back to the car, and it was moving then, albeit very slowly. Based on the “ends” of the worm, I assumed this one was a male. It was about 14 inches long.

On my way out of the park, I saw a pair of ground squirrels, and then went back to get a parting look at mama Great Horned Owl. Altogether, I walked for about 3½ hours.  This was hike #26 of my #52HikeChallenge. When I got back to the house, I rested with the dogs for a while.

Species List:

  1. Acorn Woodpecker, Melanerpes formicivorus
  2. Anna’s Hummingbird, Calypte anna
  3. Bark Rim Lichen, Lecanora chlarotera [looks like Whitewash Lichen but has apothecia]
  4. Bedstraw, Velcro Grass, Cleavers, Galium aparine
  5. Bewick’s Wren, Thryomanes bewickii
  6. Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans
  7. Boreal Button Lichen, Buellia disciformis [pale gray to bluish with black apothecia on wood]
  8. Brown Jelly Fungus, Leafy Brain, Phaeotremella foliacea
  9. Bushtit, American Bushtit, Psaltriparus minimus
  10. California Black Oak, Quercus kelloggii
  11. California Camouflage Lichen, Melanelixia californica [dark green with brown apothecia, on trees]
  12. California Ground Squirrel, Otospermophilus beecheyi
  13. California Manroot, Bigroot, Marah fabaceus
  14. California Mugwort, Artemisia douglasiana
  15. California Pipevine, Dutchman’s Pipe, Aristolochia californica
  16. California Towhee, Melozone crissalis
  17. Canada Goose, Branta canadensis
  18. Common Merganser, Mergus merganser
  19. Common Sunburst Lichen, Golden Shield Lichen, Xanthoria parietina [yellow-orange,on wood/trees]
  20. Coyote Brush Rust, Puccinia evadens
  21. Coyote Brush Stem Gall Moth, Gnorimoschema baccharisella
  22. Coyote Brush, Baccharis pilularis
  23. Coyote, Canis latrans
  24. Double-Crested Cormorant, Phalacrocorax auratus
  25. Eastern Fox Squirrel, Sciurus niger
  26. Elegant Clarkia, Clarkia unguiculata [red line on leaves]
  27. False Turkey-Tail, Stereum hirsutum [thin, flattish, brown underside]
  28. Giraffe’s Head, Henbit Deadnettle, Lamium amplexicaule
  29. Gold Dust Lichen, Chrysothrix candelaris
  30. Great Blue Heron, Ardea herodias
  31. Great Horned Owl, Bubo virginianus
  32. Green Shield Lichen, Flavoparmelia caperata
  33. Hedwig’s Fringeleaf Moss, Hedwigia ciliata
  34. Hoary Rosette Lichen, Physcia aipolia [hoary, brown apothecia]
  35. Horsehair Worm, Hairworm, Phylum: Nematomorpha
  36. Interior Live Oak, Quercus wislizeni
  37. Jelly Spot Fungus, Dacrymyces stillatus
  38. Lace Lichen, Ramalina menziesii
  39. Lesser Goldfinch, Spinus psaltria
  40. Mallard Duck, Anas platyrhynchos
  41. Mealy Pixie Cup, Cladonia chlorophaea
  42. Mealy Rim Lichen, Lecanora strobilina [greenish apothecia]
  43. Miner’s Lettuce, Streambank Springbeauty, Claytonia parviflora [very small]
  44. Miner’s Lettuce, Claytonia perfoliata
  45. Mourning Dove, Zenaida macroura
  46. Northern Flicker, Colaptes auratus
  47. Oak Titmouse, Baeolophus inornatus
  48. Oakmoss Lichen, Evernia prunastri [like strap but with soredia]
  49. Pacific Pea, Lathyrus vestitus
  50. Poison Oak, Pacific Poison Oak, Western Poison Oak, Toxicodendron diversilobum
  51. Red-Shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus
  52. Ruby-Crowned Kinglet, Regulus calendula
  53. Shield Lichen, Parmelia sulcata [greyish,veined]
  54. Shrubby Sunburst Lichen, Polycauliona candelaria
  55. Snowy Egret, Egretta thula
  56. Spotted Sandpiper, Actitis macularius
  57. Tree Swallow, Tachycineta bicolor
  58. Turkey Vulture, Cathartes aura
  59. Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
  60. Western Gray Squirrel, Sciurus griseus
  61. White-Breasted Nuthatch, Sitta carolinensis
  62. Wood Duck, Aix sponsa
  63. Yellow-Rumped Warbler, Setophaga coronata