Some Recent Bird Sightings

Sandhill Crane (Grus canadensis)
North Staten Island Rd, Galt, CA; NOV 2019

A week ago, we visited Staten Island, CA. It is an island in the Sacramento-San Jouquin River Delta. More importantly, Staten Island is owned by The Nature Conservancy and is managed to allow conservation friendly agriculture and as a place for birds to stop on winter migrations as well as to winter over. For this area, it means we have an opportunity to see Sandhill Cranes, Tundra Swans, White-fronted Geese and many other birds. On this visit, we got to see the Sandhill Cranes, Cackling Geese, Snow Geese and Sora.

The Sora (Porzana Carolina) was my surprise bird. I didn’t even know they existed. It is one of those drab, gray birds that hide in the brush, along streams and irrigation ditches. But drab and gray is not a fitting description. They are quite beautifully marked and have a bright yellow bill. Three Sora gave me the rare opportunity to see them in the open and photograph them.

Please click on caption to see images in higher resolution.

Sora (Porzana carolina) – P2
North Staten Island Rd, Galt, CA; NOV 2019
Juvenile Snow Goose (Chen caerulescens) and Cackling Goose (Branta hutchinsii)
North Staten Island Rd, Galt, CA; NOV 2019
Sandhill Crane (Grus canadensis)
North Staten Island Rd, Galt, CA; NOV 2019
Sora (Porzana carolina)
North Staten Island Rd, Galt, CA; NOV 2019
Sandhill Crane (Grus canadensis)
North Staten Island Rd, Galt, CA; NOV 2019

These and other images are available to purchase on my website: www.earthwatcher.us or by contacting larry.klink@earthwatcher.us.

Swans

Trumpeter Swan (Cygnus Buccinator)
Swan Lake Flat, Yellowstone National Park; SEP 2018

Today I am sharing images of swans I’ve photographed over the past several years.

Trumpeter Swans (Cygnus Buccinator) are North America’s largest waterfowl. Thy can have a 6 foot wingspan and weigh as much as 26 pounds. According to All About Birds, a Website from Cornell Labs: “They breed on wetlands in remote Alaska, Canada, and the northwestern U.S., and winter on ice-free coastal and inland waters.” The odd thing here is that I found some on the icy Yellowstone River in February.

The Tundra Swan (Cygnus Columbianus) is a winter migrant to the US. We see them winter over on the Pacific Flyway from late October through about the end of February. They nest on arctic tundra. The Tundra Swan is sometimes called a Whistling Swan.

The Mute Swan (Cygnus Olor) is not native to North America; it’s a European immigrant. It is the swan we see in ponds and lakes at parks, farms and estates. According to All About Birds: “ All of the Mute Swans in North America descended from swans imported from Europe from the mid 1800s through early 1900s to adorn large estates, city parks, and zoos. Escapees established breeding populations and are now established in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Great Lakes, and Pacific Northwest of the U.S.” The ones I am presenting may be from a wild colony or may be feral.

I found the Whooper Swans (Cygnus cygnus) in Iceland. According to Wikipedia, Whooper swans can migrate hundreds or even thousands of miles to their wintering sites in southern Europe and eastern Asia. They breed in subarctic Eurasia. Icelandic Whooper Swans breed and winter over in the United Kingdom and Ireland. They can have a wingspan of 9 feet and weigh over 30 pounds. Whooper Swans pair for life.

Please click on caption to see image at higher resolution.

Tundra Swans (Cygnus Columbianus)
Staten Island Road, Galt, CA; JAN 2018
Whooper Swans (Cygnus cygnus)
South Coast of Iceland; SEP 2017
Mute Swan (Cygnus Olor)
Scott Road, Folsom, CA; FEB 2016
Trumpeter Swans (Cygnus Buccinator) – P1
Yellowstone River, Yellowstone National Park, WY, FEB 2013
Trumpeter Swans (Cygnus Buccinator)
Swan Lake Flat, Yellowstone National Park; SEP 2018
Mute Swan (Cygnus Olor) – P2
Willow Creek Recreation Area, Folsom, CA; OCT 2019
Trumpeter Swans at Sunrise (Cygnus Buccinator) -P1
Swan Lake Flat, Yellowstone National Park; SEP 2018
Trumpeter Swans (Cygnus Buccinator) at Sunrise – P2
Swan Lake Flat, Yellowstone National Park; SEP 201
Trumpeter Swan (Cygnus Buccinator) – P2
Yellowstone River, Yellowstone National Park; FEB 2013

These and other images are available to purchase on my website: www.earthwatcher.us or by contacting larry.klink@earthwatcher.us.

A Peak into the Life of the Hippopotamus

Foraging Hippo (Hippopotamus amphibius)
Kruger National Park, South Africa; AUG 2016

A Peak into the Life of the Hippopotamus

When I see pictures of the hippopotamus, it is usually the 2 iconic images: just the nose, eyes and maybe ears sticking out of the eater or just a little of the body above the waterline and with Oxpeckers on its back. I was recently going cleaning and organizing my photo library and took a new look at the images from our Africa trip 3 years ago. In it, was a good collection of hippos in the routine activities of their daily life. So, I thought I’d share them with you.

Some of the images involve a battle over a water hole. Watching that battle unfold was one of the most fascinating events I ever witnessed. I’ve observed that when deer, antelope, sheep and goats battle, it involves locking horns and pushing back and forth until one succumbs and backs off. The hippo battle was similar. They open their mouths wide and attack then push back and forth until one succumbs. But, it also has some similarities to the sumo wrestling I have seen. Two large, muscular, creatures embracing in battle for short periods, back off for a short while, then go at again.

The Red-billed Oxpeckers in the photos are feasting on the bugs in the hippo’s wounds.

Note: Please click on caption to see image at higher resolution.

Resting Hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius)
Elephant Plains Game Lodge, Sabi Sands, South Africa; AUG 2016
A Pensive Hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius)
Elephant Plains Game Lodge, Sabi Sands, South Africa; AUG 2016
Don’t Mess WIth Me; Hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius)
Elephant Plains Game Lodge, Sabi Sands, South Africa; AUG 2016
You’re in My watering hole; Hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius)
Elephant Plains Game Lodge, Sabi Sands, South Africa; AUG 2016
The Face Off; Two Hippopotamuses Ready to Fight Over Water Hole
Elephant Plains Game Lodge, Sabi Sands, South Africa; AUG 2016
The Challenge; Two Hippopotamuses Ready to Spar
Elephant Plains Game Lodge, Sabi Sands, South Africa; AUG 2016
This Round is Underway; Two Hippopotamuses Fighting Over Water Hole
Elephant Plains Game Lodge, Sabi Sands, South Africa,; AUG 2016
The Round Continues; Two Hippopotamuses Continue to Spar Over Water Hole
Elephant Plains Game Lodge, Sabi Sands, South Africa; AUG 2016
Attack and Defense; Two Hippopotamuses Continue to Spar Over Water Hole
Elephant Plains Game Lodge, Sabi Sands, South Africa; AUG 2016
The Vanquished Hippopotamus Departs;
Two Hippopotamuses Continue to Spar Over Water Hole
Elephant Plains Game Lodge, Sabi Sands, South Africa; AUG 2016 #Photography
Battle Over;
Hippopotamus with Red-billed Oxpecker ;
After many rounds, the battle is over, the challenger is vanquished.
Elephant Plains Game Lodge, Sabi Sands, South Africa, AUG 2016
Hippopotamus Foraging on Land – P2
Kruger National Park, South Africa; AUG 2016
Sunbathing Hippopotamuses
Kruger National Park, South Africa; AUG 2016
Hippo in Reflection
Kruger National Park, South Africa; AUG 2016

These and other images are available to purchase on my website: www.earthwatcher.us or by contacting larry.klink@earthwatcher.us.

Raptors

Osprey (Pandion haliaetus)
Wm Pond Park, Sacramento, CA; Mar 2019

Here are a few raptors, birds of prey, I’ve photographed over the past year.

The Red-shouldered and Red-tailed Hawks are members of the Buteo family. They forage in more open areas and prefer small rodents. The Goshawk and Sharp-shinned Hawks are members of the Acipiter family. They are built to forage in in forested areas and prefer birds. The Merlin is a small falcon. Though they have there preferences, they’ll eat whatever they can catch.

Note: Please click on caption to see these images at higher resolution.

Northern Goshawk (Acipiter Gentilis)
Owens River Road, Lee Vining, CA; OCT 2019
Merlin (Falco columbarius)
Effie Yeaw Nature Center, Sacramento, CA; OCT 2019
Sharp-shinned Hawk (Accipiter striatus)
Effie Yeaw Nature Center, Sacramneto, CA; OCT 2019
Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) on Nest
Battle Mountain, NV; MAY 2019
Juvenile Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)
Effie Yeaw Nature Center, Sacramento, CA; JUL 2019
Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus) – P2
Effie Yeaw Nature Center, Carmichael, CA; OCT 2019
Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus)
Hawk swooped down over my shoulder, picked-up a rodent and carried it to this tree. Effie Yeaw Nature Center, Carmichael, CA; OCT 2019
Osprey (Pandion haliaetus)
Wm Pond Park, Sacramento, CA; Mar 2019

These and other images are available to purchase on my website: www.earthwatcher.us or by contacting larry.klink@earthwatcher.us.

Mountain Peaks Along US Route 395 in the Eastern Sierra Nevada

Mountain Peak Along Eastern Sierra – P3 Owens River Road
Lee Vining, CA; OCT 2019

Today I am sharing images of various mountain peaks we see as we travel along US Route 395 in eastern California. Highway 395 extends from the US-Canada border to its southern terminus in the Mojave Desert at I-15 near Hiperia. Much of its way through California it traverses desert valleys sandwiched between the Sierra Nevada mountains and the White-Inyo mountains. It is absolutely stunning scenic drive. For the adventurous, there is mountain hiking and climbing and fishing. There are back road drives into the mountains to scenic lakes and great vistas. There are attractions like Mono Lake with its Tufa, the Ghost Town Bodie, The Ancient Bristle Cone Pine Forest, the museum and remains of the Manzanar Internment Center from World War 2 and the Movie Museum in Lone Pine. If you’ve never explored this area, I strongly recommend you check it out.

Note: Please click on caption to see image at higher resolution.

Stormy Sunrise from Mt Morrison Rd; Mt Morrison Rd
Mammoth Lakes, CA; OCT 2018
Mountain Peak Along Eastern Sierra – P2;
Rt 395 Between Bishop and Fort Independence; OCT 2019
Sunrise at Horshoe Lake; Horseshoe Lake
Mammoth Lakes, CA; OCT 2019
Mountain Peaks from Tule Elk Viewing Area on Highway 395
Rt 395 Between Bishop and Fort Independence; OCT 2019
View from Pleasant Valley Dam Road
Pleasant Valley Dam Road, Bishop, CA: Oct 2019
Autumn Color Along Dunderberg Meadow Road
Dunderberg Meadow Road, Virginia Lakes, CA; OCT 2019
Mountain Peak Along Eastern Sierra – P1
Mt Morrison Rd, Mammoth Lakes, CA; OCT 2018

These and other images are available to purchase on my website: www.earthwatcher.us or by contacting larry.klink@earthwatcher.us.

A Year in the Life of Deer

Black-Tailed Mule Deer (Odocoileus hemionus) Buck;
Effie Yeaw Nature Center, Sacramento, CA; DEC 2015

The Black-tailed Mule Deer (Odocoileus hemionus) are found on the western Great Plains, the Rocky Mountains, Southwestern United States and the West Coast of North America.

Deer are ungulates, meaning they are hooved. They are also ruminants which means they eat and send their food to the rumen; one of its stomachs. Later, it regurgitates the cud (food) from its rumen, chews it and sends it to its other stomach to digest. Male deer, like moose and elk, have antlers. Antlers are made of bone which are shed and regrown each year. (Animals like sheep, goats, cattle, and antelope have horns. Horns are made of bone covered with keratin which are permanent; not shed and regrown.) The prongs on an antler are referred to as points; a 6 point buck has 3 prongs on each antler.

Male deer are called bucks, female deer are called doe and the babies are called fawns. During most of the year, deer segregate themselves by sex; bucks in groups and doe, along with their young, in separate groups.

Each year, deer go through a reproductive cycle that begins with the “rut”[i]. The rut is the time when male deer fight for the right to breed with a harem of females and concludes with impregnated doe. As the rut commences and bucks have regrown their antlers, the bucks attempt to form a harem. One buck may challenge another for the right to breed with a harem. Bucks will lock antlers and push and fight until one is pushed backwards and loses the challenge. It is a dangerous time for bucks; they can become permanently injured. The ultimate winner breeds with the females as they enter estrus. Gestation is about 200 days.

In mid-to-late winter, the bucks drop their antlers. When the antlers regrow, they are covered with a furry skin commonly called velvet. When the antlers have completed their growth, the velvet dries and causes irritation for the bucks. The bucks rub their antlers against a tree to remove the velvet.

About the time autumn begins, when the fawns have grown and the bucks’ antlers have regrown, the rut begins again.

Note: Please click on caption to see images at higher resolution.

Black-Tailed Mule Deer Doe;
Effie Yeaw Nature Center, Sacramento, CA; FEB 2019
Pregnant Black-tailed Mule Deer;
Effie Yeaw Nature Center, Sacramento, CA; JUN 2019
Black-tailed Mule Deer Fawn;
Effie Yeaw Nature Center, Sacramento, CA; JUL 2019
Black-tailed Mule Deer Nursing Her Fawn;
Effie Yeaw Nature Center, Sacramento, CA; JUN 2019
Black-tailed Mule Deer Buck After Losing Antlers;
Buck was limping. Other bucks still had antlers. It is possible antlers were lost in combat.
Effie Yeaw Nature Center, Sacramento, CA; MAR 2019


Black-tailed Mule Deer Buck with Antlers in Velvet;
Effie Yeaw Nature Center, Sacramento, CA; JUN 2019
Black-tailed Mule Deer Buck; Antlers with Velvet Partially Rubbed-off;
Effie Yeaw Nature Center, Sacramento, CA; SEP 2019
Bucks With Antlers Grown and Polished; the Year Begins Anew ;
Effie Yeaw Nature Center, Sacramento, CA; OCT 2019

These and other images are available to purchase on my website: www.earthwatcher.us or by contacting larry.klink@earthwatcher.us.

[1] Information obtained from: https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Regions/6/Deer/Natural-History

Some Landscapes From A Past Trip

Utah Desert – P1;
Arches National Park, UT; APR 2017

I’m cleaning up and organizing my photo library. In that process, I uncovered a lot of photos that I have never posted. Today, I am sharing a few from a cross country road trip we took in 2017.

I hope you enjoy them.

Note: Please click on caption to see image at higher resolution.

Harnessing the Wind;
West of Hayes, KS off I-70; APR 2017
Mono Lake and Volcanoes from Mono Lake Vista Point;
Mono Lake, Lee Vining, CA; MAR 2017
Utah Desert – P2;
Arches National Park, UT; APR 2017
Utah Desert – P3;
Arches National Park, UT; APR 2017
Storm Clearing Over Nevada Desert;
Somewhere Along Route 95 in Nevada; MAR 2017

These and other images are available to purchase on my website: www.earthwatcher.us or by contacting larry.klink@earthwatcher.us.