Tag Archives: pond

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,

Deer, Squirrels and Vultures on 10-27-18

I got around 6:30 am and headed over to the Effie Yeaw Nature Preserve. It was a little foggy and about 49º at the preserve when I got there but went up to about 77º by the afternoon.

The first thing I saw when I got into the preserve was a large 3-pointer buck. He was moving through the meadow with the fog around his flanks and ankles. He was really too far away to get any super good photos of him, but I was still able to get a handful of fairly good images.

Then I came across a group of females, one fawn and a spike buck. Because the group was so close to one another, I was able to get a few two-fer shots which I always like. One female stepped forward to act as a barrier between me and the rest of the group. She eventually crossed the trail and hung out in the shallow pasture on that side. Among the deer there, I’m able to recognize a few individuals, especially one with a very long face. That one was a part of this group, so I was able to get photos of her. The deer seemed fine with me there (all dressed in black and not moving much) but were startled when a pair of other walkers came by (dressed in more brightly colored clothing and walking somewhat quickly).

The “shy mama” deer and her fawn were on the other side of the preserve. She doesn’t seem to be in any hurry to introduce her baby to the rest of the herd.

There were a LOT of Turkey Vultures out thus morning, including a couple of juveniles (with their steel-black beaks). At one spot I was able to see seven or eight of them all standing with their wings out in the “heraldic” pose. I think they’re such neat birds.

I also saw quite a few Northern Flickers out today, a Red-Shouldered Hawk hunting in the same field he was the last time I was out at the preserve, and a Cooper’s Hawk that only show me its back. I caught a glimpse of a coyote but was unable to get any photos of it.

I was able to get some video footage of an Eastern Fox Squirrel worrying the meat out of an old black walnut shell, and more footage of a California Ground Squirrel pealing and eating an acorn, and another Ground Squirrel working on the front of its burrow. I’m always fascinated by how well and quickly they can manipulate things with their front paws.

Showy Milkweed is all dying right now and going to seed. Only one or two Monarch caterpillars early in the year and nothing this fall. Much less than last year.

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

Scouting Out Spots for Trail Cameras, 10-04-18

My Tuleyome coworkers Nate, Eric “Bam Bam”, Kristie and I were all scheduled to head over to the Lake County to scout out places to put the trail cameras today. We left the office at 8:00 am. The trip to the ranch, which is Lake County, took about 90 minutes (one way) and Nate did the driving, hauling all of us up there in his SUV.

It was overcast, around 63º, with some clouds dragging their bellies across the tops of the hills, but the rain held off until just before we were ready to leave.

Bam Bam had never been to the property before, and Nate and I hadn’t been there since the Pawnee Fire burned through it.  I was kind of shocked by how much surface damage the wildfire had done.  I need to find the “before” photos so you can see the change from when I first saw the place and what it looks like now. Even without the comparison, you’ll be able to see just how burned “BURNED!” is.  In some spots, the fire burned so hot and lingered so long that it burned down into the root ball of trees, and when the trees fell over the fire burned them down into the ground until there was nothing left but white and orange ash “skeletons” on the ground.  Bam Bam, who used to be a volunteer firefighter, said that when the mop up crews from the fire brigade come into a wildfire area after a fire, the first thing they look for are the root holes. They make sure that all of the roots are gone and that there’s nothing left smoldering in the holes that might re-ignite and start another fire.

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

Nate had made maps that noted some areas where he thought would make good placements for the cameras, and he used that as a guide, but once we got to the site, we chose spots based on where we saw scat, tracks or game trails; where we could see where the water from the season creek would flow; and where there were open spaces flanked by areas where we figure vegetation would sprout in the spring. We’d originally thought we’d put out about 5 cameras, but we ended up finding about 9 spots where we want cameras to go.

One of “good” things about the wildfire was that it revealed all of the parts of the landscape that had been covered up by overgrown grasses and other vegetation.  We could clearly see the path of the seasonal creek – including a large pond – which helped us decide where to put cameras to capture images of river otters and other critters that might visit the creek once the water is flowing.  In the pond area, there was a stand of tules and cattails that were mostly dried out, and in among them Nate and Kristie found about 5 nests, most likely made by Red-Winged Blackbirds, woven into and around the tules. Nate cut out one of them, so we could use it as a display piece for our Certified California Naturalist class.

While we were scouting the area, we found evidence of deer, elk, bobcats, a black bear, jackrabbits, and coyotes… including some large elk bones (mostly ribs and vertebrae.) So, we know there are critters out there. The question will be: will they return as the landscape revives from the fire.

I documented some plant life but need to do more of that next time we’re out there. Along with the Blue Oak trees and Ponderosa Pines, there were also lots of manzanita trees and toyon bushes, mugwort, heliotrope, and doveweed… and some Yellow Star Thistle which needs to be pulled out.  I also found some fungi, including Barometer Earthstars.

The funniest part of the day was when Nate set off the sound box of a toy quail on the property — and live quails answered it. A couple of male quails jumped up into the branches of a dead tree trying to see who the intruder was. Hah!

The rain was polite and waited until just before we were ready to leave before it started. Everyone seemed to have enjoyed themselves. It was a fun and productive day.

Funding for this project was paid in part by the Sacramento Zoo, Project #18-022.

One-, Two, and Three-Point Bucks, 09-03-18

I have the day off and got up around 6:00 am to head over to the Effie Yeaw Nature Preserve.

There were a lot of deer out at the preserve today. The bachelor groups of bucks are starting to move back in, and I saw spike bucks, two-pointers and three-pointers; some in their velvet, some not. No fawns today, though.

CLICK HERE for the album of photos.

I saw a Red-Shouldered Hawk stalking what I think was a snake along the ground. The snake must’ve found a hole to duck into, though, because after a few minutes, the hawk gave up and flew away.

At another point along the trail, I saw two juvenile California Ground Squirrels in the grass to my right. You can tell the juveniles from the adults not only by their smaller size, but also by the nearly white collar around their neck and shoulders. The two kids rushed across the trail in front of me, and one of them ducked into the cover of a twiggy, low-lying Blue Elderberry tree. I got a couple of photos of it before it got itself into an area where there were so many twigs I could barely see it anymore.

The second juvenile remained in the middle of the trail, and I was able to get a lot of photos of it while it foraged for little seeds and stuff on the ground. Then suddenly it was like it realized it needed to be under better cover, and it rushed up the side of a tree. It peeked around the trunk to look at me, and then jumped down and buried itself in the long grass. Hah! So cute!

At the little pond, I saw a handful of Bullfrog tadpoles, including one that already had its legs but hadn’t lost its tail yet.

I’m a bit concerned that one of the trees on the property – the Half-Blood, part Valley Oak, part Blue Oak – still doesn’t have more than a handful of galls on it. It’s usually covered in them, especially the Crystalline Galls, but this year there’s nothing. I wonder if the preserve crew sprayed Round-Up or some other killer around the base of it, and the tree is still suffering so it can’t support its normal load of wasp galls…

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

Saw a Coyote Family Playing in a Meadow, 08-11-18

Got up around 6:00 am after a good night’s sleep. I head over to the Effie Yeaw Nature Preserve and it was already 68º outside (with a “real feel” of 73º according to the weather app on my phone.)

The first thing I saw when I got to the preserve was two coyote pups (teenagers) bouncing through the meadow. I parked the car and got out hurriedly and tried to figure out which way the kids were going. As I entered the grounds, I saw an adult coyote standing next to the nature center. It walked up the side of a hill and then sat down in the tall grass, nearly disappearing as it did so. I continued on down the trail and found the pack in the meadow. It looked like mom and about four pups. They were running around, play-hunting, and jumping up and down. Mom would sit down in the grass, and the pups would run around her and back and forth across the meadow. Then they’d all converge on the mom and pounce on her like she was prey. She’d roll around and nip at them… they were all having such a good time; it was so fun to watch them.

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos. And here are some videos from today:

A little further down the same trail, I came across a trio of does. They were standing in the woods, and all of them had their ears cocked, listening to the coyotes in the field nearby. So pretty.

And still further down the trail, near the pond, I saw a doe to my left, and could hear what I first thought was a kitten mewing to my right. I looked around the tules by the pond and found that the “mewing” was actually coming from a fawn. The fawn was still in its spots and looked as though it had injured one side of its mouth. Its bottom lip was swollen in the corner and that tilted the mouth a bit, so it looked like the fawn had a perpetual “resting bitch face” look. Hah!

I’m not sure, but it looked like maybe the fawn had been stung by bees or wasps. The mouth injury didn’t seem to have interfered with the fawn’s ability to eat, though; it looked chubby and healthy. Its coat was a little ratty-looking but that might be because it was shedding its baby coat and making room for its teenager coat.

The wild mugwort is going into bloom everywhere throughout the preserve, and more wasp galls are appearing on the oak trees.

Another treat was being able to see a large flock of Yellow-Billed Magpies on one of the lawns. They were slumming with a smaller flock of European Starlings. It looked like most of the magpies were going through a molt; you could see all the yellow skin around their eyes…

At one point, one of the magpies jumped on top of another. The magpie on the bottom started screaming and struggling to get up. While it screamed, and the other magpies flew in around it. I got the impression that they weren’t ganging up on the one on the ground, so much as they wanted the magpie that was on top to leave the other one alone. The magpie on top moved to one side, and the pinned one flew away. Wow.

I walked for about 3 hours and then headed home. While I was walking, I had the Pokémon Go game running on my phone and walked enough miles to hatch out two eggs. Both of them were Magnemites. For those of you who don’t play the game, you’ll have no idea what that means. Hah-ha-ha!

Lots of Red-Shouldered Hawks Today, 06-19-18

I headed over to the Effie Yeaw Nature Preserve again for a walk. The weather was lovely all morning, so the walk was a pleasant one. The only thing that kind of messed up my morning was that I was lost in thought while I was driving to the preserve and overshot it by about 10 miles. D’oh!

The Black Phoebes, California Scrub Jays and Red-Shouldered Hawks seemed to be out about everywhere. I think many of them were fledglings just learning how to fly and hunt for themselves – so they were kind of conspicuous.

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos and video.

At one tree, a young hawk flew up into the bare branches right next to a European Starlings nesting cavity nest. The parent birds, seeing the hawk, flew into the tree next door – their beaks full of worms and bugs for their babies – and just stood there waiting for the hawk to move on. I could hear the fledglings in the nest – who could see their parents – clamoring to be fed.

At another part of the trail, I saw a Red-Shouldered Hawk fly low across the floor of the forest with something in its talons, and then perch up in a tree right across a clearing from where I was walking. It looked like the bird had gotten a fat crayfish, and it spent several minutes ripping the thing apart and devouring it before it flew off again with a series of loud shrieks. I was able to get still shots and video of the bird while it was feeding.

I could also hear lots of Nutthall’s Woodpeckers around, but even though they’re noisy and announce themselves when they fly, they’re fast and it’s hard to get any good shots of them. I only got one in the camera’s eye and only got a few photos before it took off again.

The other critters that were out en masse were the ticks. I used repellant spray before I went out, but I still got attacked, and ended up taking six home with me – that I later found attached to my clothes and torso. Eeew! I know they have their place in the ecosystem, but I hate those things.