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Vacation Day #1: American River Bend Park

DAY ONE OF MY FALL VACATION. I got up around 6:15 this morning and headed out to the American River Bend Park for a walk.

I hadn’t been over there for a while, and was kind of surprised to see that much of the tall dry grass in the park had been mowed down, and trees trimmed everywhere.  In all the years I’ve been going there, I’d never seen the place look so “manicured”.  The wildlife didn’t seem to mind…

CLICK HERE for a full album of photos and video snippets.

I missed a couple of opportunities for photos when I first drove in. There was a trio of mule deer does by the side of the main trail but they startled and ran off before I could get my camera out of it bag. And then I came across a coyote, who loped away from me, I front of the car before ducking off the trail into the underbrush, where I lost sight of it…. Oddly enough, I came across it again as I was leaving the park but again, it was ahead of me on the trail, so all I got were photos of it from the rear.  It was a young female, I think; lean but healthy-looking. There was a lot of fresh scat on different parts of the trail, too, so I know there’s more than just the female out there…

We’re sort of “between seasons” right now at the park, so there was only a smattering of wildlife to see… and no fungi out yet, except for the Sulphur Shelf.  I found two nice specimens of that.

The Western Bluebirds were in the park, pairing up for the winter, as well.  I saw a lot of little males vying for perching spots, and a couple of females.  The males’ blue coloring is always so, kind of, “shocking” against the yellow-tan of the dead grass and the dark green of the evergreen oaks… I also got a few nice shots of Oak Titmice and a Mourning Dove, a couple of crummy shots of a Yellow-Rumped Warbler, and some photos and a video snippet of a female Northern Flicker eating blue elderberries from the trees.  On rocks in the river, I saw some Killdeer, a young Herring Gull, several sleepy female Common Mergansers, and a Spotted Sandpiper (without its breeding spots). And on the shore, I got a few photos of White-Crowned Sparrows, some Black Phoebes, and a House Finch.

The ash trees were covered in seeds… and some of those odd crumpled-ball-like galls that the mites roust up.  There wasn’t a lot of fall color out there, yet. It hasn’t been cold enough.  What was colorful, though, was a handsome Western Fence Lizard I came across. He must have just shed, because his skin was really bright and shiny. He was standing up on top of a fence post, so I could see his yellow sides and bright blue belly…

I walked for about 3½  hours and then headed back home.

 

After a 24-Hour Shift, I Needed a Nature Break

After breakfast on Friday, I checked out of the hotel where I worked on the Big Day of Giving for a 24 hour shift, and went in to the Tuleyome office to unpack stuff that had to be returned there, went through the mail, and sent off some emails… Then I headed back home. I felt I needed a nature fix to help clear my tired, fuzzy brain, so I stopped briefly at William Land Park, to walk through the flowers and see the duckies there.

CLICK HERE to see an album of photos and videos.

The WPA Rock Garden there is looking lovely this time of year; lots of different flowers and trees in bloom. Between the flowers, the fennel plants and the Spice Bush, the air was filled with fragrance…

Around the pond there were the standard ducks and geese, including one pair of ducks with 10 ducklings. The pair was made up a male Mallard and a larger female Cayuga-Swedish Blue hybrid, so some of the duckling had Mallard markings, and some of the babies were all black with tufts of yellow on them. The cutest thing about the babies was that some of them had black legs and toes, but the webbing between the toes was bright yellow, as was the underside of their feet… Mallards hybridize easily, and most of the ducks around that pond have intermixed at least once, so there are a lot of “odd ducks” walking around the pond.

I also saw a baby Red-Eared Slider Turtle in the water, about the size of a 50¢ piece swimming in the water. It followed me for a bit, then swam off, then came to the surface, then swam off again… It made me smile (even though that species of turtle is actually invasive.)

I walked for about an hour and then went on to the house.