March 11, 11 am.
After a storm system which, in some places in our county, dropped over 10 inches of rain, it feels good to have a break with blue sky and sunshine. I am headed out to Berry Creek, at the HARC 2 gate. The fog is still low in the valley but the rich clear blue of the sky above is peaking through. It is a good thing I have my rubber boots on because even the upper fields are quite boggy in places. As the fog lifts the green of the grasses and other plants astounds me. In the last 2 weeks, the intensity of this green has deepened, every plant pushing up, growing into the coming spring season.
There are more birds singing now as they are getting ready for pairing up and nesting. In the field, a group of bright blue small birds is flitting around, landing on the brown tips of grass stalks from last year. These are Western Bluebirds Sialia mexicana, the males looking like they have brand new feathers to impress the females. It is a blue that is so brilliant it is hard to describe, while the females are a softer powdery blue. I watch as they work at catching insects, calling plaintively to each other. It is a group of 4 males and 2 females and I wonder if it is a family from last years nesting. Bluebirds eat berries and fruits in the winter, with mistletoe berries being very important. As I watch these enchanting birds eating the newly hatched spring insects I think it must be a welcome change of diet for them. They are cavity nesters, nesting in holes in trees and will use birdhouses. They are fun to watch fluttering around close to the ground.
As I head back, a pair of young doe Black-tailed mule deer are surprised by my approach. I crouch with my camera and take some photos while they snort and check me out. Both of them are curious and walk closer, then stop to see what it is I am doing down there. It is interesting to see how close they get before turning around. In the riparian area behind them, I can hear a loud snorting, which they look at now and then. Maybe it is their mom calling them! Eventually, off the two go leaving me to ponder who that was snorting at them in the bushes. I am grateful for the warmth today and so, it appears, are the animals.