Sunday, October 12, 2014

October 2014,

   Updating the wildlife blog with “forgotten photos” older pictures from earlier times. All photos taken in the Bay Area, none of these photos taken more than 10 years ago.

    Over the years, I have found many animals injured and took them in to Alexzander Lindsay Museum . Unfortunately, many animals injured in the wilderness end up suffering on their own no longer strong enough to survive in the wild. If anyone finds an injured indigenous animal and does not have the means to capture it, call Contra Costa County Animal control and they will transport to Lindsay Museum.    

                 The first picture is of a wounded Red Tail Hawk in the watershed property around San Pablo and Briones reservoirs in West Contra Costa County. I stopped to photograph the beautiful hawk and noticed it had evidently suffered an injury which resulted in the bird losing the use of its right eye. (I had no idea on how long this bird had survived this way) I grabbed my leather gloves and planned on taking the bird to Alexzander Lindsay Museum. I never was able to get close as the bird took flight and maneuvered easily through the trees and was long gone. Earlier in this blog there is a photo of the same bird with its head turned so no one would ever know about the other eye. Also in this blog there was another Red Tail Hawk with a broken leg who had survived by eating animals hit by vehicles. I was unable to catch this hawk as it flew quite well. Through a concerned reader I was introduced to Wildlife Emergency Services president Rebecca Dmytryk. They cover the Peninsula all the way to the Big Sur area and have amazing volunteers practicing humane wildlife control helping people resolve wildlife issues with everything from mice to mountain lions.


 “Sign up for a great weekly publication for nature lovers”

The Wildlife Emergency Services puts out “The Wild Bytes” Wildlife rescue and status reports every Sunday allowing people to stay current on our local (and sometimes worldwide) wildlife stories. Well written wildlife status reports and links to many other articles relating to wildlife. It has made me look forward to Sunday morning coffee and especially “The Wild Bytes”

To sign up go to;


Wildlife Emergency Services is one of about a dozen in the United States who offer exclusively NO-KILL solutions. A link to the Associations page for those interested:

#1 Wounded Red Tail Hawk / 2 Checker Spot butterfly (Alhambra Valley) / 3 Great horn Owl  / 4(Oakley Almond field) / 5 Golden Eagle Byron prairie / 6 Tule Elk Tamales Bay / 7 Northern Harrier or Marsh Hawk Delta Marsh lands / 8 Ferruginous Hawk Byron prairie / 9 Red Tail Hawk Jersey Island / Coyote family Marsh Creek area.    Thanks, Dave    

Monday, September 1, 2014

September 2014      Bay Area  “Back Yard Wildlife”

                              Hopefully September will bring some rain; it’s been a hot dry summer. Lately I have focused a bit on the smaller things in wildlife. It is amazing what can be found in our own back yards. In the Bay Area along with the development of our neighborhoods comes "back yard wildlife". When different types of planted trees and bushes are established and maintained several types of wildlife species are attracted. In areas flat and dry development even draws in species that were not previously present. In thick covered or forested areas a backyard can become an exciting place for many species to frequent especially if the right kind of plants and trees are available.  Bee’s come along, then wasps and butterflies followed by squirrels and Hummingbirds. Suddenly Scrub Jays, Mockingbirds, and Raccoons are present. Then here comes the predators.  Accipiter hawks follow the smaller birds into neighborhoods; Red Tail Hawks and Kestrels are versatile and will make daily visits not to miss out on things.  Heron and Egrets will line the drainage areas that wind thru the suburban communities.  In our neighborhoods we can actually develop areas well suited for wildlife and design it to be drought resistant at the same time. I would like to invite everyone to check out “The bringing back the Natives Garden Tours and Workshops.” In this time of severe drought and increased loss of wildlife habitat comes a very solid concept.      Tour coordinator is Kathy Kramer.

With this theme, thought I would share some “Pictures from The Back Yard” taken recently in our area.

#1 Anna’s Hummingbird, #2 Oakley Black bee (These are cool, perhaps someone knows their correct name. They are not great at flying and are huge, (Might knock someone over if they hit them) but seem harmless enough / I like them) #3 Monarch butterfly, #4 Anna Hummingbird, #5 Sharp Shinned Hawk in flight, #6 Mocking bird, #7 Western Fence lizards, #8 Praying Mantis, #9 Anna’s again (This one was performing their remarkable dive routine, stopped to see if the other hummer was still paying attention- The other bird was in shot #4) #10 A photo I call the Last Swain heading out. See you next year… ) The insects pictures (Except Monarch) taken in my Oakley yard along with the first Humming bird.

 Thanks for the interest, Dave          

Sunday, July 27, 2014

August 2014   Photos of summer Raptors and Black tail season of change...

             Updating local bay area wildlife photos with recent pictures. The drought may take one of my favorite water holes: Contra Costa Counties flood control collection pond and Dam on Marsh Creek Rd. This little lake is unique in that it is rarely visited by humans. The claim here is  there is mercury in the fish.  The property is fenced in preventing trespassing from the public. The wildlife however thrives in this area of open prairie, rolling hills and remote range land. I have seen Golden Eagles, Coyotes and Bobcat  in the surrounding area. Last year Marsh Creek never flowed to the point where water entered the reservoir. There simply was just not enough consistent rainfall. The hot dry windy days out here has seen water levels plummet to record low conditions. Western Pond turtles, Large Mouth Bass, Catfish, Perch, Bull frogs (possibly Red Legged Frogs) and other species are holding on for a miracle. During a normal year Marsh Creek becomes a small river in winter filling Marsh Creek dam, then overflow water continues down Marsh Creek through Brentwood and into the Delta. The fish from this reservoir populated the entire Marsh Creek upstream toward Clayton and Morgan Territory by fighting upstream and laying eggs in the deep slow moving pools. Now days this is a desert except for a spring fed section near Marsh Creek springs where small minnows and stickleback survive year around. Over the recent years I have photographed Ospreys, White Pelicans, numerous small duck species, Sand Pipers, and other water species at Marsh Creek Dam. This will be bad news for me if it dries up.
         Updates: I have again written The Burrowing owl Conservancy regarding my discing / tilling issue concerning the Burrowing owls of Eastern Contra Costa. Hope to get some response.
        Getting ready for fall are the Black tail buck warriors who are currently hanging with their friends. They will soon be competitive and may battle other males with new weaponry for the right to breed with the ladies. Including some early photos of a few with velvet antlers…

#1 Recent Oakley Burrowing Owls, #2 Recent Swainson Hawk youngster in Byron, #3 Recent Swainson Hawk screaming above to youngster also Byron. #4 Recent Burrowing Owl in Oakley, #5 Recent Cooper Hawk in Oakley, #6 Older Northern Harrier taken near Point Reyes seashore. #7 Older Sharp Shinned Hawk on boat trailer rail at Del Valle reservoir, #8 Recent group of Black Tails Alameda side of Los Vaqueros reservoir. #9 Recent Burrowing Owls in Oakley #10 Recent Black Tail Buck in Woodside CA, Thanks All, Dave Harper

Sunday, June 29, 2014

The water’s edge                                         July 2014

Placing together pictures of just a few of the amazing animals found in the Bay area near water. Most of these photos are from our Sacramento Delta system in eastern Contra Costa County. These pictures come from many driving adventures up and down the levee’s and back creeks where I can gain access. The Burrowing owl and dark phased Swain were inland in Oakley.

#1 recent Burrowing owl photo in Oakley area. #2 recent Musk rat in small creek near Bethel Island. #3 recent Great Egret near Holland Tract. #4 recent picture from the Swainson Hawk nest I have monitored several years and wrote much about in this blog site. This nest has stressed me out so many times as wind has knocked it into river twice and shore fishermen sometimes sit within twenty feet of nest. This year once again, the pair has succeeded in two fine young birds now close to taking flight. A great story in a rough year… #5 Last winter shot of Sand hill cranes on Holland Tract. #6 another profile picture of an Osprey at Los Vaqueros reservoir. #7 recent Western King Fisher at Clifton Forebay in Byron. #8 recent Dark phased Swainson Hawk in my Oakley back yard (Unbelievable) #9 Older American Bittern near Bethel Island. #10 recent Western Pond turtle basking on Holland Tract.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

June 2014

Pictures of the moods of  Burrowing owls

    The drought will be hard on wildlife this summer as small springs and streams dry up. Some have already fallen, in Southern California the wheels are coming off on the wildlife front. The Raptors have been in the news lately as it is so dry there is little food and less water. Here in our area it’s a mixed bag in my opinion. Some areas (Especially North of us) received enough water to get through this year. Other areas are turning bone dry right now or in the near future. Small streams, springs and cattle ponds in our areas are drying up quick and many of these are critical drinking water areas for wildlife. While the large reservoirs and delta system will no doubt help, many animals will be forced to travel looking for water. That’s when trouble starts. Some say there is an El Nino effect on the horizon, I sure hope so…

               For the most part I have stayed away from getting political with this blog or wildlife site. In this circumstance I am going to take a stand. In the photo with six owls taken in Byron, the burrow was destroyed. There have been many more as well.

    My issue of the Burrowing owls in eastern Contra Costa County mainly has been the routine disking / tilling of open fields usually pulled behind a Cat or tractor. I have seen communities of owls disked over during the breeding season for weed abatement / fire prevention. The disking has caused burrow collapse when eggs or young owls are underground and has forced many owls to use burrows on the sometimes un disturbed road shoulder which is subject to weed abatement spray, dumping of roadside debris and chances to come in contact with vehicles / dogs  and collapsing burrows from parking trucks.  My thoughts are if these burrows are flagged and identified, equipment could easily work around them leaving them intact. As a public works supervisor (Now retired) our crews were required to perform a habitat survey (Through an RMA agreement between C.C. County and Fish and Wildlife). This meant when working near these owls or other protected species we performed a habitat survey making certain the owls were not disturbed. This is even when we mowed in their areas and mowing alone does not destroy them. I have written Fish and Wildlife and contacted the burrowing owl conservation group asking the question “Why can’t Fish and Wildlife require property owners and agricultural land owners take part with the same requirements other maintenance organizations practice in the guidelines of protecting our wildlife species with the RMA (Routine maintenance agreement) habitat survey of areas long known to be habitat for Burrowing owls prior to work being performed? The outcome is always the same (As I have witnessed). A contract company will take no prisoners when tilling open fields, after all who can prove the owls were there. Enough is enough; this is a species of special concern…

Fish and wildlife and The Burrowing owl conservancy have not yet responded…

 For more looks at Dave's Burrowing owl photos please take a look at 
#1 Older young Burrowing owl photo S/O Byron, #2 Recent Swainson hawk / ground squirrel in Knightsen. #3 Recent Coyote Mines Rd. Livermore. #4 Recent Bobcat Mines Rd. Livermore (Hiked in after the cat, couldn't get any closer) #5 Older Brentwood Burrowing owl near Sand Creek. #6 Recent Ringneck snake at Los Vaqueros watershed. #7 Recent Baby Barn owls in a culvert Brentwood flood control area. #8 Recent Acorn woodpecker Mines Rd. Livermore. #9 Baby Barn owl (same Culvert) Brentwood. #10 "The Wildbunch" older Burrowing owl family in Byron.