Many Wrens and "Blue Bellies", 03-30-19
I got up at 6:30 this morning and had some breakfast before heading out to the Effie Yeaw Nature Preserve again.

It was a gorgeous day weatherwise – sunny, cool in the morning and warm in the afternoon -- so much so that we were actually able to keep the house open for most of the day. It was about 43° when I got to the preserve and about 65° when I left.

At the preserve, I didn’t walk the route that would have taken me by the spot where I spotted the hive last week; I checked out different trails.

There were no special stand outs during this walk, but there were House Wrens everywhere, singing their little hearts out. I saw two males fighting over the same perches on which to sing; they must have had territories that overlapped or something. For such tiny guys, I’m surprised by how ferocious they can be.

I also saw Acorn Woodpeckers and European Starlings fighting over nest cavities. The Starlings are invasive, and the woodpeckers and other cavity-nesting birds lose breeding spots because of them.

I saw a few female Starlings doing their “baby bird begging” thing to try to get males to feed them. They sit out in open on conspicuous branches and flap their wings against their sides, gaping and calling out. So funny to watch.

Lots and lots of Audubon’s Warblers... I don’t remember ever seeing this many around here before. (They’re a kind of Yellow-rumped Warbler, differentiated from the others by their field markings. They’re also affectionately referred to as “Butter Butts” for the bright yellow splotch on their rump where the tail attaches to the body.)

On a different part of the trail, I heard a California Ground Squirrel giving out a repeated alarm call, so I tracked it down, and found it in the field right across from the nature center. I was astonished by the fact that it had a gash in its nose and blood on the fur around its mouth and face! The mamas can be incredibly brave and aggressive when it comes to protecting their burrows and babies, I know, but I’d never seen one in this condition before. There was also a bite mark on the ruff around its neck. It was roughed up!

The squirrels are supposed to have different calls for land-based predators and air-based predators (like chickens do), but I don’t know their calls well enough to distinguish one from the other. I imagine it had fought a domestic cat (they hunt in the preserve) or something like that, and had to give it props for its tenacity, to keep on kicking and having the wherewithal to alert its fellow ground squirrels of danger nearby.

I saw lots of Pipevine Swallowtail Butterflies throughout the preserve. This is their time of year. I was hoping to see some eggs but didn’t find any on this trip. Maybe next time.

There’s lots of tall-tall grasses and sedges out right now, and all of the trees are budding their new leaves so the whole place is green-green-green. I love this time of year!

I’ve been sort of dissatisfied with the macro photos I’ve been getting out of my camera, though, so I pulled out my cell phone to take some of the super close-up shots I wanted of plants and stuff. The phone takes excellent close-ups, but it’s sometimes hard to manage holding that and my camera at the same time. What we do for photos!

On my way out the preserve, I came across a male Mourning Dove doing his coo-ing thing from a tree branch. I love the way their whole chest and neck swell up with their song. That cooing is most often sung by the male birds (not the females) and is used to “woo” the females. Cooo-oooo-woo-woo-woo.

Because it was warming up outside, the Western Fence Lizards were out in force in some places. (They’re also called Blue Bellies” for the bright blue underbellies of the males.) Saw a lot of the boys doing “push-ups” and challenging rivals on different logs.

I walked for about 3 ½ hours and then headed back home.
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