Tag Archives: ring-billed gulls

Vultures and Shrooms at the River Bend Park, 11-20-16

I got out of bed around 7:30 am and headed over to the American River Bend Park for a walk, I’d gone mainly to see if there were any signs of fungi out yet – and there were a few – but mostly I got photos of Turkey vultures who all decided to sit up in the trees over the trail and “vulch” at people. Hah!  The coyote brush is still in bloom all along the river trail, and I also found several snowberry plants with their fat white berries just waiting for the birds to eat them.

CLICK HERE to see the full album of photos.

Among the fungi I found Deer Shield, Inky Cap, Haymaker and Veined Parasol mushrooms, and both yellow and brown jelly fungus, among others.  It needs to get a lot wetter before we really see a profusion of ‘shrooms here.

Along the way, I saw some Golden-Crowned Sparrows trying to eat the see clusters off of the old start thistle, but the stems were water-logged and wouldn’t support the birds’ weight. So the birds would fly up the side of the plant, and the plant would bend over to the ground, and they’d eat the seeds off the ground.  Smart little things.

I also saw a Great Blue Heron steal something that looked like a salmon skeleton from a Turkey Vulture on the bank across the river from where I was standing.  I tried to get some video, but I can’t control the iris on this camera when it’s recording – it picks a setting by itself – so the heron was “washed out”… but the Vulture turned out fine.  Weird.  And frustrating.

On the river I saw several Common Mergansers (all females), a female Goldeneye, some Mallards, and a few pairs of Bufflehead ducks.  They’re very shy, though, and wouldn’t let me get too close. I also saw a Double-Crested Cormorant sharing his rock with a couple of Ring-Billed Gulls.

I walked for about 3 ½ hours and then headed home, stopping at BelAir along the way to get some chili for lunch.  It just sounded good…

Looking for Dragonflies

A Widow Skimmer and male Common Pondhawk  face off against one another. ©2016 Mary K. Hanson.  All rights reserved.
A Widow Skimmer and male Common Pondhawk face off against one another. ©2016 Mary K. Hanson. All rights reserved.

I got up around 5:00 am even though I didn’t have to work today.  Forecasts were for temperatures over 100° by the afternoon, so I headed out early to the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge before it got too hot outside.  I wasn’t expecting to see a lot of birds; I was looking for dragonflies.  Before I even got near the refuge, I found myself driving through thin “clouds” of dragonflies along the freeway.  It was like a population explosion of Variegated Meadowhawks; they were everywhere… and lots of them hitting the windshield like tiny soft bullets.

The refuge was full of them, too, especially where the water was still standing.  I also saw lots of Widow Skimmers, Blue Dashers, Common Pondhawks (blue males and green females), Green Darners and Black Saddlebags, along with a bunch of blue damselflies.  Despite their numbers, getting clear photos of them was a bear.  They were usually in among the tules and other plants and all of the background “layers” made it difficult to tell if the camera was focusing on the right one.  I snapped off almost 2000 shots and less than half of them were usable.  That’s just how it goes sometimes.  I also saw other insects like honey bees and bumblebees, and loads of Cabbage White butterflies.  There were also some Sulphers, Common Buckeyes, and Painted Ladies.

As I was leaving the loop around the permanent wetland area, I came across some Great-Tailed Grackles.  One of the males was feeding a juvenile female what looked like a tadpole he’d brought up from the water.  I also saw Kingbirds, Pelicans, Grebes and Red-Winged Blackbirds.

CLICK HERE for the album of photos.


Deer, Deer, Deer and More Deer…

Black-Tailed Mule Deer doe. Copyright © 2016 Mary K. Hanson. All rights reserved.
Black-Tailed Mule Deer doe. Copyright © 2016 Mary K. Hanson. All rights reserved.

I got up around 7:00 am today, and headed out to the Effie Yeaw Nature Preserve.  It was 38° and overcast outside when I got there, and sunny and 51° when I left.

At the nature preserve, I somehow accidentally put my camera on a “small image” setting, so I lost some of the resolution in the photos.  That’s so irritating.  It doesn’t tell you when it’s switched from large to mall, and the only way I know it’s been altered is by looking at the number of available photos (tiny number in the upper right corner of the view finder).  But I still managed to get some fairly good shots.

The first thing I saw was the Mule Deer buck with the wonky antlers (the tips bend backwards; make him very distinctive). That was a nice way to start my walk.  I ended up seeing dozens of deer along the trail, including about six bucks.  There was one place on the trail where I was watching two of the big bucks walking out from a stand of trees and while I’m taking photos of them, a guy comes up behind me on the trail.  He watched me take photos for a little while and then said quietly, “Did you see the one right behind you?”  I turned around and found a huge buck just sitting there in the grass looking right at me.  Hah!  I’m so observant.

At another point on the trail I came across an Acorn Woodpecker that was stashing stuff under the bark of an old scag of a tree.  As I approached, the bird made it clear he didn’t want me near “his” tree, and clung to the bark chattering angrily at me and raising his head feathers.  I got a little video of that.

I watched a gull trying to get the last morsels out of a salmon skeleton, and several Wild Turkeys “in strut”.  One posed for me so I got some close-ups of his face.  And I also saw Northern Flickers, Mallards, Wood Ducks, Goldeneye Ducks, Bufflehead, Herring Gulls, Ring-Billed Gulls, Spotted Sandpiper, Red-Shouldered Hawk, and a Scrub Jay taking a bath in a pond.  It was a good “nature morning”.

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I walked for about 3 hours and then headed home.


New Year’s Eve at the Cosumnes River Preserve

Sora. Copyright © 2015 Mary K. Hanson. All rights reserved.
Sora. Copyright © 2015 Mary K. Hanson. All rights reserved.

New Year’s Eve.  It was cold and foggy when I got up around 7:15 this morning.

I put in a load of laundry in the dryer, got the dishes going in the dishwasher and made a pot of coffee before sending off copies of my latest Tuleyome Tales to the local media.  This one, timely enough, is on bald eagles.  I also set up a list of topics for the tales for 2016, and got that loaded up so it’s ready to go in 2016.  All of that took about 2 hours, and by then the dishes were washed and the clothes were dry, so I unpacked those machines and put everything away.

Around 11:00 am, I headed over to the Cosumnes River Preserve for a walk.  It was sunny in Sacramento when I left the house, but was still foggy at the preserve (at least for a little while).  There wasn’t a lot to see today (it was in the 40’s ad a lot of the birds were huddled on the ground).  But I did get some photos of the tiny Dunlins, and I saw the Sora again and got a few photos of it.  I also got quite a few shots of an Eastern Red Squirrel munching on thistles; with its winter coat on, its ears had extra red fur on them that made them really stand out.  I was out there for about 2 hours and then headed back home.

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