All posts by The Chubby Woman

Mary K. Hanson is an author, nature photographer and Certified California Naturalist living with terminal cancer.

The Necessity for Fishing Line Clean-Up, 01-20-21

Birthday Week Day Four: I got up around 7:00 am and around 7:30 headed over to the Mather Lake Regional Park where I met up with fellow naturalist, Rachael. Rachael had never been there before, so it was fun showing her around and telling her where we usually see what. We actually got to see [and hear] quite a lot.

Rachael had brought her spotting scope out to see if we could see anything a little bit better. We tried to get it to focus on an osprey and a pair of White-Tailed Kites that were sharing a tree on the opposite side of the lake. It took a while to get the scope to cooperate, adjusting this, tilting that, readjusting… but we DID get a view of the birds and were able to see that the osprey was a female (with a necklace of dark spots around her neck).

A female Osprey, Pandion haliaetus, with a White Tailed Kite, Elanus leucurus, behind her. You can tell the female Ospreys from the males by the necklace of spots hanging down from around their neck.

The scope was too cumbersome to carry along the mostly-narrow trails around the lake, so it was returned to Rachael’s car before we carried on.

There was birdsong all around today, including the sounds of California Quail, Great-Tailed Grackles, and Northern Flickers. There were Great Blue Herons on the shoreline as well as Great Egrets.  Among the Great Blue Herons we saw today, was a bonded pair of the birds that were flying back and forth across the lake. This one landed in the top of the tree… It’s so interesting to watch their dance.

Lots of Double-Crested Cormorants in the trees and the water. We also saw several Nuttall’s Woodpeckers including both a male and a female that stopped longs  enough for me to get some photos of them.

We were surprised to see a solitary male Canvasback Duck swimming on the lake. And also saw a solitary male Bufflehead and Wigeon.  What is it that causes these males to go off on their own? Are they ahead of the flock or behind it?

The family of River Otters was out an about, but they were tucked in along the edges of the island for the most part, too far away to get really good photos of them. We saw one of them exit the water and gallop through the tules – in and out of sight. The kind of roll and waddle when they’re on land, but in the water, they’re all silk.

North American River Otters, Lontra canadensis

We also saw a pair of White-Tailed Kites who were murmuring quietly to one another and flying in “soft circles” with their legs down. Rachael and I wondered if that was courtship behavior, so I looked it up when I got home and – yep! We were right. “Leg hanging” is part of the courtship and territorial behavior, and is usually done over a potential nesting site! Wow, wouldn’t it be great if we could see a kite nest here?!

White Tailed Kite, Elanus leucurus

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

When we were near the end of the trail on the “golf”-side of the lake we could hear a goose calling but with a rattling, pain-filled honk like nothing we’d ever heard before. We followed the sound out to the edge of the water where there was a flattened out patch of tules. Rachael ventured out as far as she could without getting her feet wet, and took some video of the goose as it struggled to breathe and coughed and gently shook its head.  It was out in the water, floating there, so we couldn’t get close enough to it to “rescue” it.

Rachael getting some video of the goose in distress.

When I got home, I looked up goose diseases to try to figure out what the bird might be suffering from, and was surprised by the number of diseases they can get, including coccidiosis and avian influenza (especially prevalent in Canada Geese). Wow. Many of the diseases are caused by their living and feeding in water that is contaminated by animal feces…

When I posted the find to Facebook, another friend, Allyson Seconds, saw the post and passed it on to her animal rescuer friend, Ben Nuckolls. Ben had been getting several calls about the goose and had been trying to rescue it, but it kept evading him. He asked for more details on the one we saw, and Rachael responded with:

“…I could not see any obvious injury or entanglement. The piercing sound is what attracted our attention. The goose continually put its bill in the water and withdraw and shake its head gently. Then it would follow with what I would describe as a cough since the entire chest and abdomen expanded and contracted as it make the loud piercing sound. It would periodically open its bill briefly too. I have video and will pm it too you…”

Ben wrote: “…I’m still suspecting the ingestion of fishing line or fish hook because this lake is known for its many entanglement hazards. Disease cases would most likely show up in more than one goose at a time and not be an isolated goose. If I can catch it, I will examine all the possibilities…”

Ben went out to look for the bird, and sadly found it – dead in the water. Closer inspection showed it “had an obstruction of fishing line and a hook down its throat”. Ben’s photos showed the obstruction suffered by the goose. It was ghastly.

Photo by Ben. The dead goose with fishing line and hooks inside its mouth and throat.

I knew the geese and ducks could get tangled in fishing line (and have seen ones who log a leg or had a wind sawed off by the stuff, by it didn’t occur to me that the birds might EAT it.  I suppose if it’s wrapped up in the water vegetation they eat, or if there’s still a lure and hook attached to it they might think that’s a meal and gobble it up. This particular goose had a hook lodged in its throat and wad of the line bunched up inside its mouth… so it couldn’t eat and had trouble breathing. Good lord, poor thing. Cast off line and dropped hooks is a major problem at the lake, but the park doesn’t have enough personnel to do the recon and clean-up of the stuff.

We walked for about 3 hours and then headed back to our respective homes. Rachael said she’s been looking for places nearby that are relatively easy to walk but still have a nature component to them, so I suggested she check out my website; there are lots of sites listed there. This was walk #7 in my #52HikeChallenge.

Species List:

  1. ?? Snake bones
  2. American Coot, Fulica americana
  3. American Kestrel, Falco sparverius
  4. American Wigeon, Anas americana
  5. Anna’s Hummingbird, Calypte anna
  6. Azolla, Water Fern, Azolla filiculoides
  7. Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans
  8. Broadleaf Cattail, Bullrush, Typha latifolia
  9. Bufflehead Duck, Bucephala albeola
  10. Bushtit, American Bushtit, Psaltriparus minimus
  11. California Quail, Callipepla californica [heard]
  12. California Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma californica
  13. California Towhee, Melozone crissalis
  14. Canada Goose, Branta canadensis
  15. Canvasback Duck, Aythya valisineria
  16. Common Gallinule, Gallinula galeata
  17. Coyote Brush, Baccharis pilularis
  18. Double-Crested Cormorant, Phalacrocorax auratus
  19. Downy Woodpecker, Picoides pubescens
  20. Eurasian Collared Dove, Streptopelia decaocto
  21. European Starling, Sturnus vulgaris
  22. Fremont’s Cottonwood, Populus fremontii
  23. Golden Crowned Sparrow, Zonotrichia atricapilla
  24. Great Blue Heron, Ardea herodias
  25. Great Egret, Ardea alba
  26. Great-Tailed Grackle, Quiscalus mexicanus
  27. House Finch, Haemorhous mexicanus
  28. Lesser Goldfinch, Spinus psaltria
  29. Mallard duck, Anas platyrhynchos
  30. Mourning Dove, Zenaida macroura
  31. Mute Swan, Cygnus olor
  32. Northern Flicker, Colaptes auratus
  33. Northern Harrier, Marsh Hawk, Circus hudsonius
  34. Nuttall’s Woodpecker, Picoides nuttallii
  35. Osprey, Pandion haliaetus
  36. Pied-Billed Grebe, Podilymbus podiceps
  37. Red-Shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus [heard]
  38. Red-Winged Blackbird, Agelaius phoeniceus
  39. Rio Grande Wild Turkey, Meleagris gallopavo intermedia
  40. River Otter, North American River Otter, Lontra canadensis
  41. Ruby-Crowned Kinglet, Regulus calendula
  42. Soft Rush, Juncus effusus
  43. Song Sparrow, Melospiza melodia
  44. Tree Swallow, Tachycineta bicolor
  45. Tule, Common Tule, Schoenoplectus acutus
  46. Turkey Vulture, Cathartes aura
  47. Western Bluebird, Sialia Mexicana
  48. White Tailed Kite, Elanus leucurus

Post Script:

Ben set up an impromptu clean-up for volunteers at the park the next day.  They found one more dead goose and another one that was coughing and wheezing. It was taken to Gold Country Wildlife Rescue to be rehabilitated.            

Too Windy at the Bypass, 01-19-21

Birthday Week, Day Three. I had planned for this to be a “crash” day between excursions, but my friend Roxanne invited me to join her on a trip to Yolo County. Yipee!

We went to the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area and then went to the Ibis Rookery in Woodland. So we headed out around 7:00 am. It was super-windy today, though, which meant birding was pretty much a no-go. There was so much chop on the water that there were actual cresting waves across the flooded fields and marshes.  And that wind was COLD! As we were driving around, we’d open the car windows to try to shoot some photos through them, only to get blasted by the wind. Some gusts were so strong, they knocked the camera back and forth as I held it up to get a shot.

We saw a few raptors including a couple of White-Tailed Kites, some Red-Tailed Hawks, and a few Northern Harriers. There were also lots of White-Crowned Sparrows hugging the growth closer to the ground and wherever berms shielded them from the wind. There were also “piles” of ducks, different species crammed in against one another for warmth, or feeding with their faces in the water below the chop. Pickings for photos were slim.

The one good thing about this trip is that we figured out the whole circular route through the place this time around, so we know where to go now the next time we head out there.

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

As we were heading out of the wildlife area, we saw some Northern Harriers on the ground. One of them had a clod of dirt in its talons and was “playing” with it, lifting it up, letting it fall, picking it up again, tossing it. Apparently, this is common among juvenile Harriers.

Cornell notes: “…In the fledgling stage, juveniles chase and supplant one another, and occasionally pounce on and play with inanimate objects. In winter, Bildstein observed Northern Harriers playing with inanimate objects, both before going to roost in evening and after roosting. Individuals picked up and manipulated vole-size corncobs and other crop residue; birds were more likely to initiate play when a nearby bird did so, and as many as 3 birds played with corncobs…”

As the one we were watching was playing, I noticed that she’d transfer the clod of dirt from one foot to another… almost like she was practicing the “prey transfer” moves that adult Harriers do between them (when the male brings food to the female). I got a little video of it, but it was so windy, the camera moves all over the place.

We then went over to the Ibis Rookery and were surprised by the number of Ruddy Ducks we saw in the water there, but, again because of the wind we didn’t get to see a lot of birds – or anything else.  We were also surprised by a new sign that read “No Birder Vehicles Beyond This Point”, so we weren’t able to circle the settling ponds like we normally would. That kind of added insult to injury.

Although we didn’t get much in way of interesting sightings or photos, we had a lot of fun chatting all along the way. Sometime, we need to set up one of the cellphones to record our running commentary… we crack ourselves up.  Hah!

We spent about 3½ hours driving around, and because it was all driving and no walking, I couldn’t count it toward my #52HikeChallenge.

Species List:

  1. American Coot, Fulica americana
  2. American Kestrel, Falco sparverius
  3. American Pipit, Anthus rubescens
  4. American Wigeon, Anas americana
  5. Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans
  6. Black-Necked Stilt, Himantopus mexicanus
  7. Brewer’s Blackbird, Euphagus cyanocephalus
  8. Bufflehead Duck, Bucephala albeola
  9. Canada Goose, Branta canadensis
  10. Cinnamon Teal, Anas cyanoptera
  11. Common Goldeneye, Bucephala clangula
  12. Double-Crested Cormorant, Phalacrocorax auratus
  13. Golden Crowned Sparrow, Zonotrichia atricapilla
  14. Great Blue Heron, Ardea herodias
  15. Great Egret, Ardea alba
  16. Green-Winged Teal, Anas carolinensis
  17. Herring Gull, Larus argentatus [spot on bill, gray legs, pale eye]
  18. House Finch, Haemorhous mexicanus
  19. Killdeer, Charadrius vociferous
  20. Mallard duck, Anas platyrhynchos
  21. Northern Harrier, Marsh Hawk, Circus hudsonius
  22. Northern Pintail, Anas acuta
  23. Northern Shoveler, Anas clypeata
  24. Pied-Billed Grebe, Podilymbus podiceps
  25. Red-Tailed Hawk, Buteo jamaicensis
  26. Red-Winged Blackbird, Agelaius phoeniceus
  27. Ring-Necked Pheasant, Phasianus colchicus
  28. Ruddy Duck, Oxyura jamaicensis
  29. Savannah Sparrow, Passerculus sandwichensis
  30. Snow Goose, Chen caerulescens
  31. Sunflower??
  32. Western Meadowlark, Sturnella neglecta
  33. White Tailed Kite, Elanus leucurus
  34. White-Crowned Sparrow, Zonotrichia leucophrys

Zoo Day, 01-18-21

BIRTHDAY WEEK, DAY TWO – Zoo Day! After a light breakfast, I went through my emails and social media stuff, did a little journaling and then headed over to the Sacramento Zoo. They still have their COVID protocols in place, so folks have to wear a mask, and they limit the number of people allowed in at one time (so you have to have an appointment to come in). I kind of wish they’d keep doing that even after the COVID thing is over.

It was super windy all day, and got up to a record-breaking high of 73° (“normal” for this time of year is about 56° here.)

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

The zoo is refurbishing some areas to better utilize what space they have, so, in some areas the animals were off-exhibit. For example, Rocky the Rhinoceros Iguana had been displaced while her habitat was being cleaned out and redone, so she was hanging out in an exam room in the vet center inside the zoo.

Rhinoceros Iguana, Cyclura cornuta

And when the Wolf’s Guenon monkeys were off exhibit, their habitat was given to Charlie, the Great Horned Owl, so he had a larger space to fly in if he wanted to.

Great Horned Owl, Bubo virginianus

I got to see most of the animals I was hoping to see, except for the Snow Leopards. Neither Blizzard nor Misha were out today. I did see the lions (who were super-sleepy this morning) and the female jaguar (who was eating grass).

Jaguar, Panthera onca

The Thick-Billed Parrots seemed more visible today, and some of them are starting to make nests for themselves in the nest boxes supplied to them. They’re also given balls of shredded newspaper to tear apart and use for nesting materials. I wonder how many babies the zoo gets each year.

Thick-Billed Parrot, Rhynchopsitta pachyrhyncha

Among the duck food feeder stations scattered around the park, I saw crows and a Black Phoebe stealing the food. They literally crammed their beaks full of the soggy food before flying off with it. Then the Phoebe posed for quite a few photos before flying off.

Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans

The Sumatran Orangutans (all of whom have birthdays this month) were out, but they were being a little anti-social. One of them wouldn’t come out of her cave, and the big male kept turning his butt to cameras, and eventually picked up a blanket and pulled it over his head. Hah!

Sumatran Orangutan, Pongo abelii

Glory, the baby giraffe, was very proud of herself when she was able to get a twig with leaves on it and dragged it around and played with it. It was so cute to see her do her spread-leg stance to pick the twig up off the ground before throwing it up again. She’s still a “tiny” girl when compared to the adult giraffes in the enclosure.

The Red Kangaroos were out, but I didn’t see any of the wallabies. The flamingos were very chatty, and were joined in their noise by whistling ducks.

I walked for about 2½ hours and stopped to get an ice cream cone before I left. The guy piled so much of the soft-serve ice cream onto the cone that the minute he passed the cone over to me, all of the ice cream toppled over and landed on the ground. “Uh, you don’t have to pay for that,” he said, and he put together another cone for me. Hah!

The walk around the zoo equaled 1.36 miles, so I was able to count it as my #6 walk in my #52HikeChallenge. Woot!

Species List:

  1. African Lion, Panthera leo
  2. American Alligator, Alligator mississippiensis
  3. American White Pelican, Pelecanus erythrorhynchos
  4. Azure-winged Magpie, Cyanopica cyanus
  5. Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans
  6. Blue Elderberry, Sambucus nigra cerulea
  7. Caribbean Flamingo, Phoenicopterus ruber
  8. Chimpanzee, Pan troglodytes
  9. Crested Screamer, Chauna torquata
  10. Crow, American Crow, Corvus brachyrhynchos
  11. Eastern Bongo, Tragelaphus eurycerus isaaci
  12. Emu, Dromaius novaehollandiae
  13. Great Horned Owl, Bubo virginianus
  14. Greater Roadrunner, Geococcyx californianus
  15. Grevy’s Zebra, Equus grevyi
  16. Himalayan Monal, Lophophorus impejanus
  17. Jaguar, Panthera onca
  18. Koi Fish, Cyprinus rubrofuscus
  19. Laughing Kookaburra, Dacelo novaeguineae
  20. Mallard duck, Anas platyrhynchos
  21. Masai Giraffe, Giraffa tippelskirchi
  22. Mongoose Lemur, Eulemur mongoz
  23. Ostrich, Common Ostrich, Struthio camelus
  24. Red Kangaroo, Macropus rufus
  25. Red Panda, Ailurus fulgens
  26. Red River Hog, Potamochoerus porcus
  27. Reticulated Giraffe, Giraffa camelopardalis reticulata
  28. Rhinoceros Iguana, Cyclura cornuta
  29. Spur-Winged Lapwing, Vanellus spinosus
  30. Sumatran Orangutan, Pongo abelii
  31. Thick-Billed Parrot, Rhynchopsitta pachyrhyncha
  32. White-Faced Saki, Pithecia pithecia
  33. White-Faced Whistling Duck, Dendrocygna viduata
  34. White-Handed Gibbon, Hylobates lar
  35. Wood Duck, Aix sponsa

The Hermit Thrush Was the stand-out Today, 01-16-21

I got up around 7:00 this morning after a pretty good night’s sleep. It was slightly foggy in the early hours, but that burned off quickly, and the rest of the day was sunny.  It got up to 70°!

Around 7:30 I headed over to William Land Park and the WPA Rock Garden for a walk. I figured a walk through the garden and around both the larger and middle ponds would equal a mile so it would count as my #5 walk in my #52HikeChallenge. [Using a GPS tracker on the walk, I found it was actually about 1¼ miles, so… yay!]

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

Even though it’s winter, the WPA Rock Garden still has some plants and flowers showing off a bit. The Strawberry Tress were especially pretty with their long panicles of urn-shaped flowers trailing down.

Strawberry Tree, Arbutus unedo

Among the birds flitting around, there were the usual Golden-Crowned Sparrows, Bushtits, hummingbirds, some Spotted Towhees, and Crows, but I was happy and surprised to see a Hermit Thrush bopping around in under some of the bushes.  They’re such sweet little things with their round speckled breasts. 

Hermit Thrush, Catharus guttatus

Don’t let their size and cuteness trick you, though. These can be tenacious birds who will defend their breeding territories with a lot of aggression. Sometimes the male gets so ramped up, he chases females away. Oops!  Kind of defeats the purpose of a breeding ground. Hah!  They’re also omnivorous, eating insects and spiders, amphibians and reptiles… and fruit from a variety of plants and trees. The one I saw was tossing leaf-litter under a Mock Orange looking for breakfast.

At the middle pond, half of the Sacred Lotus has been dredged up, and all that remains are the dead stalks of last year’s plants. All of the dead stuff will have to go eventually to make room for next spring’s outcropping of the plants.  Less lotus plants means more water for the waterfowl, but I didn’t see anything “exotic” in or around the pond, just the usual ducks and geese.

On the lawn, there was a small cadre of Northern Flickers looking for ants and grubs, and in another area there was a small flock of Dark-Eyed Juncos.  Up in the trees were Lesser Goldfinches and Audubon’s Warblers trying to get the seeds out of the seed pods left open and dangling on the  Sycamore Trees.

In one of the Italian Cypress trees behind the amphitheater on the grounds, there was a pair of squirrels making out.  I guess if you’re going to have sex, high up in the heavy greenery of a cypress is a good place to do it.  Only nosy naturalists would notice you there.

Eastern Fox Squirrel, Sciurus niger

At the larger pond, there was again the usual crowd of ducks and geese, but also on the lawns there were Mourning Doves, warblers, and Western Bluebirds.  In the trees on the far side of the pond were Turkey Vultures, preening and stretching in the early morning sunlight before taking off for long kettling flights overhead.

Western Bluebird, Sialia Mexicana

It was such a lovely morning. I walked for about 3 hours before heading back home.

Species List:

  1. Audubon’s Warbler, Setophaga coronata auduboni
  2. Bald Cypress Tree, Taxodium distichum
  3. Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans
  4. Borage, Borago officinalis [blue “beaked” flowers]
  5. Buff Orpington Duck, Anas platyrhynchos domesticus var. Orpington
  6. Bunch-flowered Daffodil, Narcissus tazetta
  7. California Sycamore, Platanus racemose
  8. Canada Goose, Branta canadensis
  9. Candelabra Aloe, Aloe arborescens
  10. Common Correa, Correa reflexa [trumpet shaped pink flowers]
  11. Common Sugarbush, Spicebush, Protea repens
  12. Coyote Tobacco, Nicotiana attenuata
  13. Crested Duck, Anas platyrhynchos domesticus var. Crested
  14. Crow, American Crow, Corvus brachyrhynchos
  15. Dark-Eyed Junco, Junco hyemalis
  16. Double-Crested Cormorant, Phalacrocorax auratus
  17. Douglas’ Squirrel, Tamiasciurus douglasii [brown with white belly]
  18. Dutch Iris, Iris × hollandica
  19. Eastern Fox Squirrel, Sciurus niger
  20. Elephant’s-Ears, Bergenia crassifolia [like a begonia, bouquet of pink flowers]
  21. Ginkgo, Ginkgo biloba
  22. Golden Crowned Sparrow, Zonotrichia atricapilla
  23. Great Egret, Ardea alba
  24. Greater Honeywort, Cerinthe major [spotted leaves, “shrimp-like” flowers]
  25. Green Hellebore, Helleborus viridis
  26. Hairy Violet, Viola hirta
  27. Heavenly Bamboo, Nandina domestica [bright red berries]
  28. Hedgehog Holly, European Holly, Ilex aquifolium
  29. Hen-and-chickens Echeveria, Echeveria secunda
  30. Hermit Thrush, Catharus guttatus
  31. Italian Cypress, Mediterranean Cypress, Cupressus sempervirens
  32. Japanese Aralia, Fatsia japonica [stalks of white flowers, huge leaves]
  33. Japanese Wisteria, Wisteria floribunda
  34. Large-flower Pink-Sorrel, Oxalis debilis [clover-like leaves, pink flowers]
  35. Lesser Goldfinch, Spinus psaltria
  36. Liquid Ambar, American Sweetgum, Liquidambar styraciflua
  37. Love-in-a-Mist, Nigella damascena
  38. Mallard Duck, Anas platyrhynchos
  39. Mourning Dove, Zenaida macroura
  40. Northern Flicker, Colaptes auratus
  41. Oregon Grape, Barberry, Berberis aquifolium
  42. Pekin Duck, Anas platyrhynchos domesticus var. Pekin
  43. Red Gum Eucalyptus, River Redgum, Eucalyptus camaldulensis
  44. Redvein Abutilon, Callianthe picta [lantern-like flowers]
  45. Rosemary, Salvia rosmarinus
  46. Sacred Lotus, Nelumbo nucifera
  47. Spanish Butcher’s-Broom, Ruscus hypophyllum [tiny white flowers in the middle of the leaf]
  48. Spotted Towhee, Pipilo maculatus
  49. Strawberry Tree, Arbutus unedo
  50. Sulphur Grevillea, Grevillea juniperina ssp. sulphurea [orange spidery flowers]
  51. Swan Goose, Anser cygnoides [can be white, or gray/brown, knob on the bill]
  52. Swedish Blue Duck, Anas platyrhynchos domesticus var. Swedish Blue
  53. Turkey Vulture, Cathartes aura
  54. Western Bluebird, Sialia mexicana
  55. Wood Duck, Aix sponsa

Got to see Some Young Bucks Jousting, 1-13-21

Around 7:00 I was out the door with my friend Roxanne, to head over to the Effie Yeaw Nature Preserve for a walk. The first thing we saw was a pair of California Towhees in the parking lot, then when we stepped into the preserve, we saw a Red-Shouldered Hawk sitting in a tree.

Red-Shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus

While we were watching it and taking photos, we were glad to spot Rachael Cowan, the former volunteer coordinator at Effie Yeaw. I was so happy to see that she was still well and kicking.

At the preserve the air was full of birdsong; it seemed like it was never-ending. That was so different from our recent experience at Kenny Ranch where the forest seemed completely silent for the most part. We were able to identify most of the birds by their song: Red-Shouldered Hawks, Acorn Woodpeckers, Oak Titmice, starlings, wrens, nuthatches, Spotted Towhees, Wild Turkeys… But we weren’t always able to see them well enough to get photos each time.

We also saw a few deer, including some does and yearlings, a spike buck, and a pair of 2-pointer bucks who were jousting, if half-heartedly.  They kept pushing one another into deep folds between the hillocks, so we could only see them when they came up for air. I got a few shots of the head butting, but would have liked to have gotten more.

Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus

The does seemed focused on eating, and they seemed to really like the leaves of the olive trees on the property. One of them even walked down into a little ravine where the low branches of an olive tree trailed down over the side.  Another doe tried to eat the leaves off a twiggy branch by pulling it around her head and stripping the leaves off as the twig ran through her mouth. It was fun watching them.

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

I was hoping to find some fungi, and we did come across a few common species, but it really needs to rain more to see more variety and specimens.  I also found some green Trichoderma viride mold growing on a cast-off log. 

“… The mold can grow directly on wood, which is mostly composed of cellulose, and on fungi, the cell walls of which are mainly composed of chitin. It parasitizes the mycelia and fruiting bodies of other fungi, including cultivated mushrooms, and it has been called the ‘green mold disease of mushrooms’…”

Trichoderma viride

We were only out walking for about 2 hours – I was dragging a bit – but we were able to complete the one-mile necessary to count this as #4 of my #52HikeChallenge.

Species List:

  1. Acorn Woodpecker, Melanerpes formicivorus
  2. Bewick’s Wren, Thryomanes bewickii
  3. Bushtit, American Bushtit, Psaltriparus minimus
  4. California Towhee, Melozone crissalis
  5. Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus
  6. Common Bonnet Mushroom, Mycena galericulata
  7. Coyote, Canis latrans [scat]
  8. Cumberland Rock-Shield Lichen, Xanthoparmelia cumberlandia
  9. European Starling, Sturnus vulgaris
  10. False Turkey-Tail Fungus, Stereum hirsutum
  11. Fragrant Funnel Mushroom, Clitocybe fragrans
  12. Goldenhaired Inkcap Mushroom, Parasola auricoma
  13. Green Shield Lichen, Flavoparmelia caperata
  14. Green Trichoderma Mold, Trichoderma viride
  15. Jelly Spot Fungus, Dacrymyces stillatus
  16. Nuttall’s Woodpecker, Picoides nuttallii [heard]
  17. Oak Titmouse, Baeolophus inornatus
  18. Pleated Inkcap Mushroom, Parasola plicatilis
  19. Red-Shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus
  20. Rio Grande Wild Turkey, Meleagris gallopavo intermedia
  21. Scurfy Twiglet Mushroom, Tubaria furfuracea
  22. Spotted Towhee, Pipilo maculatus
  23. Turkey Vulture, Cathartes aura
  24. Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
  25. White Horehound, Marrubium vulgare
  26. White-Breasted Nuthatch, Sitta carolinensis
  27. Witch’s Butter Jelly Fungus, Tremella mesenterica
  28. Yellow Fieldcap Mushroom, Bolbitius titubans
  29. Yellow-Billed Magpie, Pica nuttalli

Not A Lot Going on Today, 01-12-21

I got up around 7:00 am to overcast skies and high fog, with temps in the 40’s, and headed over to the Cosumnes River Preserve for a walk.  I wasn’t expecting very much, but was hoping to maybe see some fungus along the walkway that goes through the oak forest. Nope. No fungi.  Not even a single little mushroom. I was hoping to see an otter or mink, too, and again, nope. Nothing.

I checked the trees for lichen, and pretty much saw the usual suspects. I also checked out the lichen on the walls of the metal bridge the crosses an especially marshy area at the preserve.

I caught sight of many different waterfowl, but many were too far away to get any good photos of them – which is kind of what I expected. Recent reports have suggested the photo-taking opportunities juts aren’t there…and it may be because it’s still cold, overcast, and intermittently drizzly around here right now. When the sun shows itself, things may be different.

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

I did get to see a small flock of Buffleheads,and in among them was the first Common Goldeneye of the season.

In this video [above] you can see both male and female Buffleheads. In the first part of the video, you’ll see one of the males doing the head-bobbing gesture that’s part of their courtship ritual. You’ll also see a male and female pair fly off from the water, and see a larger male Northern Shoveler come in for a landing.

Cornell explains: “…Head-bobbing is the most common courtship display. The male swims toward a female and starts making a movement in which the head is repeatedly extended upwards and forwards (about 60° to the surface), and then retracted in rapid jerks, with brief pauses in the lowered stance. A characteristic sequence of actions during courtship involves Fly-over and Landing, Head-shake-forwards and Wing-lifting, and small Head-bobbing. Fly-over and Landing occur when a male courts a female in the presence of other males. The male makes a short flight over the female with the head held forward and low. At landing, the male is upright and the crest is erected as he “skis” on water with his feet pointing forward, thereby showing his conspicuous black and white upper plumage and bright pink feet. After he settles on the water, the head is thrust forward (Head-shake-forwards), and the wings are raised sharply behind the head (Wing-lifting). Head-bobbing follows.”

Among Buffleheads monogamy is the rule, but the pair bonds break when the breeding season is over, and then resume again the following year.  The sex ratio favors the males, about 5 (males) to 1 (female). Copulation is brief as the male mounts the female for only 10–15 seconds and like most ducks, male Buffleheads have a penis.

Sparrows and other small birds seemed to dominate my photo-taking today.  At one point, I was getting pictures of a Hairy Woodpecker on one side of the trail, and a Nuttall’s Woodpecker on the other.

In another spot, there were Golden-Crowned Sparrows, some California Towhees, and a Fox Sparrow all sharing the same leaf pile.  More sightings like those would have been most welcome.

All together I walked for about 3½ hours and covered almost 3 miles, so I was pleased by the exercise. This was #3 of my #52HikeChallenge.

Species List:

  1. American Coot, Fulica americana
  2. American Kestrel, Falco sparverius
  3. American Pipit, Anthus rubescens
  4. American Wigeon, Anas americana
  5. Bare-bottom Sunburst Lichen, Xanthomendoza weberi [yellow to orange, shrubby, on rock/metal]
  6. Beaver, American, Beaver, Castor canadensis [sign]
  7. Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans
  8. Black-Necked Stilt, Himantopus mexicanus
  9. Bufflehead Duck, Bucephala albeola
  10. Buttonbush, Cephalanthus occidentalis
  11. California Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma californica
  12. California Towhee, Melozone crissalis
  13. Canada Goose, Branta canadensis
  14. Cat, Felis catus [roadkill]
  15. Chinese Praying Mantis, Tenodera sinensis [largest][ootheca]
  16. Cinnamon Teal, Anas cyanoptera
  17. Common Goldeneye, Bucephala clangula
  18. Common Sunburst Lichen, Golden Shield Lichen, Xanthoria parietina [yellow-orange,on wood/trees]
  19. Cooper’s Hawk, Acipiter cooperii
  20. Coyote, Canis latrans [roadkill]
  21. Curly Dock, Rumex crispus
  22. Ear-leaf Lichen, Normandina pulchella [green leaf-like on rocks/metal]
  23. Downy Woodpecker, Picoides pubescens
  24. Gadwall duck, Mareca Strepera
  25. Gold Dust Lichen, Chrysothrix candelaris
  26. Golden Crowned Sparrow, Zonotrichia atricapilla
  27. Goodding’s Black Willow, Salix gooddingii
  28. Great Egret, Ardea alba
  29. Greater White-Fronted Goose, Anser albifrons
  30. Greater Yellowlegs, Tringa melanoleuca
  31. Green Shield Lichen, Flavoparmelia caperata
  32. Green-Winged Teal, Anas carolinensis
  33. Hermit Thrush, Catharus guttatus
  34. House Finch, Haemorhous mexicanus
  35. Jointed Charlock, Wild Radish, Raphanus raphanistrum
  36. Killdeer, Charadrius vociferous
  37. Mallard duck, Anas platyrhynchos
  38. Mistletoe, American Mistletoe, Big Leaf Mistletoe, Phoradendron leucarpum
  39. Northern Harrier, Marsh Hawk, Circus hudsonius
  40. Northern Mockingbird, Mimus polyglottos
  41. Northern Pintail, Anas acuta
  42. Northern Shoveler, Anas clypeata
  43. Nuttall’s Woodpecker, Picoides nuttallii
  44. Red-Shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus
  45. Red-Tailed Hawk, Buteo jamaicensis
  46. Red-Winged Blackbird, Agelaius phoeniceus
  47. Ruby-Crowned Kinglet, Regulus calendula
  48. Shrubby Sunburst Lichen, Polycauliona candelaria
  49. Snow Goose, Chen caerulescens
  50. Stonewall Rim Lichen, Lecona muralis [pale green/gray thallus with rose/tan apothecia gathered in the center; color can be quite variable]
  51. Strap Lichen, Western Strap Lichen, Ramalina leptocarpha [without soredia]
  52. Tall Flatsedge, Cyperus eragrostis
  53. Tule, Common Tule, Schoenoplectus acutus
  54. Turkey Vulture, Cathartes aura
  55. Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
  56. Western Meadowlark, Sturnella neglecta [heard]
  57. White-Breasted Nuthatch, Sitta carolinensis[heard]
  58. White-Crowned Sparrow, Zonotrichia leucophrys