Birds Around A Local Pond

I regularly take long walks at different sections of the American River Parkway between Folsom and Fair Oaks. At one spot, along Lake Notomas, there is a small pond tucked back but alongside the bike trail. I never know what I am going to find. Last week, I was treated to what is a rare site to me – some hooded mergansers. Their cousins, the common mergansers, stick around all year. I often see belted kingfishers and acorn woodpeckers in that area also.

Acorn Woodpeckers are ubiquitous in this area. For those of you who aren’t familiar with them, their behavior is different from most other woodpeckers. They find acorns and pound them into holes in dead trees. When they can’t find a hole, they make one. Later, they come back and eat them – if the squirrels and other wildlife don’t get them first.



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Sandhill Cranes Are Back

Sandhill Cranes populate much of the North America. But here, around Sacramento, we live along the Pacific Flyway; one of the primary migratory paths for birds heading to their wintering spot. One of the treats is that we attract large numbers of Sandhill Cranes who spend their nights in flooded rice fields and their days foraging in fields of cut grasses and grains.

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Some Wildlife from Recent Trips

Here is a few shots of some wildlife we saw travelling through various places. The locations are listed with each image.

We hadn’t seen any bears in the wild for several years. Then, on one trip, we saw 2. Unfortunately, the one that got away, was a cinnamon colored one. Maybe someday I’ll be able to photograph one of those.

The tufa in Mono Lake are beautiful themselves but we got a rare treat – an osprey on its nest on top of a tufa.

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Yellowstone Wildlife

Yellowstone is known as much for its wildlife as its great geologic features. North America’s apex predators, the wolf, grizzly bear and the mountain lion all roam Yellowstone’s wild lands along side the bison, elk, moose, deer and other prey species. Sadly, many of the species we had hoped to see didn’t show and a few were too far away to get a good picture. But we did see some and what we saw was amazing.

In this post, you’ll see the pica, a relative of the rabbit that lives in higher altitude rock fields. You’ll see the pronghorn which is related to but is not an antelope and the mountain goat which is not a goat but, an antelope. Finally, the American Dipper; the only North American song bird that feeds underwater in stream beds.

The Swainson’s hawks we taken not far outside of Idaho Falls, ID on the last leg of our journey to Yellowstone.

I hope you enjoy these images.



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The Turkey Vulture

Almost every day I see a kettle of Turkey Vultures soaring in search of food. One spot, where I walk up a half mile, 5% grade, there are always a few perched on a tower at the top. I hope you enjoy the images of these stately creatures with their odd looking heads.




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Cooper’s Hawk

We have an active backyard. Several species of birds frequent our feeder and the ground beneath. My wife is always chasing squirrels from the feeder. This afternoon, we had an unexpected visitor – a Cooper’s Hawk. He was very gracious. He hung around for about 15 minutes and allowed me to photograph him. Interesting though, no birds came to the feeder, no squirrels came around. Not a tweet could be heard; not even from the baby starling that has been crying all week. It took about an hour after the hawk left for backyard life to resume.




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Some Interesting Wildlife Sightings

Last week, we made a visit to Cowans Gap State Park in central Pennsylvania. We were fortunate to get two rare and interesting wildlife sightings.

The first sighting was a grey catbird dancing around at the base of a tree. We watched for a few minutes, perplexed by what it was doing. When I got my camera and tripod set-up, I noticed a northern black racer snake curled up in the bush near the bird. As we watched, we learned that the catbird’s elaborate dance, coupled with pecking the snake’s head was really an attempt to chase the snake away. Though we didn’t see the bird’s nest, we surmised it was nearby. It was really fun to watch this activity live rather than a scene in a TV documentary.

The second sighting was of a very large porcupine. It was the first time I have seen a porcupine in the wild.

I hope you enjoy these images.



Note: To see images in larger size and higher resolution, click on the caption.


Note: These and other images are available to purchase by visiting my website: or by contacting