A Walk at Sailor Bar, 08-04-21

I got up about 5:30 and headed out to the Sailor Bar Community Park along the American River around 6:00 am.

Sailor Bar Park is another access point to get to the American River. The114 acre river bar park boasts a variety of different trails, a large manicured pond, a boat ramp, equestrian use, a nature trail that leads to riparian (riverside) and historic locations where deer, coyotes, hawks and owls may be seen.  The park’s history includes being settled by gold-seeking sailors during the Gold Rush era and gold mining from the 1850’s to the 1940s.

“…This park also has stark bluffs where miners used hydraulic hoses to scour out the gold. And the pond reportedly was dug to provide water for those hoses. Along the river, you can find grinding rocks in the hardpan, once probably used by the Nisenan to grind acorns… First with gold pans, followed by rockers, Long Toms, sluice boxes, and finally bucket line dredges, the area is thought to have unearthed $125-million in gold…”

Aaaaannnnd, the park is also purported to have its own ghost: the spirit of a drowned man in wet fishing garb that sometimes approaches visitors and then vanishes. I didn’t see him.

When I got there, I went down to the boat ramp area hoping to have better views of the river from there.  As soon as I parked, a covey of quail showed itself, eating seeds and bugs off the ground. I was able to get some photos and a video snippet of them right through the window.

When I got out of the car and began heading toward the closest trail, I heard a Belted Kingfisher chattering in the trees. I stopped to try to get some photos of it, when a woman pulled up in her car, opened the door and let her big dog jump out. The dog, barking, ran straight into the river. Bark! Bark! Bark! Bark! It didn’t shut up all the while it was swimming — and scared off all the wildlife around the boat launch. Irritating.

Then I took the trail that went up closer to the river for the most part, stopping to look at the trees and understory plants, listening for the birds and the rush of the water in the river. I’ll need to try the pond trail next time I go there.

I was surprised to find that most of the trees on this side of the river were Interior Live Oaks, whereas on the opposite side the Valley Oaks were dominant. There were also a couple of Blue Oaks near the trail. I didn’t recognize one of them as a Blue right away, though, because its leaves were so much more narrow and didn’t have any of the lobing along the edges.

I wonder if it was a misplaced Arizona Blue (also called a Blue Live Oak, Quercus oblongifolia). It was looking a bit ragged and heat stricken, but it was getting galls on it: Volcano galls and Plate Galls.  They were few and far between, though.

There was another larger Blue Oak that I spotted nearby, but it was down in a shallow culvert.  By the time I saw it, I was too tired from my walk to approach it. Next time, next time.

There was madia in bloom all over the place; bright sunny yellow faces everywhere. I also saw a lot of Long-Stemmed Buckwheat. This species has very long stems with tiny tufts of flowers on them. Arroyo Willows and Sandbar Willows and some White Alders also dotted the shoreline.

As I was walking along, I accidentally met up with another photographer, Randy Finley, who had recently posted some awesome photos on my Nature-A-List group page on Facebook of a beaver eating on the bank of the river, and a family of otters in the water.

I’ve appreciated his photos and participation in the group, but had never met him before. It’s always so nice to be able to match a face to the Facebook, know what I mean? I was so appreciative, too, when he said that he read my blog and thought it was marvelous. He learned about the Gristmill access to the river from there. That was so affirming.

There were some dragonflies flying around, and a few of the Variegated Meadowhawks stopped long enough on the ground for me to get some photos. I’m still not seeing as many insects as I feel there should be.  I did, however, find a couple of tiny, hairy moths sleeping on the face of one of the madia flowers.

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

As I was ready to turn around and head back to the car, I saw a flock of Lesser Goldfinches fly into the trees and grasses on the trail in front of me, so, of course, I had to try to get some photos of them. There were so many dimensions to the undergrowth that the camera had trouble focusing on what I wanted it to.  So, out of literally 30 photos, maybe 5 or 6 of them were in real proper focus. That’s always so maddening. 

Lesser Goldfinches, Spinus psaltria

You can hear a deep horn blowing in the background of the video. I don’t know what that was. Maybe the local fire department testing its emergency warning signal?

In that same area was a sign that read “Historic Site: Bedrock Mortar”. Because at the time, I didn’t know what I was looking for, I didn’t get it.

When I got home, though, I looked it up and found that a bedrock mortar “(BRM) is an anthropogenic circular depression in a rock outcrop or naturally occurring slab, used by people in the past for grinding of grain, acorns or other food products.” Duh. I’ll have to look for it more closely next time I’m out there.

When I got back to the boat ramp area, I found a young Blue Heron in an inlet by the road, and got some photos of it, and was then interrupted by a very chatty lady and her dog, Sterling, a big, hefty black Lab. She was waiting for a play date with other dogs, she said, and then went on to tell me about her various health issues.

Sterling brought his throw-toy over to me and put it at my feet. Since his mom was gabbing, he wanted ME to play with him. I threw it into the water and he chased after it while his mom kept talking, and talking, talking…

While she was talking, I saw a Green Heron fly by us into the same area where I’d seen the larger heron, and I had to excuse myself from Sterling’s mom to try to get a photo of it. I only got a distant shot of the bird before it realized the dog was in the vicinity and it and the Great Blue Heron flew off.

Near the parking lot there was a Tree of Heaven whose trunk had been decimated and splayed wide open. The cable from the fence ran right through it, so it must have pierced the tree when the tree was very young and still growing. The bottom half of the tree looked bad, but the top of it was still alive, the crown full of leaves and seeds. Trees are miraculous.

I’d walked for about 3 hours, and counted this as hike #68 in my annual hike challenge.

Species List:

  1. Almond Tree, Prunus dulcisaloe
  2. American Mistletoe, Phoradendron leucarpum
  3. Armenian Blackberry, Rubus armeniacus [pink flower]
  4. Arroyo Willow, Salix lasiolepis
  5. Belted Kingfisher, Megaceryle alcyon
  6. Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans
  7. Black Walnut, Eastern Black Walnut, Juglans nigra
  8. Blue Elderberry, Sambucus nigra cerulea
  9. Blue Oak, Quercus douglasii
  10. Buckbrush, Ceanothus cuneatus
  11. Buttonbush, Cephalanthus occidentalis
  12. California Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly, Battus philenor hirsuta [chrysalis]
  13. California Quail, Callipepla californica
  14. California Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma californica
  15. Canada Goose, Branta canadensis
  16. Coffeeberry, California Buckthorn, Frangula californica
  17. Common Madia, Madia elegans [sticky, smells like lemons]
  18. Common Merganser, Mergus merganser
  19. Crow, American Crow, Corvus brachyrhynchos
  20. Desert Cottontail Rabbit, Sylvilagus audubonii
  21. Dog, Canis lupus familiaris
  22. Double-Crested Cormorant, Phalacrocorax auratus
  23. Eastern Fox Squirrel, Sciurus niger
  24. Great Blue Heron, Ardea herodias
  25. Great Egret, Ardea alba
  26. Green Heron, Butorides virescens
  27. House Finch, Haemorhous mexicanus
  28. Interior Live Oak, Quercus wislizeni
  29. Interior Sandbar Willow, Salix interior
  30. Lesser Goldfinch, Spinus psaltria
  31. Long-stemmed Buckwheat, Eriogonum elongatum [tall, very tiny flowering heads]
  32. Mallard Duck, Anas platyrhynchos
  33. Mourning Dove, Zenaida macroura
  34. Northern Mockingbird, Mimus polyglottos
  35. Oak Titmouse, Baeolophus inornatus
  36. Plate Gall Wasp, Andricus pattersonae
  37. Pumpkin Gall Wasp, Dryocosmus minusculus
  38. Ruptured Twig Gall Wasp, Callirhytis perdens [on live oaks]
  39. Saucer Gall Wasp, Andricus gigas [cup shaped, sometimes rough edges]
  40. Small Heliothodes Moth, Heliothodes diminutiva
  41. Spotted Towhee, Pipilo maculatus
  42. Striped Volcano Gall Wasp, Andricus atrimentus, Summer generation [looks like a tiny volcano]
  43. Tree of Heaven, Ailanthus altissima
  44. Tree Swallow, Tachycineta bicolor
  45. Turkey Vulture, Cathartes aura
  46. Variegated Meadowhawk Dragonfly, Sympetrum corruptum
  47. White Alder, Alnus rhombifolia
  48. Willow Rose Gall Midge, Rabdophaga rosaria
  49. ??? Arizona Blue Oak, Blue Live Oak, Quercus oblongifolia [possible]