Tag Archives: Green Teals

Mostly Eagles, But Some Other Critters, Too

Bald Eagle. Copyright © 2015 Mary K. Hanson. All rights reserved.
Bald Eagle. Copyright © 2015 Mary K. Hanson. All rights reserved.

I got up around 6:30 this morning, and turned on some lights in the kitchen and on the back porch so Waukegan could see well enough to use the doggie door and get outside.  Since I was up, I decided to stay up, and around 7:00 headed out with Sergeant Margie to the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge again.  It was sunny but chilly all day; 34° when I left the house… It was really clear outside and all of the mountains were out, some with new snow on them.  The drive is a long one (about 90-minutes each way), but the nice weather makes it a lot easier.

I did the auto tour but didn’t walk any of the trails there (in part so I could keep the heater running in the car while I viewed the wildlife. Hah!)  I found the American Bittern again (in a different pond than I’d seen him in before), and when I was stopped taking photos of it, two otters climbed out of the water and ran across the path in front of me to the pond on the opposite side!  There was also a pairs of American Coots, that stepped out of the water near me.  They didn’t notice the car at first, so they came close enough for me to get some shots of their feet (which is their most interesting feature; they have lobed-toes).  When they realized the car was sitting there, they looked shocked and scuttled back into the water.  I also came across another Coot who was eating the intestines of some other critter.  They’re omnivorous; I’d seen Coots eating seeds and bugs and whatnot, but never saw one eating “meat” before.  I took some video of that one.

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I saw lots of Bald Eagles today including three adults and two juveniles (that looked like they were a year or two old).  One of the adults flew into a tree and perched above the road… then pooped on the car.  Hah!  How rude!  I also saw lots of the Red-Tailed Hawks, a Red-Shouldered Hawk and a gorgeous Peregrine Falcon along with White-Crowned Sparrows, Turkey Vultures, Northern Shovelers, White-Faced Ibis, Meadowlarks, White-Fronted Geese, Snow Geese, Ring-Necked Ducks, Black Phoebes, Ruddy Ducks, Bufflehead Ducks, Ravens, Green Teals, Mallards, some Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets and Pintail Ducks, etc.

After the tour, I took Sergeant Margie on a short walk and we had some lunch before heading back to Sacramento.

Got to see the Bittern at the SNWR

122215sactowildlife 044

Happy Winter Solstice.  I got up about 7:00 AM and headed out to the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge to see if I could spot some more eagles this time around.  It was cloudy in Sacramento, but by the time I got to Willows, everything was blanketed in a thick fog.  As always, the fog makes long-distance shots pretty much impossible, but helps me focus on things that are closer… and it also fakes the birds into thinking it’s earlier in the morning than it really is, so you get to see some of the birds that usually only come out at dusk and dawn.

One of the first birds I saw along the auto tour route was an American  Bittern.  I’d heard there was one out there, but hadn’t seen it before.  It was actually larger than I was expecting it to be – and it was right out in the open among the tules. Just as I stopped to get some photos, some idiot-woman in a huge motorhome came up on the road behind me and startled the bird. So, I didn’t get as many photos of it as I would have liked.  I stayed where I was an waited for her to move past me before I continued on with the rest of the tour myself.  I did get to see a Bald Eagle, but he was up in a tree over the top of the car, so it was difficult to get photos of him.  He was sitting with his wings hanging down – and I’m not sure what that was about.

I also saw a group of Northern Shovelers all spinning in circles in one of the larger ponds.  I’d never seen that before, so I videoed it for a little while and then looked up the behavior when I got home.  Apparently, I was seeing a “feeding circle”.  The ducks work together to churn up the water and bring up the stuff they eat from the bottom of the pond: water plants, seeds, insects, larvae, and other tiny invertebrates. Kewl!

Here’s a video snippethttps://youtu.be/VeICrgFRjKI

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On my trip today I saw:  Red-Tailed Hawks, Turkey Vultures, White-Crowned Sparrow, American Bittern, Snowy Egret, Great Egret, White-Faced Ibis, Ring-Neck Ducks, Widgeons, Cinnamon Teals, Green Teals, American Coots, Mallards, Eared Grebe, Great Blue Heron, Common Gallinule, Red-Winged Blackbirds, Snow Geese, White-Fronted Geese, Gadwall, Northern Shovelers, Black-Necked Stilt, Ruddy Ducks, California Towhee,  Bald Eagle and Ravens…

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.

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Tuesday at the Cosumnes Preserve

Tuesday was Vacation Day 11. I got up about 7:30 this morning and headed out to Desmond Road and the Cosumnes River Preserve by 8:00. It was chilly and overcast all day. I’m not complaining, mind you. I like this kind of weather.
The gates to the preserve don’t open until 9:00, so I spent some time driving up and down Desmond Road to look at the birds. (There are rice fields along that road, along with some of the additional wetlands property owned by the preserve, so usually there’s something to see out there.) I got several photos along the road (including some of the Sandhill Cranes), and then headed over to the wetlands area inside the preserve.
I walked for about 2 hours and could’ve walked a good deal further but my right ankle suddenly started to give me fits. Ever since chemotherapy I’ve had a nerve-damaged toe on that foot and it sometimes causes me problems, but today – as soon as I started to approach a Killdeer in a tree – the whole side of my foot all the way up to my ankle suddenly felt like it was on fire and I could barely walk. Luckily, the car was close enough at the point that I could hobble toward it. I seriously considered for a few minutes, pulling my camping chair out of the trunk and plopping myself down somewhere along the water’s side. I gave up that idea, though, and instead drove myself down to the next parking lot, and walked across the road to a bench there where I could sit at watch the birds. It was there that I caught sight of my very first Blue-Winged Teals.
I’ve seen lots of Cinnamon Teals and Green Teals before, but never saw a Blue-Winged one (even though they’re relatively common), so that was cool. All in all, I got to see: White-Fronted Geese, Greater Yellowlegs, Long-Billed Dowitchers, Wilson’s Snipes, Sandhill Cranes, Great Egrets, American Kestrels, Red-Winged Blackbirds, Killdeer, Brewer’s Blackbirds, Pintails, Green Teals, Coots, Northern Shovelers, a Blue-Eyed Darner dragonfly, White-Crowned Sparrows, Crows, Cinnamon Teals, Black-Necked Stilts, another elusive Belted Kingfisher, Blue-Winged Teals, Mourning Doves and a Red-Shouldered Hawk. I was also surprised to find a lone White Pelican hanging out among the geese. It’s usual to find only one of those guys… and to find one so close to the roadway…

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Oh, also along the way I found some raccoon scat, and the remains of a snake. There was still a long piece of skin intact – although it had dried up in the sun over the past few days – as well as lengths of backbone and some rib bones. Kewl!
After my walk and drive, I went home, took some Aleve for my still-sore ankle and foot, and had some lunch with the dogs.