January camping trips…

…are best kept short! It’s coooooold!

Katherine and I took a quick trip to Joseph D. Grant County Park in Santa Clara. Our friends, Mark and Robin, were camping there for the week and invited us to join them. Katherine and I could only fit one night into our schedule but we packed a lot into two half-days!

Our first day’s hike was a 3-1/2 mile wander to Grant Lake where we saw a Bald Eagle fly over to perch in the Eucalyptus across the way. We saw some swallows (probably Violet-green), Northern Shovelers, Yellow-rumped Warblers and a Black Phoebe at the lake. In the middle of the lake is a small island where Katherine, Mark and Robin saw several Black-crowned Night Herons. I think I missed them in my futile attempt to catch a photo of a swallow in flight.

Northern Shoveler landing on Grant Lake

We then hiked over to a smaller, more secluded lake (we think it’s called McCreery Lake because the McReery Lake Trail leads to it 😉). We spent about an hour there and were excited to see a Green Heron, a Snowy Egret, a male Belted Kingfisher, a Golden Eagle flying overhead, a Great Blue Heron, a Common Merganser, Double-crested Cormorants, a Pied-billed Grebe and Western Pond Turtles.

Belted Kingfisher at McCreery Lake
Common Merganser at McCreery Lake
A Green Heron fleeing from a territorial Snowy Egret

The next morning, I asked Mark about the day’s hike. “Well, we won’t see many birds,” he admitted. “So don’t bring your big camera!” (The previous day I had brought along two cameras — one with a very large and heavy lens. Both Katherine and Mark had helped me carry the larger camera and/or the backpack camera bag.)

Despite Mark’s pessimistic prediction, our 5-1/2 mile hike yielded great birding opportunities: raptors and songbirds, flying and hunting. Despite not having my “big camera” 😂 I was able to get plenty of photos with my smaller Sony.

Oak Titmouse taking flight
Acorn Woodpecker landing
American Kestrel trying to sell us a watch–cheap.
American Kestrel in flight
Anna’s Hummingbird shining in the morning sun
American Robin catching a worm near a small pond
Brown Creeper (good ID, Robin!) catches a small bug
White-breasted Nuthatch with a small bug
Yellow-billed Magpie with a crazy long tail
Stopping for lunch: Robin giving love to Sasha while Sam looks on; Maddie on squirrel watch; Mark snacking
Katherine documenting a botanical find while the rest of us snacked
Is it a hole-ridden snag…or a petrified lizard head? You decide.
Beautiful (unidentified) mushroom
Western Meadowlark…we’d just seen a flock of seventeen pass us (“Where’d everybody go??”)
We saw this coyote trotting quickly up the hill. Another soon joined it.

January turned out to be a great time to visit Joseph D. Grant. Despite the cold night and mornings (low 30s), the afternoons were sunny and clear (relatively) warm (low 60s). There were only a couple of other campers and we didn’t see too many other people on the trails. The ones we did meet were intrepid and friendly. Katherine expects the wildflowers to explode in the next month, so we’ll be back.

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