I got up around 6:00 am and headed over to the American River Bend Park. I was hoping the redbud trees would be in bloom there, and they were, but thanks to Daylight Savings Time, it was still dark when I arrived at the park – made darker because of a thick overcast. So, I had to wait about 30 minutes before it got light enough for my camera to actually be able to see anything.
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I got some lovely redbud photos, along with some shots of the Pipevine Swallowtail butterflies that were out. It was still chilly (in the 50’s) outside, and there had been a heavy dew overnight, so the butterflies were all torpid and wet, but some of them managed to rouse themselves so I could take their pictures. The place was also alive with the songs of House Wrens. They seemed to be singing from everything jumble of underbrush around. I was able to get photos and video of them… and of some Spotted Towhees that were also singing in the area. I think I would’ve seen more action if it had been just a tad warmer…
Still, I walked for almost 4 hours (which is my absolute limit) before heading home. I’d tweaked my left ankle at the park when I climbed a pile of mulch to get photos of some slime mold, so that kept me chair-bound most of the rest of the day.
Happy Valentine’s Day. I got up about 7:30 am and headed out to the American River Bend Park for a walk. I wasn’t looking for anything in particular, and I was trying to be conscientious about not forcing my body to do more than it could, so instead of a 3 or 4 hour walk, I cut it down to about 2 hours. I did a figure-8 loop through the upper campsite area and came across a large group of birders looking for birds along the river. There were so many people, though, that they scared off whatever birds might’ve normally been visible to them. Large groups also play havoc with some of the weaker parts of the trail (which is mostly on sandy cliffs along the riverside). The group leaders should have known better…
As I said, I wasn’t looking for anything special, and just walked at a slow pace trying to get the crap out of my lungs and watching for whatever Nature wanted to show me. The long grass is growing in now and everything looks green-green. The pipevines already have blossoms on them, and the manroot vines are starting to come up. They’re thick and ropey and look like snakes; they rear straight up off the ground in places looking for low-ling tree branches to grab a hold of. The Miner’s Lettuce is also growing quickly and is working itself up into secondary leaves and blossoms…
I saw 28 species of bird on my walk today including: Acorn Woodpecker Melanerpes formicivorus, Anna’s Hummingbird Calypte anna, Belted Kingfisher Megaceryle alcyon, Bushtit Psaltriparus minimus, California Gull Larus californicus, Common Goldeneye Bucephala clangula, Common Merganser Mergus merganser, Cooper’s Hawk Accipiter cooperii, Double-crested Cormorant Phalacrocorax auritus, European Starling Sturnus vulgaris, Great Egret Ardea alba, House Wren Troglodytes aedon, Lark Sparrow Chondestes grammacus, Mallard Anas platyrhynchos, Mourning Dove Zenaida macroura, Northern Flicker Colaptes auratus, Nuttall’s Woodpecker Picoides nuttallii, Oak Titmouse Baeolophus inornatus, Red-shouldered Hawk Buteo lineatus, Snowy Egret Egretta thula, Spotted Sandpiper Actitis macularius, Spotted Towhee Pipilo maculatus, Tree Swallow Tachycineta bicolor, Turkey Vulture Cathartes aura, Western Scrub-Jay Aphelocoma californica, White-breasted Nuthatch Sitta carolinensis, White-crowned Sparrow Zonotrichia leucophrys, Wild Turkey Meleagris gallopavo.
There was one gorgeous Red-Shouldered Hawk that sat on a stumpy branch on the outside of a tree where I could get some good photos of him. The Red-Shouldered hawk and a Cooper’s Hawk kept shadowing one another through the forest, like they were both scouting nesting sites and didn’t want the other one to get the best spot. The Cooper’s Hawk gave up, though, when the Red-Shouldered Hawk met up with its mate. Two against one…
As I was leaving the park, I came across a small bachelor group of mule deer grazing in the long grass. I pulled off to the side of the road and photographed them through the passenger side window of the car. They eyed me every now and then, but didn’t bolt or run off, so I got a few good shots of them, too.
As I said, I had cut my walk a bit short, and on the way home I stopped off at Bel Air to get some stuff for lunch. I was so exhausted when I got back to the house that I went into my bedroom and pretty much just stayed in bed for the rest of the day.
It was my day off, but I got up around 6:30 anyway and headed over to the American River Bend Park. I was hoping that with the rain during the week and the warm temperatures after it that there would be some interesting slime molds out in the woods. No slime mold, but I did get to see a couple specimens of Sulphur Shelf Fungus: one in its very early stages and another in its nearly-complete stage. I also watched a small flock of Turkey Vultures along the riverside, and a family of Acorn Woodpeckers transferring newly fallen acorns from the ground into their granary trees. As the woodpeckers were stashing the acorns, some White Breasted Nuthatches came by and tried stealing a few of them. Hah!
I actually walked around for about 4 hours; I was aching from the long time on my feet, but was really surprised that I actually walked for that long. On the way home, I stopped at Togo’s to get some sandwiches, and then crashed with the dogs for the rest of the day. A very quiet Friday…
After saying goodbye to my brother, Miles, I looked in on the Red-Shouldered Hawk fledgling at the American River Bend Park, and also briefly encountered his mother who did NOT like me hanging around her baby’s tree. She screeched at me and then sky-rocketed over me. The baby is almost fully fledged. He’ll probably be flying by next week. I also saw the Wrens, Tree Swallows, and a couple of pairs of Western Bluebirds at their nests. I thought I was getting video of one of the bluebird nests but when I got home I realized I didn’t have it. The nest was low enough that I was hoping the camera could see inside of it and catch a glimpse of the babies. I could hear them chirping… but I must not have pressed the record button hard enough. Dang! I then found a Mourning Dove nest tucked away in the “elbow” of a tree. It was camouflaged so well that I didn’t see it until it was right in front of my face. Mama was sitting on it, perfectly still, perfectly quiet.
Along the river, I came across a large flock of Turkey Vultures. Some were sitting on a large flat rock in the water; others were up in the trees in front of me and over my head. Most of them flew off when I approached — shy creatures — but there were a couple of brave ones that stayed around long enough for me to get some photos of them. While I was watching them, they were watching a family of Canada Geese swimming along the river bank: two adults, two fuzzy silver-gold goslings, and two fledglings that were just starting to come into their adult coloring. The vultures didn’t bother them.
While I was walking, another photographer came along and said there was a Cooper’s Hawk nest by the horseshoe pit area, so I drove over there, but I couldn’t find the nest. That ARE always well-hidden though. While I was there, I took some photos of a pair of male Wild Turkeys that were napping in the shade before I headed home – and pretty much collapsed for the day.