Yesterday's three hikes left me absolutely exhausted. Up and on the road at sunrise, heading north on I-5, I scouted a new area open to the public, the South Stone Lakes NWR (National Wildlife Refuge) just a mile west of Elk Grove, CA. The structures and signage aren't completely constructed, and a number of areas are flagged for planting. I left the concrete walkway for the dirt road the transversed the property, enjoying the solitude (there was only one other fellow there), bird calling and fresh cold morning air.
A large 'herd' of geese was waking from an overnight stay in a field south of me. They took to flight every few minutes, about a dozen or less at a time, and flew right towards me. When they saw me, they'd veer to the left or right a bit, honking the whole time. Very cool - wish you had been there.
The highlight was seeing a formation of tundra swan crossing under the rising sun.
Then at 9:00 I joined a docent-led birding group at the North Stone Lakes NWR a few miles north off of I-5. This is a twice-a-month excursion where you park in a locked-in area and walk a mile west to the old abandoned Southern Pacific Cut Slough that is a north/south waterway that's about 50 yards wide. There are ponds north of the walking road on the way, where a number of ducks, geese and sandhill cranes can be seen. Trail veers to the north at the slough and ends at a viewing area that sports a large, permanent spotting scope. From here we could see two black swans, a rare breed for this area. Too far away for me to get a good shot.
Then it was off to Carmichael and the American River east of Sacramento to the Ancil Hoffman NWR and Effie Yeaw Nature Center (about a mile from where cousin Robert lives). I had never been there and it was fun scouting new digs. Watching the salmon run and finding two of them at my feet, just within arms'reach of the shore was great! You should have been there!
November 12, 2011
Categories & Keywords
Keywords:American River, NWR, bird watching, birding, black swan, docent, ducks, geese, hike, hiking, lake, river, sandhill crane, stone lakes, sunrise, swan, tour, walk, wildlife