Tuesday, December 2, 2014

December 2014 Bay area local wildlife

Forecast is RAIN, RAIN, and then RAIN. If it will take a miracle; this is the way to get it started. Posting pictures of local wildlife in the bay area. Pictures tell a story...

1- A soaked coopers hawk chases scrub jays in Oakley almond trees during recent rainstorm.
This photo was taken while I was writing this, I walked to my back sliding glass door and looked out to our scrub jay's perch on top of an almond tree in property behind me. Their are several scrub jays that squawk and fight relentlessly over the treasures of this area, suddenly cleared out by this stalker...
2- A recent photo of an osprey at Los Vaqueros perched on his favorite tree overlooking the lake.
3- A golden eagle I have been chasing near Byron airfield. I believe there were brush rabbits in the area, as this one allowed me in pretty close.
4- A white egret in flight at Holland tract with something to say.
5- A blue heron flies along a slough near Bethel Island.
6- Only older photo in this group was an encounter with a short eared owl in 2007 near Byron airfield. Drove out there on a rainy day and observed a group of birders using their scoping equipment to view these owls at a considerable distance. I stopped and spoke with a kind older gentleman who let me take a view through his scope. “They fly like large moths he commented.” It was wintertime and he advised me that if it is foggy and rainy out here one could come by and with some luck may see the short eared owls”. The next day was thick fog and rain so I went back out there. This time not a person around, but the large short eared owl stood on a fence post right where we stood the day prior to view the field. This photo was taken that day. In the following years of drought I never saw another one out there. Maybe this year…
7- recent yellow-rumped  warbler at our back yard pond.
8- double crested cormorant drying out at Holland tract.
9- Los Vaqueros osprey again showing off the talons. Originally thought this Osprey was "Oscar" A osprey who was rescued at Los Vaqueros recently. He was banded I have heard prior to his release back to the wild. Concerned folks at Los Vaqueros are on the search for Oscar as he has not been seen lately. I will keep an eye out for him as well.
10- coyote in Byron good to see green grass coming up in those meadows.
*Note: photos downsized on this site. Click on picture for larger view.

Hope everyone has the best of holidays…



Sunday, November 2, 2014

November 2014,               The Seasons of change

                     Sharing recent wildlife photos of the fall season in the Bay area. As the seasons change so do conditions in the wild. Weather, development, rodent control measures and other environmental conditions effect the movements and population of indigenous animals in the Bay area.  Some animal species have good or bad years depending on circumstances. Sometimes it may be just luck or timing of crossing paths with animals in the wild. However, if one is spending lots of time living, hiking, driving, horseback riding or bicycling in wild areas the truth generally reveals itself. It would be nice to hear from bay area residents on their opinion of changes they have noticed within the wildlife areas they frequent.

Some wildlife tendencies I have observed;

*I maintain the Burrowing owl population has suffered the last few years as I have said before. It is harder for me to locate the owls I have previously followed.

*The large Black tail deer bucks. I haven’t seen the truly large ones I have before. Is this the expanding population of wild turkeys competing for the same food source? I don’t know… And with all the turkeys, what did this do to the bobcat, coyote and mountain lion populations?

*Rough Legged Hawks. These hawks have been scarce. Perhaps they shift locations due to climate changes or rodent populations. Haven’t seen one in two years in the east CC County where my earlier photos were taken.
*Ferruginous Hawks and Golden Eagles seem to hold their own in Contra Costa County despite lands being developed where they hunt in the winter. May be a concern later …   

These are just some of the things I have noticed. Again I would like to hear what you have noticed out there in our wild areas.

Thanks, Dave

Pictures    #1 Red Tail Hawk in The Highland / Camino Tassajara area of south CC County. #2 Yellow Anna’s Hummingbird in Oakley. #3 Golden Eagle flight picture (Same bird as attached photo) south Vasco near Livermore. #4 Black tail 3x2 buck at south end of Los Vaqueros reservoir.  #5 A male Anna’s Hummingbird at south end of Los Vaqueros reservoir. Must say; wildlife viewing at Los Vaqueros is outstanding. One of the best areas around. #6 Young Coyote at the now dry Marsh Creek Dam. #7 Osprey at Los Vaqueros reservoir. I believe it is the same bird mentioned earlier in this site. #8 Terns at Half moon bay near Santa Cruz board walk. #9 White egret at Grizzly Island marsh habitat. #10 Mama and her baby (Black tail deer) at a small pond in Woodside.

*Apology to Marilyn who correctly pointed out an Anna’s Hummingbird earlier in the site. I thought it was a Black chinned, though as I have found out. Anna comes in many color forms. You were right Marilyn…

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.  

http://www.bringingbackthenatives.net/fall-2014-select-tours      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