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