It has been many years since I have participated in an official birding excursion. Although my undergraduate degree is in Forestry with an emphasis in wildlife management, I entered the teaching profession and birding is now a hobby.
I have become more of a backyard and neighborhood birder, but whenever we take a road trip I have my face pressed against the window in search of perching, hovering and gliding feathered creatures. I just can’t help myself. As my spouse prefers to drive, I indulge in searching the landscape for motion.
We began this Memorial Day weekend early with a trip across the Sacramento Valley of Northern California along Highway 20, traveling from Nevada County to Mendocino County. My first notable find was a Belted Kingfisher perched on a power line near a large wetland area. We used to see one regularly in a similar spot on the North Coast, so this was a treat.
The Canada Geese I spotted were all in flight over the same wetland area. Further down the road on the east side of the valley another sight that I haven’t seen in a while was a Western Meadowlark which conveniently landed and perched on a low fence along the highway.
As we made our way into the foothills on the western side of the valley, heading toward Clear Lake, we were stopped for road work. Instead of digging out my camera, I scanned the landscape as a Western Kingbird shot low across the road and perched on a power line on the south side, swooping about and fly-catching. I was transfixed, and couldn’t take my eyes off the scene long enough to grab the camera that was under a pile of “stuff” behind my seat. This was the best show all afternoon. Too bad it is only documented in my fuzzy brain.
Here are some fabulous shots of a Western Kingbird and a Western Meadowlark from Ron Dudley’s Feathered Photography blog. All photos here are courtesy of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s All About Birds site.
A full week before Memorial Day was the perfect time to venture into the Sierra Nevada foothills of Northern California for an afternoon of exploring. The sky was cloudless with a slight breeze, and the temperature was in the seventies. No crowds. No summer dust.
Still fresh a week after a spring storm, the drive north on Highway 49 from Nevada City was delightful. We turned east onto the road that takes you through the tiny hamlet of North Columbia, and continued on to Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park. This is the site of the largest hydraulic mine in the state. I have always wanted visit this area, and was not disappointed by the trip.
North Bloomfield lies within the park, a cluster of historic buildings left from the days of mining.
Evidence of the devastating process used to strip the mountains bare to expose precious ore was everywhere.
The topography has been forever altered, as has the economy of the area, but life goes on, and the vegetation is beautiful. There are numerous trails that honeycomb the park, and I know that we will return to spend more time here. Spring is ideal for a visit.
There are countless talented fiber artists in the world, and I have always admired those who create art in the form of tapestries and quilts. It takes inner vision to see a work of art, and great patience to make it a reality. Many of us have the ideas but fall short on the execution.
On a recent walk in a local park, I photographed this image of the wildflowers that were taking their turn to bloom. Blue-violet was the theme of the week, and went well with the various shades of green and brown in the vicinity. I am always struck by the richness of texture that is displayed in nature.
This scene inspired me to imagine a tapestry project. Yesterday I spent an hour or so walking the aisles of a local craft store, mentally cataloging the available supplies. I noticed the embroidery thread when I was buying some yarn. Then I looked at my photograph today, and remembered the assortment of media available to express this vision. So much variety of texture and color calls out to be captured and celebrated.
During a stroll around the pond on our usual Nevada County, California walk yesterday, we came across a string of goslings across the path. There were four adults hanging around, including a goose of a different type than the Canada Geese that belonged to the youngsters. Was this adult “helping”?
I went back for my camera, and the birds had rearranged themselves. It was quite warm in the sun, and most of the youngsters were enjoying the shade provided by a wide adult body.
I was able to get a shot of the youngsters from far enough away not to disturb them too much. My, what big feet they have! They will certainly mature into big birds.
Posted in DIY, nature, photography, sustainable living
Tagged bird watching, California, Canada goose, exercise, goslings, nature, photography, taking a walk
The foothill country of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California is woodpecker Heaven. The oaks and conifers are the big attraction here. We have been inundated by Acorn woodpeckers since our arrival last fall. They spent weeks pounding on the eaves of our cabin to store their winter food.
Last November I photographed this smaller woodpecker that stood out among all the others in the neighborhood. I misidentified it as a Downy. While viewing a number of photos posted on the Facebook page of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology today, six months later, I remembered my photo and realized that it is actually a Nuttall’s woodpecker. Notice the ladder back. What a great way to spend Earth Day: learning something new about the world around us.
My nose knows there is pollen in the air. And what good is pollen without some pollinators? While the wind doth blow, and sprinkle pollen not only on the business end of flowers but everywhere else as well, sometimes it needs a little help. I am always pleased to see bees going about their business, doing their part.
Every day I check the lavender bush near my front porch for buzzing insects. The bees are always there, busy as, well, you guessed it. Sometimes there is only one, but often there are several. They stand out nicely with their yellow trim against the pale violet flowers.
According to EarthSky, bees don’t see the same colors that we do. Colors look different to them, and they can see ultraviolet light as well. It helps them to find nectar in a flower. Just thought you should know!
Ants tend to show up in an army, with flags unfurled. They invade every crevice and surface of your kitchen, or any other place they feel at home. Sometimes they appear out of nowhere. You walk away from a sinkful of dirty dishes, and the next morning the food-encrusted plates and cups are animated by insects. On other occasions, one or two show up here and there, and you might ignore them. Don’t. You can never be sure there aren’t more on the way to join these scouts.
The ants here in the Sierra foothills aren’t the puny ones we have out on the North Coast. These are hefty. They remind me of the ants of Southern California that used to bite me on the toes when I was a kid. I discovered one on the bathroom vanity the other night, and before I removed it (I won’t go into the details of its demise), I photographed it. It was a beautiful creature, don’t you think?