A Drive Around the Cosumnes Preserve, 03-31-22

I got up a little after 7:00 AM, and had breakfast then rested for a little bit before heading out for a drive around the Cosumnes River Preserve and adjacent roads. I don’t usually go out so “late” but because I can’t close the passenger side window, I wanted it to warm up a little bit before driving out to the preserve. So, I didn’t arrive at my destination until about 9:30 AM.

Most of the farmland and wetland areas along Bruceville and Desmond Roads have been drained (or are in the process of being drained), so what few water birds there are, are either gone or concentrated in small area quite distant from the road. I got photos of the usual suspects – American Coots, Greater White-Fronted Geese, Red-Winged Blackbirds, and House Finches – but my favorite sighting along the road was that of a bright yellow male American Goldfinch.  I see the Lesser Goldfinches a lot, but the American Goldfinches are less common around here, so it’s always a treat to see one.

I didn’t see many raptors around, but I did see one Red-Tailed Hawk with a grossly deformed beak. The top part was long and twisted, like a “witch’s nose”. The bird looked healthy for the most part. It’s feathers looked well-groomed and it seemed to be able to fly all right, so I assume it was eating well… which surprised me given the deformity it had to live with.

According to the USGS: “…Beak deformities can be caused by a variety of factors, including contaminants, nutritional deficiencies, disease, parasites, blunt trauma, or genetic abnormalities. We recently identified a novel picornavirus (Poecivirus) in Black-capped Chickadees with avian keratin disorder (AKD). Our results suggest that Poecivirus is the most likely factor responsible for beak deformities in Alaskan birds. Current research is focused on confirming the role of this virus in the development of AKD and learning more about how it may be transmitted among wild birds. Read about our Current Research and Previous Investigations to learn more…”

At the parking lot near the boardwalk area at the preserve, there was a beautiful pair of Western Bluebirds (a male and female) overseeing their nest box at the gate, and protecting it from some pushy Tree Swallows who wanted to move in. 

While I was walking around the parking lot area (where I could keep an eye on my car), a gentleman walked past me and said, “You need to come earlier, just after dawn, or in the evening.” I  answered him with, “That depends on what you’re looking for.”  He didn’t get it. As a naturalist, I’m not limited to birding; I also checked out the plants, and looked for insects and galls along the way.

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

Among the bouquets of charlock flowers along the sides of the road, were California Poppies, Common Fiddleneck, tiny Popcorn Flowers and Ithuriel’s Spears.  There were also some Curly Dock plants with tiny flowers on them. I was most pleased to see that there was still enough water in the ground to nourish a purple-blue crop of downingia: Flatface Calicoflower. There also seemed to be lots of Seven-Spotted ladybeetles and their larvae all over the place.

The Valley Oaks all along the roads were just starting to leaf out, all of their leaves bright, shiny and succulent. I checked out a couple of them, and found some of the pinched-leaf galls from wasps thus far “Unidentified” by Russo along with the more common Oak Apple galls.

I drove and walked around for about 3 hours before heading back home. 

Species List:

  1. American Avocet, Recurvirostra americana
  2. American Coot, Fulica americana
  3. American Goldfinch, Spinus tristis
  4. American Wigeon, Anas americana
  5. Armenian Blackberry, Rubus armeniacus [pink flower]
  6. Ash, Oregon Ash, Fraxinus latifolia
  7. Bee, European Honeybee, Western Honeybee, Apis mellifera
  8. Bindweed, Field Bindweed, Convolvulus arvensis
  9. Bird’s Foot Trefoil, Lotus corniculatus
  10. Buttercup, Rough-Fruited Buttercup, Ranunculus muricatus
  11. California Ground Squirrel, Otospermophilus beecheyi
  12. California Oak Moth (oakworm), Phryganidia californica
  13. California Quail, Callipepla californica
  14. Canada Goose, Branta canadensis
  15. Curly Dock, Rumex crispus
  16. Downingia, Flatface Calicoflower, Downingia pulchella
  17. Fiddleneck, Common Fiddleneck, Amsinckia menziesii
  18. Flat-Topped Honeydew Gall Wasp, Disholcaspis eldoradensis
  19. Gadwall Duck, Mareca strepera
  20. Great Egret, Ardea alba
  21. Greater White-Fronted Goose, Anser albifrons
  22. Greater Yellowlegs, Tringa melanoleuca
  23. House Finch, Haemorhous mexicanus
  24. Ithuriel’s Spear, Triteleia laxa
  25. Jointed Charlock, Raphanus raphanistrum
  26. Killdeer, Charadrius vociferous
  27. Ladybeetle, Convergent Lady Beetle, Hippodamia convergens
  28. Ladybeetle, Seven-Spotted Lady Beetle, Coccinella septempunctata
  29. Leaf Gall Wasp/ Unidentified per Russo, Tribe: Cynipidi [on Valley Oak]
  30. Least Sandpiper, Calidris minutilla
  31. Lupine, Miniature Lupine, Lupinus bicolor
  32. Non-Biting Midges, Family: Chironomidae
  33. Northern Mockingbird, Mimus polyglottos
  34. Northern Shoveler, Anas clypeata
  35. Oak Apple, California Gall Wasp, Andricus quercuscalifornicus
  36. Pepperweed, Lepidium sp.
  37. Pepperweed, Tall Whitetop, Lepidium draba
  38. Pineappleweed, Chamomilla suaveolens
  39. Poison Hemlock, Conium maculatum
  40. Popcorn Flower, Plagiobothrys sp.
  41. Poppy, California Poppy, Eschscholzia californica
  42. Red-Tailed Hawk, Western Red-Tailed Hawk, Buteo jamaicensis calurus
  43. Red-Winged Blackbird, Agelaius phoeniceus
  44. Savannah Sparrow, Passerculus sandwichensis
  45. Stork’s Bill, Redstem Stork’s-Bill, Erodium cicutarium
  46. Tree Swallow, Tachycineta bicolor
  47. Tule, Common Tule, Schoenoplectus acutus
  48. Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
  49. Western Bluebird, Sialia Mexicana
  50. Western Kingbird, Tyrannus verticalis
  51. Wild Mustard, Sinapis arvensis
  52. Willow, Goodding’s Willow, Salix gooddingii
  53. Willow, Interior Sandbar Willow, Salix interior

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