Intersection of Plants, Birds, and Animals

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.

Alie Victorine talks about birds

Alie Victorine talks about waterfowl

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.

Arvind Kumar talks about the Cottonwood Trees

Arvind Kumar talks about the Cottonwood Trees

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.

Mountain Lion or Bobcat?

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

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.

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!


Ducklings at Cottonwood Lake, Hellyer County Park

Bird list (25 birds species viewed)
Canada Goose
Ruddy Duck
Great Egret
Green Heron
Turkey Vulture
Red-shouldered Hawk
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

Rock Rose with Bee

Rock Rose with Bee

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

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