Sunday, August 2, 2015


August 2015 Dog days of summer photographs

"I have no idea what was wrong with the coyote pictured in the E mail. The song dog may have had problems un related to human involvement, my earlier venting of man related issues was just a rant of my own."
For those interested in viewing a slideshow from “Training Day” Three white tail kites trained in midair action including many pictures not previously posted on the blogsite. Please click the link below and adjust the screen slightly as some pictures are larger than others.

Wanted to add an additional link of an article written by Carol Graham for the Livermore Independent magazine. It was written about the golden eagle Tass (As I called her) released in May near Bollinger Canyon. Carol  is an outstanding writer which has written many excellent stories. Unfortunately, recent news is that our eagle did not make it and was killed by a wind mill near Altamont Pass. This was devastating news for everyone who was involved and became infatuated with this juvenile female eagle. Carol plans to write a follow up article. Look for her writing in the Livermore Independent magazine. I am sure it will be interesting...

https://web.mail.comcast.net/service/home/~/?auth=co&loc=en_US&id=51000&part=2

 Bald eagles are on their way back, and viewing them in the bay area is no longer all that tough. The pictures of the pelican and cormorant below were taken recently at San Pablo Dam reservoir near San Pablo on an outing chasing ospreys and eagles. I saw several ospreys and at least one bald eagle though unable to gather a worthy photograph. Many of our area reservoirs have year round bald eagles these days. Up to a few years ago many moved on after spring, especially those in Contra Costa County. At Del Valle reservoir in Livermore eagles have been there for years. Like the Osprey, bald eagles are coming back strong after the ban of D.D.T.  When looking for the eagles a solid technique I have always believed in is “watch the ospreys”. They love to let the ospreys do the fishing then steal the prey. I am going to try and gather decent bald eagle pictures by next month.
About some of the pictures: Barn owl cave was taken a few years back on Morgan Territory Rd. The cave was washed out in a storm, however many owls were raised in the years it was viable. These owls in the photo had to be close to leaving the cave and go out on their own...
Where did all the burrowing owls go? This is the worst year I have ever had locating these owls in eastern Contra Costa, perhaps from some of the issues earlier discussed or bad luck on my part. I believe it has not been a banner year for burrowing owls...
The angry raccoon: It was over 100 degrees when I found this animal, all I had was a plastic bottle of diet Pepsi, tossed to him with no cap. He picked it up and tossed it in the bushes. Not sure what the issue was...  

White Pelican

Barn owls

Red tailed hawk

Western burrowing owl

Western coyote

raccoon

Acorn wood pecker

California Quail

Western king fisher

Double-crested cormorant

Friday, July 3, 2015


Summer Days of Swains    July 2015 HAPPY 4TH !

          On August 5th Fish and wildlife will vote on ending or restructuring the laws pertaining to trapping bobcats in the wild in California. I don’t believe there is any good reason to trap these cats for their pelt. Please read and sign the petition to end bobcat trapping in California. Thanks Rebecca and wildlife rescue for bringing this to my attention.


              Summer of 2015 updating bay area local wildlife photos with summer time status and updates on Swainson hawks in eastern Contra Costa and Alameda Counties. Good news concerning the swainson hawks. Despite the high summer heat and ongoing drought, (No snow in the Sierra’s) we actually had decent rainfall in this eastern area. Most swain nests have yielded one fledged youngster this year. The Byron pair I have written of and observed now for many years has once again led the pack with two fledged youngsters. Their nest this year is perfectly located in the original willow tree I found them years ago overhanging the slough. Previously strong winds have knocked nests out of the small tree and broken particular branches. There are water skiers flying by, fishing boats and nearby shore fishermen, but the good news is that there is a huge berm of berry vines between them and the road edge, and their fortitude and diligence in raising  the young. Thank you to Mike @ (DWR) and Juddith (Friends of Swains) as we have tried to identify one of the parents from its leg band. Mike says it may be a chick banded in a Yolo or Delta research project years ago, though looking at the pictures over the years of the band we are unable to get the entire number. Yet this is more proof that it is possible to make a difference; I know this hawk has had conservatively ten or more young since I have watched them.   
Another swain nest in Holland tract is near perfect though right in a marina. Perfect as it is way up (perhaps 70ft. or more) in a grove of Cypress or poplar trees. I doubt anyone besides me is even aware it is there, though in spring young barn owls were placed back in a nest with assistance of utility lift truck after strong winds blew them to the ground in the same area. These particular swainson hawks have moved from an isolated small tree which last year was near a levee improvement project where summer work brought in a multitude of heavy equipment and worked through their breeding season. They hung in there and raised at least one but this year changed locations to a less stressful nearly perfect site about ½ MI east.
              In Knightsen there are a couple Swain nests I watch. One remote nest with one youngster and the other you may remember from “meet the swains” pictures from the May photos in this blog. They occasionally leave squirrels and other prey on the poles for snacks. Saw their nest in the middle of a quaint ranch the other day as mom dive bombed down with a ground squirrel for the youngsters. Lots of screaming going on here and I don’t know how many youngsters.

     In Oakley another pair nests in a grove of redwood trees near a huge flood control basin near the bypass. In the past these two used the nest the white tailed kites featured last month currently use. The swains and kites are close to each other and seem to tolerate each other though harass and scream at each other every time they cross paths. These are not the only active nests in the area, I can say with certainty there are many more. These are the birds I check on each year, seeing them do well is a solid indicator the species is currently doing well.  

Pictures; 1-American bittern, seven mile slough. 2-Anna’s at Los Vaqueros watershed. 3-Coyote Livermore mines area. 4- Swainson light phased in Knightsen. 5- Swainson youngsters in Byron. These will be the first airborne (May be already). I photographed young from most nests mentioned though prefer to use these for clarity issues. 6- White tailed kite photo, same youngsters born earlier. Barn Owl perched up under a palm tree in Knightsen. 8- The swainson parent banded in Byron perched. 9- The swainson parent banded in flight in Byron. 10- White tailed kites different look from last month.  

 Anna’s hummingbirds   I put together a small slideshow of my recent pictures of anna’s hummingbirds. “I must say, I have noticed no wild beast that seems to have as much fun living life as our anna’s hummingbirds.


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


 

Sunday, May 31, 2015


JUNE 2015 LOCAL BAY AREA WILDLIFE PHOTOS / TRAINING DAY

                Story of White tail kite family in eastern Contra Costa. I stated earlier I was monitoring a nest of White tailed kites near my home in Oakley. They have been here a few years and raised youngsters two years ago in a nest formally used by swainson hawks. There nest is high up in a grove of pine trees, I can’t even see the nest though I see the birds perch above the area. They occasionally ran off crows and swains quickly returning leaving little doubt they in protect mode.  From experience, I knew I would be advised when the youngsters take flight as they scream mercifully everywhere they go on the initial flights. Friday 5-29 was the day I heard them first, there were three youngsters up amazingly. White tail young have rust color on their neck and chest area, once older they turn white, easy to determine at this stage the young and the adults. I was fortunate enough to capture these young raptors on training day. Not only do the parents assist with aerial activities, they hand over mice in midair giving youngster the feel of prey in their talons, also the real experience of two other aggressive babes bearing down on the sibling trying to steal the quarry. Everyone learns and at times it sounds like you’re in Jurassic Park. Sharing some of the photos taken during the melee…       Photos 2, 3, 7, and 8.
Anna’s hummingbirds pictures 1 and 9.

Light phased swainson in flight picture 4.
Common titmouse mother feeding her youngsters at Del Valle reservoir photo 5.  This mother must have had 6 or more youngsters she was feeding. They flew in one at a time formed a line and flopped on their butts when she fed them.

White pelican in flight at Los Vaqueros reservoir picture 6.
In honor of Jurassic Park a western fence lizard from my back yard…










Sunday, May 3, 2015


May 2015 Bay Area Local Wildlife Update All photos taken in the Bay Area

A Golden goes home: You may have seen this story on the news. A female golden eagle captured had head trauma and there was speculation of possible ingestion of rat poison. (Rodenticides)  “Tass” (my name for her) based on the area San Ramon fire workers captured her when she was having trouble flying on March 27th. She was taken to Lindsay wildlife hospital in Walnut Creek to begin her rehab process. On May 1st she was released in her homeland area of South Contra Costa County. Thanks to Lindsay museum in Walnut Creek. I was there and will provide those interested in the story and an Email of several photos and short story of the process.
Meet the Swainsons: I have written about the Byron pair of Swains a few times, lately I have visited the Knightsen pair I have watched for a few years. This is a light and dark morphed pair that nest and spend spring and summer in ranch properties within the town of Knightsen. The female has been featured before with a ground squirrel pinned down up on a utility post. She is unafraid of local traffic and usually stares at me when I visit. I admit I talk to her hoping she tolerates me for a second. The male is far less trusting of humans though this year he actually posed for a shot.

Rattlers of Los Vaqueros: Chasing rattle snakes lately at Los Vaqueros reservoir between Contra Costa and Alameda Counties. Something very interesting about the rattlers to me, this year decided to try and locate and observe their actions. At Los Vaqueros this isn’t very hard as they are fairly common. The danger this time of year is the smaller snakes, so small in fact they are hard to see. One needs to look close at the trail and stay in areas that are visibly clear to the eye. Another note: Rattlers don’t look for trouble; they only want to get clear of humans. Accidently stepping on one is a real concern, especially the smaller ones as they are not as smart or forgiving as the larger ones yet are just as poisonous.

The Coyote controversy: There’s a great article written asking the question “Is it time to stop hunting the Coyote in California?” The benefit the Coyote serves in rodent reduction far outweighs the damage they cause in my opinion. Love to hear your opinions, please read…

photos 1- Golden eagle getting ready for release May 1
2- Badger @ south end of Los Vaqueros Alameda Co side
3-Burrowing owls in Alameda County
4- Young Black tail Camino Tass area CC County
5-Coyote profile Alameda side Los Vaqueros
6-Swain profile Lighter phase
7-Swain profile darker phase
8-Rattler N. end Contra Costa
9-Rattler N. end Contra Costa
10-Golden in flight (not the eagle released) Byron area...









Sunday, March 29, 2015


April 2015

Updating spring time wildlife photos with recent views of local wildlife

                Something special about the Swainson hawks. In March after a long flight from the winter down South they suddenly appear in the skies harassing other birds of prey and reestablishing territory they left last year in late summer. The old saying of “If you don’t know the species of hawk in the sky it’s probably a red tail” may not be true in eastern Contra Costa County as this time of year it’s a tossup. The Swains are back and in strong numbers.  Each year I make a point to remember the first day I see them return.  March 17th was the day this year for me and they were doing the same thing this year as they were last year when I observed them. Aerial dog fights with red tail hawks that may have missed them less than me. An even duel I’d say, the reds are arguably stronger but the swains are outstanding flyers and have the same nasty over confident attitude. Included pictures of a dark phased and light phased swainson in flight.   
            Also I am watching a pair of nesting white tailed kites in Oakley. I will attempt to show photos of the youngsters once they are up and flying. Sharing a photo of one of the parents with a field mouse dinner. Including some of the smaller species of birds who live in our back yards and parks, and one of my favorite butterflies near San Pablo.

House wren at Black diamond mines S/O Antioch
White crested nuthatch also at the mines

Dark phase swain in flight at Holland tract (one of two darks building nest together, monitored this pair for two years) May have talon issue
Resident burrowing owls in Oakley.

White tailed kite nesting near flood basin
Pipevine swallowtail at San Pablo dam

Male northern harrier near Jersey IS
Red wing black bird Alhambra Valley

Coyote EBM property near El Sobrante
Light phased swain in Byron this pair I have told many stories of in the blog. Pictures of the young last year and other times. Seven, maybe eight years of watching. Feel like family, warms the heart to see them return…