Intersection of Plants, Birds, and Animals

By Deb Kramer


On Sunday, June 5th, we hosted a Jane’s Walk to share the plants, birds, and animals around Coyote Creek at Hellyer County Park. This event featured our very own Alie and Bruce Victorine, who are active creek cleanup group leaders, and happen to be avid birdwatchers.

They shared their passion (and amazing eye for birds) with 32 of us in attendance. We saw Canada (not “Canadian” since that would mean citizenship!) geese galore, blackbirds of varying types, and an Anna’s hummingbird. A complete listing of the birds we saw are listed below, but my favorite was the Great-tailed grackle, who is a beautiful black color with a fan tail in the shape of a V. This bird dropped right in front of us at the edge of Cottonwood Lake as we were checking out waterfowl. Another brightly colored bird is the Bullock’s Oriole, hanging out near the Velodrome, who is very yellow and easy to spot if you are looking for yellow flying through the air.


Alie Victorine talks about waterfowl

As we walked on the Coyote Creek Trail Arvind Kumar and Joe Cernac from the California Native Plant Society, Santa Clara Valley Chapter shared their knowledge of the plants that we saw, native and invasive, and how the animals, insects, and birds used them. We even saw a rock rose with a bee doing its bee thing! Of course, poison oak was out in full force. And, the cottonwood, live oak, and sycamore trees kept us shaded.


Arvind Kumar talks about the Cottonwood Trees

Finally, we ended up at the Hellyer County Park Visitor Center, where Ranger Jake Waltemeyer showed off the renovated center and shared about some of the animals to discover, including the herbivore badger and carnivore mountain lion (don’t worry, they are not alive). One interesting tidbit was that the mountain lion is easily confused by the general public with the bobcat. Jake said that some easy ways to tell the difference are first, size. The a full-grown mountain lion is over twice the size of a bobcat. The mountain lion has a short tail, while its feline cousin has as short (hence “bob”) tail. And, the coloring and white patches on them are different.


Mountain Lion or Bobcat? Ranger Jake Waltemeyer shares the differences.

All in all, a wonderful day for an educational outing to learn about the plants, birds, and animals along this stretch of Coyote Creek. Thanks to the CNPS, Open Space Authority, and the Sierra Club-Loma Prieta Chapter for co-sponsoring this outing. I hope others area able to enjoy it and appreciate the natural beauty of Santa Clara County Parks that are amidst a population of nearly 1 million people. Get out there and enjoy nature!

Bird list (25 birds species viewed) Canada Goose Mallard Ruddy Duck Great Egret Green Heron Turkey Vulture Red-shouldered Hawk Killdeer Ring-billed Gull Mourning Dove Anna’s Hummingbird Black Phoebe Western Scrub-Jay Northern Rough-winged Swallow Barn Swallow Western Bluebird American Robin Dark-eyed Junco (Oregon) Song Sparrow — California Towhee Red-winged Blackbird Brewer’s Blackbird Great-tailed Grackle Bullock’s Oriole House Finch

Plant List (highlighted on this outing) Big leaf maple California walnut Coast live oak Coast redwood Fremont cottonwood Blue elderberry California buckeye Poison oak Toyon Western mugwort Datura

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