Sonoma Valley Regional Park (12/5/2021)

Today was our last day in Glen Ellen. And since we were able to get a super late check-out, we spent the afternoon in a new place. We did the Suttonfield Lake Loop, a much more chill bout of Naturing compared to yesterday to end our lovely weekend away. Carol and Dan joined us, too!

It was more of a walk than finding new things, but the sun came out around when we started out. And, it was a startling change to the past two days of chilly and foggy weather there. The whole area was in glorious Fall Colorscope in the sunlight. The reservoir is a good size, and the loop mostly kept close to the lake edge so it was often in view. Valley Oaks and Coast Live Oaks dotted the hillsides. And, many familiar birds were out and about.

Soon after we started we heard the ohsofamiliar sounds of Acorn Woodpeckers. I’d say they were easily our mascot for the weekend. But, very near the beginning we got decent looks at a Spotted Towhee. Golden-crowned Sparrows were also in view, as were the frequent Ruby-crowned Kinglet and occasional Dark-eyed Junco. Also, Turkey Vultures, a very cry-baby Red-shouldered Hawk, and a couple Red-tailed Hawks were all overhead enjoying the thermals along with a handful of Common Ravens.

We encountered only a couple mushrooms, but the Butter Bolete we found was impressive! The jury is still out on what took obvious bites out of it…
The lake was pretty empty until we turned a corner and spotted a couple Pied-billed Grebes. And in that bend we spotted an American Kestrel high up and far away in a tree. It was a bit too far for my digital camera to get good shots of, but we were able to admire it for a spell. A Western Bluebird (or two?) were trying to share space with the Acorn Woodpeckers. And, California Scrub-Jays rounded out the tree birds we saw.

In the lake we heard then saw a decent sized group of American Coots (eating what looked like algae like there was no tomorrow), along with a solo Great Egret who seemed to have no interest being too close to us.

Before a tiny trickle of what was sign marked as “Falls” of some kind, a very large-looking Golden-crowned Sparrow just sat on a thin tree branch facing the trail. Not moving much. And, alone. It was so odd in behavior and even size that I questioned whether it really was a sparrow at all. But, my photos confirmed it. Perhaps it’s a rogue GCS. And, it’s a loner?

As we neared the end of our loop, we came across three Turkey Vultures sitting in a barren-looking tree. I love seeing them in trees. They look even more ancient and unreal. I also heard the now familiar sound of the Sierran Tree Frog near the diving platform.

We finished up our Naturing, and having now visited a handful of different places in the Glen Ellen area I feel like I really know it well now! The whole region right now is a picture-perfect example of what Fall can be, at least for California. Feeling pretty fortunate to have been able to spend some time in such a colorful landscape.

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