Tag Archives: snowberry

Very Much a “Deer Day”, 01-01-18

Happy New Year!

Around 6:30 am I headed over to the Effie Yeaw Nature Preserve for my first walk of the new year. It was 37º outside, and the sky was full of little tight-fisted clouds. There was some ground fog here and there, but not a lot. Got up to about 61º by the late afternoon.

It was very much a “deer day” today. I hadn’t walked more than 100 feet from the trailhead when I came across a spot where a lot of young bucks were just waking up. They stretched and peed and sparred and had some breakfast. Within just a few minutes I had taken over 300 photos! (Keep in mind that a lot of them are sort of “duplicates”, taking about 3 or 4 shots in succession – but still… Wow.)

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

I saw one of the boys reach his head up into a tangle a low-hanging branches and vines and rub his head and face all over them. I think he was both trying to get an older buck’s scent off of the branches, and put some of his own on them. The male deer have a scent gland right between their antlers (that the females don’t have) and they rub their forehead against trees and other outcroppings to mark their ill-defined territories, and announce to the females (and other males) just how mature and potent they are.

The bucks near the trailhead were all 2-pointers, and had settled down into a bachelor group to sleep for the night. There were no females around them, so all of their sparring was more for one another’s benefit than to impress the gals. I later came across the big 4-point buck, who seemed to have gotten himself a tiny harem of two receptive females. He wasn’t very accommodating today – on the move a lot — so I didn’t get very many photos of him.

In another area, I found a lot of females, many with their fawns. The fawns are all out of their spots now and getting bigger by the day, but they still like getting groomed by their mamas. This group was mostly in the shadows, so it was hard to get any good shot of them, but I did get a few…

There were also quite a few cooperative California Scrub Jays and Wild Turkeys out today, too, and I was able to get quite a few shots of them. I was also surprised by all of the Turkey Vultures around this morning. I even came across a pair sitting side-by-side on a branch, with one of them hunkered down so it was laying on the branch. And nearby were ones doing their outstretched-wing “heraldic” pose, trying to warm up in the early morning sunlight.

In the river, I caught sight of a small flock of Common Goldeneye ducks; mostly males and one female. They’re “nervous” birds, though, and take off at the slightest provocation, so they were gone before I could get to the shore.

I did get some photos of a male Nutthall’s Woodpecker, though. I’ve gotten to the point where I can distinguish the rapping sound of the Acorn Woodpeckers from other woodpeckers… The Nutthall’s rapping sound is “lighter” and quicker than the Acorn’s… So I followed the sound and was able to find the Nutthall’s high over my head, hanging upside down on the underside of a branch, pecking away…

I also got some distant photos of a male Red-Shouldered Hawk and a lovely Northern Flicker – an immature red-shafted male holding his tail feathers out like a fan of red darts…

The most irritating sighting of the day was of a fisherman standing in the river with his unleashed dog beside him. Effie Yeaw is a nature preserve; it’s illegal to fish anywhere near it. There are signs all over that say that, but some people feel they can just ignore the law. This is why we can’t have nice things.

I walked for about 3½ hours, and then headed back home.

Lots of Critters Around on Sunday, 12-17-17

Sergeant Margie wanted to get up at 4:30, but I made him stay in bed until 6:00.  It’s SUNDAY, little dude… I got my laundry done, rebooted the dishwasher, and took out the trash before heading out to the Effie Yeaw Nature Preserve for a walk.

It was 33º at the river when I got there, and about 54º when I left. When I rounded the corner to go into the drive of the preserve, there were about 20 female Wild Turkeys and their immature (teenager) poults hanging out in the middle of the road.  Most of them scurried to get out of my way, but a couple of the older ones m-o-v-e-d  r-e-a-l-l-y  s-l-o-o-o-o-o-w-l-y. I didn’t want to hit any of them, so I just inched the car forward until I was sure everyone was out of the way and not near the tires.

CLICK HERE for the album of photos and videos.

Once inside the preserve, I saw some European Starlings standing on rocks along the side of the little pond, so I got some photos of them.  Then I heard a snort, and looked around to find the big 4-pointer mule deer buck sitting nearby in the grass with some does around him.  I could see his hot breath streaming out of his nostrils.  I was able to get pretty close to him, but he sat where he was and didn’t startle…

I saw other groups of deer, and some more bucks (some of the banging their heads together). At one point, I spotted one group of does coming toward me through the forest, so I just stayed where I was and videod their arrival.  They were moving pretty fast and “stotting”, so I assumed they were fleeing from something – most likely a pack of coyotes. When the deer got near to me, they all came to a stop, and then tip-toed past me. Hah!

Speaking of coyotes. When I came across a bachelor group of Wild Turkeys on the trail, they and I both stopped moving and perked up our ears when we could hear two packs of coyotes yip-yowling at one another. One pack sounded pretty close to me, to my left; the other one sounded like it was closer to the river. They talked back and forth for a few minutes, and then everything was silent again. It was kind of eerie.

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

Lots of Cooperative Birds Today, 11-05-17

The end of daylight savings time; fall back. I love this time-change. It mirrors my body-clock, and make it easier for me to sleep. I got up around 7:00 and headed over to the Effie Yeaw Nature Preserve. It was 43º when I got there, and 50º when I left around 10:30 am.

CLICK HERE for the album and video snippets.

There weren’t a lot of deer out today, but I did get to see a lot of birds, some of them close up. Right next to the nature center building I found a pair of male Lesser Goldfinches eating seeds, and a little further down the trail I came across a Red-Breasted Sapsucker that was very cooperative and let me get several photos of him. The best bird sighting of the day, though, was seeing a Cooper’s Hawk, up in the top of an oak tree, having a small bird for breakfast. I got photos and a couple of video snippets of it. I also saw Golden Crowned and White Crowned Sparrow, Mourning Doves, Northern Flickers, Robins, Scrub Jays, a Nutthall’s Woodpecker, a Herring Gull, and the ubiquitous Wild Turkeys, Acorn Woodpeckers and Starlings.

The grape vine leaves are starting to change color, but mostly the leaves on the ground are various shades of brown… and the Snowberry bushes are covered in berries right now. I love this time year…

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…