Tag Archives: Wilson’s Snipes

Still Not a Lot of Variety Yet, 11-12-18

I got up around 7:00 am, fed the dog his breakfast, and then went out to the Cosumnes River Preserve for a walk. There was still a lot of smoke in the air from the Camp Fire.

The preserve still doesn’t have enough water in it, so it was something of a disappointment, but I did get to see several different species of birds including fly-overs of small flocks of Sandhill Cranes and Tundra Swans. In their Facebook posts, the preserve had been talking about large flocks of Snow Geese in the surrounding rice fields, but I didn’t see any.  There were loads of greater White-Fronted Geese, though.  I also saw a few

The Coots were out feeding near the viewing platform of the boardwalk area, and I got to do my naturalist thing when two older women walked up and asked me if the “black birds were Moor Hens”.  I told them about the Coots and the Gallinules (moorhens) and how they were different, and then was able to point out a Northern Pintail to them, and a Black Phoebe. So, they got a free lesson today.  There was also some kind Rail near the viewing platform, but she flew off into the tules before I could get a really good look at her.  Maybe a Virginia Rail, but I’m not sure. It seems early in the season to see one of those.

I also saw Red-Winged Blackbirds, Killdeer, and Black-Necked Stilts which are all kind of ubiquitous in the area, along with a few  White-Crowned Sparrows, Savannah Sparrows, Western Meadowlarks, Northern Shovelers, House Finches, Great Egrets, Cinnamon Teals, Green-Winged Teals, a Greater Yellowlegs, some American Pipits, two or three Wilson’s Snipes, Red-Tailed Hawks, a Red-Shouldered Hawk, some male Lesser Goldfinches, and Song Sparrows.

CLICK HERE for the album of photos.

I was surprised when a small flock of Cedar Waxwings flew in and occupied the oak trees along the slough for a while. They’re primarily berry-eaters, and there were no berries around the slough this time of year.

As I was leaving the boardwalk area of the preserve, I stopped to use the little outhouse there, and found a couple of female praying mantises that apparently had just laid their egg cases on the side of the building. I also found a mud bird’s nest (probably a Phoebe’s) and some wasps’ nests (both from Paper Wasps and Mud-Dauber Wasps). I walked for about 3 hours and then headed back home, getting there around noon.

Lots of Birds and Deer at the Refuge on 12-19-15

Around 7:00 am I headed out with Sergeant Margie to the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge.  I wasn’t sure I’d be able to see anything; it was overcast, drizzly and foggy in Sacramento.  But I was hoping to get some breaks in the storm by the time I got to Willows… and it seemed to work out really well.

Female Ring-Necked Pheasant. Copyright © 2015 Mary K. Hanson. All rights reserved.
Female Ring-Necked Pheasant. Copyright © 2015 Mary K. Hanson. All rights reserved.

Although I hit a lot of rain heading out, by the time I got to the refuge the rain had stopped, and it was hazy but not too foggy.  Still, because of the wet and cold (it was about 43°) I didn’t know if I’d be able to see much.

As I pulled into the preserve, two of the rangers were outside the nature center clearing out some fallen tree branches.  They both greeted me, and asked me I’d been there before.  I told them, yes, I come out as often as I can.  The female ranger said the bird might be shy today because of the weather, and I told her I figured the same thing.  But I also thought that if it was still sort of “dark” and quiet, maybe some of the smaller birds would come closer to the auto tour road (especially if I kept my headlights off)… and with that in mind, I started the tour.

A lot of the larger raptors were up high in the trees and obscured by the haze, but I get to see quite a few… including five Bald Eagles, two adults in flight, two juveniles in flight, and one juvenile sitting in a tree posing for everyone.  He was maybe two or three years old (not into in his white head yet).  That was cool.

It was seemingly a bad day for the Coots.  I saw a Turkey Vulture stand-guarding a dead Coot, watched (and videoed)  a gulls eating another Coot, and then found the carcass of a third dead Coot further along the road (stinking up the place).

Along with the American Coots, I also saw Cinnamon Teals, a Cooper’s Hawk, several Harris hawks (in flight), lots of Eared Grebes, Gadwalls, a juvenile Gallinule, Golden-Crowned Sparrows, Great Egrets, Greater White-Fronted Geese, House Sparrows, Killdeer, a Loggerhead Shrike, Meadowlarks, Northern Shovelers, a Pied-Billed Grebe, Red-Tailed Hawks, Red-Winged Blackbirds, Ring-Billed Gulls, Ring-Necked Ducks, some Ring-Necked Pheasants, a Great Blue Heron, Ruddy Ducks, a ma’jillion Snow Geese, a Snowy Egret, Song Sparrows, Turkey Vultures, White-Crowned Sparrows several White-Faced Ibises, a pair of Wilson’s Snipes and a Yellow-Rumped Warbler.  I also came across a small herd of Mule Deer (one looked super-preggers) and a cottontail rabbit.  So it was good nature-viewing day despite the weird weather.

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I got back home around 2:30 pm, and the clouds were breaking up by then.

Tuesday at the Cosumnes Preserve

Tuesday was Vacation Day 11. I got up about 7:30 this morning and headed out to Desmond Road and the Cosumnes River Preserve by 8:00. It was chilly and overcast all day. I’m not complaining, mind you. I like this kind of weather.
The gates to the preserve don’t open until 9:00, so I spent some time driving up and down Desmond Road to look at the birds. (There are rice fields along that road, along with some of the additional wetlands property owned by the preserve, so usually there’s something to see out there.) I got several photos along the road (including some of the Sandhill Cranes), and then headed over to the wetlands area inside the preserve.
I walked for about 2 hours and could’ve walked a good deal further but my right ankle suddenly started to give me fits. Ever since chemotherapy I’ve had a nerve-damaged toe on that foot and it sometimes causes me problems, but today – as soon as I started to approach a Killdeer in a tree – the whole side of my foot all the way up to my ankle suddenly felt like it was on fire and I could barely walk. Luckily, the car was close enough at the point that I could hobble toward it. I seriously considered for a few minutes, pulling my camping chair out of the trunk and plopping myself down somewhere along the water’s side. I gave up that idea, though, and instead drove myself down to the next parking lot, and walked across the road to a bench there where I could sit at watch the birds. It was there that I caught sight of my very first Blue-Winged Teals.
I’ve seen lots of Cinnamon Teals and Green Teals before, but never saw a Blue-Winged one (even though they’re relatively common), so that was cool. All in all, I got to see: White-Fronted Geese, Greater Yellowlegs, Long-Billed Dowitchers, Wilson’s Snipes, Sandhill Cranes, Great Egrets, American Kestrels, Red-Winged Blackbirds, Killdeer, Brewer’s Blackbirds, Pintails, Green Teals, Coots, Northern Shovelers, a Blue-Eyed Darner dragonfly, White-Crowned Sparrows, Crows, Cinnamon Teals, Black-Necked Stilts, another elusive Belted Kingfisher, Blue-Winged Teals, Mourning Doves and a Red-Shouldered Hawk. I was also surprised to find a lone White Pelican hanging out among the geese. It’s usual to find only one of those guys… and to find one so close to the roadway…

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Oh, also along the way I found some raccoon scat, and the remains of a snake. There was still a long piece of skin intact – although it had dried up in the sun over the past few days – as well as lengths of backbone and some rib bones. Kewl!
After my walk and drive, I went home, took some Aleve for my still-sore ankle and foot, and had some lunch with the dogs.


Two Refuges in One Day

Vacation Day 3.  I got up bout 6:30 this morning, and headed over to the Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge in Elk Grove.  I’d never been there before and was anxious to check it out.  Too bad it was something of a disappointment.  It would be a nice place for little kids and handicapped folks to go.  The trails are paved and relatively short, but it was so confined and “pristine” that there wasn’t really much of anything to see.  Mostly sparrows and Red-Winged Blackbirds, a hawk that teased me, and some Harlequin Bugs.  In the early summer it might be a nice place to look for dragonflies… but otherwise… Meh.  I was disappointed and probably won’t go back there again any time soon.

It’s just down the highway from the Cosumnes River Preserve, though, so I drove up there, and went up and down Desmond Road until the gates to the wetlands opened up.  When I first arrived the place was socked in with fog, which hampers photo-taking.  But as the sun rose it burned off the fog, so I got some better shots toward the end of my walk/drive… Saw a lot of Red-Winged Blackbirds. Meadowlarks, a Red-Tailed Hawk, an American Kestrel, Northern Shovelers, Black-Neck Stilts, Greater Yellowlegs, Coots, White-Fronted Geese, Canada Geese, Crows, Wilson’s Snipes and Long-Billed Dowitchers (it’s hard for me to tell them apart), a Green Teal, a Loggerhead Shrike, Mallards, Pintails…

The preserve has totally redone their boardwalk area, and I must say, it looks great.  Before, when you walked down the boardwalk path, you were face-to-face with walls of tule and cattails… so you couldn’t really see the wetlands beyond them.  Now, there are still stands of the tule and cattails, but they’ve been thinned out and sections have been cleared away so you can actually see more of the water now – and more of the birds.  It’s still early in the season, of course, so there are aren’t a whole lot of birds to see right now, but in another month or so the viewing should be great.  I saw a couple of birds today that I couldn’t readily identify (some of the shore birds look alike to me), so I’ll need to dig out my book to ID them properly.

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Between the walking and driving I was out for almost 6 hours(!)