Sunset in side channel, Shollenberger Park
Double-crested-Cormorant, Phalacrocorax auritus
It is very rare to see a Double-crested Cormorant looking straight at you to appreciate why they are so named. A local bird that has an active colony nesting site in the trees on the far east side of Ellis Creek that is not in the viewing area of the public. When seen they will generally be flying at least a few hundred feet off the ground. Some facts: wing span 52”; body length 33” & 3.7 pounds in weight. In the last 2 years, they have had about 30 nests in their colony tree at Ellis Creek in the same trees that the Great Blue Heron & Great Egrets inhabit in the months beginning in mid-March through July. They generally lay 3-4 eggs per nest. Both parents feed the chicks who can fledge after about 6 weeks. They swim and dive and pursue fish, lizards, crawdads and even snakes.
Alman Marsh and the Petaluma River
The Alman Marsh is 80 acres of pasture/marsh that sits between Shollenberger Park on the south and the Petaluma Marina on the north.
Clearing storm and reflection, Shollenberger Park
What better place for a Marsh Wren than deep in the reeds at Ellis Creek.
Black-crowned Night Heron
Stormy sunset, Shollenberger Park
Great Blue Heron with crayfish
A Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) eyeing his next meal.
Black Crowned Night Heron - Snuggled
Very early on a very cold February morning, I came upon this heron snuggling her bill into her chest feathers. Looking cozy and content while waiting for the warming of the sun.
One early morning we were lucky enough to come upon coot chicks in the reeds at Shollenberger. They were hilarious looking with their orange "hair" feathers. A day later they looked more like their parents.
Harrier in flight
Early morning, April 14th, 2020, brings us this nice look at a female Northern Harrier at Ellis Creek
Long Billed Dowitcher on Blue
This Long Billed Dowitcher was feeding quickly along following another dowitcher in Pond C in late August.
They are quite entertaining to observe.
Both male and female share the incubation duties, once hatched the male takes care of the young thereafter.
Northern harrier chasing-white-tailed kite
This Harrier is not putting up with any Kite hunting her chosen fields. The Kite is just beginning an evasive turn, the chase got hotter and heavier with the Harrier finally landing a glancing talon blow as the Kite rolled to face the attack talons-to-talons. Both birds seemed relatively unshaken and sound as the Kite quickly left the area and the Harrier continued her hunting.
Great Blue Heron
This Great Blue Heron in mating plumage is carefully hunting the edges of the reeds in the seasonal pond at Ellis Creek.
This colorful little songbird was contentedly ensconced on a fine perch in the reeds alongside the path at Pond D, in early October.
Western Sandpipers in Flight
Western Sandpipers are really fun and spectacular to watch in flight as they fly in small to larger flocks and seem to do figure eights and laps around parts of Schollenberger, especially at the main pond.
These pipers were photographed in late November but they can be seen here through most of the year.
Mute Swan family
White Tailed Kite Warming in Early Sun
On a cold February morning this kite was resting and warming in the early rays of sun just near the trail that connects Ellis Creek to Schollenberger. This young kite seemed comfortable with my presence and offered several more nice poses.
Pied Billed Grebe
This fine Pied Billed Grebe is really putting some glamour into the grebe world with this stately showing.
Kite Tail Flip
Peaceful sunset, Shollenberger Park
Black Necked Stilt - Feeding in Splendor
On a mid-March past, the lovely morning light brings us this tranquil setting with adult stilt and reflection in balance at the seasonal pond at Ellis Creek.
Ellis Creek Water Recycling Facility
Over four miles of walking trails, which ring the facility’s polishing wetlands, are open to the public. A connecting trail leads to the Shollenberger Park trails.
When I heard of the juvenile kites at Ellis Creek, I hurried to see/photograph them. Watching them interact with each other and their parents was quite the treat. The only problem was the 7 ticks I took home with me!
Shollenberger Park and the Petaluma River
This 165-acre wetlands park (with 16 acres of accessible trails) is a haven for wildlife, native plants and humans.
Male Northern Harrier
Winter light, Shollenberger Park
Harrier in flight
Early morning April 14, 2021, brings us this Northern Harrier in a high-speed hunting flyover at Ellis Creek.
Cocklebur, Xanthium strumariun
A North American native species that has naturalized worldwide and can be weedy in crops and pastures. Seeds stick to fur and were inspiration for Velcro.
Drake Mallard - Refracted Reflections
Right next to the reeds in Pond C, this male Mallard is floating through a kaleidoscope of brilliant colors, light and shapes. He takes it all in stride and visual rhythm.
Mid-January afternoon, with the sun nearing the horizon.
American Avocet Chick
Avocet chicks are able to feed on their own very quickly, they leave their nest after one day and go to it, feeding while moving about deftly on their very large feet.
Sandpipers in Flight
Early morning in the middle of July finds sandpipers flying their elegant flights.
Green Heron - Successful Strike
This fine Green Heron has nabbed a small fish for nourishment. In the side channel near the parking lot at Schollenberger.
Green Herons are very cool hunters, if you get the chance, watch them carefully from a distance and you will see their wily tactics in action.
Black Crowned Night Heron - Late Winter Morning
Our noble heron in portraiture
Great Egret In Breeding Plumage
In a showy display of their striking plumes of the breeding season.
Black-crowned Night Herons
This shows a nice view of just some of the Black-crowned Night Herons from the flourishing colony of Ellis Creek.
There were many more nearby but I could only fit this many in one frame at 200mm. Accompanied by an assortment of ducks.
Ellis Creek Water Recycling Facility
Starting from the Sheraton Hotel, hikers can now take advantage of over seven miles of trails between Alman Marsh, Shollenberger Park, and the Ellis Creek Water Recycling Facility trails.
Late November in early morning light at the far side of Schollenberger.
Northern Harrier - Hunting Low and Slow
The sun's first rays on an early October morning found this Harrier in close as she hunted the flats between Schollenberger and Ellis Creek. She was floating, almost stalling, dipping up and down as she slowly worked the openings between thistles, reeds, and brush, focused on her hunt.
I was lucky to catch her looking directly towards me as I followed through my lens.
Seeing a Northern harrier up close is always an exciting moment.
Sunset in winter, Shollenberger Park
Nest building activity, in this case nest augmentation, as this branch is headed for the existing nest high in the central eucalyptus at Ellis Creek.
Song Sparrow In Morning Light
Late February at Ellis Creek brings us this fine sparrow in a luxuriant setting.
July finds Avocets, both adults and chicks in Schollenberger pond.
Crazy clouds, Shollenberger Park
Warning sign,, Shollenberger Park
At the side of the path at Shollenberger, I noticed these 2 swallows playing affectionately. They poked each other comically until a dog came passed by.
Harrier at Dawn
Harrier flight magic on display.
Red Winged Blackbird in Golden Light
Female Red-winged Blackbirds don't usually get much attention as they have no patch of red on their wings and they aren't even black. So the next time you're at the wetlands take some time to follow them. If you are there when the last rays of the sun are flooding the air with golden light you may very well see a replica of this image.