Tag Archives: gosling

A Somewhat Disappointing Excursion, 05-23-19

Feeling tired and stressed, I decided to try making the drive to the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge. Rather than being a therapeutic and relaxing time, however, I was faced with irritation after irritation, so the drive actually left me feeling more stressed and exhausted than I was before I started. *Heavy sigh*

CLICK HERE for the album of photos.

Traffic wasn’t too terribly terrible, but it seemed like I hit every freaking red light there was, and the monster semi’s on the highway were “always” in front of me like giant snails. When I got to the refuge, I could see Bank Swallows collecting mud in the slough near the front gate, so I stopped to take some photos – and, of course, the birds wouldn’t cooperate, and two employees pulled up in their cars behind me and honked at me. Grrrrr. The rest of the day kind of went like that: I saw Gallinules, but they ducked into the tules before I could get a photo; I could hear Bitterns giving their “pumperlunk” calls close by, but couldn’t see them; it was windy, so most of the birds were hunkered down near the ground or deep in the trees; where there would normally be dozens of Marsh Wrens around, I saw only two deep in the tules; the dragonflies hadn’t come up from the water yet; what damselflies there were around were the tiniest ones that are like trying to photograph a strand of hair; there weren’t any of the Clark’s or Western Grebes that I was expecting to be out there by now; I couldn’t even get shots of ground squirrels… It was just one frustration after another. By the time I left, I had a splitting headache and just wanted to ram someone with my car. ((I didn’t though.)) *Heavy sigh-2*

Species List:

  1. American Avocet, Recurvirostra americana,
  2. American Bittern, Botaurus lentiginosus,
  3. American Bullfrog, Lithobates catesbeianus,
  4. American White Pelican, Pelecanus erythrorhynchos,
  5. Bank Swallow, Riparia riparia,
  6. Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans,
  7. Black-Tailed Jackrabbit, Lepus californicus,
  8. Blessed Milk Thistle, Silybum marianum,
  9. Cabbage White Butterfly, Pieris rapae,
  10. California Dock, Rumex californicus,
  11. California Milkweed, Asclepias californica,
  12. Canada Goose, Branta canadensis,
  13. Cinnamon Teal, Anas cyanoptera,
  14. Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus,
  15. Common Gallinule, Gallinula galeata,
  16. Convergent Lady Beetle, Hippodamia convergens,
  17. Desert Cottontail, Sylvilagus audubonii,
  18. Double-Crested Cormorant, Phalacrocorax auritus,
  19. Downingia, Downingia sp.,
  20. English Lawn Daisy, Bellis perennis,
  21. Eurasian Collared Dove, Streptopelia decaocto,
  22. Familiar Bluet Damselfly, Enallagma civile,
  23. Goodding’s Willow, Salix gooddingii,
  24. Great Blue Heron, Ardea herodias,
  25. Great Egret, Ardea alba,
  26. Greater White-Fronted Goose, Anser albifrons,
  27. Italian Thistle, Carduus pycnocephalus,
  28. Mallard, Anas platyrhynchos,
  29. Marsh Wren, Cistothorus palustris,
  30. Mourning Dove, Zenaida macroura,
  31. Mute Swan, Cygnus olor,
  32. Northern Pintail, Anas acuta,
  33. Northern Shoveler, Anas clypeata,
  34. Painted Lady Butterfly, Vanessa cardui,
  35. Poison Hemlock, Conium maculatum,
  36. Red-Tailed Hawk, Buteo jamaicensis,
  37. Red-Winged Blackbird, Agelaius phoeniceus,
  38. Ring-Necked Pheasant, Phasianus colchicus,
  39. Short-tailed ichneumon wasps, Ophion sp.,
  40. Snowy Egret, Egretta thula,
  41. Song Sparrow, Melospiza melodia,
  42. Tule, Schoenoplectus acutus,
  43. Variegated Meadowhawk Dragonfly, Sympetrum corruptum,
  44. Western Fence Lizard, Sceloporus occidentalis,
  45. Western Kingbird, Tyrannus verticalis,
  46. Wild Teasel, Dipsacus fullonum,

So Many Flowers, Goslings and Ducklings Today, 05-04-19

I got up around 6:00 this morning and headed out to William Land Park and the WPA Rock Garden. I was hoping to see lots of bugs, but it was still too early for that, I guess. Instead, I focused on the flowers which were in abundance, and also got to see some ducklings and goslings, and a Green Heron, too.

CLICK HERE for the album of photos.

There were two Mallard mamas with babies. One had three ducklings, and another one had five. In that group of five there were two that looked like Swedish Blue ducklings. I guess the Mallards don’t care. There were 15 goslings in one of the groups, called a crèche, that was being overseen by two pairs of adults. All the fuzz. Soooo cute!

I wanted to go through the garden, then around both the middle pond and the larger pond further on in the park. But there was some event happening in that end of the park – I think it was the Doggie Dash — so access to the larger pond was completely blocked off. So, when I was done at the middle pond and garden, I went to the store and picked up some groceries. I walked for about 2 hours at the park, and another half hour in the store, so I got my exercise in for the day.  I was back home before 10:00 am.

I spent part of the afternoon trying to identify all of the flowers I’d seen at the garden. I totally suck when it comes to ID-ing cultivated garden flowers (because there are so many varieties, and so many weird things thrown in from other countries), so I tried using the iNaturalist app and Calflora.org to help me.  Between the two of them, I was able to identify most of the things (but I might be way off on some of them). I had to laugh, though, when iNaturalist identified a seed pod as a “Dwarf Mexican Tree Frog”. Hah! Apparently, face-recognition doesn’t work well on plants and seeds.

Species List:

1. Albanian Spurge, Euphorbia characias,
2. Aloe, Aloe maculata,
3. Anna’s Hummingbird, Calypte anna,
4. Autumn Sage (red), Salvia greggii,
5. Beaver Tail Cactus, Prickly Pear, Opuntia basilaris.
6. Birch Tree, Betula sp.,
7. Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans,
8. Brass Buttons, Cotula coronopifolia,
9. Brazil Raintree, Brunfelsia pauciflora,
10. Bronze Fennel, Foeniculum vulgare,
11. California Buckeye, Aesculus californica,
12. California Pipevine, Dutchman’s Pipe, Aristolochia californica,
13. Calla Lily, Zantedeschia aethiopica,
14. Canada Goose, Branta canadensis,
15. Cleveland Sage, Salvia clevelandii,
16. Coast Redwood, Sequoia sempervirens,
17. Columbine, Aquilegia sp.,
18. Common Borage, Borago officinalis,
19. Common Bracken, Pteridium aquilinum,
20. Common Hibiscus, Hibiscus syriacus,
21. Creeping Lantana, Lantana montevidensis,
22. Crevice Alumroot, Heuchera micranthai,
23. Crevice Alumroot, Heuchera micrantha,
24. Dwarf Morning Glory, Convolvulus tricolor,
25. Egg Leaf Spurge, Euphorbia oblongata,
26. Elegant Clarkia, Clarkia unguiculata,
27. Firethorn, Pyracantha, Pyracantha coccinea,
28. Fleabane, Seaside Daisy, Erigeron glaucus,
29. Fountain Grass, Pennisetum setaceum,
30. Freshwater Snail, unidentified,
31. Garden Geranium, Pelargonium ×hortorum,
32. Garden Snail, Cornu aspersum,
33. Giant Fennel, Ferula communis,
34. Greater Honeywort (orange), Cerinthe major,
35. Greater Honeywort (purple), Cerinthe major,
36. Green Heron, Butorides virescens,
37. Hooker’s Evening Primrose, Oenothera elata,
38. Hummingbird Sage, Salvia spathacea,
39. Iceplant, Carpobrotus edulis,
40. Introduced Sage, Salvia pratensis,
41. Iris, Iris sp.,
42. Jerusalem Sage, Phlomis fruticosa,
43. Lacy Phacelia, Phacelia tanacetifolia,
44. Lamb’s Ear Hedgenettle, Stachys byzantina,
45. Love-in-a-Mist, Nigella damascene,
46. Mallard, Anas platyrhynchos,
47. Many Flowered Tobacco, Nicotiana acuminata var. multiflora,
48. Mediterranean Catchfly, Silene colorata,
49. Mediterranean Sage, Salvia aethiopis,
50. Money Plant, Silver Dollar Plant, Lunaria annua,
51. Nightshade, New Zealand Nightshade, Solanum aviculare,
52. Pacific Bleeding Heart, Dicentra Formosa,
53. Pekin Duck, Anas platyrhynchos domesticus var. Pekin,
54. Peruvian Lily, Alstroemeria aurea,
55. Pincushion Flower, Scabiosa atropurpurea,
56. Red Hot Poker, Kniphofia uvaria,
57. Red Poppy of Flanders, Corn Poppy, Papaver rhoeas,
58. Red Valerian, Jupiter’s Beard, Centranthus ruber,
59. Red-Eared Slider Turtle, Trachemys scripta elegans,
60. Rocket Larkspur (purple), Consolida ajacis,
61. Rocket Larkspur (white), Consolida ajacis,
62. Rose, Rosa sp.,
63. Sacred Lotus, Nelumbo nucifera,
64. Sage, Salvia officinalis,
65. Silver Sage, Salvia argentea,
66. Smokebush, Cotinus coggygria,
67. Spice Bush, Calycanthus occidentalis,
68. Spittlebug, Meadow Spittlebug, Philaenus spumarius,
69. Swedish Blue duck, Anas platyrhynchos domesticus var. Swedish,
70. Sweet William, Dianthus barbatus,
71. Tasmanian Flax-Lily, Dianella tasmanica,
72. Toadflax, Linaria sp.,
73. Tower of Jewels, Echium wildpretii,
74. Trailing Abutilon, Callianthe megapotamica,
75. Unidentified Fern, possibly Polystichum sp.,
76. Unidentified Plantain, Plantago sp.,
77. Western Bluebird, Sialia mexicana,
78. Western Columbine, Aquilegia Formosa,
79. Western Redbud, Cercis occidentalis,
80. White Valerian, Centranthus sp.,
81. Wood Duck, Aix sponsa,
82. Wood Pink (white variation), Dianthus sylvestris,

Wrens, Tree Swallows and… Pronghorns, 04-29-18

Things didn’t go quite as planned today, but it was okay.  Up around 6:00 am and off to the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge. I had intended to go out Highway 20 to search for wildflowers, but the season is almost passed around here, so I drove on to the refuge instead.  It was 49º when I headed out and about 66º on my way back. The sky was full of big sofa clouds and there was a slight breeze all day. Very pretty.

At the refuge, the large pond has been drained down to almost nothing, so there’s nothing to see, really, along that extra loop right now. It’s a disappointment. Without the water there are no dragonflies, no grebes nesting on their floating mats, no rafts of pelicans fishing… Just a big dirt hole with deer tracks running across it.  Still, the trip wasn’t a complete waste. When I started the auto-tour route, I was greeted with the sight of a male American Goldfinch in the tall grass, eating seeds. They’re much brighter than the Lesser Goldfinches I usually see around there. Very striking.

CLICK HERE for the album of photos.

I also got to see several of the male Marsh Wrens successfully luring females to their construction sites. The males build several different nests close to one another, and then let the female decide which one she likes best. Two of the males I saw had females working to line the nests with soft grass and feathers.  I also watched as another male worked frantically to build a nest, not out of cattail skins (like most of the other nests), but of green weeds and bits of wet stick.  He was really struggling. The green weeds were thin and leafy and wouldn’t bend or sit the way he wanted them to. When he brought the stick in, he tried it in several different spots and just couldn’t seem to get it into the right spot. I got some photos and video snippets of all of this.  I also came across one male Marsh Wren without a tail.  Usually the males “flag” with their tail and hold it upright when they sing. This guy had nothing to work with. I don’t know if the tail feathers had molted out and not regrown yet, or were pulled out by some other critter that tried to make the small bird its meal… I wonder if being tailless will impact on the little guy’s ability to find a mate.

Seriously. I wished I could stay there longer, and study it all more. Where’s my millions, Universe? I want to be able to retire and do naturalist stuff full time!

At another spot along the route, by the big viewing platform, I found a pair of nesting Tree Swallows. Mom and dad took turns patrolling the nest and going out to look for food. I couldn’t hear any babies, though, and the parents didn’t seem to be bringing whatever food they found back to the nest. Maybe mom is still building up enough protein to lay eggs; or maybe the chicks aren’t hatched yet – but far enough along so that mom doesn’t need to be sitting on the nest all of the time. More questions left unanswered because I can’t get out there long enough to do a definitive study. I need to look for research grant funding…

There were lots of ground squirrels out, and a couple of them posed for me.  And I came across several “wakes” of Turkey Vultures.  On group was perches on a gate with huge tufts of poison hemlock growing up all around them. That made for an unusually creepy yet lovely photograph.  Who knew vultures could look so pretty?

Here is the album of pix from today:  https://www.flickr.com/photos/mkhnaturalist/albums/72157695871401034

The big surprise of the day, though, was at the end of the day as I was heading home. Just off Road 68, where the I5 onramp is there was a herd of … wait for it… Pronghorns! I knew there were pronghorn in California, but I’d never seen one. This was a small herd and they were walking through a recently plowed agricultural field. It was such a surprise that it actually took my brain several seconds to understand what I was looking at. An amazing sight.

The Universe Played Keep-Away, But I Still Got Photos, 05-12-17

DAY 7 OF MY VACATION. I go up around 5:00 this morning and headed out to the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge again.  It was another beautiful day as far as the weather went: 48º when I headed out; 73º by the late afternoon with a slight breeze all day.

CLICK HERE to see the entire album of photos and videos.

I got to the refuge around 7:30 am… and it was a kind of frustrating, disappointing day.  It was like the Universe was playing “keep away” all the while I was out there.  You know, that horrible “game” wherein someone takes your hat, dangles it out in front of you, and then snatches it away just as you reach for it.  It was like that.  Oooo, there’s an otter in the water… but as soon as I trained my camera on it, it was gone.  Oooo, there are two Bitterns… but they’re in the tall grass and the camera refuses to focus on them.  Oooo, there’s a Yellow-Headed blackbird… and it flies away.  Oooo, there’s a Bullock;s Oriole… and won’t sit still. Oooo, listen! You can hear the calls of a Great-Tailed Grackle… but it never comes out where you can see it long enough to get a photo…  Even the ground squirrels wouldn’t pose for me.

Guh! It was like that ALL DAY.  It seemed like I was “fighting” with nature and the camera every minute.  It was the most unproductive photo day I’ve ever had out on the refuge.  So frustrating.  I was getting more and more pissed off as the day went on… And, of course, that kind of negativity broadcasts out, and then none of the critters want to come anywhere near you… *Sigh*

There were a couple of “yay” moments, however.  I was hoping to see at least one White-Striped Sphinx Moth flitting around the blooming thistles and teasel; it’s the right time of the year for them to wake up and start flying. Well, as soon as the sun started warming up the air, I saw about a dozen of them at different points along the auto tour; sometimes two or three at a time.  That was cool!

And on my way out of the refuge, I came across a Black-Crowned Night Heron fishing in a slough… and he was close enough and cooperative enough that I was able to get photos and video of him… While I was filming him, a pair of American Bitterns landed onto the side of the slough: one with its white shoulder feathers extended.  They lighted on the ground for a moment and then took off again… That white-shoulder display is part of their courtship ritual, but they went by so fast, I only barely got a few frames of the male’s display (and no images of the female).  At another spot, I also saw a male Common Gallinule fan his tail for a female… So, the day wasn’t a total waste.

Oh, and the little Killdeer I saw the last time I was there who had built her nest close to the road on the auto-tour route, was still there. And she had 4 eggs now instead of the two I saw the last time.  So, that was nice.

A Quick Trip on Friday, 05-27-16

Young male Mule Deer. ©2016 Copyright Mary K. Hanson. All Rights Reserved.
Young male Mule Deer. ©2016 Copyright Mary K. Hanson. All Rights Reserved.

After work I took another quick run up to the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge.  (You knew I couldn’t keep away…)  I drove through pretty quickly, so I didn’t see a lot but I did get photos of several different bird species, including American White Pelicans, Marsh Wrens, and some Black-Crowned Night Herons and Grebes. Oh, and I saw a Brown-Headed Cowbird.

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Some Shinrin-yoku after the BIGDOG on Wednesday

Mallard Duckling. Copyright © 2016 Mary K. Hanson. All rights reserved.
Mallard Duckling. Copyright © 2016 Mary K. Hanson. All rights reserved.

Well after the debacle that was this year’s Big Day of Giving (CLICK HERE to read more about it) and my working a 20 hour shift for Tuleyome on Tuesday and a 10 hour shift on Wednesday trying to keep donors engaged and happy, I was exhausted in every aspect of my being, so I shut off the computer and my phone and took a walk in nature for a little while.

Nature heals.  It’s been documented.  The Japanese call it “shinrin-yoku” (forest bathing / walking) and it always seems to work for me.  I couldn’t get out to a forest today, but I did manage to get over to the WPA Rock Garden and duck pond.  Saw lots of beautiful flowers, interesting bugs, and cute ducklings and goslings… got some fresh air… walked around for a little over an hour to get my body moving again after sitting hunched over in front of a computer for 2 days.  Just what I needed.

Here’s a video of some fry in the pond.

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If you want to learn more about the healing effects of nature on the body and mind here are a few articles you can read: