Sunday, December 16, 2007

El Cerrito Hillside Natural Area

American Coot
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Southern Alligator Lizard (Elgaria multicarinata)
Northern Mockingbird

Iris and I went for a very nice walk this morning. Iris found a couple of pellets (she thinks they are from an owl, I suspect they were regurgitated by a hawk) which contained the full skeleton of a pocket gopher and quite a lot of fur. We also found the partial skeleton, including the skull, of a dear. The highlight was when we came around a corner and a Red-Tailed Hawk Came running out from the bushes. It took off but circled low over us such that it was clear it did not want to leave the spot. I checked the bush it had come out from under and found a freshly killed and partly dismembered American Coot. Continuing a little way along the path we came to a swampy area and a free flowing creek that could easily be coot habitat. We left the coot for the hawk to finish off.
Iris is getting good at using binoculars, and we spent a while sitting and looking at Scrub-Jays, Spotted Towhees and hummingbirds to give her practice. Found a small (~10cm) Southern Alligator Lizard under a chunk of wood in a field. When I let it go it ran down a gopher hole. On our way back to the house, we passed a Northern Mockingbird on the edge of the park and I heard a Sharp-shinned Hawk calling.

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