Tag Archives: Pacific Gopher Snake

Interesting Turkeys on the Naturalist Walk, 04-09-19

Up at 6:00 this morning, and then headed out to the Effie Yeaw Nature Preserve to do my trail walking thing – along with three of my naturalist students.  The weather was lovely, so the critters were out and moving around, and the wildflowers were really starting to open up.

We got to see a tiny female American Kestrel chase off a large Cooper’s Hawk, saw the young buck with a broken nose browsing with some of the does, and saw a yard-long gopher snake leave the side of the trail and rush through the grass like water.

We also came across a female Wild Turkey sitting on the ground next to a brush pile occupied by some California Ground Squirrels. Everything I’d read about the turkeys indicated that they nested in low branches of trees or ON brush piles, so even though she looked pretty settled on the ground I assumed she was just taking a dirt bath (which the turkeys often do to control mites).  I walked up to her, slowly, and she eventually stood up and walked away from where she’d been sitting: a bare, shallow patch of dirt.

When I got home, I did some more research on the turkey and found this: “…Wild Turkeys nest on the ground in dead leaves at the bases of trees, under brush piles or thick shrubbery, or occasionally in open hayfields. The female scratches a shallow depression in the soil, about 1 inch deep, 8–11 inches wide, and 9–13 inches long…” So, this gal may have been prepping a nest site, not dirt bathing.  I’ll have to check on the spot again the next time I’m out there.

Seeing the turkeys -– including one of the leucistic females who came out of the forest like a ghost – brought on a flurry of “snood” jokes. Four women on the trail talking about the male turkeys’ accouterments. We couldn’t help ourselves. Hahahahaha!

Oh, and I also learned that although the male hierarchy changes a lot as the males challenge, defeat, and retreat from one another, the female turkeys’ hierarchy remains constant from season to season, with a dominant female overseeing all of the ladies.  How cool is that?

We didn’t see the Mourning Doves on or near their nest, and I’m afraid they may have abandoned it.  When we got to the Red-Shouldered Hawk nest on the Pond Trail, however, mama hawk was in the nest and calling out to hubby. We could hear her, but we couldn’t see her. The nest is pretty deep and it’s right over the trail so it’s hard to see into it. Suddenly, mama hawk burst out away from the nest and flew right at and over one of the students! She was able to catch a photo of the hawk as she flew over her head! Awesome!

Among the flowers we saw were Blue Dicks, Bush Lupine, California Poppies, Fringe Pod, Periwinkle, Miniature Lupine, different kinds of plantains, and a variety of tiny yellow flowers that defied identification. On one of the plants was an example of “fasciation”, wherein the flowering heads weld together.  “…Scientists aren’t sure what causes the deformity, but they believe it is probably caused by a hormonal imbalance. This imbalance may be the result of a random mutation, or it can be caused by insects, diseases or physical injury to the plant. Think of it as a random occurrence. It doesn’t spread to other plants or other parts of the same plant…”

CLICK HERE to see the album of photos.

The ladies were wonderful trail walking companions: they were excited about everything, had great questions, and lots of wonderful feedback about the naturalist course. We walked for almost 5 hours (which was way too long for me) before we all headed back home again. Deborah had come all the way from Napa to walk with me, so she had the longest drive back home (over 2 hours).

I totally overdid it and was exhausted and in pain when I got home, but it was worth it to have spent those hours with the ladies’ positive energy.  Even though I practically went back to bed when I got home, I was happy. This is just how I want to spend what time I have left.

It was a good day.

Species List:

1. Acorn Woodpecker, Melanerpes formicivorus,
2. Asian Ladybeetle, Multicolored Asian Lady Beetle, Harmonia axyridis,
3. Bay Laurel, Laurus nobilis,
4. Black Walnut, Juglans nigra,
5. Blue Dicks, Dichelostemma capitatum,
6. Blue Oak, Quercus douglasii,
7. Buck Brush, Ceanothus cuneatus,
8. Bush Lupine, Lupinus albifrons,
9. California Ground Squirrel, Otospermophilus beecheyi,
10. California Manroot, Marah fabaceus,
11. American Kestrel, Falco sparverius,
12. Black Bean Aphid, Aphis fabae.
13. Boxedler Tree, Boxelder Maple, Acer negundo.
14. Bush Lupine, Lupinus excubitus.
15. California Plantain, Plantago erecta.
16. California Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly, Battus philenor hirsuta,
17. California Pipevine, Aristolochia californica,
18. California Poppy, Eschscholzia californica,
19. California Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma californica,
20. Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus,
21. Cooper’s Hawk, Accipiter cooperii,
22. Coyote Brush Midge (gall), Rhopalomyia californica,
23. Coyote Brush, Baccharis pilularis,
24. Douglas Iris, Iris douglasiana,
25. Eastern Fox Squirrel, Sciurus niger,
26. European Starling, Sturnus vulgaris,
27. Fringe Pod, Thysanocarpus curvipes ssp. elegans,
28. Green Shield Lichen,Flavoparmelia caperata,
29. House Wren, Troglodytes aedon,
30. Interior Live Oak, Quercus wislizeni,
31. Lace Lichen, Ramalina menziesii,
32. Miniature Lupine, Lupinus bicolor,
33. Mourning Dove, Zenaida macroura,
34. Nutthall’s Woodpecker, Picoides nuttallii,
35. Pacific Gopher Snake, Pituophis catenifer,
36. Painted Lady butterfly, Vanessa cardui,
37. Periwinkle, Vinca major,
38. Red-Shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus,
39. Red-Tailed Hawk, Buteo jamaicensis,
40. Rio Grande Wild Turkey, Meleagris gallopavo intermedia,
41. Saw-Whet Owl, Aegolius acadicus,
42. Snowy Egret, Egretta thula,
43. Spotted Towhee, Pipilo maculatus,
44. Tree Swallow, Tachycineta bicolor,
45. Turkey Vulture, Cathartes aura,
46. Valley Oak, Quercus lobata,
47. Wavy-Leaf Soap Root, Soap Plant, Chlorogalum pomeridianum,
48. Western Redbud, Cercis occidentalis,
49. Western Fence Lizard, Sceloporus occidentalis,
50. Yarrow, Common Yarrow, Achillea millefolium,

Two Nesting Doves and a Squirrel Alarm, 04-02-19

I got up around 6:15 this morning and headed out to the Effie Yeaw Nature Preserve again. It was overcast and drizzly on and off all day and was about 51° when I got to the preserve.

I was joined there by two of my naturalist students, Johannes T. and Kelli O.  Whenever I take students out, I’m more focused on trying find things for them to see, and explaining what they’re looking at, than I am on trying to get photos. So, I don’t have as many photos to share this time as I usually do. Johannes and Kelli seemed to be interested in everything and had lots of personal stories to share about their own outings and hiking adventures.

CLICK HERE for the album of photos.

We saw several small herds of deer; many of them hunkered down in the grass waiting for the rain to pass.  We also came across a California Ground Squirrel munching on a large peeled acorn, and another one standing on a log giving off an alarm call. That one looked soaked and I wondered if maybe his burrow got flooded.  And we came across a small dead mole on the trail – and they get drowned out often by the river.

We also saw an Eastern Fox Squirrel ripping the tules out of one of the tule huts on the grounds. Hah!  Wutta brat!

At one point along the trail we saw a California Towhee… and then a Spotted Towhee landed on the same part of the trail, so we got to see them side by side, and see how different their field markings are.

Around that same area, we saw a male Mourning Dove flying by with some long grasses in its beak and followed it to where it handed off the grasses to its mate, sitting on her nest on an odd flattened part of a bent branch.  So cool.  The nest is visible from the trail, so I’ll have to keep an eye on it; see if they get any babies.  Mourning Doves can have up to six broods a year!

At the pond near the nature center, there was the paid of Mallards sleeping on log.  That’s a bonded pair, and I’ve seen them every week for the past several weeks; they like resting there.

We walked for about 3 ½ hours and then went on our separate ways.

Species List:

1. Acorn Woodpecker, Melanerpes formicivorus,
2. Asian Ladybeetle, Multicolored Asian Lady Beetle, Harmonia axyridis,
3. Bay Laurel, Laurus nobilis,
4. Black Walnut, Juglans nigra,
5. Blue Dicks, Dichelostemma capitatum,
6. Blue Oak, Quercus douglasii,
7. Broad-Footed Mole, Scapanus latimanus,,
8. Brown Jelly Fungus, Jelly Leaf, Tremella foliacea
9. Buck Brush, Ceanothus cuneatus,
10. Bush Lupine, Lupinus albifrons,
11. California Ground Squirrel, Otospermophilus beecheyi,
12. California King Snake, Lampropeltis getula californiae,
13. California Manroot, Marah fabaceus,
14. California Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly, Battus philenor hirsuta,
15. California Pipevine, Aristolochia californica,
16. California Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma californica,
17. California Towhee, Melozone crissalis,
18. Chanterelle mushrooms, Cantherellus sp.,
19. Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus,
20. Common Jelly Spot fungus, Dacrymyces stillatus,
21. Coyote Brush, Baccharis pilularis,
22. Deer Shield Mushroom, Pluteus cervinus,
23. Desert Cottontail, Sylvilagus audubonii,
24. Dog Vomit Slime Mold, Fuligo septica,
25. Dryad’s Saddle Polypore, Polyporus squamosus,
26. Eastern Fox Squirrel, Sciurus niger,
27. False Turkey Tail fungus, Stereum hirsutum,
28. Fringe Pod, Thysanocarpus curvipes ssp. elegans,
29. Gold Dust Lichen, Chrysothrix candelaris,
30. Great Horned Owl, Bubo virginianus,
31. Green Shield Lichen,Flavoparmelia caperata,
32. House Wren, Troglodytes aedon,
33. Interior Live Oak, Quercus wislizeni,
34. Lace Lichen, Ramalina menziesii,
35. Mallard, Anas platyrhynchos,
36. Mazegill Fungus, Daedalea quercina,
37. Miniature Lupine, Lupinus bicolor,
38. Mourning Dove, Zenaida macroura,
39. Pacific Gopher Snake, Pituophis catenifer,
40. Periwinkle, Vinca major,
41. Pleated Ink Cap Mushroom, Parasola plicatilis ,
42. Rio Grande Wild Turkey, Meleagris gallopavo intermedia,
43. Rock Shield Lichen, Xanthoparmelia tinctina,
44. Russula Mushrooms, Russula sp.,
45. Saw-Whet Owl, Aegolius acadicus,
46. Snowy Egret, Egretta thula,
47. Spotted Towhee, Pipilo maculatus,
48. Sunburst Lichen, Xanthoria elegans,
49. Turkey Tail fungus, Trametes versicolor,
50. Valley Oak, Quercus lobata,
51. Wavy-Leaf Soap Root, Soap Plant, Chlorogalum pomeridianum,
52. Western Gray Squirrel, Sciurus griseus,
53. Western Redbud, Cercis occidentalis,
54. Western Toad, Anaxyrus boreas,
55. Yarrow, Common Yarrow, Achillea millefolium,

Many Wrens and “Blue Bellies”, 03-30-19

I got up at 6:30 this morning and had some breakfast before heading out to the Effie Yeaw Nature Preserve again.

It was a gorgeous day weatherwise – sunny, cool in the morning and warm in the afternoon — so much so that we were actually able to keep the house open for most of the day.  It was about 43° when I got to the preserve and about 65° when I left.

CLICK HERE for the album of photos.

At the preserve, I didn’t walk the route that would have taken me by the spot where I spotted the hive last week; I checked out different trails.  There were no special stand outs during this walk, but there were House Wrens everywhere, singing their little hearts out.  I saw two males fighting over the same perches on which to sing; they must have had territories that overlapped or something. For such tiny guys, I’m surprised by how ferocious they can be.  I also saw Acorn Woodpeckers and European Starlings fighting over nest cavities. The Starlings are invasive, and the woodpeckers and other cavity-nesting birds lose breeding spots because of them.

I saw a few female Starlings doing their “baby bird begging” thing to try to get males to feed them. They sit out in open on conspicuous branches and flap their wings against their sides, gaping and calling out. So funny to watch.

Lots and lots of Audubon’s Warblers… I don’t remember ever seeing this many around here before. (They’re a kind of Yellow-rumped Warbler, differentiated from the others by their field markings.  They’re also affectionately referred to as “Butter Butts” for the bright yellow splotch on their rump where the tail attaches to the body.)

On a different part of the trail, I heard a California Ground Squirrel giving out a repeated alarm call, so I tracked it down, and found it in the field right across form the nature center. I was astonished by the fact that it had a gash in its nose and blood on the fur around its mouth and face!  The mamas can be incredibly brave and aggressive when it comes to protecting their burrows and babies, I know, but I’d never seen one in this condition before. There was also a bite mark on the ruff around its neck.  It was roughed up!

The squirrels are supposed to have different calls for land-based predators and air-based predators (like chickens do), but I don’t know their calls well enough to distinguish one from the other. I imagine it had fought a domestic cat (they hunt in the preserve) or something like that, and had to give it props for its tenacity, to keep on kicking and having the wherewithal to alert its fellow ground squirrels of danger nearby.

I saw lots of Pipevine Swallowtail Butterflies throughout the preserve. This is their time of year.  I was hoping to see some eggs but didn’t find any on this trip.  Maybe next time.

There’s lots of tall-tall grasses and sedges out right now, and all of the trees are budding their new leaves so the whole place is green-green-green.  I love this time of year!

I’ve been sort of dissatisfied with the macro photos I’ve been getting out of my camera, though, so I pulled out my cell phone to take some of the super close-up shots I wanted of plants and stuff.  The phone takes excellent close-ups, but it’s sometimes hard to manage holding that and my camera at the same time.  What we do for photos!

On my way out the preserve, I came across a male Mourning Dove doing his coo-ing thing from a tree branch. I love the way their whole chest and neck swell up with their song.  That cooing is most often sung by the male birds (not the females) and is used to “woo” the females.  Cooo-oooo-woo-woo-woo.

Because it was warming up outside, the Western Fence Lizards were out in force in some places.  (They’re also called Blue Bellies” for the bright blue underbellies of the males.)  Saw a lot of the boy doing “push-ups” and challenging rivals on different logs.

I walked for about 3 ½ hours and then headed back home

Species List: 

1. Acorn Woodpecker, Melanerpes formicivorus
2. American Kestrel, Falco sparverius
3. Audubon’s Warbler, Setophaga auduboni auduboni
4. Bedstraw, Velcro-Grass, Sticky Willy, Galium aparine
5. Black-Headed Grosbeak, Pheucticus melanocephalus
6. Blessed Milk Thistle, Silybum marianum
7. Blue Dicks, Dichelostemma capitatum
8. Bullfrog, American Bullfrog, Lithobates catesbeianus
9. Burr Chervil, Anthriscus caucalis
10. Bushtit, Psaltriparus minimus
11. California Geranium, Geranium californicum
12. California Ground Squirrel, Otospermophilus beecheyi
13. California King Snake, Lampropeltis getula californiae
14. California Manroot, Marah fabaceus
15. California Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly, Battus philenor hirsuta
16. California Pipevine, Aristolochia californica
17. California Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma californica
18. California Towhee, Melozone crissalis
19. Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus
20. Common Pepper Grass, Pepperweed, Lepidium densiflorum
21. Dog Vomit Slime Mold, Fuligo septica
22. Eastern Fox Squirrel, Sciurus niger
23. European Starling, Sturnus vulgaris
24. Foxtail Barley, Hordeum murinum
25. Golden-Crowned Sparrow, Zonotrichia atricapilla
26. House Wren, Troglodytes aedon
27. Interior Live Oak, Quercus wislizeni
28. Lesser Goldfinch, Spinus psaltria
29. Little Plantain, Plantago pusilla
30. Mallard, Anas platyrhynchos
31. Miner’s Lettuce, Claytonia perfoliata
32. Miniature Lupine, Lupinus bicolor
33. Mourning Dove, Zenaida macroura
34. Northern Pacific Rattlesnake, Crotalus oreganus
35. Oak Titmouse, Baeolophus inornatus
36. Pacific Gopher Snake, Pituophis catenifer catenifer
37. Peregrine Falcon, Wek-Wek, Falco peregrinus
38. Pleated Ink Cap, Parasola plicatilis
39. Poison Oak, Toxicodendron diversilobum
40. Puffball Fungus, Bovista dermoxantha
41. Red-Shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus
42. Rio Grande Wild Turkey, Meleagris gallopavo intermedia
43. Rock Shield Lichen, Xanthoparmelia lavicola
44. Saw-Whet Owl, Sophia, Aegolius acadicus
45. Shepherd’s Purse, Capsella bursa-pastoris
46. Soap Plant, Wavy Leafed Soaproot, Chlorogalum pomeridianum
47. Spotted Sandpiper, Actitis macularius
48. Stork’s Bill, Big Heron Bill, Erodium botrys
49. Tree Swallow, Tachycineta bicolor
50. Turkey Vulture, Cathartes aura
51. Water Fern, Azolla filiculoides
52. Western Bluebird, Sialia mexicana
53. Western Fence Lizard, Blue Belly, Sceloporus occidentalis
54. Western Redbud, Cercis occidentalis
55. Western Tanager, Piranga ludoviciana
56. White-Breasted Nuthatch, Sitta carolinensis

Lots of Photos from the Zoo, 10-17-18

DAY 12 OF MY VACATION. I headed over to the Sacramento Zoo for a walk there.

Wednesdays are apparently a good day to go to the zoo because there were hardly any people there and I got the first spot in the parking lot (closest to the crosswalk from the lot to the zoo gate). The weather was lovely all the while I was there (about 56º when I got there, about 76º when I left.) Bookends: as I was going into the zoo I saw a squirrel and took its picture, and when I came out of the zoo, I saw another squirrel and got his picture, too.

I had gone specifically to see Coconut again, the baby Snow Leopard. When I first stopped at the Snow Leopard enclosure, the dad, Blizzard, was out, so I walked on. When I came back to the enclosure about an hour later, the keeper was cleaning it out and setting out toys for Coconut to play with. So, I was one of the first people at the enclosure when she opened up the door and let out Coconut and his mom, Misha. I think I took over 200 photos of them. They’re so beautiful, and the baby is so funny.

He’s at the “let’s pounce on mom” stage, and play-attacked her from different angles. Most of the time, she saw him coming and just braced herself for the impact. (She’s really gentle with him.) But, once he came at her from a ledge above her and startled her enough to make her run off a bit. You could almost see how proud he was about that. Hahahaha!

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

As an extra fun moment, baby Cosmo, this year’s only baby Flamingo, was also out and walking around. She’s all gray right now and hasn’t started to pink up yet. Because she was the only flamingo born this year, was rejected by her mom and had no siblings, her keepers are allowing her to bond with them in the hopes that even when Cosmo joins the flock in the zoo later, she’ll still come to them whenever they lay down a little white blanket for her.

They were working with her today where everyone could see her, giving her hugs and praise and a clicker-treat (brine shrimp) when she came to her white blanket (“station”). Later, as the keepers were walking away, one of them had the white blanket with her, and little Cosmo walked right along after her on the sidewalks and paved paths of the zoo (without any enclosure or leash or anything else). It was so cute!

Among the other birds, they have a Plain-colored Amazon parrot who’s learning to “talk” and interact with people. It said “Hello” to me several times and made a “purring” sound. The sign beside its cage suggested that you sing and dance for the birds, but… uh, no. I wasn’t going to do that. Hah!

About halfway through my visit, I stopped at the café to have some lunch: a tri-tip sandwich, fries and a large soda. Their food is always good, but their portions are so large I can never finish it all. The food is expensive, too, but you have to keep in mind that about 30% of the price goes to the animals so… eat and shut up. Hah-2!

Other critters that I hardly ever get to see were also out: The sloth was moseying around in its enclosure, but it’s hard to get photos of it because its in a cage with tiny openings in the mesh that my camera can’t see through. The male jaguar was also out, but he was upset and pacing, so I couldn’t get any clear photos of him either. In the reptile house, though, I had better luck and got pretty good photos of the chuckwalla, Amazon Milk Frogs, and Dart Frogs… and also got to see the Rhinoceros Iguana, which I had never seen before. He was a big dude, about the size of my leg. It would have made a good “dinosaur” in a cheap monster movie.

I ended up seeing about 45 different species and getting some good photos, so I was very pleased.

Baby Animal Bonanza at the Sacramento Zoo, 09-09-17

I went to the Sacramento Zoo today because I wanted to see all of the new babies.  Along with the six baby flamingoes who were born a few weeks ago, on Labor Day two of the other animals took “labor” seriously and had newborns: an Eastern Bongo (whose name is Penny), and the mama Wolf’s Guenon, Mimi,  (who already two other babies, Zuri and Kaci, still growing up around her).  The three Black and White Ruffed Lemurs born in May were now finally on exhibit, too.  So it was baby bonanza there, and I wasn’t disappointed.  I ended up taking over 1400 photo and video snippets!

CLICK HERE to see about 200 of them.

I think all of the animals were happy about the fact that it was a slightly cooler morning (around 68º) and were out and about, and I got to see all of the babies.

As soon as I walked into the zoo, I went over to the duck pond and got to see the American White Pelicans snoozing in the sun and the Southern Crested Screamers posing for photos.  There were also Mallards, Wood Ducks,  White-faced Whistling Ducks, some Orinoco Geese and the adult flamingoes.  In the enclosure for the Thick-Billed Parrots there was a Roadrunner rushing around.

Then it was off to see my favorite Red River Hogs; the whole family was out, scruffing around in the dust. And in the enclosure next to them was the Eastern Bongo and her baby.  OMG, that calf was soooo cute!  It hasn’t grown into its face yet, so it’s all ears and has a wrinkly muzzle.  Every now and then, mom would poke at it with her muzzle or try to herd it by using her horns to steer it around. At only about 4 days old the baby Bongo seems to be able to get around okay on its own, although it did stumble a few times chasing after its mama.  The zoo staff isn’t sure of the gender of the baby yet, and it doesn’t have a name. Same is true of the new baby Wolf’s Guenon.

The whole family of Wolf’s Guenons were out: mom, dad, all of the babies – including the newborn who was clinging to mama’s chest. From where I first saw it, it was hard for me to get any clear photos.  So, I walked around to the other side of the enclosure, and then was able to get some really sweet photos of Mimi and her newborn.  Every once in a while, she’d groom the baby too hard or pinch it in the wrong place while she tried to move it around, and it would give out a loud squealing cheep!  The other youngsters were running around and wrestling with one another, and would stop periodically to look at the newborn, but they never approached it or tried to touch it.  Mama Mimi was very protective of it.

Across from her, the Sumatran Orangutans were out in their enclosure and I got some good shots of them.  Not so with chimpanzees. There were too many gum-chewing ferrets around, and of course none of them have been taught any manners by their moronic parents. I had several of the kids literally shove me out of their way. One of them even elbowed me in the stomach to get past me… And these were “little” kids, maybe 6 to 10 years old (not teenagers)… I hate humans.

Of the big cats, all of them were out except for the Snow Leopard.  The African Lions have a new “cat tree” built in their enclosure with several layers that give them more space to climb and also gives them extra sources of shade.  The male was walking all around it, spraying pee on it and rubbing his face against it.  Hah! Cats are cats… The Sumatran Tiger was out pacing around and at one point jumped up on the ledge in front of the viewing window and scared the crap out of some little kids.  In his enclosure, the male Jaguar was taking a nap.

I then walked over to the giraffe enclosure because I knew the baby Flamingoes would be brought out on a shallow lawn near there, and all of the giraffes were out, including both the Reticulated one and the Masai ones.  The big male Masai was trying to each foliage from a nearby tree, while the others munched on the zoo-provided breakfast of greenery and twigs.

And then, around 10:30 the baby flamingoes were finally brought out and allowed to play in a trio of wading pools.  They were just darling – all these long-legged fuzz balls nattering to one another and jumping around, greeting the group of viewers with wing flaps and little dances. Because they’re so young, they’re still varying shades of white and grey. The keepers said it would take a year for them to fully fledge into their pink feathers.

Among the babies there were four boys and two girls, and all of them are named after cocktails: Tiki, Mai Tai, Bellini, Daiquiri, Blue Hawaiian and Margarita.  The keepers said that eating in the water is instinctual, so they didn’t have to train them to do that. They’re feeding the babies a special flamingo-chow made by Purina.  It has the keratin in it that will turn the birds feathers pink as they fledge out. I stood there, watching them and taking photos of them for almost 30 minutes; they were just so much fun to watch.  Little Mai Tai, a female and one of the smallest in the group, kept going over to this keeper or that keeper, and laid down between their feet.  The keepers said that’s what the babies do in the wild: snuggle down between their parent’s feet to rest. Awwwww.  The babies were also fascinated by the leaves on the ground and tried to untie some of the keepers’ shoes.  Hah! (Oh, and a fun fact: the oldest Flamingo in the zoo is 23 years old; she came as a 2-year old to the zoo in 1996!)

When I was done watching the babies, it was about 11 o’clock, so I had some lunch: a hot dog and a rootbeer float.  While I was eating I watched the giraffes and the Fennec Foxes.  One of the foxes kept moving back and forth against a door on its enclosure, not realizing that there was an open door just a few feet away from it.  It was getting more and more frustrated, but the one by the open door didn’t call to it or otherwise let it know where the entrance was to their “cavern”… The foxes are supposed to have a wide variety of vocalizations, but I’ve never heard them make a peep at the zoo… They’re such pretty little things; I love their faces.

A few of the Straw-colored Fruit Bats were hanging out… but it’s always so hard to get photos of them because you have to shoot through a chain link fence AND deal with the fact that they hide out under an overhang that shades them.

I circled around, back past the Bongo – who was lying in her barn with her baby in the back of her enclosure by that time.  I’m glad I got the photos of her earlier in the morning.  Then I stopped at the Black-and-White Ruffed lemur enclosure.  I saw two of the three babies there.  Most of the lemurs were lying down and resting, so I was able to get some good close-ups of them.  Across from them the White-Faced Sakis were out (but not the Three-Toed Sloth).  The female Saki (who doesn’t have a white face like the male) always looks like she could kick your ass, and today was no different.  She makes me laugh.

Before I left the zoo, I stopped in at the reptile house.  The snakes were unusually active today.  Usually they lie around with their heads tucked into their coils, but many of them today were stretched out and showing off.  I got photos of the Honduran Dwarf Club-tailed Iguana, Madagascar Rainbow Sand Lizard, Madagascar Tree Boa, Madagascar Flat-tailed Tortoise, the Smooth-fronted Caiman, Prehensile-tailed Skink, a Brazilian Rainbow Boa, Pacific Gopher Snake, Ball Python, a couple of European Legless Lizards, a Northern Pacific Rattlesnake and a Sidewinder, a Fiji Island Banded Iguana and a Common Chuckwalla.  I was also there when a keeper fed a tiny pinkie-mouse to a Giant Garter Snake.  In other terrariums were a Mexican Red-kneed Tarantula, several Blue Poison Dart Frogs, California Tiger Salamanders, Golden Mantella frogs, Phantasmal Dart Frogs, and Yellow-banded Poison Dart Frogs.  Phew!

The only part of the zoo that I didn’t get to – because it was getting too hot for me outside – was the Australian section where the ‘roos and wallabies are (along with the Red Panda exhibit and the Hornbills). Next time.