Tag Archives: Desmond Road

Mostly Webs at the Cosumnes Preserve, 11-05-16

I got up around 7:15 this morning, and it was foggy and around 48° outside.  I headed over to the Cosumnes River Preserve around 8:00 am to walk their “river trail” and see if there ant neat-looking ‘shrooms out there yet.  I didn’t see of those, but because of the fog all of the spider webs in the trees, thickets and tules were all decorated with dew, and as the sun came up, they really showed off.  I took waaaaay too many photos of webs.

CLICK HERE to see the whole album of photos.

I’d see one web and thing, Oooo, that’s neat-looking.  Snap.  Then I’d see another one and like it better.  Snap.  Then I’d see two together.  Snap…  Photo after photo of nothing but webs.  Hah!

In the fog, I also saw a Gull dragging around what looked like the carcass of an American Coot in the shallow water.  You can see the video here.  I also got photos of a couple of Spotted Towhees, and some of a little Cottontail Rabbit that hopped out of the underbrush onto the trail in front of me… In the leaf litter was an old wasp gall rotted and broken in half, but you could see all of the individual larval chambers inside of it… and the poison oak was showing off a little bit, rosy in part with new and lengthening growth. As the hours went by, the fog lifted and the sun came out… but it was still cool (in the 60’s); nice weather for a stroll.

As I was walking, I could hear my “nemesis bird” (called that because I seldom if ever am able to get even a half-way descent photo of one), the Belted Kingfisher, nattering away along the banks of the river, and when I finally saw it, it was on the opposite bank.  It was sitting out on a small branch, but there was a lot of tangled growth behind it, and it was so far away, I wasn’t sure the camera would be able to focus on it, but I aimed my lens at it and starting taking some photos and video anyway.  None of them were very good, but you can see in the video the Kingfisher – a female – beating a little fish she’d caught against the branch until she got it into a position where she could swallow it whole. You can see the video here.

I had a similar photographing problem with a late-in-the-season female Green Darner Dragonfly.  I saw it flying through the air in front of me,,, and watched it as it flew around looking for a sunny spot to settle onto… and when it settled, it was up in a tree over my head.  I just aimed the camera at the area where I thought it was – a green dragonfly among the green leaves — and shot some photos.  I never know, when I to stuff like that, if the camera is actually going to focus on what I want.  But I managed to get a few semi-clear photos of it.  A few seconds later a male Green Darner flew by, harassed the female for a little bit, and then hung himself between the leaves of a wild grapevine.  He was a little closer to me than the female was, so I got a few better photos of him.

I walked around the preserve for about 3 hours and then headed back to the car which was parked by the visitor’s center.  As I got closer to the center, I could hear it’s alarm going off.  A group of bicyclists in all their fancy expensive gear and thousands-of-dollars bikes were collected outside the building.  One of them wanted to use the restroom on the outside of the building, and when he couldn’t get in, he tried to force the building’s front door and the alarm went off.  They were all standing out there, talking and laughing about it.  Unbelievable.  What jerks!

After I got to my car, I then took a short drive along Desmond Road  before getting on the freeway and heading back home. The only “cooperative” bird along the road was a young Western Meadowlark who popped up along the edge of a gully and gave me front and back views of its feathers.  Hah!

Saturday at the Cosumnes Preserve

I got up around 6:30 this morning and eased into my day with some coffee and a light lunch before taking out the trash, getting loads of laundry going, and heading out to the Cosumnes River Preserve around 7:45 am.  It was about 36° outside and overcast.  The Preserve was hosting a couple of events today, so there was an unusual amount of traffic.  Along Desmond road there was the normal “birding” crowd, but added to that was a bunch of people looking for where they were supposed to meet for a kayaking excursion. 

Wilson's Snipe. © Copyright 2015 Mary K. Hanson. All rights reserved.
Wilson’s Snipe. © Copyright 2015 Mary K. Hanson. All rights reserved.

Along the road, I came across a Wilson’s Snipe sitting in a shallow hollow very close to the pavement.  I’d never seen these birds come so close to the road before, and worried that it was sick or injured.  It moved around, though, and it’s eyes seemed bright.  Maybe it had hunkered down during the night to get warm, and then was afraid to move when it woke up to find cars cruising by it… I also saw several hawks, and Red-Winged Blackbirds, Meadowlarks, and all of the usual ducks and geese found around there.  After a short drive, I kept going toward the Preserve.

I couldn’t find any place to park near the nature center, so I went over to their boardwalk area and parked there.  In the ponds along the boardwalk were Coots and Pintails, Black Phoebes, Canada Geese and Northern Shovelers… and an usually large number of Green Teals.  I don’t remember seeing so many of those in one place there.  And there was also a little male Kestrel who posed for me on top of a tree.  My big find of the day, though, was a Sora (Porzana Carolina); it’s related to rails and coots.  I’d never seen or photographed one before so I was jazzed when this little fat bird walked out and around the tules right in front of me.  It moved so fast I only got a few still shots of it, but I also got a good video snippet, so I was happy with that.  When I first saw it, I saw it from behind, and with its white tail lifted up, I thought at first I was seeing a waterlogged cottontail bunny, and kept thinking to myself, “Why is there a rabbit out here in the water?”  Then I realized it was actually a bird.  Hah!

Here’s the video: https://youtu.be/-ezuw2eMMKU

At another point I was photographing the mistletoe growing on a willow tree, and saw some wispy reddish stuff that seemed to be growing out of the top of it.  It was high up in the tree, so at first I couldn’t get a very good look at it and didn’t know what it was.  When I changed my position a little bit I realized it was a squirrel’s tail.  D’oh!  Thought I’d found something really “alien” there for  second.  The squirrel was sitting up there just munching away on the mistletoe berries. I know mistletoe is toxic to humans, so I did some reading on it when I got back home.  According to the US Geological Survey website, mistletoe is high in protein and squirrels “are deliriously fond of the plant”.  Well, cool.  I learned something new.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

On my way back to the car, I passed what must’ve been a lesbian birding group (all women holding hands; so cute).  They were trying to identify the ducks they saw and literally got every one of them wrong.  Apparently, their phone app wasn’t at all accurate.  I helped the with a couple of them, and showed them how to pick out certain features of some of them so they could remember them in the future.  They thanked me… and as I walked on an Asian couple stopped me and asked me if I knew what “those things are on the tree”?  They were pointing to the Oak Apple wasp galls.  So, I told them what the things were and how they were formed.  Someone in the lesbian group said, “You should be a docent here!”  I told her, I’d looked into that, but they always have their educational days on days when I work or have other stuff planned.  “Maybe when I retire…”

After Work on Friday

After work, it was so nice outside, I drove around Desmond Road by the Cosumnes River Preserve and got some photos of the birds around there, mostly hawks, an American Kestrel and some Cattle Egrets.

Red-Tailed Hawk. © Copyright 2015 Mary K. Hanson. All rights reserved.
Red-Tailed Hawk. © Copyright 2015 Mary K. Hanson. All rights reserved.

Here are some more pix:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.








Birding Along Desmond Road in Galt, CA 11-20-15

After work, it was nice outside and traffic wasn’t too bad so I drove out to Desmond Road by the Cosumnes River Preserve to see if I could get some more raptor photos.  The big surprise as I came up over the hump of the railroad tracks to get down onto the road was a whole herd of goats being used for clean-up duty.  The preserve let the goats graze down all of the dead grass and weeds and stuff so they don’t have to send guys out there with noisy weed-whackers or mowers that would frighten all of the migrating birds.  Cool!

Cattle Egret.  Copyright © 2015, Mary K. Hanson. All Rights Reserved.
Cattle Egret. Copyright © 2015, Mary K. Hanson. All Rights Reserved.

As for birds: lots of Snow Geese were out there along with their grey juveniles, a bunch of teeny-tiny Dunlins, Killdeer, Meadowlarks, a Say’s Phoebe, Black Phoebes, Greater White-Fronted Geese, Northern Shoveler and Pintail ducks, a pair of Green Teals, Red-Winged Blackbirds and Brewer’s Blackbirds, loads of Coots and the other usual suspects.

I watched a Great Egret catching snails and dragonfly nymphs in the muddy grass, and a few Sandhill Cranes were venturing closer to the side of the road than I’d ever seen them, so I got some shots of them, too.  And I got to see some Cattle Egret.  They’re very common along the highways and farmlands, but I’d never seen any at the preserve before, and I’d never been able to get any decent close-ups of any of them, so it was kind of a treat to see them there.  As for the raptors: I saw some American Kestrels, a Harrier Hawk fly-by, a scruffy-looking Red-Tailed Hawk and a juvenile Red-Shouldered Hawk…

On the way off of Desmond Road, heading back home, I saw a white form sitting on top of a tree, so I took some pictures of it.  I wasn’t sure what it was until I got home and could look at the photos.  It was a White-Tailed Kite!  Too far away to get a decent photo of it, but that was a nice find. So, for an impromptu birding expedition, it was pretty successful.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.