Squaw Creek’s Other Critters

My mission yesterday was to see if Bald Eagles were on nests at Squaw Creek. I have seen three nests there. One is very visible. The others are not.  I’m  sure most people don’t know where they are and don’t see all of them.

I arrived at Squaw Creek before sunrise.  After driving to the west area of the park, I parked the car and waited for the sun to come up. Just as it was starting to get little light out, four deer went running by me as though they were being chased. No one else was in the park and it’s not hunting season so I was surprised to see them so spooked.

Is it coming after me?
Is it coming after me?

It was so dark that even with a high ISO, the fastest shutter speed I could get was only 1/13th of a second. It’s hard to hold the camera still enough to get a sharp photos at that shutter speed.  As I stayed still, wishing the sun would hurry and rise so I could get a faster shutter speed, I noticed what most likely had spooked the deer.

The Trickster!
The Trickster!

Some Native American tribes call them the Trickster. Of course we know them as Coyotes. There were two of them. One saw me right away and quickly hid in some bushes. This one was still looking for breakfast.

What is that?
What is that?

When it did see me, it didn’t seem to be too concerned. It watched me for quite a while then wandered off slowly. As you can tell, it was still quite dark.  I was lucky it stood so still.

When the sun was high enough to provide good light, I drove close to the eagle’s nest that’s most visible to the public. I saw the eagle pictured below. It was  close to the nest but I saw nothing in the nest. It started calling and sounded as though it might be calling for its mate.

Now where is my mate?
Now where is my mate?

It stayed on that branch for quite a while calling from time to time but not another eagle came by.  After a while it was time for me to move on to see what else might be moving around early in the morning.

Red-winged Black Bird
Red-winged Blackbird
Where's my mate?
Where’s my mate?

There were a lot….. no…. there were hundreds of Red-winged Blackbirds. Many seem to be calling for mates too.

As I moved to a different pond, I saw this little critter swimming along. When it saw me, it stopped then turned towards me as though it wanted to get a better look. Do you know what it is?

MMMMM!
MMMMM!
What is it?
What is it?

If you said Muskrat, you would be correct. There are a lot of muskrat lodges in the various ponds at Squaw Creek. This is the first time one actually stopped to check me out! Most of the time, when they see you, they swim away and hide. After about a minute, it appeared to do just that. It swim away as fast as it could.

YIKES!!!   I'm out of here!
YIKES!!! I’m out of here!

You’ll almost always see Great Blue Herons.

Sure wish something would come by. I'm hungry.
Sure wish something would come by. I’m hungry.

Because they stand so still while hunting, they are easy to photograph. Of course if the wind isn’t blowing, the reflection will be better. I watched it for a while but breakfast seem to be running late. They are so patient. I’ll bet it eventually was successful.

At one of the other ponds, this little guy seemed to be happy to be by itself. It just walking quickly around foraging for breakfast in the shallow water.

Killdeer
Killdeer

Killdeer are so cool. Their young look like miniature adults. Did you know that the male builds the nest and they can have two broods per year?

OK, but what about those eagles on nests?  Well, below is a picture of another eagle close to a nest. This nest is so far from the road I couldn’t tell if an eagle was in it or not. However, the photo does show how massive their nests can be. Bald Eagles often use the same nest year after year. They are known to add more sticks to them each year. Because of that, some nests weigh more than a thousand pounds and will be as large as a Volkswagen Beetle.

Bald Eagle & Nest
Bald Eagle & Nest

Oh yes, there was a large number of geese and ducks. There were swans and hawks too. We often see pictures of the thousands of geese and ducks that stop over at Squaw Creek and nothing else. I didn’t take a single picture of any of them this time. I thought you might like to see some of the other critters that are there too. Of course, there are a lot of other critters that I didn’t see or photograph. Maybe you’ll get lucky and see some of them. I hope you do.

If you do make the trip, go early.  By doing so, you’re sure to see more of critters before they hunker down for the day.

Hope you enjoyed seeing some of the other critters of Squaw Creek.

Thanks for coming by!

Bill