Tag Archives: Longbeak Stork’s Bill (Erodium botrys)

Redbuds and House Wrens

I got up around 6:00 am and headed over to the American River Bend Park.  I was hoping the redbud trees would be in bloom there, and they were, but thanks to Daylight Savings Time, it was still dark when I arrived at the park – made darker because of a thick overcast.  So, I had to wait about 30 minutes before it got light enough for my camera to actually be able to see anything.

CLICK HERE to see the complete album of photos and video snippets.

I got some lovely redbud photos, along with some shots of the Pipevine Swallowtail butterflies that were out.  It was still chilly (in the 50’s) outside, and there had been a heavy dew overnight, so the butterflies were all torpid and wet, but some of them managed to rouse themselves so I could take their pictures.  The place was also alive with the songs of House Wrens.  They seemed to be singing from everything jumble of underbrush around.  I was able to get photos and video of them… and of some Spotted Towhees that were also singing in the area.  I think I would’ve seen more action if it had been just a tad warmer…

Still, I walked for almost 4 hours (which is my absolute limit) before heading home.  I’d tweaked my left ankle at the park when I climbed a pile of mulch to get photos of some slime mold, so that kept me chair-bound most of the rest of the day.

Lots to See at the River Bend Park Today

:  I got up with the dogs around 6:30 am and then went over to the American River Bend Park for my walk without having any breakfast.  I spent about an hour or so walking along the riverside, looking at and photographing the plant-life there: rushes and sedges, dove weed, hemlock, and a whole catalog of other stuff which will look great in my naturalist journal.  I’ve noticed all along that on some of the dead willows I’ve seen there are little cluster-structures that look like pine cones, and I never knew what they were.  While I was researching the Narrowleaf Willows I saw along the river, I found out that the structures are actually galls caused by midge larvae (Rabdophaga strobiloides).  The larvae enter the stems of the willows and secrete a chemical that tells the willows to form “leaves” over them… The “leaves” form a little pointed end ball over the larvae that look sort of like tiny pinecones.  How kewl is that?!

052315riverbend 348

While I was at the river, a Spotted Sandpiper flew right up onto a log in the water in front of me and I was able to get a lot of photos (and some video) of it.

Then I drove the car over the camping area, and walked around there for about 3 more hours.  While I was photographing some Mourning Doves and a pair of Western Bluebirds, the rangers drove up beside me and said, “There’s a Red-Shouldered Hawk next right over there beyond that truck, and it looks like there’s a hawk in it right now.”  They then drove a few feet around the camping area, and pointed out the tree to me.  I was able to get photos and video of the fledgling hawk standing on the rim of the next.  So neat.  The bird was well camouflaged ad I would have missed him completely if the rangers hadn’t pointed him out to me.

I also watched A White-Breasted Nuthatch fly over to the bluebirds’ nest and peak in – right before the male bluebird flew in and chased the nuthatch away.  Hah!  Then I watched a pair of Wrens feeding their tree full of babies.  I could hear the hatchlings peeping inside of the tree and caught a glimpse of them one time when their parent flew by.  The entrance to their tree-hole nest was more like a slash in the side of the tree, and at first I couldn’t believe the birds were actually able to get into and out of it, but they squeezed through the entrance without a problem.  I then walked up the trail a bit and found the Tree Swallows’ nest again.  The parents were tag-teaming, feeding the babies in shifts.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

As I was leaving the Tree Swallows, I came across a pair of Pipevine Swallowtail butterflies – a male and a female – chasing each other over the trail.  I stopped to watch them, hoping I could get some good photos, but I was interrupted by a group of ladies who came up the trail being me.  They wanted to get past me, but I asked them to wait to see if the butterflies settled down together.  “It’s a mating pair…” I told the women, and they all stopped to watch the butterflies.  I got to tell them a little bit about the butterflies’ mating behaviors while they watched – doing my “naturalist” things.  When the butterflies moved on, so did the group of woman, and as the last one passed me she said, “See you in class on Tuesday.”  I did a double-take and realized she was the younger girl from the naturalist class (the youngest one in the class).  I had to laugh; small world!

I took so many photos and video clips during my walk that I burned through two batteries!  By the time I got to the car it was after 11:00 am, so I headed back home, stopping for sandwiches on the way to have for lunch.  I then crashed for the rest of the day.