Tag Archives: driving tour

Wildflowers on Bear Valley Road, 04-13-19

I got up around 6:00 this morning, planning on going out on a wildflower tour with my coworker Nate and volunteer Roxanne.

Nate sent me an email, however, saying that his folks were in town and when they heard what he was doing today, they wanted to go with him – so there went Roxanne’s and my seat in his car.

I texted Roxanne and asked if she’d like to go with me, and she offered to drive. So, around 8:00 am we headed out to Highways 16 and 20 and Bear Valley Road (in Colusa County) – about an hour ahead of Nate and his group.  Because we were following almost the same route as Nate, though, our paths crossed a few times. He caught up with us at two spots where we had stopped to look at and photograph the wildflowers, and we passed him a couple of times.

Unlike the last time I went out looking for the wildflowers, today’s excursion was incredible, and Roxanne and I ended up spending the whole day outdoors.  I saw some insects and plants I’d never seen before, and the fresh air, exercise and views of flower-painted landscapes was exhilarating. It’s so nice to go on an excursion like this with someone who moves at a browsing pace like I do, and who gets excited by bugs and flowers and the sight of ducks in the river. Hah!

There were soooooo many photos, I broke them down into two albums.

CLICK HERE for album #1.

CLICK HERE for album #2.

Roxanne and I didn’t get home until around 6:00 pm. It was a long but fun and nature-filled day. I took over 1200 photos, so it’s going to take me a while to get through all of them.

Species Identification List:

1. “Apples” on Manzanita, Arctostaphylos sp,
2. Annual Yellow Sweetclover, Castilleja exserta ssp. exserta,
3. Big Heron’s Bill, Erodium botrys,
4. Bird’s Eye Gilia, Gilia tricolor,
5. Black Angus Cattle, Bos Taurus,
6. Blessed Milk Thistle, Silybum marianum,
7. Blue Blossom Ceanothus, Ceanothus thyrsiflorus ssp.,
8. Blue Dicks, Dichelostemma capitatum,
9. Brewer’s Blackbird, Euphagus cyanocephalus,
10. Broad-Leaf Lupine, Lupinus latifolius,
11. Buckbrush, Ceanothus cuneatus,
12. Bulbous Blue Grass, Poa bulbosa
13. Bush Lupine, Silver Bush Lupine, Lupinus albifrons,
14. Bush Monkeyflower, Sticky Monkeyflower, Diplacus aurantiacus,
15. Butter ‘n’ Eggs, Johnny Tuck, Triphysaria eriantha,
16. California Ground Squirrel, Otospermophilus beecheyi,
17. California Maidenhair Fern, Adiantum jordanii,
18. California Manroot, Bigroot, Marah fabaceus,
19. California Pipevine Swallowtail butterfly, Battus philenor hirsuta,
20. California Pipevine, Aristolochia californica,
21. California Plantain, Plantago erecta
22. California Poppy, Eschscholzia californica,
23. Canyon Live-Forever, Dudleya cymose,
24. Caterpillar Flower, Lacy Phacelia, Phacelia tanacetifolia,
25. Chia Sage, Salvia columbariae,
26. Chinese Houses, Collinsia heterophylla,
27. Coast Range Fence Lizard, Sceloporus occidentalis bocourtii,
28. Common Fiddleneck, Amsinckia intermedia,
29. Common Fringepod, Thysanocarpus curvipes,
30. Common Merganser, Mergus merganser,
31. Common Mustard, Brassica rapa,
32. Common Woodland Star, Lithophragma affine,
33. Common Yarrow, Achillea millefolium,
34. Cottonwood, Fremont Cottonwood, Populus fremontii,
35. Cream Cups, Platystemon californicus.
36. Cucumber Beetle, Spotted Cucumber Beetle, Diabrotica undecimpunctata,
37. Digger Bee, Diadasia sp.,
38. Dwarf Sack Clover, Castilleja exserta ssp. exserta,
39. European Honeybee, Apis mellifera,
40. Fairy Longhorn Moth, Adela eldorada,
41. Field Poppy, Eschscholzia sp.,
42. Fireless Firefly, Pyropyga nigricans,
43. Giant Death Camas, Zigadenus exaltatus,
44. Giraffe’s Head Henbit, Henbit Deathnettle, Lamium amplexicaule
45. Goldback Fern, Pentagramma triangularis,
46. Golden Fairy Lantern, Diogenes’ Lantern, Calochortus amabilis,
47. Goldfields, Lasthenia californica,
48. Gray Pine, California Foothill Pine, Pinus sabiniana,
49. Greater White-Fronted Goose, Anser albifrons,
50. Hawkweed, Hieracium argutum
51. Hereford Cattle, Bos taurus,
52. Hog Fennel, Lomatium utriculatum,
53. Holstein Cattle, Bos taurus,
54. Indian Paintbrush, Castilleja affinis,
55. Ithuriel’s Spears, Triteleia laxa,
56. Larkspur, Delphinium decorum,
57. Lichen, Porpidia contraponenda
58. Lupine, Lupinus sp.,
59. Maidenhair Fern, Adiantum jordanii
60. Mallard, Anas platyrhynchos,
61. Milk Vetch, unidentified
62. Miniature Lupine, Lupinus bicolor,
63. Mouse Ear Chickweed, Cerastium fontanum,
64. Mule’s Ears, Smooth Mules Ears, Wyethia glabra,
65. Owl’s Clover, Dense Flower Owl’s clover, Castilleja densiflora,
66. Pacific Peavine, Canyon Sweet Pea, Lathyrus vestitus,
67. Painted Lady butterfly, Vanessa cardui,
68. Pepperweed, Common Pepper Grass, Lepidium densiflorum,
69. Pineapple Weed, Matricaria discoidea,
70. Pink Grass, Windmill Pink, Petrorhagia dubia,
71. Popcorn Flower, Plagiobothrys chorisianus
72. Purple Sanicle, Sanicula bipinnatifida,
73. Q Tips, Slender Cottonweed, Micropus californicus var. californicus,
74. Red Maids, Calandrinia ciliate,
75. Red-Winged Blackbird, Agelaius phoeniceus,
76. Rock Shield Lichen, Xanthoparmelia tinctina,
77. Shepherd’s Purse, Capsella bursa-pastoris
78. Sidewalk Fire Dot Lichen, Caloplaca feracissima,
79. Silver Lupine, Lupinus albifrons,
80. Slender Popcorn Flower, Plagiobothrys tenellus
81. Smoky Eye Boulder Lichen, Porpidia crustulata,
82. Sunburst Lichen, Xanthoria elegans,
83. Swift Crab Spider, Mecaphesa celer, (super-long front legs)
84. Tamarisk, Salt Cedar, Tamarix parviflora,
85. Texas Longhorn, Bos taurus,
86. Tidy Tips, Fremont’s Tidy Tips, Layia fremontii,
87. Tidy Tips, Smooth Tidy Tips, Layia chrysanthemoides,
88. Toyon, Heteromeles arbutifolia,
89. True Babystars, Leptosiphon bicolor,
90. Valley Oak, Quercus lobata,
91. Valley Tassels, Castilleja attenuate,
92. Variable-leaf Nemophila, Canyon Nemophila, Nemophila heterophylla,
93. Virgin’s Bower, Old Man’s Beard, Clematis pauciflora,
94. Wallflower, Erysimum capitatum,
95. Western Fence Lizard, Sceloporus occidentalis,
96. Western Hawksbeard, Crepis occidentalis,
97. Western Meadowlark, Sturnella neglecta,
98. Western Redbud, Cercis occidentalis,
99. Whiskerbrush, Leptosiphon ciliates,
100. Wild Carrot, Bird’s Nest, Daucus carota,
101. Wild Onion, unidentified
102. Wildoats, Oat, Avena fatua,
103. Winter Vetch, Vicia villosa ssp. varia,
104. Yellow-Faced Bumblebee, Bombus vosnesenskii

Mostly Grebes and Raccoons at the Sacramento National Wildlife Preserve

I slept in a bit this morning and got up a little before 8:00 am.  I was out the door in about 15 minutes with the dog and we headed out to the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge.  It was about 67° when I left, and got up to about 88° by the time I left.  The air was still hazy with smoke from the fires, but not so bad that I had any trouble breathing.

It’s getting drier and drier at the refuge, but the part of their permanent wetland area they let you drive by still has enough water to sustain Pelicans and other shorebirds, populations of Grebes and Cormorants… and a lot of raccoons!  Hah!  The first thing of note I saw as I went through their driving tour area, though, was a mother Mule Deer and her still-in-spots youngster.  They were foraging in the area where most of the water has evaporated or gone underground.  (Mule Deer can smell water 2 feet under the surface, so they always know where to look for water when they need it.)… Got some dragonfly photos and pictures of butterflies, other bugs, and even some eggs (which I think are Harlequin Bug eggs).  I got a lot of photos and some video of the Pelicans, and the Western Grebes, and watched some mama Grebes incubating their eggs while others built (or added to) their floating-mat nests in the shallow water.  All of the Westerns Grebes I’ve seen out here re nesting in the open water – but that may be because they have to.  There aren’t as many ponds and nesting sites as there should be because of the drought.  I could watch them for hours; they’re so intriguing.  I’ll have to come back in a few weeks, too, to see if I can find the mamas carrying their newly hatched babies on their backs…

The big news of the day, though, was all the raccoons that were out an about today.  I saw two family groups: one was a mother with her two almost-grown offspring, and the other was a mother with her five small babies.  The two moms tried to avoid one another by crossing the dirt road, back and forth, at different intervals.  At one point I had raccoons in front of me, alongside me, and behind me.  They move so quickly, though, that when the babies came up alongside the car, I could get photos of them before they scurried out of site into the scrubby brush on the water’s edge. Even the one-the-road photos didn’t turn out as well as I hoped they would because there was so much heat rising off of the road that it distorted what the camera was able to see, so a lot of the deep background looks more like a watercolor painting than a photograph.  I don’t know how to compensate for heat-waves.

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Video of the Grebes: https://youtu.be/bTRsEHM2dDE

Another video of the Grebes: https://youtu.be/RMumVzrUheI

Video of the Raccoons: http://youtu.be/H8cuVcLSe2E

I did the auto tour in about 3 hours and headed back home.  On the way back I passed a phalanx of fire trucks.  They were from Glendale, Monterey Park, Monrovia, Arcadia, San Bernardino and San Gabriel.  I wanted to honk and say thank you to all of them, but then figured that might freak them out…  I did see one car with “Thank You Firefighters” written all over it in white paint.

Saw the Bald Eagle at the Sac’to National Wildlife Refuge!

I got up around 7:00 this morning and headed up north with the dog to the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge.  It was densely foggy between Woodland and Arbuckle and I was worried I wasn’t going to be able to see anything at the refuge, but the fog cleared (although it stayed overcast for most of the day).

I’d left the house without breakfast, so I stopped at Taco Bell to get some coffee and a breakfast burrito.  Believe it or not, I’ve never eaten one of those before – and I don’t ever need to eat another one.  It was flavorful just… kind of gross to look at.  The pale soft tortilla was like “skin” surrounding “entrails” that were yellow, brown, red and green with strings of oozy cheese.  Creepy.  I only ate half of it.  The coffee was surprisingly excellent, though.

At the refuge water levels had risen all over since the last time I was there, and areas that used to be dry were now flooded, so there were lots of birds a lot closer to the road of the driving tour there.  I saw a lot of Ring-Necked Pheasants, all males and most of them in pairs.  I got a little video of one pair that were eating together; then one tried to challenge the other to a fight, but the second one wasn’t taking the bait…  I wanted to see and photograph some of the Ibises that are usually around there, and I saw some in flight… but then they landed too far away from me to get decent photos of them.  Grrrr.  I also saw grackles, Meadowlarks, Red-Winged Blackbirds, Snow Geese, White-Fronted Geese, Great Egrets, a Snowy Egret… (Several of the egrets, in fact, were posing on logs and branches so they looked very picturesque)… Buffleheads, Northern Shovelers, a cormorant, hawks, Robins, a Peregrine Falcon, Mallards, Gadwalls, Lesser Goldfinches, Jackrabbits, squirrels, and Ring-Necked Ducks (which I’d never seen before)… and then I saw the Bald Eagle.

He was sitting in a tree, but on the side that didn’t face on-coming traffic.  I could see his silhouette, but couldn’t get a good shot of him from that angle.  The car in front of me on the driving tour path opened up their sunroof, lifted their camera through it, and aimed their camera behind them to get photos of the eagle.  My Sebring doesn’t have that, so I was naughty.  When I pulled up far enough, I opened the car door and leaned out to get some shots of him.  The eagle knew how awesome he looked and just struck a pose for everyone.

After driving the loop of the auto-tour, I left Sergeant Margie out of the car and we walked half of the wetlands paths.  Most of that area had been burned to the ground last summer, so the trees are all dead, but the tule and grasses are starting to come back already, and most of the burned area was flooded now, so you couldn’t see the singed earth underneath.  By the time we were done walking it was already past 1:00 pm, so we headed back home and made it back to the house right around 3:00 pm.  It was a long day, but I got a lot of photos and I felt it was a fun and productive one… and it was nice to have the car back, and running so well again…