Crane Creek Regional Park (12/3/2021)

Today we explored more of this area we were last in last August. We visited Crane Creek Regional Park, a completely random place I found that was not far and had an easy loop trail to get acquainted by. And, we loved it.

Now, it’s not spectacular as far as views go or any beautiful body of water goes or anything like that. There’s even a disc golf course at the trailhead, which isn’t great. For either the Naturist or the Disc Golfer. But, what it lacked in sparkle it made up for in gorgeous oaks and a nice variety of birds and delightful mushroom finds and FROG SOUNDS.

We did a combination of the Outer Loop/North Loop and the Fiddleneck Trail. And, it was a nice way to familiarize ourselves with the newtous place. From the very start, what looked like a Northern Harrier flew across the ridge ahead. We couldn’t find it once we made it to the ridge, but a hovering White-tailed Kite was a very nice compensation. We also started hearing FROGS. And, we heard a solo frog here and there our entire time out there. And, they sounded just like the Sierran Tree Frogs I heard at China Camp recently. But, maybe frogs can sound like other frogs? Of course, we never actually saw any of the many frogs we heard, so I’ll need to consult iNat and see what the likelihood is…

Mushrooms were all along the grassy paths through the disc golf course, like Rosy Navel (?), Western Amethyst Laccaria (?), Yellow Fieldcaps, and Meadow Puffballs (?). Once we approached the oaks, things got more interesting.
A large group of Western Meadowlarks were in the grasses. Acorn Woodpeckers were calling and tapping fervently into tree trunks. And, a couple Western Bluebirds made themselves known to us. It was easily at this point that we became enamored with the place. It was an overcast and cool day, and grass and small rocks were everywhere we looked at the start. So, yeah, it gave us flashbacks to Ireland, like that kind of environment does for us. And, it was a warm and fuzzy feeling.

From that moment on, we heard but mostly saw a lot of different birds! I had no high expectation of high quality birding at that place with that weather. There weren’t THAT many oaks. It was dang cool out in the middleish of the day. And, yet, we had a great birding day.

I heard a Ruby-crowned Kinglet and Yellow-rumped Warblers, which we eventually saw. We saw a whole small group of Western Bluebirds and more Acorn Woodpeckers. And, right at the creek we saw more of the above, plus we saw a White-breasted Nuthatch! I’ve only ever seen one before in Michigan. Didn’t know they’d be here!

As the oaks got more dense, I spotted larger mushrooms underneath them, like Bolete Moulds and Oak-leaf Pinwheels (I think), and Pleated Inkcaps (I think). Thought I saw my first poisonous mushroom, the fabulously named Western Destroying Angel, thanks to Seek. But further research indicates Bolete Mould. I’ll really be excited when I do come across my first poisonous mushroom….
Continuing on, there were European Starlings and Northern Flickers (never seen more than one at a time before!) and more Acorn Woodpeckers and a Spotted Towhee and what looked like California Ground Squirrels and even more Acorn Woodpeckers.

We started seeing California Buckeye trees with their fruit/seed ornaments and California Scrub-Jays and California Towhees at some point. I came across one small but mighty Witch’s Butter mushroom (Life Mushroom!). And then, a handful of White-breasted Nuthatches came into view in a leave-less buckeye tree where we got decent looks at it. Such a treat!

It was so random, this pick to spend our Naturing time in today. It’s pretty awesome to know that such gems can be found without much effort.

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