Tag Archives: Wood Duck

Lots of Critters… and a Beaver, 06-20-19

Up at 5:00 am again. I let the dog out to go potty and fed him his breakfast then headed over to the Effie Yeaw Nature Preserve for my weekly volunteer Trail-Walking gig.  It was a gorgeous 58° when I got to the preserve and was overcast, so it never got over about 68° while I was there.  Perfect walking weather.

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

One of the first things I saw was a Red-Shouldered Hawk carrying nesting materials. First she flew over my head, then she landed on a tree to get a better grip on the grasses she was holding before taking off again. These hawks only have one brood a year, but often work on the nest throughout the year to keep it clean.  It’s no uncommon for them to use the same nest over several season if the first nest is successful.  Later in my walk, I went by where I knew one of the hawks’ nest was and found a juvenile (fledgling) sitting out beside it squawking for its parents to come feed it. It was capable of feeding itself, but some of these young’uns milk the I’m-just-a-baby thing for quite a while. While it was near the nest, it was hard to get photos of it because it was backlit, but later it flew out and I was able to get a few better photos of it when it landed in a nearby tree.

There were a lot of deer out today, but I didn’t see any fawns. I DID see a couple of bucks, though, both of them still in their velvet, a 2-pointer and one with wonky antlers (one super-long one and one stumpy one). The 2-pointer was walking with a doe, and when I stood on the trail to take photos of them, he decided he didn’t like that.  He stepped right out toward me with a very determined look on his face. (Bucks can get real possessive of “their” does.) I knew he wouldn’t rush me and try to gore me because he was still in his velvet.  In that state, the antlers are super-sensitive to touch, and if he rammed me, he’d actually hurt himself.  But, he could still outrun me mash me with his hooves if he had a mind to, so I put my head down and back away.  That seemed to be enough of a submissive posture to him, and he returned to his doe.  As beautiful as the deer are, I have to remind myself that they’re still wild animals and will do whatever their instincts tell them to do – even in a nature park.

I heard and caught glimpses of several Nuttall’s Woodpeckers on my walk, but never got enough of a look at one to take its picture. Those birds enjoy teasing people, I swear. They’re really loud about announcing themselves in flight, but then hide from you once they land.

The wild plum and elderberry bushes are all getting their ripened fruit now. I saw birds eating some of the berries and came across an Eastern Fox Squirrel breakfasting on the plums.

Along the river, there was a small flock of Canada Geese feeding (bottoms-up in the shallow water) with a female Common Merganser fishing among them. They eat different things, so the geese were stirring up the water plants and the Merganser would grab any small fish that appeared. Unintentional mutualism.  While I was watching them, I saw something else in the water, swimming against the current and realized it was a beaver! 

I went down as close to the shore as I could – (It’s hard for me to clamber over the rocks.) – and tried to get some photos of it. Photo-taking was difficult because the beaver stayed close to shore and was obscured by the tules and other riverside plants and scrubby trees. When it got into less cluttered spots, in was in the shade, and my camera had trouble focusing between the dark and the reflections on the water.  So, I walked ahead of where I thought the beaver was heading to a sunnier spot and waited for it… and waited for it… and then I heard a splash and realized it had swum under the water right past me and came up in the river behind me.  Hah!  Sneaky Pete!  

I walked for about 4 hours and then headed back home.

Species List:

  1. American Bullfrog, Lithobates catesbeianus,
  2. Bewick’s Wren, Thryomanes bewickii,
  3. Black Harvester Ant, Messor pergandei,
  4. Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans,
  5. Blue Oak, Quercus douglasii,
  6. Bush Katydid nymph, Scudderia pistillata,
  7. California Black Walnut, Juglans californica,
  8. California Mugwort, Artemisia douglasiana,
  9. California Poppy, Eschscholzia californica,
  10. California Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma californica,
  11. California Towhee, Melozone crissalis,
  12. California Wild Grape, Vitis californica,
  13. California Wild Plum, Prunus subcordata,
  14. Canada Goose, Branta canadensis,
  15. Chinese Privet, Ligustrum sinense,
  16. Coffeeberry, California Buckthorn, Frangula californica,
  17. Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus,
  18. Coyote Mint, Monardella villosa,
  19. Coyote, Canis latrans,
  20. Desert Cottontail, Sylvilagus audubonii,
  21. Doveweed, Turkey Mullein, Croton setigerus,
  22. Eastern Fox Squirrel, Sciurus niger,
  23. Elegant Clarkia, Clarkia unguiculata,
  24. English Plantain, Ribwort, Plantago lanceolata,
  25. European Praying Mantis, Mantis religiosa,
  26. Evening Primrose, Oenothera biennis,
  27. Goldwire, Hypericum concinnum,
  28. Greater Periwinkle, Vinca major,
  29. Green Lacewing, Chrysoperla carnea,
  30. House Wren, Troglodytes aedon,
  31. Italian Thistle, Carduus pycnocephalus,
  32. Leafhopper Assassin Bug, Zelus renardii,
  33. Moth Mullein, Verbascum blattaria,
  34. Mourning Dove, Zenaida macroura,
  35. North American Beaver, Castor canadensis,
  36. Northern Yellow Sac Spider, Cheiracanthium mildei,
  37. Nuttall’s Woodpecker, Picoides nuttallii,
  38. Pink Grass, Windmill Pink, Petrorhagia dubia,
  39. Poison Oak, Toxicodendron diversilobum,
  40. Red-Shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus,
  41. Rio Grande Wild Turkey, Meleagris gallopavo intermedia,
  42. Rock Shield Lichen, Xanthoparmelia sp.,
  43. Rusty Tussock Moth, Orgyia antiqua,
  44. Saw-whet Owl, Sophia, Aegolius acadicus,
  45. Showy Milkweed, Asclepias speciosa,
  46. Spanish Clover, Acmispon americanus,
  47. Spotted Towhee, Pipilo maculatus,
  48. Sudden Oak Death pathogen, Phytophthora ramorum,
  49. Turkey Vulture, Cathartes aura,
  50. Western Drywood Termite, Incisitermes minor,
  51. Winter Vetch, Vicia villosa,
  52. Wood Duck, Aix sponsa,
  53. Wooly Mullein, Great Mullein, Verbascum thapsus,
  54. Yarrow, Achillea millefolium,
  55. Yellow Starthistle, Centaurea solstitialis

Lots of Deer but No Fawns Yet on 06-13-19

I headed over to the Effie Yeaw Nature Preserve this morning and got there around 6:00 am and it was about 63° then. I was joined by “The Other Mary”, Mary Messenger, and we walked for about 4 hours.  We saw lots of deer today, mostly does with their older yearlings. Some of the gals were very “round” with their pregnancies. When the new fawns arrive, some does chase off the older kids… but others let them hang around for a couple of years. We didn’t see any fawns, but that’s to be expected. The does keep them well-hidden when they’re new. 

Along the shore of the river, we came across the mama Common Merganser and her three red-headed ducklings again. They were hanging around a pair of female Wood Ducks who had one slightly older duckling with them. We couldn’t get too close, so we had to be satisfied with long-distance photos.

We saw several Turkey Vultures, Cathartes aura, including one bird sitting in a tree and one sitting on a stump on the bank of the American River. The one on the bank turned toward us and lifted its wings in the “heraldic pose” so we could see its white under-wing feathers.  This pose, in which the Turkey Vulture turns its back toward the sun and opens its wings, is used by the birds when they want to warm themselves up quickly. 

The legs and some of the feathers of the vulture sitting in the tree were covered in dried feces (making them look white-washed). When it’s really hot, the Turkey Vultures will defecate their mostly white, watery feces on their legs and feet and then allow evaporation to help cool them off. As gross as this may sound, keep in mind that the vulture’s digestive system is so aggressive and their immune system is so high, that their feces come out virtually bacteria free and actually acts like a kind of natural sanitizer. Cool, huh? I wrote an article about the vultures in 2015. You can read it HERE.

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

We also stopped under the Red-Shouldered Hawk’s nest along the Pond Trail and saw one fledgling sitting in it. Where the nest is placed, it’s hard to get a good angle on it for photographs, so all we saw was the tippy top of the fledgling’s head.  Near the pond itself, we saw another fledgling, and near the nature center we saw an adult… So got a few photo ops on the hawks today.

This is the time of year when there are a lot of Western Fence Lizards scurrying all over the place, ad we were able to see quite a few of them, including a pair on a log. The stubby-tailed male was trying to court a female, but she just wasn’t that into him.  Hah!

We walked for about 4 hours and then headed back to our respective homes.

Species List:

1. Acorn Woodpecker, Melanerpes formicivorus,
2. American Bullfrog, Lithobates catesbeianus,
3. Bewick’s Wren, Thryomanes bewickii,
4. Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans,
5. Black-Tailed Jackrabbit, Lepus californicus,
6. Bull Thistle, Cirsium vulgare,
7. Bur Chervil, Anthriscus caucalis,
8. Bushtit, American Bushtit, Psaltriparus minimus,
9. California Bumblebee, Bombus californicus,
10. California Ground Squirrel, Otospermophilus beecheyi,
11. California Mugwort, Artemisia douglasiana,
12. California Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma californica,
13. California Towhee, Melozone crissalis,
14. Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus,
15. Common Merganser, Mergus merganser,
16. Coyote Mint, Monardella villosa,
17. Coyote, Canis latrans,
18. Dallisgrass, Sticky-Heads, Paspalum dilatatum,
19. Double-Crested Cormorant, Phalacrocorax auritus,
20. Eastern Fox Squirrel, Sciurus niger,
21. European Starling, Sturnus vulgaris,
22. Giant Sunflower, Helianthus giganteus,
23. Goldwire, Hypericum concinnum,
24. Himalayan Blackberry, Armenian Blackberry, Rubus armeniacus,
25. House Wren, Troglodytes aedon,
26. Jack-in-the-Pulpit, Lords and Ladies, Arum maculatum,
27. Monarch Butterfly, Danaus plexippus,
28. Mourning Dove, Zenaida macroura,
29. Northern Bluet Damselfly, Enallagma cyathigerum,
30. Northern Bush Katydid, Scudderia pistillata,
31. Northern Yellow Sac Spider, Cheiracanthium mildei,
32. Pearly Everlasting, Anaphalis margaritacea,
33. Poison Hemlock, Conium maculatum,
34. Prickly Sowthistle, Sonchus asper,
35. Red-Shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus,
36. Rio Grande Wild Turkey, Meleagris gallopavo intermedia,
37. Rusty Tussock Moth, Orgyia antiqua,
38. Santa Barbara Sedge, Carex barbarae,
39. Showy Milkweed, Asclepias speciosa,
40. Spotted Towhee, Pipilo maculatus,
41. Turkey Vulture, Cathartes aura,
42. Wavy Leaf Soaproot, Chlorogalum pomeridianum,
43. Western Fence Lizard, Sceloporus occidentalis,
44. Western Gray Squirrel, Sciurus griseus,
45. Wild Carrot, Daucus carota,
46. Winter Vetch, Vicia villosa,
47. Wood Duck, Aix sponsa,
48. Yellow Jacket, German Wasp, Vespula germanica,
49. Yellow Starthistle, Centaurea solstitialis,
50. Yellow-Faced Bumblebee, Bombus vosnesenskii,

 

At William Land Park on 06-03-19

I got up around 6:00 this morning and headed out to William Land Park and the WPA Rock Garden for a walk.  It was 53° when I got there, but it was up to 72° within about 2 ½ hours. Anything over 70° is really “too hot” for any kind of exertion for me, so I headed back home. Got lots of flower photos, so that will probably take me a day or two to ID all of them.  I also got to see some male Wood Ducks and a Green Heron at the pond, as well as the exuvia of several cicadas.

CLICK HERE for the album of photos.

Species List:

  1. Anna’s Hummingbird, Calypte anna,
  2. Bear’s Breeches, Acanthus mollis,
  3. Beaver Tail Cactus, Prickly Pear, Opuntia basilaris,
  4. Bird of Paradise, flower, Strelitzia reginae,
  5. Bird of Paradise, tree, Caesalpinia gilliesii,
  6. Brazil Raintree, Brunfelsia pauciflora,
  7. Bronze Fennel, Foeniculum vulgare,
  8. Butterfly Bush, Buddleja davidii,
  9. Butterfly Milkweed, Asclepias tuberosa,
  10. Calla Lily, Zantedeschia aethiopica,
  11. Campion, Silene sp.,
  12. Canada Goose, Branta canadensis,
  13. Chameleon Plant, Houttuynia cordata,
  14. Cleveland Sage, Salvia clevelandii,
  15. Columbine, Columbinus sp.,
  16. Common Borage, Borago officinalis,
  17. Common Bracken Fern, Pteridium aquilinum,
  18. Common Hibiscus, Hibiscus syriacus,
  19. Common Lavender, Lavandula angustifolia,
  20. Common Toadflax, Linaria vulgaris,
  21. Cream Spike agave, Blue Agave, Agave applanata,
  22. Crevice Alumroot, Heuchera micrantha,
  23. Day Lily, Hemerocallis sp.,
  24. Douglas Squirrel, Tamiasciurus douglasii,
  25. Dwarf Morning Glory, Convolvulus tricolor,
  26. Elegant Clarkia, Clarkia unguiculata,
  27. European Honeybee, Apis mellifera,
  28. Fir Tree, Abies sp.,
  29. Fleabane, Seaside Daisy, Erigeron glaucus,
  30. Garden Snail, Cornu aspersum,
  31. Giant Fennel, Ferula communis,
  32. Globe Daisy, Globularia x indubia,
  33. Golden Feverfew, Tanacetum Parthenium aureum,
  34. Green Heron, Butorides virescens,
  35. Grevellea, Grevilerulea sp.,
  36. Harvestman, Phalangium opilio,
  37. Hollyhock, Alcea rosea,
  38. Honeysuckle, Lonicera sp.,
  39. Iceplant, Carpobrotus edulis,
  40. Introduced Sage, Salvia pratensis,
  41. Jack-in-the-Pulpit, Arisaema sp.,
  42. Jerusalem Sage, Phlomis fruticose,
  43. Lamb’s Ear Hedgenettle, Stachys byzantina,
  44. Love-in-a-Mist, Nigella damascene,
  45. Mallard, Anas platyrhynchos,
  46. Many Flowered Tobacco, Nicotiana acuminata var. multiflora,
  47. Meadow Sage, Salvia pratensis,
  48. Mediterranean Sage, Salvia aethiopis,
  49. Mexican Bush Sage Salvia leucantha
  50. Mock Orange, Philadelphus coronarius,
  51. Mojave Prickly Poppy, Argemone corymbosa,
  52. Moth Mullein, Verbascum blattaria,
  53. Mountain Cicada, Okanagana bella,
  54. Myrtle, Myrtus communis,
  55. Natal Grass, Natal Redtop, Melinis repens,
  56. Nightshade, New Zealand Nightshade, Solanum aviculare,
  57. Pacific Bleeding Heart, Dicentra Formosa,
  58. Pekin Duck, Anas platyrhynchos domesticus var. Pekin,
  59. Peruvian Lily, Alstroemeria aurea,
  60. Pincushion Flower, Scabiosa atropurpurea,
  61. Pineapple Guava, Acca sellowiana,
  62. Red Hot Poker, Torch Lily, Kniphofia uvaria,
  63. Red Poppy of Flanders, Corn Poppy, Papaver rhoeas,
  64. Red Yucca, Hesperaloe parviflora,
  65. Red-Eared Slider Turtle, Trachemys scripta elegans,
  66. Redwood, California Redwood, Sequoia sempervirens,
  67. Rock Rose, Cistus x pulverulentus, cultivar
  68. Rocket Larkspur (purple), Consolida ajacis,
  69. Rocket Larkspur (white), Consolida ajacis,
  70. Rose Vervain, Glandularia canadensis,
  71. Rose, Rosa sp.,
  72. Sacred Lotus, Nelumbo nucifera,
  73. Sage, Salvia officinalis,
  74. Silver Sage, Salvia argentea,
  75. Smokebush, Cotinus coggygria,
  76. Southern Catalpa, Indian Been Tree, Catalpa bignonioides,
  77. Spurge, Egg Leaf Spurge, Euphorbia oblongata,
  78. Statice, Sea lavender, Limonium perezii,
  79. Strawberry Tree, Arbutus unedo,
  80. Swedish Blue duck, Anas platyrhynchos domesticus var. Swedish Blue,
  81. Sweet William, Dianthus barbatus,
  82. Sword Fern, Polystichum sp.,
  83. Tall Buckwheat, Eriogonum elatum var. elatum,
  84. Trumpet Flower, Iochroma cyanea var. Mr. Plum,
  85. Valley Carpenter Bee, Xylocopa varipuncta,
  86. Wand Mullein, Verbascum virgatum,
  87. Weeping Cedar, Glauca Pendula, Cedrus atlantica,
  88. Western Fence Lizard, Sceloporus occidentalis,
  89. Western Sycamore, Platanus racemosa,
  90. White Lily of the Nile, Agapanthus africanus var. albus,
  91. Wood Duck, Aix sponsa,
  92. Wooly Mullein, Verbascum thapsus,
  93. Yucca, Chaparral Yucca, Hesperoyucca whipplei