I got up around 6:00 this morning to head out to the American River Bend Park with my friend and fellow naturalist Roxanne. It was RAINING, but we thought the storm was pretty much finished and wouldn’t cause a problem. Sunshine was pouring through holes in the cloud cover.
I was hoping to see puddles, and slime molds, and migrating birds, but we found none of that. Surprisingly, all of the rain that had fallen had already been sucked up by the perched ground and there wasn’t a puddle to see anywhere. [Puddles sometimes hold hairworms, which a super cool to finds]
In the horse corral area, we saw a Black Phoebe who posed for us, but just slightly out of my camera’s range. As we walked in one direction along the trail that follows the river, we got glimpses of White-Breasted Nuthatches, Acorn Woodpeckers, and Western Bluebirds but nobody really stopped to let us get a good at them. Even the Starlings, who were making themselves conspicuous everywhere, calling from the tops of the trees were, once more slightly out of range.
We could hear California Quail somewhere in the shrubbery below the trail, and the crackling call of Sandhill Cranes overhead, but we didn’t see either of them.
We came across some fishermen who were making a lot of noise. Two in their group had caught huge salmon in the river. One had managed to pull his catch to shore, and his friends were telling him to sit and rest for a bit. He’d earned it.
[I used to go fishing with my mom – not so much to catch fish, but just to sit in nature, in each other’s company. We would have died if we’d ever caught anything that big on our little bamboo poles. The biggest thing I ever pulled out of the water on my fishing line was a moray eel from the ocean along the rocks at Dana Point.]
Anyway, there was another fisherman, up in the parking area, putting his catch in a bag. It too was a huge salmon. Roxanne talked to him for a bit, and he told her that he fished as often as he could and filled up his freezer with the meat. Then when the freezer was full, he’d take the fish up to Franklin Street, I think he said, and cooked them up for the homeless. He said it felt like a reciprocal thing: if he shared the fish, the river would be generous and let him catch more. Awwww.
CLICK HERE for the full album of photos [such as it is].
By then it had started to rain hard enough that it was soaking through our clothes, and we worried about keeping our cameras dry. [I need to get some of those disposable rain ponchos to carry in my backpack. They’d be easier to use than an umbrella in the field.] So, we headed back to the car. Then the rain let up a bit and just as it did, Roxanne spotted a Red-Shouldered Hawk we had seen along the trail earlier. We “stalked” it and found it sitting on a branch of a tree, so well camouflaged by the dappled colors on its back that it was actually difficult to see at first. It sat still long enough for us to get some photos of it before it took off through the woods.
Then, it started raining harder again, so we decided to cut the walk short and head home. We didn’t walk far enough for this to count toward my #52HikeChallenge for the year.
You can tell it’s a rough walk when the species list is THIS short.
- Acorn Woodpecker, Melanerpes formicivorus
- Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans
- Black Walnut, Eastern Black Walnut, Juglans nigra
- California Buckeye Chestnut Tree, Aesculus californica
- California Ground Squirrel, Otospermophilus beecheyi
- California Mugwort, Artemisia douglasiana
- California Pipevine, Dutchman’s Pipe, Aristolochia californica
- Chinook Salmon, Oncorhynchus tshawytscha
- Cytospora Canker, Cytospora chrysosperma
- English Walnut, Juglans regia
- European Starling, Sturnus vulgaris
- Oak, Coast Live Oak, Quercus agrifolia
- Oak, Interior Live Oak, Quercus wislizeni
- Red-Shouldered Hawk, California Red-Shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus elegans
- Tobacco, Coyote Tobacco, Flowering Tobacco, Nicotiana attenuata
- Western Bluebird, Sialia mexicana
- Western Hardwood Sulphur Shelf, Laetiporus gilbertsonii
- White-Breasted Nuthatch, Sitta carolinensis
- Whiteflies, Family: Aleyrodidae
- Wren, House Wren, Troglodytes aedon
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