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Eagle Wars and other goings on in the Sacramento Valley Wildlife Refuges

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  • debbieviess
    My hubby David and I managed to slip away mid-week for a fun and fungus-free tour of a couple of Central Valley wildlife refuges. We hit the Sacramento NWR on
    Message 1 of 2 , Jan 24, 2011
    • 0 Attachment
      My hubby David and I managed to slip away mid-week for a fun and fungus-free tour of a couple of Central Valley wildlife refuges.
      We hit the Sacramento NWR on Wednesday noon, and slowly drove the circuit. Geese, ducks, waterbirds, blah blah blah, mostly floating and resting. Kinda dull at that time of day, until a golden eagle swooped down and caught a duck and started to fly off with it. Along came a bald eagle to horn in on her lunch. Then a second golden entered the fray and another bald! By the time the feathers stopped flyin', that poor duck had dropped back down into a watery grave and both of the eagle couples flew off with talons empty.

      Best observation of the day was a huge bald eagle perched and tormented by a plucky pair of ravens. The female raven teased and distracted the eagle from the front where it perched, tearing at its meat, while the male crept up from behind. No food reward for the ravens, despite their clever ruse, but lots of great visual drama.

      A huge, orange and misshapen full moon rose over the valley as we drove down past the Sutter Buttes to Yuba City, to spend the night with friends.

      Thursday morning highlights: 21 sandhill cranes flying and calling overhead, a flock of fifty white faced ibis right off the road, darkly silhouetted and feeding in deep mud along a flooded field, probing and tossing, probing and tossing, like tiny feathered curve-billed derricks, a group of five blazing white pelicans, floating and flying in concert, a flushed and cronking Bittern, spooked from the edge of a wetland, and a perfectly spaced half circle of perched and wing-spread cormorants, on a double hoop of curved willow trunks in the middle of a water channel, like a living Andy Goldsworthy sculpture. There were plenty of brown-headed snow geese and white fronted geese and ducks of all stripes. Tundra swans, too, just outside of Grays Lodge. Nice to have a chance to visit with all of these birds before they head up north.

      Best of all, on Thursday morning we walked the entire loop at Gray's Lodge and had the place all to ourselves, other than the nice Indian fella who was grading the levy loop road in a monster yellow road grader, making the refuge safe for future car caravans of birders.

      Alphabetical species list below; gratuitous eagle and raven photo in the photo section here: http://tinyurl.com/67afne5

      Debbie Viess
      Oakland, CA
      ---------------------------------
      Central Valley Bird Species List

      Sacramento NWR, Gray Lodge NWR, and environs, Jan. 19-20, 2011

      American Bittern (1)
      American Coot
      American Crow (Yuba City)
      American Kestrel
      American Robin
      American Wigeon
      Bald Eagle
      Black-necked Stilt
      Bufflehead
      Bushtits
      California Towhee
      Cinnamon Teal
      Common Moorhen
      Double Crested Cormorant
      Eared Grebe
      European Starling
      Gadwall
      Golden Eagle
      Great Blue Heron
      Great Egret
      Greater White fronted Goose
      Green winged Teal
      Belted Kingfisher
      Least Sandpiper
      Lesser Goldfinch
      Lesser Scaup
      Loggerhead Shrike
      Mallard
      Marsh Wren
      Mockingbird
      Northern Harrier
      Northern Pintail
      Northern Shoveller
      Pied Billed Grebe
      Red Shouldered Hawk
      Red Winged Blackbird
      Red-shafted Flicker
      Ring-necked Pheasant
      Ruby crowned Kinglet (abundant in willows)
      Ruddy Duck
      Sandhill Crane (36 total; 21 in air, two groups of 9 and 6 in flooded agricultural fields)
      Snow Goose
      Snowy Egret
      Song Sparrow
      Spotted Towhee
      Tundra Swan
      Turkey Vulture
      Virginia Rail
      Western Meadowlark
      White Pelican (5)
      White-faced Ibis
      Yellow-rumped Warbler
    • Robert van de Hoek
      Good tidings Debbie, I liked hearing about eagle narrative and I imagined the whole scene.  And then you described more about cranes, swans, geese, ibis, and
      Message 2 of 2 , Jan 25, 2011
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        Good tidings Debbie,

        I liked hearing about eagle narrative and I imagined the whole scene.  And then
        you described more about cranes, swans, geese, ibis, and I wished I could be
        there.  Howard Cogswell would have loved hearing your story too, I think? 
        Perhaps he was there with you those two days in spirit?  And I now recall
        hearing you tell me that fungi were an interest to you.  I've been getting more
        fascinated with them too.  Did Howard like fungi?  Or did you pick up this
        interest on your own?

        Is there a possibility that the Golden Eagles were juvenile Bald Eagles, and so
        this was all a intraspecific drama of a family of juvenile eagles associated
        with their parents?

        I have been continuing my research into the history and biography of Howard
        Cogswell as well as other naturalists.  You can see some of this research at my
        website

        www.naturespeace.org

        And I am associated with the Ballona Institute and that web site is

        www.ballonainstitute.org

        And of late, I am assisting in saving Malibu Lagoon at

        www.savemalibulagoon.com

        Howard as an undergraduate at Whittier College, got a job with Audubon as a
        warden to be caretaker of the San Gabriel River Bird Sanctuary, later becoming
        known as Whittier Narrows Nature Center and Natural Area.  And managed now by LA
        County Department of Parks and Recreation.  I have found some real history of
        conservation here, as relates to Howard and Audubon, and the original buildings
        where Howard lived with his wife, and likely young son.  The government wants to
        tear down these historic buildings that influenced Howard's early conservation
        ethic and his budding knowledge of natural history, including birds and plants. 
        He made a floristic list of approximately 200 species at Whittier Narrows as a
        class project for Whittier College.  As you may have gathered by now, this is
        very eclectic research, and trivial to many people, but hopefully not to you?

        I have recently met a former graduate student of Howard, at the beginning of his
        career at Cal State Hayward. 


        And I've written a little biography note of the colleague of Howard at CSUH, Sam
        McGinnis, an ichthyologist.  He is still with us.  Do you know him?  Do you know
        how to reach him?

        Thanks again also for sharing your time and assistance related to Howard
        Cogswell, the gathering, and Merrit Lake.

        Looking forward to hearing from you hopefully.

        "Roy"
        Robert van de Hoek
        Ballona Institute and Wetlands Defense Fund

         



        ________________________________
        From: debbieviess <amanitarita@...>
        To: CALBIRDS@yahoogroups.com
        Sent: Mon, January 24, 2011 8:36:39 PM
        Subject: [CALBIRDS] Eagle Wars and other goings on in the Sacramento Valley
        Wildlife Refuges

         
        My hubby David and I managed to slip away mid-week for a fun and fungus-free
        tour of a couple of Central Valley wildlife refuges.

        We hit the Sacramento NWR on Wednesday noon, and slowly drove the circuit.
        Geese, ducks, waterbirds, blah blah blah, mostly floating and resting. Kinda
        dull at that time of day, until a golden eagle swooped down and caught a duck
        and started to fly off with it. Along came a bald eagle to horn in on her lunch.
        Then a second golden entered the fray and another bald! By the time the feathers
        stopped flyin', that poor duck had dropped back down into a watery grave and
        both of the eagle couples flew off with talons empty.


        Best observation of the day was a huge bald eagle perched and tormented by a
        plucky pair of ravens. The female raven teased and distracted the eagle from the
        front where it perched, tearing at its meat, while the male crept up from
        behind. No food reward for the ravens, despite their clever ruse, but lots of
        great visual drama.


        A huge, orange and misshapen full moon rose over the valley as we drove down
        past the Sutter Buttes to Yuba City, to spend the night with friends.

        Thursday morning highlights: 21 sandhill cranes flying and calling overhead, a
        flock of fifty white faced ibis right off the road, darkly silhouetted and
        feeding in deep mud along a flooded field, probing and tossing, probing and
        tossing, like tiny feathered curve-billed derricks, a group of five blazing
        white pelicans, floating and flying in concert, a flushed and cronking Bittern,
        spooked from the edge of a wetland, and a perfectly spaced half circle of
        perched and wing-spread cormorants, on a double hoop of curved willow trunks in
        the middle of a water channel, like a living Andy Goldsworthy sculpture. There
        were plenty of brown-headed snow geese and white fronted geese and ducks of all
        stripes. Tundra swans, too, just outside of Grays Lodge. Nice to have a chance
        to visit with all of these birds before they head up north.

        Best of all, on Thursday morning we walked the entire loop at Gray's Lodge and
        had the place all to ourselves, other than the nice Indian fella who was grading
        the levy loop road in a monster yellow road grader, making the refuge safe for
        future car caravans of birders.

        Alphabetical species list below; gratuitous eagle and raven photo in the photo
        section here: http://tinyurl.com/67afne5

        Debbie Viess
        Oakland, CA
        ---------------------------------
        Central Valley Bird Species List

        Sacramento NWR, Gray Lodge NWR, and environs, Jan. 19-20, 2011

        American Bittern (1)
        American Coot
        American Crow (Yuba City)
        American Kestrel
        American Robin
        American Wigeon
        Bald Eagle
        Black-necked Stilt
        Bufflehead
        Bushtits
        California Towhee
        Cinnamon Teal
        Common Moorhen
        Double Crested Cormorant
        Eared Grebe
        European Starling
        Gadwall
        Golden Eagle
        Great Blue Heron
        Great Egret
        Greater White fronted Goose
        Green winged Teal
        Belted Kingfisher
        Least Sandpiper
        Lesser Goldfinch
        Lesser Scaup
        Loggerhead Shrike
        Mallard
        Marsh Wren
        Mockingbird
        Northern Harrier
        Northern Pintail
        Northern Shoveller
        Pied Billed Grebe
        Red Shouldered Hawk
        Red Winged Blackbird
        Red-shafted Flicker
        Ring-necked Pheasant
        Ruby crowned Kinglet (abundant in willows)
        Ruddy Duck
        Sandhill Crane (36 total; 21 in air, two groups of 9 and 6 in flooded
        agricultural fields)
        Snow Goose
        Snowy Egret
        Song Sparrow
        Spotted Towhee
        Tundra Swan
        Turkey Vulture
        Virginia Rail
        Western Meadowlark
        White Pelican (5)
        White-faced Ibis
        Yellow-rumped Warbler







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