Monday, October 5, 2015

“Season of the Warrior” October 2015 Bay Area local wildlife

                                I was able to capture photos of the Black tail deer and Tule elk rut season. Establishing their harems of females and fighting off challengers enables the species to breed with the strongest of genes intact. In the Tule elk reserve at Tamales bay near Point Reyes this means defending from 10 to 20 or more females. Despite some bad lighting in a few of these photos, I was able to capture two separate leaders and some of their ladies. The bugling sounds from the male fill the sky this time of year. Any others attempting to gain access close to the group is taking their lives in their own hands. (Including humans, and I was warned years ago by game wardens) It’s amazing to witness this reserve, I would recommend any interested to take a day trip at to Tamales bay and enjoy the views. There are also photos of the some of the others living among the country of the warriors…

   Wanted to give a thumbs up to R.A.T.S (Raptors Are The Solution) who had their open house last week. I had a great time meeting all the outstanding people behind the scenes who are making the world aware of the hazards of using rat poisons. They are a selfless group interested in preserving our wildlife. Please check out their website to see the accomplishments, challenges and educational information relating to protecting wild animals including Raptors.

P.S. I have changed the higheagle website slide show to “Summer of Swains” a fast forward look at the mighty swainson hawks who have returned down south by now for winter. Please click the link and adjust slightly for the photos…

Sunday, August 30, 2015

September 2015 Tribute to our bay area eagles.   
Remembering "Tass"  the fallen Eagle

It is so sad hearing of the passing of the Female juvenile golden eagle that was grounded by the old style bird killing wind mills near Altamont pass. Fitted with the radio transmitter collar to help us understand the daily lifestyle and range of the golden eagle, ends up telling us what we already know about these windmills. They are deadly to raptors.    

An article in the Livermore independent tells the unfortunate story. 
Writer Carol Graham who wrote about the great celebration of releasing the eagle back to the wild last month, finishes the story with the unfortunate ending none of us wanted to hear. She has done a great job telling the whole story with all the details as perhaps we can learn something from all this. Credit goes to the Livermore Independent and Carol for the following article...


Great News, Fish and wildlife votes to end the trapping of bobcats in California…
See the story below

          Updated Bay Area wildlife photos featuring the Predatory bird species from San Pablo Dam reservoir and the surrounding watershed and regional park properties. The area begins from Tilden Park straight east down through wildcat Canyon, then connected to water shed property of E.B.M including the watersheds of Briones reservoir and San Pablo Dam.  Just east from there is Briones Park west of Martinez. This is an impressive wilderness corridor that also branches off in other directions with open spaces linking other parks and properties essential to wildlife survival and movement. These are some of the inhabitants, now including bald eagles…

Bald Eagle

Golden Eagle

Osprey / Rainbow trout

Bald Eagle

Double- Crested Cormorant  

White Pelican

Golden Eagle


Bald Eagle

White Pelican
About the pictures; Osprey with trout was dueling with marauding bald eagle trying to steal quarry, large female osprey screamed and out maneuvered eagle even briefly chased the larger bird. Golden eagles were photographed south of reservoir, yet on every trip to region I witnessed golden eagles, even a youngster flying with parents. Unable to get close, I choose these photos instead. Single osprey photographed near Shasta city. Ospreys seem to range back and fourth in this area sometimes ten or more can be same in one day at S.P. Dam, then the next day none. Depends on water surface fish  activity I suppose. I spent much time for several years working on the shores of San Pablo reservoir and noticed ospreys are very prevalent in fall and winter. Trout are in deep water in late summer, while bass,  and blue gills are on top. The bald eagles were present each trip I took and have their favorite perches overlooking the water. A good rule of thumb when hoping to see the prey birds is: If their are many cormorants and pelicans, all is good. Currently it is a bit slow as EBM has lowered water level in anticipation of El Nino, yet the upper Briones reservoir is full.
The photo slide show is still the Kites training day, click on last months link to check it out. Next month I will change to The summer of Swains...

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...

 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


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


                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…