Lots of Deer on a Birding Trip, 02-22-23

Around 9:00 AM this morning I headed out to the Gristmill Recreation Area for a walk even though my cancer was making my left leg hurt a lot (around a 7). I was hoping the movement would help to unbind the affected muscles in my thigh and hip area, but it actually started to make it worse. So I only stayed out there for about an hour.

In that hour, though, I saw quite a bit. There was a huge Bay Tree that was in bloom., the only tree in bloom besides the Almond Trees in the park. The Boxelder Trees were starting to push out their leaves and catkins, and the Mugwort plants and Manroot Vines were starting to come up.

The willow trees were all starting to “pussy” getting their early catkins. On the Arroyo Willows there were the old galls of the Willow Rosette Gall Midge, Rabdophaga salicisbrassicoides. They were all silvery black with age.

I saw a few birds including Ruby-Crowned Kinglets, Lesser Goldfinches, Bewick’s Wrens, and a Nuttall’s Woodpecker. I also caught sight of a Red-Shouldered Hawk sitting in the top of a tree with her breast to the morning sun. I saw it just as a group of birders further back on the trail behind me saw the bird. One of the birders with a huge camera on a tripod tried moving in closer to the tree to get some pictures of the hawk. I was able to get one shot in before the bird, spooked by the approaching birder, flew away. The birder was still moving and didn’t get any photos.

I went back to the car and took some pain pills and waited for a few minutes before heading over to the nearby American River Bend Park. By the time I got to the park the pain pills had kicked in and I was able to walk more freely.

The first critters I encountered at the park was a bachelor group of Wild Turkeys. During this time of the year their coloring is especially brilliant. I know some people consider the birds a nuisance, but I think they’re such handsome birds.

There were also deer all over the place on both sides of the road: does, yearlings and bucks. Most of the bucks were younger ones, spike bucks and 2-pointers. But among them was a large 4-pointer (going on 5-). He was stunning.

When I was getting a video snippet of one group of the deer, I saw something zooming back and forth in the grass, and I didn’t know what it was. When I got a better look I realized it was Black-Tailed Jackrabbits chasing one another. I got a video snippet of one of them dashing around.

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

There were Pipevine plants starting to show off with their calabash pipe flowers and heart-shaped leaves. They’re the precursors of the Pipevine Swallowtail butterflies and caterpillars.

Among the birds I saw were a Red-Shouldered Hawk, a Western Bluebird, Oak Titmice, Audubon’s Warblers, Acorn Woodpeckers [one of them chasing a Nuttall’s Woodpecker out of its granary tree], and a Northern Flicker. In the water, I saw Common Mergansers, Crows, Common Goldeneyes, a flock of Bufflehead flying over the river, Mallards, gulls, and a small Spotted Sandpiper.

On the other side of the river I watched some Great Egrets fighting over fishing spots, and a Belted Kingfisher nattering angrily at a pair of Canada Geese that decided to float through its fishing grounds.

As I was leaving the park, I came across a Eastern Fox Squirrel that was “bathing” itself on the perch of a tree stump. It was soooo cute!

I was out in the park for about 3 hours, so I walked for a total of 4 hours on this excursion. It was fun, and wonderful to be outdoors, but it was also very wearing and I crashed when I got home. This was hike #6 in my #52HikeChallenge for the year.

Species List:

  1. Acorn WoodpeckerMelanerpes formicivorus
  2. Almond Tree, Prunus dulcis
  3. Anna’s HummingbirdCalypte anna
  4. Audubon’s Warbler, Yellow-Rumped Warbler, Setophaga coronata auduboni
  5. Bay Laurel, California Bay, Umbellularia californica
  6. Belted Kingfisher, Megaceryle alcyon
  7. Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans
  8. Black-Tailed Jackrabbit, Lepus californicus
  9. Boxelder, Box Elder Tree, Acer negundo
  10. Bufflehead Duck, Bucephala albeola [flyby]
  11. Bumpy Rim-Lichen, Lecanora hybocarpa [tan to brown apothecia]
  12. Bushtit, American Bushtit, Psaltriparus minimus
  13. California Buckeye Chestnut Tree, Aesculus californica
  14. California Camouflage Lichen, Melanelixia californica 
  15. California MugwortArtemisia douglasiana
  16. California Pipevine, Dutchman’s Pipe, Aristolochia californica
  17. California Scrub JayAphelocoma californica
  18. Canada Goose, Branta canadensis
  19. Columbian Black-Tailed DeerOdocoileus hemionus columbianus
  20. Common Chickweed, Stellaria media
  21. Common GoldeneyeBucephala clangula
  22. Common Merganser, American Common Merganser, Mergus merganser americanus
  23. Coyote Brush, Baccharis pilularis
  24. Crow, American Crow, Corvus brachyrhynchos
  25. Eastern Fox SquirrelSciurus niger [rusty belly]
  26. Flies, Black-Margined Flower Fly, Syrphus opinator
  27. Gold Dust Lichen, Chrysothrix candelaris
  28. Great Egret, Ardea alba
  29. Gull, Herring Gull, Larus argentatus
  30. Gull, Larus sp.
  31. Lesser Goldfinch, Spinus psaltria
  32. Mallard DuckAnas platyrhynchos
  33. Manroot, California Manroot, Bigroot, Marah fabaceus
  34. Mistletoe, Broadleaf Mistletoe, Phoradendron macrophyllum
  35. Mosses, Bonfire Moss, Funaria hygrometrica
  36. Mourning DoveZenaida macroura
  37. Northern Flicker, Colaptes auratus
  38. Nuttall’s Woodpecker, Picoides nuttallii
  39. Oak Apple, California Gall Wasp, Andricus quercuscalifornicus
  40. Oak TitmouseBaeolophus inornatus
  41. Oak, Interior Live Oak, Quercus wislizeni
  42. Oak, Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
  43. Powder-Edged Speckled Greenshield , Flavopunctelia soredica [pale green, lots of soredia]
  44. Red-Shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus elegans
  45. Rio Grande Wild TurkeyMeleagris gallopavo intermedia
  46. Ruby-Crowned Kinglet, Regulus calendula
  47. Spotted Sandpiper, Actitis macularius
  48. Towhee, Spotted Towhee, Pipilo maculatus [heard]
  49. Turkey Vulture, Cathartes aura
  50. Western Bluebird, Sialia mexicana
  51. Western Gray Squirrel, Sciurus griseus
  52. White HorehoundMarrubium vulgare
  53. Willow Rosette Gall Midge, Rabdophaga salicisbrassicoides [on stem]
  54. Willow, Arroyo Willow, Salix lasiolepis
  55. Wren, Bewick’s WrenThryomanes bewickii

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