I got up around 6:00 am and met with my friend Roxanne at 6:30 AM. We were heading over to Mix Canyon Road and Lake Solano Park, but before we went there, we got some coffee and then drove around some of the ag fields in Davis. Trees in some of the almond orchards were in full bloom. They’re pretty, but they’re also water guzzlers and constitute “single-species” areas that don’t allow pollinators and other critters to get the nutrition and habitat they require.
If the fields and along the telephone pole lines, we saw a few birds including Savannah Sparrows, a few Great Egrets, some House Finches, a Kestrel and a Meadowlark. The coolest sighting, though, was seeing a pair of coyotes hunting through the grass in one of the fields.
We then drove into the town of Winters and stopped at the Putah Creek Café for breakfast. They had just opened, so we were able to get seated an waited on right away. We both had omelets with a side of homestyle potatoes (potatoes pan-fried with red and green peppers). My omelet had bacon, cheese and slices of avocado. Everything tasted yummy, and they gave us such big portions, I had to take of it home with me.
Then it was up Pleasant Valley Road to Mix Canyon Road. All of that area had been severely burned by wildfires a couple of years ago. Many of the trees are still blackened, but life is showing again now. On one of the hillside, we saw a group of crows cawing and bowing to one another. I think it was kind of a “hello” ritual. After all the noise, the birds seemed content to walk with one another and hunt for bugs in the grass.
I was hoping to see some Shooting Star flowers — (I always seem to miss their emergence.) — and some ferns and liverworts. Although we didn’t see any liverworts and only found a few species of ferns, we were excited to have found a nice variety of wildflowers, including lots and lots of Shooting Stars. (Yay!)
Finding spots to get out and look around on the road are few and far between. The road is somewhat narrow and there are few turnouts. When we did find a good turnout, we walked up and down the road on foot to see as much as we could before getting back into the car.
Because the wildfires had burned off a lot of the groundcover, it’s been replaced by the quick-growing plants like vetch. There were some areas where the vetch was so thick it laid on the ground in heaps. We also saw areas where the bindweed was winding up through burned trees like kudzu, covering everything.
CLICK HERE to see the full album of photos.
After the drive up and back down the road, we stopped briefly at Lake Solano Park. I’d seen posts on Facebook from people who had seen Hooded Mergansers there, and I want to see if I could get some photos of the birds. I hadn’t seen any of the Hooded ones last year, so I was pleased when I was able to see some today. They were on the far side of the lake, so they were right on the edge of my camera’s focal range. Still, I was able to get few (if somewhat fuzzy) photos of them.
Here’s a video of a male swimming down the river, showing off to the female Buffleheads with his “popped top”.
When I got home and was processing the photos I’d taken, I realized that in a few photos a Sora had stepped out from between the tules so I was able to see one of those, too.
After a short walk at the park, we headed back home. It was fun, long day. This was a good test as to whether I could get in and out of the car a lot in one trip, and I was able to manage pretty well. Yay!
- Almond Tree, Prunus dulcis
- Arundo, Giant Reed, Arundo donax
- Audubon’s Warbler, Yellow-Rumped Warbler, Setophaga coronata auduboni
- Bay Laurel, Laurus nobilis
- Bedstraw, Velcro Grass, Cleavers, Galium aparine
- Bindweed, Field Bindweed, Convolvulus arvensis
- Bird’s-eye Speedwell, Veronica persica
- Bittercress, Hairy Bittercress, Cardamine hirsuta
- Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans
- Blessed Milk Thistle, Silybum marianum
- Blue Dicks, Dipterostemon capitatus
- Bluewitch Nightshade, Solanum umbelliferum
- Bufflehead Duck, Bucephala albeola
- Bushtit, American Bushtit, Psaltriparus minimus [nest]
- Buttercup, Western Buttercup, Ranunculus occidentalis
- California Buckeye Chestnut Tree, Aesculus californica
- California Saxifrage, Micranthes californica
- Canada Goose, Branta canadensis
- Chickweed, Common Chickweed, Stellaria media
- Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus [tracks]
- Coyote Brush, Baccharis pilularis
- Coyote, Canis latrans
- Crow, American Crow, Corvus brachyrhynchos
- Crown Whitefly, Aleuroplatus coronata
- Dudleya, Canyon Live-Forever, Dudleya cymosa
- Fern, California Maidenhair Fern, Adiantum jordanii
- Fern, Goldback Fern, Pentagramma triangularis
- Fiddleneck, Bristly Fiddleneck, Amsinckia tessellata
- Fiddleneck, Common Fiddleneck, Amsinckia menziesii
- Fringepod, Sand Fringepod, Thysanocarpus curvipes
- Giraffe’s Head, Henbit Deadnettle, Lamium amplexicaule
- Globe Lily, Diogenes’ Lantern, Calochortus amabilis [leaves]
- Gold Dust Lichen, Chrysothrix candelaris
- Great Blue Heron, Ardea herodias
- Great Egret, Ardea alba
- Grebe, Pied-Billed Grebe, Podilymbus podiceps
- Groundsel, Common Groundsel, Senecio vulgaris
- Henderson’s Shooting Star, Primula hendersonii
- Hillside Woodland Star, Lithophragma heterophyllum
- Hooded Merganser, Lophodytes cucullatus
- House Finch, Haemorhous mexicanus
- Jointed Charlock, Raphanus raphanistrum
- Larkspur, Red Larkspur, Delphinium nudicaule
- Live Oak Kermes, Allokermes cueroensis
- Lupine, Arroyo Lupine, Lupinus succulentus
- Lupine, Chick Lupine, Lupinus microcarpus [white or yellow]
- Manroot, California Manroot, Bigroot, Marah fabaceus
- Manroot, Coastal Manroot, Marah oregana [elongated pods, seen in Solano County]
- Manzanita, Arctostaphylos sp.
- Milkmaids, Cardamine californica
- Miner’s Lettuce, Claytonia perfoliata
- Monkeyflower, Orange Bush Monkeyflower, Diplacus aurantiacus
- Mule’s Ears, Narrowleaf Mule-Ears, Wyethia angustifolia
- Oak, Coast Live Oak, Quercus agrifolia
- Oak, Interior Live Oak, Quercus wislizeni
- Oxalis, Bermuda Buttercup, Oxalis pes-caprae
- Pacific Pea, Lathyrus vestitus
- Pacific Poison Oak, Toxicodendron diversilobum
- Paintbrush, Woolly Indian Paintbrush, Castilleja foliolosa
- Peafowl, Indian Peafowl, Pavo cristatus
- Phacelia, Mountain Phacelia, Phacelia imbricata [white]
- Poppy, Field Poppy, Tufted Poppy, Eschscholzia caespitosa
- Red-Shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus
- Sage, Hummingbird Sage, Salvia spathacea
- Savannah Sparrow, Passerculus sandwichensis
- Sheep, Ovis aries
- Sora, Porzana carolina
- Sunflower, California Sunflower, Helianthus californicus
- Toyon, Heteromeles arbutifolia
- Tree Swallow, Tachycineta bicolor
- Tule, Common Tule, Schoenoplectus acutus
- Turkey Vulture, Cathartes aura
- Velvety Tree Ant, Liometopum occidentale
- Vetch, Hairy Vetch, Vicia villosa
- Warrior’s Plume, Pedicularis densiflora
- Western Meadowlark, Sturnella neglecta
- Western Redbud, Cercis occidentalis
- White Nemophila, Nemophila heterophylla
- Wild Mustard, Sinapis arvensis
- Yarrow, Common Yarrow, Achillea millefolium
- ?? Tiny brown insect with ants on live oak
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