I saw the shadow zipping across the ground first. Then I looked aloft, and right above my head was the sharp-shinned hawk, gliding along silently, barely clearing the tops of the scrubby little oak trees. The bird disappeared without a whisper, headed north, but five steps further around the bend, I spotted it’s mate perched in an oak tree.
Now these are not the massive giant oaks of the eastern hardwood forests, these gnarly guys are California scrub oaks. Some are only 25 feet tall and may be 100 years old. They provide a critical habitat for dozens of birds and mammals all along this suburban greenbelt running for miles through Roseville, CA.
We were down in Roseville, CA to attend a wedding…but that’s gonna have to be covered in someone else’s Adventure Journal..
Following the advice of the hotel manager, Susan and I set off Friday morning for a very pleasant walk along the Miner’s Ravine Trail. We followed the route downstream as the path twisted along through neighborhoods and local parks. Wild turkeys, western meadowlarks, yellow-rumped warblers, doves, and an Anna’s hummingbird were but a few of the cool little winged creatures we saw. And speaking of COOL – holy cow was the wind cool. Despite the fact that it appeared to be sunny and 60 something degrees, that gusty 15-20 knots of wind made walking through the shady sections bracingly cold.
Saturday morning dawned sunny and just as windy. Susan decided that I was on my own for the upstream leg of the trail. Maybe it was the early start, or maybe it was that I was stopping to glass for new birds every few feet, or maybe I’m just getting to be a big weenie… But Yikes! It was freezing with that wind blasting right through my jacket. I hiked for over two hours and I don’t think I ever actually warmed up.
But the beauty of the countryside and the wonderful bird sightings were worth every hypothermic minute. Rolling hills covered with scrub oaks, wind swept grasses, poppies, and fields of lupine in full bloom. With every turn in the path a new excuse to stop, look, and listen. In addition to the visit with the sharpie, I saw a pair of western bluebirds, and added a new bird to my “list”…a Nuttall’s woodpecker. Check out the screen capture from my iBird Pro app.
These woodpeckers are isolated with a fairly limited range and I just walked right through their living room. Sweet!