A Drive with Esteban, 04-13-22

I got up around 7:00 AM, and gave the dogs their breakfast and Gibson his medication. I left a message for Brian that he might have to let Melissa’s dog out to pee if he was leaving for the hospital late in the morning. Then Esteban and I went for a drive/walk at the Yolo Bypass and the West Davis Pond (they’re within minutes of one another).

There was very little traffic on the way to the bypass which kind of surprised me. At the bypass, I saw a lot of the usual suspects along the auto tour route, including the Bittern and the Great Horned Owl. It was overcast, chilly, and breezy outside, and the owl was hunkered down deep in her nest. I’m assuming she’s sitting on hatchlings now, and that they’re still small enough to fit under her. I’m looking forward to seeing how many she has. [There are lots of people posting photos of owls with owlets at the Gray Lodge preserve; I might go there over the weekend to check that out. I need an owlet fix.]

Anyway, toward the end of the drive, I got to see a small flock of White-Faced Ibises. They get their white faces in the breeding season, and I saw three or four of them showing off their breeding plumage. So cool.

[After I got home, I went through my email and there was one from one of my former naturalist students who is a docent at the bypass. He sent a photo of an entire field of downingia in bloom there that I missed. I was actually considering driving that way as I was leaving the bypass but decided not to. Dang it!!]

Then I went over to the West Davis Pond. The “pond”, a drainage culvert, was pretty much completely dry, so there were no waterfowl, beyond noisy Canada Geese, to see. I spotted some Western Bluebirds and Mockingbirds, but little else. In the pollinator garden. I was hoping to see lots of interesting bugs, but it was still pretty chilly outside, so there wasn’t a lot of action. I did get two see some Tiger Swallowtail butterflies and Painted Ladies, though, which is always a treat.

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

I also saw Gene Trapp and his wife JoEllen Ryan there. They maintain the gardens along the ditch, and Wednesdays are volunteer days there, so there was a handful of folks pulling weeds and pruning bushes. Gene was exhausted from shoveling and laying down woodchips that morning, so he had me sit at a picnic table with him for a while to catch up.

[The table had been a gift from a Sikh man who walked along the path by the gardens every morning. He would stop to talk with Gene or JoEllen when they were out there, and one day JoEllen said it would be really nice if the volunteer crew had a place to sit and set out their tools…A few days later, the man had the picnic table was delivered to the site. Wow!]

Gene said they’d placed a trail camera out by the ditch to see what wildlife was out there when the water was gone. They got some good images of some opossums (good enough to be able to distinguish between individuals) and families of racoons. One family had several leucistic babies in it, four out of five, and the light-colored ones showed up like “ghosts” on the camera footage. There was also one, Gene said, that was semi-leucistic and had reddish overtones to its like fur. How pretty!

After about an hour, Esteban was getting too cold and his hip was hurting from walking, so I carried him back to the car and we headed home.

Species List:

  1. American Bittern, Botaurus lentiginosus
  2. American Coot, Fulica americana
  3. American Pipit, Anthus rubescens
  4. American Wigeon, Anas americana
  5. Bee, European Honeybee, Western Honeybee, Apis mellifera
  6. Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans
  7. Blessed Milk Thistle, Silybum marianum
  8. Blow Wives, Achyrachaena mollis
  9. California Flannelbush, Fremontodendron californicum
  10. Canada Goose, Branta canadensis
  11. Cheeseweed Mallow, Malva parviflora
  12. Cinnamon Teal, Anas cyanoptera
  13. Concha Ceanothus, Ceanothus concha, Ceanothus impressus + Ceanothus papillosus var. roweanus
  14. Gadwall Duck, Mareca strepera
  15. Grasses, Carolina Canarygrass, Phalaris caroliniana
  16. Grasses, Rabbitfoot Grass, Polypogon monspeliensis
  17. Great Blue Heron, Ardea herodias
  18. Great Egret, Ardea alba
  19. Great Horned Owl, Bubo virginianus
  20. Greater White-Fronted Goose, Anser albifrons
  21. Greater Yellowlegs, Tringa melanoleuca
  22. Great-Tailed Grackle, Quiscalus mexicanus [flyover]
  23. Green-Winged Teal, Anas carolinensis
  24. Gumweed, Great Valley Gumweed, Grindelia camporum
  25. Hollyleaf Redberry, Rhamnus ilicifolia [buckthorn]
  26. Hoverfly, Margined Calligrapher, Toxomerus marginatus
  27. Lavender, Spanish Lavender, Lavandula pedunculata
  28. Mallard Duck, Anas platyrhynchos
  29. Marsh Wren, Cistothorus palustris
  30. Mourning Dove, Zenaida macroura
  31. Northern Shoveler, Anas clypeata
  32. Nuttall’s Woodpecker, Picoides nuttallii
  33. Painted Lady Butterfly, Vanessa cardui
  34. Red-Tailed Hawk, Western Red-Tailed Hawk, Buteo jamaicensis calurus
  35. Red-Winged Blackbird, Agelaius phoeniceus
  36. Ring-Necked Pheasant, Phasianus colchicus [heard]
  37. Rio Grande Wild Turkey, Meleagris gallopavo intermedia
  38. Sage, Black Sage, Salvia mellifera
  39. Savannah Sparrow, Passerculus sandwichensis
  40. Snowy Egret, Egretta thula
  41. Tule, Common Tule, Schoenoplectus acutus
  42. Vetch, Hairy Vetch, Vicia villosa
  43. Western Bluebird, Sialia Mexicana
  44. Western Meadowlark, Sturnella neglecta
  45. Western Redbud, Cercis occidentalis
  46. Western Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly, Papilio rutulus
  47. White Sweetclover, Melilotus albus
  48. White-Crowned Sparrow, Zonotrichia leucophrys
  49. White-Faced Ibis, Plegadis chihi
  50. Wild Mustard, Sinapis arvensis
  51. Yarrow, Fern-leaf Yarrow, Achillea filipendulina [yellow]

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