I made a quick trip out to Coyote Lake in Morgan Hill, mostly to scout it to see what shape it was in going into fall. It’s one of the reservoirs that feed water to the Silicon Valley area and it’s used for recreational boating as well as day tripping and camping, and it can be an interesting fall and winter birding spot.
Overall, it seems in decent shape. Water levels are low, about 30′ below where they could be, and there was no bird activity on the lake itself, which didn’t surprise me. The park in general has the look of much of Silicon Valley: golden to brown and really dry, waiting for the fall rains to spark things back to life. The good news is it doesn’t look stressed like it did during the worst of the drought before last winters rains.
Bird activity was okay; it has a lot of oak in it, so I was able to find a pair of Northern Flickers, who took off because a family of Acorn Woodpeckers arrived and took over the tree instead. While watching the woodpeckers, I noticed a deer down at the waterline foraging and I hoped it’d move towards me and maybe set up a nice shot — there had been a lot of deer in the park, including one gorgeous five pointer, but all before I’d gotten out the camera.
And then I took a look at the deer, and realized it wasn’t a deer.
These are feral pigs, which exist in the hills around Silicon Valley. This is the first time I’ve run across them in my explorations. In watching them for a while this group had two adult females, one clearly still suckling, a younger adult that seemed to be from last year’s brood, and four piglets, each about the size of a beagle. They were working through the mud in the edge of the water digging up the mud, probably for roots.
I watched them for about 40 minutes, stayed in the car and gave them a wide berth. These aren’t animals you want to be too close to or upset at you. Fortunately, no male adult around, but still, you don’t want to mess with them too much.
Most of these wild animals are descendants of animals brought here long ago by the Spaniards and so have a long history here in the hills. There are good numbers of them, and they occasionally create havoc when they do things like move into hillside neighborhoods and grub people’s lawns.
The light was harsh and the pigs heavily backlit, which made getting usable images of them a real challenge, but I take that as a reminder that as good as modern cameras are, there are limits to what miracles they can pull off in bad conditions.
But to me, it’s another indication that there’s a lot more wild to find in Silicon Valley if you just take the time to go looking for it.