Tag Archives: animal

Mostly Pheasants and Marsh Wrens, 03-21-19

I got up a little before 6:00 am and headed out with the dog to the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge.  I hadn’t been out there in a few months, so I was anxious to see what it was looking like.  I arrived there around 8:00 am and it was about 44° outside; when I left around noon, it was about to about 63°.  For the first half of my drive, the full moon was out, and all I could think was: I bet the Tiger Salamanders in Dunnigan are up and running around.  Hah!  Too much of a naturalist.

There “wasn’t much” to see at the preserve. Most of the large flocks of birds have moved on, and the summering birds haven’t arrived yet. What there was to see was mostly Ring-Necked Pheasants and Marsh Wrens… But there were other species as well, most of them too far away to get a decent photo of them. So, the day was a little frustrating for me. I did get to see some Black Phoebes building their nests under an overhang on the sign at the first park-and-stretch site, a pair of male pheasants squaring off against one another (although they were more interested in breakfast than in fighting), and a Great Egret fishing for crawdads in one of the sloughs.  One of the male Ring-Necked Pheasants jumped up onto a fallen log and “crowed”, then jumped back down and walked along the edge of a shallow levy to show off in the morning sun. He was unusually cooperative, so I got quite a few photos of him.  I saw a few Red-Tailed Hawks and some Northern Harriers (in flight); no eagles out today.

CLICK HERE for the album of photos.

Not a lot of wildflowers are out yet; it’s been too chilly for them. But I did see some Fiddleneck, and the pink Squirreltail Barley was all over the place.

I saw a small herd of deer cutting across one part of the wetlands, and one of the does looked VERY pregnant. Her belly was almost halfway down to her “knees”.

The Pool 2 Extension Loop was open, which was a nice surprise.  They’ve “manicured” some of the banks of the pool, though, knocking down and bending over some of the tules – which gives you a better view of the water, but means there are fewer hiding places for the birds (like the Bitterns), so you don’t get to see them. Can’t win.

The one thing that was out in abundance was the midges; they were everywhere, some of them in deep warming balls. Lots of food for the insectivores!

I drove around the auto tour route for about 4 hours and then headed home, getting there around 1:30 pm or 2:00.

Species List:

1. American Coot, Fulica americana
2. American Pipit, Anthus rubescens
3. Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans
4. Black-Necked Stilt, Himantopus mexicanus
5. Black-tailed Jackrabbit, Lepus californicus
6. Brown-Headed Cowbird, Molothrus ater
7. Bufflehead, Bucephala albeola
8. Bullfrog, American Bullfrog, Lithobates catesbeianus
9. California Ground Squirrel, Otospermophilus beecheyi
10. Canada Goose, Branta canadensis
11. Cattail, Broadleaf Cattail, Typha latifolia
12. Cinnamon Teal, Anas cyanoptera
13. Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, Mule Deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus
14. Crayfish, Crawfish, Crawdad, Red Swamp Crayfish, Procambarus clarkii
15. Double-Crested Cormorant, Phalacrocorax auritus
16. Fiddleneck, Common Fiddleneck, Amsinckia intermedia
17. Great Egret, Ardea alba
18. Greater White-Fronted Goose, Anser albifrons
19. Greater Yellowlegs, Tringa melanoleuca
20. Green-Winged Teal, Anas carolinensis
21. House Sparrow, Passer domesticus
22. Killdeer, Charadrius vociferus
23. Loggerhead Shrike, Lanius ludovicianus
24. Marsh Wren, Cistothorus palustris
25. Meadowlark, Western Meadowlark, Sturnella neglecta
26. Midge, Tanytarsus sp.
27. Northern Harrier, Circus cyaneus
28. Northern Shoveler, Anas clypeata
29. Pied-Billed Grebe, Podilymbus podiceps
30. Pink Barley, Squirreltail Barley, Foxtail, Hordeum jubatum ssp.
31. Red-Eared Slider Turtle, Trachemys scripta elegans
32. Red-Tailed Hawk, Buteo jamaicensis
33. Red-Winged Blackbird, Agelaius phoeniceus
34. Ring-Necked Duck, Aythya collaris
35. Ring-Necked Pheasant, Phasianus colchicus
36. Ruddy Duck, Oxyura jamaicensis
37. Savannah Sparrow, Passerculus sandwichensis
38. Snowy Egret, Egretta thula
39. Song Sparrow, Melospiza melodia
40. Teasel, Wild Teasel, Dipsacus fullonum
41. Tule, Schoenoplectus acutus var. occidentalis
42. Western Kingbird, Tyrannus verticalis
43. Western Pond Turtle, Pacific Pond Turtle, Actinemys marmorata
44. White-Crowned Sparrow, Zonotrichia leucophrys
45. White-Faced Ibis, Plegadis chihi

Lots of ‘Shrooms and Other Fungi

Insect Egg Slime Mold. © 2016 Mary K. Hanson. All rights reserved.
Insect Egg Slime Mold. © 2016 Mary K. Hanson. All rights reserved.

Slept in a tiny bit today and got up around 7:30 am.  I was tentatively planning on heading up to the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge because the weather was supposed to be lovely today (crisp and clear with hardly any wind) which is good for birding… but I was just too tired to make that long drive.  So, I went over to the American River Bend Park and walked around for about 3 hours.

I was hoping to see some coral fungus (it’s wet enough for them to start making their appearance), but nope.  I did get to see lots of mushrooms of different colors and sizes, including some large Jack-o-Lantern mushrooms: they’re bright orange and considered to be “mildly” toxic (although I don’t know how poison can really ever be considered “mild”).  There was a lot of cup fungus out, too.  Mostly the palomino-colored stuff, but I also found some that were deep purple.  I think those were Ascocoryne cylichnium, known as Purple Jelly Disks. Among the leaf litter I was also pleased to find a couple of different kinds of slime mold: yellow-orange and white.

Along the river, I got to see a Great Blue Heron posing in the early-morning light, along with a pair of Common Mergansers. And I got some shots of a tiny Hermit Thrush.  They’re so cute… then I came across what seemed to be a small bachelor group of mule deer: one with no antlers yet, a young 1½ prong buck (the prongs were really too small to count as 2) and a mature 4-prong buck.  In that same area, I also found some bones: an almost fulling intact small animal skull (maybe a skunk or a small dog – like a Chihuahua  — based solely on its canine teeth); and the top portion of a larger skull that was broken into pieces.  There were no teeth around associated with the larger skull so I’m not sure what it was.  Maybe a coyote, based on its size. The smaller skull still had some sinews around the jaw and a tiny bit of skin and fur, so it must’ve been a more recent kill than whatever the large-skulled animal was.  I thought it odd that both skulls were in the same general location – as though that was a place that a larger animal regularly went to when it wanted a little privacy to eat.

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As I said, I walked around for about 3 hours and then headed back home.  When I got there, I was happy to see camellias starting to bloom on one of the bushes by the front door.  There’s a pair of House Wrens that frequent that bush a lot; I wonder if they’re thinking of building a nest there.

I took a little while to settle in at the house, then changed into my pajamas – which I wore for the rest of the day.  As an extended birthday treat for myself, I cooked up a small duck and had that with salad, ripe green olives, and champagne. I think I’ve now milked just about everything I can out of my birthday.  Hah!