Saturday, May 23, 2009
Heidi and I went back to Palo Alto Baylands at the beginning of the month because I thought we would see the snowy egrets nesting there. But there were none to be found. Nonetheless, there was plenty to see there that day. We saw several red-winged blackbirds, but I had a difficult time finding one that would sit still long enough for me to get a photo.
Over by the ranger's station there were some beautiful rock rose bushes. These are really a beautiful color and they really stood out around all the other greenery.
While getting shots of the rock roses Heidi saw a California ground squirrel and pointed it out to me. These squirrels are so much more wild and wary of humans than our regular gray squirrels we get in our back yard.
At the duck pond area we saw these different looking mallards. Very interesting colors, would you say? At least we think they are hybrid mallards since they have the curly tail and dark colored heads. But the color of their heads is definitely not the typical green you would see on the males. And look at the color of their bills -- rather strange color again.
And speaking of strange, we saw a pair of Muscovy ducks also at the pond. I mentioned to Heidi that as tame as they seemed to be these ducks were probably left here by someone who had them as pets and decided to "let them go." I don't know that for a fact, but they did act tame around people, like they were expecting a hand-out of bread. Now the signs are posted everywhere that we are not to feed the animals. The signs are in three different languages; but no one pays attention to them. How sad for the animals who hang around the pond. They will never learn to fend for themselves, and that makes them more prone to predators.
If you take a closer look you will notice the duck in the back is all white. It also had beautiful blue eyes. Was it leucistic? I surely wouldn't consider it an albino since it still had red on its face and a reddish beak as well as yellow feet.
Right after the duck pond adventure we saw something large fly overhead. It looked like a hawk and landed in a nearby tree about 75 feet from the pond. While we were trying to get a decent angle to take photos of the hawk we also saw a jackrabbit. Watch out Mr rabbit! That hawk might want to try to take you down for his dinner! You do seem to be a fairly good size; maybe you're too much for the hawk to take on.
After getting home Heidi was able to correctly identify the hawk as an immature red-tailed. Here is a view of his back. Click on the photo to get a larger view. Just look at those beautiful feathers. The funny thing about the hawk that we had noticed was that it looked a bit disheveled.
Here's the front view. Notice the disheveled look on his chest feathers? These are still magnificent looking birds anyway.
As we headed back toward the pond we noticed at least one black-crowned night heron (BCNH) in a tree across the path from the pond. So we headed over to get a few shots. As we looked around Heidi noticed there were nests in the tree and there seemed to be more than one BCNH in the tree. Most of them were well hidden behind branches or tucked down in the nests. But this BCNH was more cooperative.
We also encountered this little gosling around the duck pond. At first we thought he was a little stray. We wondered where Mama or Papa was.
And then we saw this as they walked away. Isn't this cute to see -- parent and offspring taking a stroll around the duck pond to show the little one what a big world it is.