Tag Archives: Yellow Jackets

Very Foggy at the Cosumnes Preserve, 12-11-18

It was foggy and cold most of the day, about 41° in the morning, and in the 50’s by the late afternoon.  I headed over to the Cosumnes River Preserve for a walk even though Wilson was hurting a bit. It was super foggy out there, so it was nearly impossible to see any birds, but I figured I might be able to get some scenery and spiderweb shots.  I was happy to see that the preserve that put metal skid-strips all along the wooden boardwalk to the river trail. That boardwalk could get really slippery when it was wet or icy; the strips will help to cut down on slip-and-fall accidents.  I walked a little bit further than I probably should have and was really in pain by the time I got back home about 3 hours later.

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

Nature Walk on a Lovely Day, 09-14-18

I went on a photo walk with my coworker, Nate, and one of Tuleyome’s donors/volunteers, Sami, to Lake Solano Park this morning.

The weather was extraordinarily lovely today. It was in the 50’s at the park and got up to about 75º by the late afternoon. There was slight breeze and the sky was filled with cirrus clouds. Gorgeous.

CLICK HERE for the album of photos.

Sami is an avid birder – she logged 300 species last year! – and she was able to point out birds to us that we might have otherwise missed. Many of them – including a juvenile Golden Eagle – were on the fly and moving fast so I wasn’t able to get photos of them. But it was still cool to see them.

And Nate is a total nature nerd, like me, so it’s always fun to go out into the field with him. We get excited by things like bugs and fungus and otter scat… so, we enjoyed locating and identifying galls on the trees in the park, hah! We even found a gall I had never seen before. (Or at least didn’t recognize. It turned out to be an early stage of the Round Gall.)

The stand outs for the day for me, though, besides the lovely scenery at the park (which sits right along Putah Creek), were the peahens and their babies, a sleepy Western Screech Owl, a juvenile Great Blue Heron (who startled us by “appearing” on the shore right next to the path we were walking on), and an American White Pelican who was sitting in the middle of the creek, preening, sunning, and doing a little fishing.

We walked for about 3 hours, and then headed our separate ways.


I got up at 5:00 again this morning,  It was about 10º cooler outside this morning than it was yesterday at the same time, so maybe we’ll get a little relief today…  I headed out about 5:30 am to the Effie Yeaw Nature Preserve.  I knew that this time of year a lot of the female deer are having their babies, the male deer are starting to go into their “velvet”, and the Monarch Butterflies are laying eggs… and I was hoping to see at least ONE of those things.

You can see an album of today’s photos at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/mkhnaturalist/albums/72157683338248433

As soon as I drove into the parking lot at the preserve I saw a buck in his velvet walking along the fence line between the preserve and the houses next door to it. So, I quick parked the car and hurried out to see if I could get some photos of him.
By the time I reached another spot where I could see him, he was up an embankment, but my new Nikon didn’t disappoint me.  I was able to grab quite a few shots of him.  What was even more awesome was that he led me right to a female deer with her new fawn, a little baby still in its spots.

At first they were in a weird spot at the top of the embankment and backlit by the sky, so at first I was just getting a lot of really badly lit shots – even ones of the baby nursing for a little bit, dang it!  Then the mama caught sight of me and she bounded off with the baby scrambling behind her.

I followed them around the nature center buildings, and saw mom jump the fence at the low deer-crossing point, but the baby couldn’t make the jump, so it ran off along one side of the fence crying for mom who was on the side.  The mom came to a standstill under the branches of an elderberry bush, and I was able to get some really good close-ups of her.  But the baby was still on the other side.

I saw him run to another slightly older fawn that was with its mom – which meant even more mama-and-baby photos opportunities.  The second mama sniffed at the baby fawn but offered its no solace, and when the baby realized she wasn’t HIS mom, he kept crying and crying.  It wasn’t a bleating sound like a goat might make, it was more like a high pitched meow-like sound (but only one syllable, if that make any senses to you). Like, MEW-MEW-MEW…

Its noise attracted the attention of several other female deer in the vicinity who came out of the woods onto the trail to see what the fuss was about. It took him about 15 minutes, but the baby finally figured out where his own mother was and waited for her to jump back over the deer-crossing to reunite with him.  So I got to witness a kind of Sunday morning mini-drama… And all of it happening within the first few minutes of my getting to the preserve.

There were also Red-Tailed Hawks all over the preserve this morning. I think all of the springtime babies are now learning how to fly and hunt.  It seemed like there was hawk-screeching from every part of the trail I was walking.

I also got to see a Wild Turkey sitting up in a tree over my head. He was upset about something and I assumed the coyotes were out and about beneath him somewhere.  I caught a fast glimpse of a coyote, but only got photos of its back and rear end as it moved quickly through the tall grass. Right after the coyote ran off, a jackrabbit came racing out from under a blackberry thicket that was just inches from where the coyote had been.  Lucky “bunny”! I walked for about 2 ½ hours and then headed back home.  I didn’t see any Monarchs or their caterpillars, but I still enjoyed what I DID see during my walk.

One sad sight on the road: just as I came out of the backside of the preserve, I saw a dead buck (in its velvet) lying next to someone’s driveway. It was hard to tell how long it had been there.  The carcass stank to high heaven, and the part of the belly that was lying closest to the pavement was thick with flies and maggots… But the eyes were still there (and those are one of the things the carrion eaters go for first.)  You’d think the people who lived there would call Animal Control and have the body taken away… Maybe they’re on vacation, though, and don’t know it’s there…

One happy sight on the road: As I was driving down Howe Avenue near the American River, I saw a female Wild Turkey walking along the greenbelt with six poults!  I hardly ever get to see the poults, so that was a fun sighting. I wish I could’ve stopped the car to get some photos, but there was too much traffic.

I’m still learning the basic functions of the new camera, and have realized I need to (1) stop forcing the focus and pull back from the subject to make sure the camera can do its thing, and (2) I need a faster memory card.  The one I have is about a 4 or 6, and I need a 10 – and 64 MB instead of 32.  There are a whole slew of special settings, including one that’s specifically for birding, I’ll need a WEEK just to sample them all!

Gall City at the American River, 08-07-16

I got up around 6 o’clock this morning and went over to the American River Bend Park for my walk.  I was looking for summer galls and found ‘em, so my trip was fruitful. I found Red and White Cone galls, Spiny Turbans, Yellow Wig galls, Spangle galls, ash tree galls, willow galls, Woolybear galls, Live Oak Round galls, Flat-Top Honeydew galls… and this is just the start of the season.  Sometimes there were several different galls on the same leaf or stem.

CLICK HERE to see the whole album.

The wasp larvae inside the Flat-Top Honeydew galls produce honeydew that exudes through the surface of the galls. The tree gets no benefit from it, but the honeydew attracts ants and wasps that in turn protect the larvae from parasites that might otherwise prey on them.  I also found some Yellow Jackets feasting on some dead thing, and a lovely Green Lacewing sitting on a leaf… As for other critters, I got to see a Great Blue Heron, some female Common Mergansers resting on stones in the water, and a young male coyote.  He kept moving from bright sunlight to shade among the trees, but I did get a little video of it.