Happy First Day of Fall! The Autumnal Equinox.
I got up around 6:00 this morning, and headed over to the Cosumnes River Preserve for a walk. There was nothing to see at the preserve itself because there’s no water on the landscape there yet. But along Bruceville and Desmond Road, where some of the fields are flooded, I got to see quite a few things, including my first Wilson’s Snipe of the season. Yay!
Along Bruceville Road, I saw members of the covey of quail that live among the blackberry vines there. And across the road from them were the moo-cows, some of them curious enough to come to the edge of the fence to look at my car.
There were Red-Winged Blackbirds singing from amid the tules and tall grasses, and some Meadowlarks, too, although they were more elusive.
And here’s a little White-Crowned Sparrow peeping.
On top of the telephone poles and on the wires, I saw Red-Tailed Hawks, some Kestrels, and a couple of Cooper’s Hawks. I chased one Cooper’s Hawk down the road until it landed in a tree. I could get closer photos of it there — but then it hid its face in the leaves. D’oh!
In one really muddy part along Desmond Road is where I saw the snipe. Along with him were Killdeer, Brewer’s Blackbirds, American Pipits, and a little flock of Least Sandpipers. I also saw my first Lesser Yellowlegs. A “lifer” for me.
The sandpipers flew in a bunch right over the snipe making the snipe duck and lift its tail in the air. Then the sandpipers landed right in the same place from which they took off. Hah!
Cornell calls the snipe’s behavior a Displacement-Feeding posture. “…Holds bill rigidly downward and tail erect and fanned so that it is almost parallel to long axis of body at high intensity; at low intensity, both bill and tail at 45°…”
All along the fields on Desmond Road I saw several Northern Harriers (all of them brown juveniles or females). At one point, one of them flew over to a blackbird that was perched on a twig, and seemed to offer the bird a stick. That was weird! It may have been a juvenile exhibiting a kind of “play” behavior — that the blackbird didn’t understand.
I always lament not seeing many “Gray Ghost” males of this species, and learned from Cornell that that’s because there just aren’t that many males. Females hold the territories, and a single male may service as many as ten females, bringing them all food during the breeding season. Wow.
“…Generally monogamous, but also simultaneously polygynous, with well-structured hierarchical harems of 2–5 females. No other raptor species exhibits either the degree, or regularity of occurrence, of polygyny… Internest distances significantly shorter among harem members than among the population at large…” So, I guess, once the male has his harem, he doesn’t have fly too far. They’re such beautiful and fascinating birds.
In the deeper ditches along the roads I saw Great Egrets and Great Blue Herons, and some Snowy Egrets in the fields. One of the herons was doing that “gular flapping” that they do when they’re too warm. I couldn’t understand why it was doing that; it was only about 70 degrees F outside at the time.
On one of the telephone poles there was a Raven “clicking” at me. According to Cornell, only females make this clicking/knocking sound.
Common Ravens can make a wide array of sounds. Recent evidence suggests that there are local dialects and individual-specific calls so that the total vocal repertoire may be virtually limitless…Knocking. Ravens give a rapid percussion-like type of call that sounds like a woodpecker drumming or a stick thrust in a spinning bicycle wheel. Typically about a second long, it consists of a dozen or so notes with the final ‘percussion’ of a lower pitch than the first, and it is commonly followed with a bill snap. A second knocking call consists of just 2 knocks in rapid succession, and a third call is of 3 knocks. The knocking calls are given only by females, and at any time of year after about the first year of life…There appears to be geographic variation in this call…” Cool!
CLICK HERE to see the full album of photos.
The only thing I saw at the preserve itself was a Columbian Black-Tailed Deer doe and her two young fawns. They were feeding in the weeds then rushed across Franklin Blvd. I held my breath while they did that because, although there isn’t a lot of traffic, vehicles go waaaaay too fast on that road, and I was worried they’d get hit.
I then went over to Staten Island Road, but didn’t see a whole lot there. There’s a potato farm down that road, and they were harvesting, so there were tons of fast-moving giant trucks and equipment moving up and down the road. I did see a few Sandhill Cranes and some Pelicans in the distance, but not much else worth noting.
I was out for about 5 hours, but because I was in my vehicle for the majority of the time, I didn’t count this toward my annual hike challenge. #MigrationCelebration
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- American Coot, Fulica americana
- American Goldfinch, Spinus tristis
- American Kestrel, Falco sparverius
- American Pipit, Anthus rubescens
- American White Pelican, Pelecanus erythrorhynchos
- Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans
- Black-Necked Stilt, Himantopus mexicanus
- Brewer’s Blackbird, Euphagus cyanocephalus
- California Quail, Callipepla californica
- Canada Goose, Branta canadensis
- Charolais Cattle, Bos taurus var. Charolais
- Chicory, Cichorium intybus
- Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus
- Cooper’s Hawk, Acipiter cooperii
- Corn, Maize, Zea mays
- Crow, American Crow, Corvus brachyrhynchos
- Curlycup Gumweed, Grindelia squarros
- Gadwall Duck, Mareca Strepera
- Great Blue Heron, Ardea herodias
- Great Egret, Ardea alba
- Green-Winged Teal, Anas carolinensis
- Himalayan Blackberry, European Blackberry, Rubus bifrons [white flowers]
- House Finch, Haemorhous mexicanus
- Killdeer, Charadrius vociferous
- Least Sandpiper, Calidris minutilla
- Lesser Goldfinch, Spinus psaltria
- Lesser Yellowlegs, Tringa flavipes [very pale, white]
- Mallard Duck, Anas platyrhynchos
- Mourning Dove, Zenaida macroura
- Narrowleaf Cattail, Typha angustifolia
- Narrowleaf Willow, Salix exigua
- Northern Harrier, Marsh Hawk, Circus hudsonius
- Northern Shoveler, Anas clypeata
- Raven, Common Raven, Corvus corax
- Red-Shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus [heard]
- Red-Tailed Hawk, Western Red-Tailed Hawk, Buteo jamaicensis calurus
- Red-Winged Blackbird, Agelaius phoeniceus
- Rice, Oryza sativa
- Rough Cocklebur, Xanthium strumariumswal
- Sandhill Crane, Grus canadensis
- Savannah Sparrow, Passerculus sandwichensis
- Say’s Phoebe, Sayornis saya
- Snowy Egret, Egretta thula
- Spiny Cocklebur, Xanthium spinosum
- Tule, Common Tule, Schoenoplectus acutus
- Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
- Water Smartweed, Persicaria amphibia [pink]
- Western Meadowlark, Sturnella neglecta
- White Tailed Kite, Elanus leucurus
- White-Crowned Sparrow, Zonotrichia leucophrys
- Wilson’s Snipe, Gallinago delicata