Category Archives: Citizen Science

The Big Boys were Out Today, 11-05-19

Up at about 6:00 am and headed out to the Effie Yeaw Nature Preserve for my weekly volunteer trail walking gig.  It was 41º at the river when I got there.  There was light fog hanging over some of the shady spots in the meadow and on top of the water in the river. And it was cold enough to see my breath.

There were quite a few Turkey Vultures resting in the treetops, waiting for the morning to warm up, and lots of little White-Crowned Sparrows on the ground, gathering up seeds and ants.

Turkey Vulture, Cathartes aura

I saw a lot of deer today including a few small herds of does and fawns, a pair of young “spike” bucks who play-jousted a little bit while I watched them, and some of the big bucks.  I saw a couple of three-pointers and one four-pointer.  One of the three-point bucks was chasing after some does, who were avoiding him at all costs.  He trotted down a trail and crossed right in front of me.

The four-point buck was sitting on the ground behind a fallen tree and a tangled swath of tall weeds. I only spotted him because the tips of his antlers were sticking up above the weeds, and when I looked closely I could see his eye peeking out through the tangles. When he realized I was watching him, he gave out a few low, grumbling, long snorts to warn me off. Such an odd sound!

Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus

There was a three-point buck back there with him who startled when he heard the older buck snort. He rushed out a few feet, then slowly started sidling back toward the four-point buck.  When he got close enough, the three-pointer lowered his head down and pushed it against the still seated older buck. Within just a second or two, the older buck jumped up onto his feet and rammed his head into the younger buck’s head and pushed him across the ground, backwards toward some trees. All of this was happening really quickly and behind the blind of weeds, so I wasn’t able to get any clear photos of the clash.

The four-pointer then chased the three-pointer out across the trail in front of me and followed him for a few yards.  The three-point buck then stepped off the trail and into the meadow to our right, and the four-pointer followed slowly after him for a few steps.  The younger buck didn’t challenge the older one again and walked off.  The four-pointer followed after him, but in a casual way, not aggressive. 

It’s always so neat to be able to see those big guys.  They’re so impressive to look at.  And each one has their own unique set of antlers…

CLICK HERE to see the full album of photos.

The Acorn Woodpeckers were all over the place, gathering and transporting acorns back and forth across the preserve. I also heard and caught glimpses of a lot of Northern Flickers.  Those guys blend right into the trees when they land on them, so I didn’t get any good photos of them today.

I did get some good photos of California Ground Squirrels today, including some shots of the half-blind one I’ve seen at the preserve several times before. I just love those little critters.

California Ground Squirrel, Otospermophilus beecheyi

I walked for about 3½ hours and then headed home.

Species List:

  1. Acorn Woodpecker, Melanerpes formicivorus
  2. American Goldfinch, Spinus tristis [glimpses of, no photos]
  3. Belted Kingfisher, Megaceryle alcyon
  4. Black Walnut Tree, Juglans nigra
  5. California Buckeye Chestnut, Aesculus californica
  6. California Ground Squirrel, Otospermophilus beecheyi
  7. California Mugwort, Artemisia douglasiana
  8. California Quail, Callipepla californica
  9. California Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma californica
  10. California Sycamore, Platanus racemose
  11. California Towhee, Melozone crissalis
  12. California Wild Grape, Vitis californica
  13. Canada Goose, Branta canadensis [fly over]
  14. Chinese Pistache Tree, Pistacia chinensis
  15. Coffeeberry, California Buckthorn, Frangula californica
  16. Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus
  17. Common Crow, Corvus brachyrhynchos
  18. Common Merganser, Mergus merganser
  19. Coyote Brush, Baccharis pilularis
  20. Coyote, Canis latrans [scat]
  21. Desert Cottontail Rabbit, Sylvilagus audubonii
  22. Eastern Fox Squirrel, Sciurus niger
  23. English Walnut, Juglans regia
  24. European Starling, Sturnus vulgaris
  25. Evening Primrose, Oenothera biennis
  26. Fig, Common Fig, Ficus carica
  27. Flax-Leaf Horseweed, Erigeron canadensis
  28. Fremont Cottonwood, Populus fremontii
  29. Gray Pine, California Foothill Pine, Pinus sabiniana
  30. Himalayan Blackberry, Rubus armeniacus
  31. House Wren, Troglodytes aedon
  32. Interior Live Oak, Quercus wislizeni
  33. Killdeer, Charadrius vociferous
  34. Live Oak Gall Wasp, 2nd Generation, Callirhytis quercuspomiformis
  35. Mallard duck, Anas platyrhynchos
  36. Mourning Dove, Zenaida macroura
  37. Mule Fat, Baccharis salicifolia
  38. Northern Flicker, Colaptes auratus
  39. Nuttall’s Woodpecker, Picoides nuttallii [heard]
  40. Oak Titmouse, Baeolophus inornatus
  41. Pumpkin Gall Wasp, Dryocosmus minusculus
  42. Red-Shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus
  43. Rio Grande Wild Turkey, Meleagris gallopavo intermedia
  44. Soap Plant, Wavy Leafed Soaproot, Chlorogalum pomeridianum
  45. Spotted Towhee, Pipilo maculatus
  46. Swainson’s Hawk, Buteo swainsoni
  47. Turkey Vulture, Cathartes aura
  48. Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
  49. Virginia Opossum, Didelphis virginiana [roadkill]
  50. Western Fence Lizard, Blue Belly, Sceloporus occidentalis
  51. Western Gray Squirrel, Sciurus griseus
  52. Western Gull, Larus occidentalis
  53. White-Breasted Nuthatch, Sitta carolinensis
  54. White-Crowned Sparrow, Zonotrichia leucophrys

My Article on Sparrows was Published, 11-03-19

It was great to see my article (and photos) on sparrows show up in the online edition of the Woodland Daily Democrat newspaper today.

CLICK HERE to read it.

After the article was also published in the West Sacramento News-Ledger, I got this very kind email from a gentleman named John H. He wrote:

“I enjoyed reading your article on Wintertime Sparrow Guests in the newspaper. I usually read all of your articles in the paper. Having read the Ledger for some time, I can say your articles are among the best that they publish. Good luck in you further work.”

That was a welcomed boost-me-up in the morning. Thank you, John!