Tag Archives: peking duck

Found a Robin’s Nest at William Land Park, 06-23-18

I headed out with the dog to the William Land Park for a short walk. And I mean short. We were only out there for about 90-minutes. It was 73º already when we left the house at 5:30 am! and 80º when we got back home.

On our way to the park, I came across a mother Wild Turkey and her NINE poults. They were by an open field right near a bus stop. Mom was on one side of a rickety chain link fence, and the babies, who were on the sidewalk, couldn’t figure out how to get through the fence to meet up with her.  So, they were running back and forth, peeping loudly. Mom finally walked up to where there was a gap in the fence and stayed there until the kids could join her.

In the WPA Rock Garden, there were different species of Mullein in bloom all over garden, yellow and white. Just some fun facts about mullein: it’s a biennial plant; the word mullein, comes from the German language, meaning “king’s candle” because of its scepter-like, candle-straight growth in its second year; the leaves and flowers are edible and make a nice tea. Most of the mullein we see are non-natives and the Woolly species is considered an invasive in California even though it’s not really that aggressive.

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos and video snippets.

I also saw signs that the Leaf-Cutter Bees had been busy at work in the garden. They cut out perfect little half-circles in the soft leaves of the Redbud trees to line their nests. I also saw a lot of the ubiquitous European Honey Bees, some Yellow-Faced Bumblebees, some Long-Horned Bees just waking up from their overnight torpor, and a small group of bright red Assassin Bug nymphs on the stems of some Red Poppies of Flanders.

I also found what I thought was a collection of tiny, black shiny insect eggs. I took photos of them and when I blew the images up I realized that the little black things were actually bug nymphs (Pittosporum shield bug, Monteithiella humeralis, I think) just hatching out of their white eggs. Cool!

At the pond, there was a Mallard mama out with her seven ducklings, and also a mama Swedish Blue/Mallard hybrid with her three ducklings. One of her ducklings looked like a Mallard baby, but the other two were black and yellow with light colored bibs like the Swedish Blues. One of those babies also had black feet with yellow toes. So cute!

There was also a lone Wood Duck (a little female who didn’t take any guff from the larger Mallards), a Crested Duck, a pair of Peking Ducks, and some Indian Runner Ducks. No geese, though, which I thought was kind of odd.

High in a tree on one side of the pond, I could see a nest and something moving around in it. The nest was made of twigs and grass, and also had some white ribbon hanging from the bottom of it (which made it easy to spot). For I while I couldn’t tell what kind of bird was moving around it, so I tried looking at it from different angles and different distances from the tree. I then I realized it was Robin’s nest. Mama Robin came by to check on the kids – there were actually three of them in there. I think she’d brought them something to eat, but I couldn’t tell what it was. Papa Robin showed up a few seconds later, and then both parents flew off again to find more breakfast.

Oh, one thing I noticed that I’d never seen before: a mosquito drinking nectar from a flower. I knew the females drank blood, but for some reason it never occurred to me that they (and the males) drink nectar, too.

As I said, we only walked for about 90 minutes and then headed back home because it was already getting too warm outside. It got up to 102 today.

After Work at the WPA Rock Garden, 09-14-17

After work, it was still relatively nice outside, so I went over to the WPA Rock Garden and duck pond for a short walk.

I came across the caterpillar of a Redhumped Caterpillar Moth on one of the Redbud Trees there.  They’re considered a pest species because they can have three generations in a single year and skeletonize the leaves of a lot of different kinds of trees.  There was only one that I saw, and it was big enough to start working on its chrysalis, so I don’t think it was much of a threat to the tree at this point.  The caterpillars burrow underground to form their chrysalis and overwinter in it.  Lots of little Skippers and some Hairstreak Butterflies around.  Among the common Fiery Skippers were some darker Woodland Skippers to break up the monotony… I also got some photos of a Flame Skimmer dragonfly and a Variegated Meadowhawk . Their regular mating season is almost over now…

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

While I was taking photos of the insects, there was a professional photographer taking photos of a little boy, a toddler with thick black curly hair.  His mother made loud squeaking noises at him to make him laugh… and every time she did that, a homeless guy who was squatting in the park shouted at the top of his lungs, “Goddamn it! It is so noisy here!  Shut Up!  I’m trying to sleep!  This is the noisiest place I have ever lived in!”

Someone yelled back at him, “You don’t live here, man. This is a public park. If you don’t like the noise, get out!”

Then the homeless guy started screaming like a chimpanzee – “Oooh! Ooh!  Eee!  Eee!” — as he gathered up all of his stuff.  As he was leaving the garden area, he started yell-singing at the top of his lungs, “What do you get when you fall in love?!  You get enough germs to catch pneumonia!  After you do, he’ll never phone ya! I’ll never fall in love again!”  He kind of mixed up the lyrics and apparently these were the only lines he knew he knew, because he repeated them over and over and over again… I could hear him even when he was halfway out to the golf course. *Sigh*

I watched some hummingbirds chase each other around the garden and I think one pair of them were Rufous Hummingbirds, the ones with the rusty coloring on them. The male never sat still long enough for me to get any decent photos of him, but I got quite a lot of the female.  It seems awfully late in the year for them to be so “horny” but maybe the hurricanes and Climate Change have confused them…

There was a Green Heron running back and forth along the edges of the pond, picking off little minnows when they came up to munch on algae. I followed him around for a little while and got quite a few photos of him. I saw him catch several fish, but he always had his back to me when he did it, and I couldn’t get any good “capture” shots.

I finished off the walk taking photos of the ducks before heading back the car. On my way out of the garden I came across a male Praying Mantis, and snapped a few shots of him before I left.

After a 24-Hour Shift, I Needed a Nature Break

After breakfast on Friday, I checked out of the hotel where I worked on the Big Day of Giving for a 24 hour shift, and went in to the Tuleyome office to unpack stuff that had to be returned there, went through the mail, and sent off some emails… Then I headed back home. I felt I needed a nature fix to help clear my tired, fuzzy brain, so I stopped briefly at William Land Park, to walk through the flowers and see the duckies there.

CLICK HERE to see an album of photos and videos.

The WPA Rock Garden there is looking lovely this time of year; lots of different flowers and trees in bloom. Between the flowers, the fennel plants and the Spice Bush, the air was filled with fragrance…

Around the pond there were the standard ducks and geese, including one pair of ducks with 10 ducklings. The pair was made up a male Mallard and a larger female Cayuga-Swedish Blue hybrid, so some of the duckling had Mallard markings, and some of the babies were all black with tufts of yellow on them. The cutest thing about the babies was that some of them had black legs and toes, but the webbing between the toes was bright yellow, as was the underside of their feet… Mallards hybridize easily, and most of the ducks around that pond have intermixed at least once, so there are a lot of “odd ducks” walking around the pond.

I also saw a baby Red-Eared Slider Turtle in the water, about the size of a 50¢ piece swimming in the water. It followed me for a bit, then swam off, then came to the surface, then swam off again… It made me smile (even though that species of turtle is actually invasive.)

I walked for about an hour and then went on to the house.

Zoo Day, 03-31-17

Around 8:30 am I headed over to the Sacramento Zoo, hoping to be able to catch a glimpse of their new tigress Jillian.  I didn’t see her, but I did get to see a lot of the other big cats including the Snow Leopard, Lions and Jaguar.  It was sunny, bright and in the 50’s, but a stiff wind was blowing so it felt a little colder than it was.  I put on an extra t-shirt to keep my insides warm…

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

I got to the zoo too early, so I walked around the middle  pool at the William Land Park.  Whatever restoration the city was doing there is finished, but the big pond is still empty and surrounded by a fence.  I finished the walk around the pool right around 9 o’clock so I went into the zoo – just as a busload of ferrets showed up. Eew.  I tried to avoid their group as much as possible, but one group figured out that I had a good eye for finding the animals, so they hung around me no matter how hard I tried to lose them.  “Just watch where she points the camera,” one of the moms kept telling the kids.  Hah!

I was at the zoo for about three hours, just walking around at a leisurely pace, taking photos… Around 11:00 I stopped and got some lunch: a club sandwich with fries and a beer, and a package of cotton candy, too, of course. I can’t have a zoo day without cotton candy.

Most of the giraffes were out including the Masai dad, who was playing kick-ball with a barrel, and the baby who was feeling his oats and jumping around.  He would crouch down on his long legs and then pop up and bounce around – so cute. I got photos and videos of them.

When I got to the lions, papa decided to start roaring and I was able to get video of that, too. All of the cats seemed to be really enjoying the fresh cool weather, and posed for photos… except for Jillian. There was a zookeeper sitting out in front of the tiger’s enclosure, and pointed out where the tiger was supposed to be: in the dark under a cave-rock. I couldn’t see anything.  Jillian is new to the zoo, so she’s not habituated to her enclosure yet. I’m sure all the screaming children running around wasn’t helping her any…

There was a female Mallard who already had a brood of about seven ducklings with her; early season babies… and when I got to the chimpanzee enclosure, near the end of my walk, they were all sitting on the ground eating leaves or dozing in the warm sun…  I think I ended up with over 1400 photos!

Mostly Squirrels, 02-28-17

It was so pretty outside, I felt compelled to go walk somewhere for a little while after my meeting. So I went over to William Land Park.  I couldn’t get near the ponds — they’re under construction, getting cleaned out and replanted — which was kind of a bummer.  But the critters don’t care that fences are up, so they were in the water: ducks, geese, a cormorant, lots of turtles… I also got a lot of photos of squirrels, which are always fun to watch.

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

Vacation Day 10: Cosumnes River Preserve and William Land Park

DAY 10 OF MY VACATION.  I got up a little after 6:00 this morning at the hotel.  We were out of here before 6:30 and headed back to Sacramento, hitting the morning traffic at just the ickiest time. D’oh!  Since we were up and moving anyway, I decided to drive all the way to Elk Grove and the Cosumnes River Preserve.  The dog isn’t allowed in there, so I sat with him in the car and took photos of the birds through the open windows… Got some pretty good shots!

At first I drove along Desmond Road and then I went into the preserve itself.  On October 22nd there was a spotting of about 50 Sandhill Cranes in the field along Desmond Road, some of them within 20 feet of the vehicles that had stopped to look at them.  Today… nuthin’, not a single crane. Nature doesn’t perform on cue.

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

But the first thing I saw along Desmond Road was a group of Great Egrets starting their early morning hunt for voles, so I got some photos of them. I watched a pair goose-step together for a while, and then one of them walked off and back with that same stiff posture.  I don’t know if that territorial behavior or early courtship behavior – (Some of the egrets’ faces are flushing green, but they haven’t grown their long plumes yet.)  It was fun to watch.  I got a little video of that, too.  There was a Great Blue Heron out in the field with the egrets, but he was further away, so I didn’t get any really clear shots of him.  Further along, I came across a Say’s Phoebe that posed for me on the top of a dried weed.

In the preserve, I parked near the front pond and got photos of a variety of ducks and shorebirds – and my first American Pipit(!). The overcast turned the water silvery gray, so a lot of the photos I got there have a silver-white background that makes them look like paintings.  Among the ducks were Northern Shovelers, Cinnamon Teals, Northern Pintails, and Green-Winged Teals.  I got a little video of a pair of males beating the crap out of each other, and also spotted a little female that seemed to be having trouble breathing. She was able to walk around, but was gaping a lot.

Among the shorebirds were Killdeer, Long-Billed Dowitchers (in their nonbreeding plumage), Black-Necked Stilts, Dunlins, American Coots, and a couple of Wilson’s Snipes.  I’m always fascinated by the Snipes.  I don’t know why, but I always find myself focusing on them and taking a lot of photos and video of them whenever I see them.  Maybe they’re one of my “spirit animals”. I also saw a few Brown-Headed Cowbirds, Golden-Crowned Sparrows, and Red-Winged Blackbirds.

When I was done at the preserve,  I drove back to Sacramento again, and figured that dog had been so good on the whole trip I’d treat him to a walk at the William Land Park before going home.  While we were there a Green Heron flew up onto one of plant holders in the pond, so I got some photos of it.  I find these birds intriguing, too, and usually take waaaaay more pictures of them than I really need to… along with the pictures I take of the ubiquitous ducks, geese, and tree squirrels.  Among the ducks today there were a lot of Cayuga ducks, some apricot colored Indian Runners, Swedish Blues, a Silver Appleyard, and some Rouens (all of which are domesticated versions of the wild Mallards).

A very nature-filled morning.