One of the largest seasonal gatherings of tundra swans is coming to a rice field near you

Tundra swans take flight in a flooded rice field with a view of the Sutter Buttes in the background off of Kimball Lane in Marysville on Nov. 1, 2012.
Tundra swans take flight in a flooded rice field with a view of the Sutter Buttes in the background off of Kimball Lane in Marysville on Nov. 1, 2012.

If you have yet to take a trip to Marysville to witness one of the largest seasonal congregations of tundra swans, now is the time to start planning.

Local farmers once again have teamed up with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to offer free swan tours to the public. Exploring privately owned rice fields and restored habitat just north of town, the tours are held on Saturdays and run November through mid-January.

These expeditions, led by naturalists, last around two hours. They largely consist of driving on country roads with viewing stops but involve some walking as well. In addition to swans, visitors can expect to see geese, herons, egrets, raptors and shorebirds.

More than 100,000 tundra swans migrate along the Pacific Flyway each fall, leaving their Arctic breeding grounds and heading to California, where they spend the winter feeding on rice.

Advanced registration is required, and a maximum of 30 people are allowed for each session. Tours start at 9:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. The exact meeting location will be sent to attendees after they register. For more information, call 916-358-2869. To register, go to

Pumpkin Nights in Auburn

What: Thousands of glowing, intricately carved jack-o’-lanterns (made from both real pumpkins and foam) decorate the grounds at this new-to-the-region, family-friendly festival, which features several massive Halloween displays, a hay-bale maze, pumpkin carving stations, face painting, food and more.

When: 6:30-10:30 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays; 6:30 p.m. to midnight Fridays and Saturdays. Running Oct. 13-29.

Where: Gold Country Fairgrounds (1273 High St., Auburn)

Cost: $20 for adults; $16 for kids and seniors


Greta Gerwig at the Mill Valley Film Festival

What: The Mill Valley Film Festival long has punched above its weight, bringing world-class filmmakers to Marin County for screenings and discussions. This year’s offerings include a conversation with Sacramento native Greta Gerwig, and a screening of her new film, the set-in-Sacramento coming-of-age story “Lady Bird.”

When: 5 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 15

Where: Smith Rafael Film Center (1118 Fourth St., San Rafael).

Cost: $35-$85


Crossroads Doll and Teddy Bear Show and Sale

What: Collectors, toy enthusiasts and anyone else interested in dolls, teddy bears, miniatures and other playthings are invited to check out this one-day event, which includes demonstrations and meet-and-greets with antique toy appraisers.

When: 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 14

Where: Alameda County Fairgrounds (4501 Pleasanton Ave., Pleasanton), Building B

Cost: $8 for adults; $4 for children