I got up around 5:30 this morning so I could get out for a walk at Gristmill (again) with Esteban. My hip had been angry all night, but it loosed up a bit once I got moving. Because it was warming up fast, I only walked the short trail back and forth.
I HEARD a lot more birds than I saw. Wrens were singing all around me; there were Killdeer complaining by the river; and Nuttall’s Woodpeckers trilling through the canopy, looking for bugs for their babies.
I heard the “Scaup!” of a Green Heron overhead and caught a glimpse of it as it flew over; and I also caught a glimpse of an Ash-Throated Flycatcher as it flitted out of a stand of vetch on the ground and into a tree.
Elsewhere, there was a Belted Kingfisher chattering very close by along the trail, and I saw it disappear into the bank below me. I couldn’t get into a good spot in which to photograph the burrow or the bird, though, because there was a 20 foot drop there from the trail to the river. Sigh.
I saw some female Common Mergansers fly up into the broken top of a dead tree on the river-side of the trail where I think there was a nest. One of the birds posed long enough for me to get some photos of her.
It’s not uncommon for these ducks to comingle. According to Cornell: “…Females are often gregarious on breeding grounds. In Europe, up to 3 or 4 (occasionally 10) females may nest together in the same tree… Broods containing entirely downy young seldom mix with other broods. Later, mixing of broods occurs frequently, with aggregations of ≥40 young attended by 1 or more females…” I’ve seen mama Mergansers with broods of 20 ducklings.
CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.
On the other side of the trail, I saw a pair of Wood Ducks fly into a tree over a nest box, and then the female entered it. She stayed inside while the male stood guard outside. I don’t know if she was laying eggs or brooding over ducklings.
I would sooooo love to be able to see the ducklings of either brood get to the point where they jump out of their nest and head to the water.
As I was leaving, I passed a lot of people on the trail walking big dogs that were off leash. One of the people, a guy with a beard, attached a leash to his dog as I approached and mentioned that the dog had just been chasing a deer, and his other dog, still unleashed, was trying to dig up something from the ground (probably a ground squirrel, but the evil side of me hoped it was a rattlesnake hibernaculum). Humans can be such a$$holes; it’s illegal to harass the wildlife there.
No dragonflies today, but I did get a photo of a female Emma’s Dancer damselfly. She was so well-camouflaged in the dry grass that I was surprised I was able to spot her at all.
I was out for about 2 hours. This was hike #29 or my #52HikeChallenge for the year.
- ?? unidentified spider egg sac
- Ash-Throated Flycatcher, Myiarchus cinerascens
- Belted Kingfisher, Megaceryle alcyon
- Black Walnut, Eastern Black Walnut, Juglans nigra
- Blackberry, Armenian Blackberry, Rubus armeniacus [red canes]
- Blue Elderberry, Sambucus nigra cerulea
- Bushtit, American Bushtit, Psaltriparus minimus
- Caddisfly, Black Dancer Caddisfly, Mystacides sepulchralis
- California Black Walnut Pouch Gall Mite, Aceria brachytarsa
- California Broad-Necked Darkling Beetle, Coelocnemis dilaticollis
- California Ground Squirrel, Otospermophilus beecheyi
- California Mugwort, Artemisia douglasiana
- California Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma californica
- Canada Goose, Branta canadensis
- Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus
- Common Merganser, Mergus merganser
- Common Sunburst Lichen, Golden Shield Lichen, Xanthoria parietina [yellow-orange, on wood/trees]
- Damselfly, Emma’s Dancer, Argia emma
- Dog, Canis lupus familiaris
- Fig, Common Fig, Ficus carica
- Fremont’s Cottonwood, Populus fremontii
- Green Heron, Butorides virescens
- Hoary Rosette Lichen, Physcia aipolia [hoary, brown apothecia]
- Holm Oak, Quercus ilex [soft leaves, lighter on back]
- Italian Thistle, Carduus pycnocephalus
- Killdeer, Charadrius vociferous
- Manroot, California Manroot, Bigroot, Marah fabaceus
- Mistletoe, Broadleaf Mistletoe, Phoradendron macrophyllum
- Mullein, Moth Mullein, Verbascum blattaria [thin stick, white or yellow]
- Oak Apple, California Gall Wasp, Andricus quercuscalifornicus
- Oak, Coast Live Oak, Quercus agrifolia
- Oak, Interior Live Oak, Quercus wislizeni
- Oak, Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
- Poison Hemlock, Conium maculatum
- Red-Eared Slider Turtle, Trachemys scripta elegans
- Shot Hole Borer, Polyphagous Shot Hole Borer Beetle, Euwallacea fornicatus
- Shrubby Sunburst Lichen, Polycauliona candelaria
- Stretch Spider, Tetragnatha extensa [pale tan abdomen]
- Swallow, Tree Swallow, Tachycineta bicolor
- Towhee, Spotted Towhee, Pipilo maculatus
- Turkey Vulture, Cathartes aura
- Vetch, Hairy Vetch, Vicia villosa
- Western Bluebird, Sialia Mexicana
- Western Boxelder Bug, Boisea rubrolineata
- Wood Duck, Aix sponsa
- Wren, Bewick’s Wren, Thryomanes bewickii
- Wren, House Wren, Troglodytes aedon
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