I got up around 5:30 this morning and got myself ready to meet with my friend Roxanne at 6:00 am and head out to the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge.
We stopped for some coffee and alight breakfast, and made good time getting to the refuge. As is usual for us, we counted the number of hawks we saw along the way, and we got a final count of six. It seems to us that we’re seeing fewer hawks this year than we saw last year. Insects seems to be declining, so it’s only a matter of time that their absence would start impacting higher animals…
At the refuge, as we drove into the parking lot, we saw a Killdeer running around, then realized she had about four babies with her. The kids were scattering all over the place, and we were worried they’d get under the wheels of the car. So, I got out and herded the birds to another part of the lot, so Roxanne could park the car out of their way. When then both started taking as many photos of the scurrying babies as we could. Baby Killdeer are sooooo cute; little striped fuzz balls on legs that are longer than their bodies.
We then went in toward the nature center to use their facilities and look for more birds. The center’s pollinator garden was in bloom with datura, Flannelbush, two kinds of milkweed, Cleveland Sage, and Saint Catherine’s Lace (a kind of giant buckwheat).
While we were taking photos (and looking for interesting bugs)one of the rangers came out and talked with us. He noted a tiny Anna’s Hummingbird waiting on a twiggy branch on a tree in the demonstration pond, and said that sometimes the hummers fly right down into his face until he refilled heir feeder. Hah!
He went inside to refill it, and also came out with a jar of grape jelly. He said they’d been seeing Orioles around the center(lots of Bullock’s and a few Hooded passing through), and they love the jelly. As soon as he put some of the jelly onto the feeder and walk away from it, we saw a male Bullock’s Oriole show himself in a nearby tree. Layer, we also saw one eating the jelly right out of the feeder. They’re such handsome birds! We were also surprised by the sudden and brief visit of a male Western Tanager in the same area. I didn’t get any useable photos of him, but Rox got a couple.
We saw three different species of swallow throughout the preserve. Cliff Swallows were collecting mud from the slough when we drove in. Barn Swallows were checking out a spot on the roof of the nature center where the flashing had been lifted up by recent high winds. And Tree Swallows were whizzing around the trees along the auto tour route. A three-fer!
CLICK HERE for the full album of photos
Black Phoebes and Mourning Doves were also in abundance, as were Black-Tailed jackrabbits.
Little Marsh Wrens were singing their buzzy advertising song from (seemingly) everywhere. At one of the park-and-stretch areas, we could see one wren building one of his nests. He dragged wet tule-skin to his construction site, then tried to pull some stalks down to add to it…but he wasn’t strong enough, and the stalk would “twoing!” away from him again. Hah!
Along the auto tour route we didn’t see any damselflies or dragonflies to speak of, but they may come out in another month or so as things warm up a bit more. We saw lots of Cabbage White butterflies, but no other species. The teasel is just starting to bloom, though. When that’s in flower, there are usually lots of pollinators. So a return trip in June may be in order.
In the permanent wetland area we saw pelicans, and geese, including an unusual number of Snow Geese. Some of the Greater White-Fronted Geese are residents, but the Snow Geese migrate. I expected all of them to have moved on by now.
There were only a handful of Clark’s Grebes in the water, and their numbers should increase as the summer comes on. We saw a pair starting to do their mirroring dance on the water, but they were either distracted or just not into one another because they gave it up after just a few seconds.
As we finished off the auto tour route and drove back into the parking lot, we found a California Ground Squirrel “splooting” in the shade of the welcome sign. A sploot is a type of stretch (dogs do it a lot); the animal lays on its belly with all of its legs stretched out, So funny looking.
We were out for about 5½,but because we were in the car most of the time, I didn’t count this as one of my #52HikeChallenge excursions.
- American Coot, Fulica americana
- American Robin, Turdus migratorius
- American White Pelican, Pelecanus erythrorhynchos
- Anna’s Hummingbird, Calypte anna
- Armenian Blackberry, Rubus armeniacus [pink flower]
- Ash-Throated Flycatcher, Myiarchus cinerascens
- Barn Swallow, Hirundo rustica
- Black Mustard, Common Wild Mustard, Brassica nigra
- Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans
- Black-Tailed Jackrabbit, Lepus californicus
- Blessed Milk Thistle, Silybum marianum
- Brewer’s Blackbird, Euphagus cyanocephalus
- Bristly Fiddleneck, Amsinckia tessellata
- Bristly Oxtongue, Helminthotheca echioides
- Brown-Headed Cowbird, Molothrus ater
- Bullock’s Oriole, Icterus bullockii
- California Flannelbush, Fremontodendron californicum
- California Ground Squirrel, Otospermophilus beecheyi
- California Mule Deer, Odocoileus hemionus californicus
- California Wild Rose, Rosa californica
- Canada Goose, Branta canadensis
- Cinnamon Teal, Anas cyanoptera
- Clark’s Grebe, Aechmophorus clarkii [black above the eye]
- Cleveland Sage, Salvia clevelandii [purple, circles]
- Cliff Swallow, Petrochelidon pyrrhonota
- Common Gallinule, Gallinula galeata
- Common Spikeweed, Centromadia pungens
- Convergent Lady Beetle, Hippodamia convergens
- Double-Crested Cormorant, Phalacrocorax auratus
- Downigia, Downigia sp.
- European Honeybee, Western Honeybee, Apis mellifera
- Floating Water Primrose, Ludwigia peploides ssp. peploides
- Gadwall Duck, Mareca Strepera
- Goodding’s Black Willow, Salix gooddingii
- Grass-Poly, Lythrum hyssopifolia [tiny purple flowers]
- Great Blue Heron, Ardea herodias
- Great Egret, Ardea alba
- Greater White-Fronted Goose, Anser albifrons
- Harding Grass, Phalaris aquatica [a type of canary grass]
- House Finch, Haemorhous mexicanus
- House Sparrow, Passer domesticus
- Killdeer, Charadrius vociferous
- Mallard Duck, Anas platyrhynchos
- Marsh Wren, Cistothorus palustris
- Mourning Dove, Zenaida macroura
- Mullein, Wand Mullein, Verbascum virgatum
- Narrowleaf Cattail, Typha angustifolia
- Narrowleaf Milkweed, Mexican Whorled Milkweed, Asclepias fascicularis
- Narrowleaf Willow, Salix exigua
- Northern Pintail, Anas acuta
- Northern Shoveler, Anas clypeata
- Oleander Aphid, Aphis nerii
- Oregon Ash Tree, Fraxinus latifolia
- Paper Wasp, Black Paper Wasp, European Paper Wasp, Polistes dominula
- Pied-Billed Grebe, Podilymbus podiceps
- Poison Hemlock, Conium maculatum
- Popcorn Flower, Rusty Popcornflower, Plagiobothrys nothofulvus [tiny]
- Q-Tips, Micropus californicus
- Red-Tailed Hawk, Buteo jamaicensis
- Red-Winged Blackbird, Agelaius phoeniceus
- Ring-Necked Pheasant, Phasianus colchicus
- Sacred Datura, Datura wrightii
- Saint Catherine’s Lace, Eriogonum giganteum [a kind of buckwheat]
- Showy Milkweed, Asclepias speciosa
- Snow Goose, Chen caerulescens
- Stinking Chamomile, Anthemis cotula
- Tall Flatsedge, Cyperus eragrostis
- Tasmanian Blue Gum Eucalyptus, Eucalyptus globulus
- Tree Swallow, Tachycineta bicolor
- Tule, Common Tule, Schoenoplectus acutus
- Variegated Meadowhawk Dragonfly, Sympetrum corruptum
- Western Fence Lizard, Blue Belly, Sceloporus occidentalis
- Western Kingbird, Tyrant Flycatcher, Tyrannus verticalis
- Western Marsh Cudweed, Gnaphalium palustre
- Western Tanager, Piranga ludoviciana
- Wild Teasel, Dipsacus fullonum
- Yellow Starthistle, Centaurea solstitialis