Ecologist Susan Harrison has some photos from her home town of Davis, California. Her narrative is indented, and you can enlarge the photos by clicking on them,
Mink, Otters, Birds (and a Cat)
It’s Fall again, a rewarding time to wander along the creek in Davis, California. My most exciting sighting was an American Mink (Neogale vison) who emerged from the water and briefly struck a pose that showed off his hunting equipment. American Minks, in the Mustelid (weasel) family, are native to Northern California but seldom seen. Like River Otters (Lontra canadensis, another mustelid) and North American Beavers (Castor canadensis, a rodent), they are recovering after being nearly wiped out by water pollution and persecution. Two or three years ago I was astonished to see one. Now they’re getting a bit more common, jostling with otters, egrets and herons in pursuit of fish and frogs. This mink and a Great Egret (Ardea alba) were hunting in the same pool, and otters cruised nearby.
River Otter family:
Some of these migrants will become meals for the Cooper’s Hawks (Accipiter cooperi) lurking by streamsides.
Many non-migratory songbirds like this Oak Titmouse (Baeolophus inornatus) are caching seeds for the winter.
My strangest sighting was a pair of Western Bluebirds (Sialia mexicana) acting like it was April. Local experts told me these two could either be making a bizarrely late breeding attempt, or more likely, hanging around their nest box as a warm place to sleep. Either way, it’s unusual behavior, since nests are normally deserted by fall.
Returning home from the creek, sitting down at the computer, it was all too easy to be distracted by more birds. Our water feature and its overhanging Blue Elderberry (Sambucus mexicana) bush are popular in fall.
Hermit Thrush (Catharus guttatus):
Red-Breasted Nuthatch (Sitta canadensis):
Black-Throated Gray Warbler (Setophaga nigrescens):
Bushtit (Psaltriparus minimus):
Boris and Natasha, my amiable home birdwatching companions, perfectly fit Jonathan Losos’ description of Ragdoll cats as “snuggly layabouts.”
Boris at the birdwatching station: