Spring Lake, Santa Rosa

I love a lot of places around Santa Rosa, but one place I never miss visiting is Lake Ralphine/Spring Lake and I’m never disappointed.  Not only is it a great walk after spending two days in the car, but I see lots of birds I seldom see, like this Great-Tailed Grackle                

that grabbed my attention, though I was really looking for the Acorn Woodpeckers I usually find here. As it turned out, Leslie spotted them high in a tree while I was distracted.

This tree was obviously a granary, so I assumed the woodpecker was either eating an acorn or stuffing one in for later.  

Turns out that these trees serve multiple purposes because as he flew away it became clear that this was a nesting site, though I think it was probably too early for youngsters.

I had to wait a while longer to get a better shot of an Acorn Woodpecker much closer to the ground.  Since this one seemed to be feeding on something that obviously wasn’t an acorn, that made me wonder what they do feed on.  Turns out acorns are only eaten in the winter when preferred foods aren’t available.  In Spring they eat insects and oak flowers and suck the sap out of shallow holes on trees.

I could have spent the day at Lake Ralphine taking pictures of the Acorn Woodpeckers, but I wouldn’t have gotten the exercise I wanted or seen this beautiful Red-shouldered Hawk we located between the two lakes

or this Hermit Thrush waiting for us on the trail around Spring Lake.

It would have been a great visit if Spring Lake hadn’t been nearly covered in aquatic weeds (which are naturally occurring and harmless to people and animals according to the local paper, as it turns out), but seeing the lake like that for the first time ever was shocking and slightly depressing, even if this Pied Grebe didn’t seem deterred from fishing.

Thankfully, we ended our visit at Lake Ralphine where the water seemed crystal clear as this pair of Common Mergansers floated by.

  I prefer to be left with that image than that of the aquatic weeds covering Spring Lake.