Escapes: Hard-traveling tundra swans fly back for yearly visit

Tundra swanstake flight from a rice field that had been flooded after harvest last year.
Tundra swanstake flight from a rice field that had been flooded after harvest last year. Sacramento Bee file

More than 100,000 tundra swans will finish their fall migration to California along the Pacific Flyway these next few days, and the event is always an unforgettable experience for onlookers. Each year, tundra swans – each weighing more than 20 pounds with wingspans of up to 5 1/2 feet – trade brutal winter conditions in the Arctic for mild climates in California’s Central Valley.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife, alongside local farmers, invite new and experienced birdwatchers to tour the 23,000-acre expanse of rice fields near Marysville where thousands of the birds dwell each winter. Walking tours, lasting around two hours, will be led by naturalists who are well-versed in all things related to the migratory swans.

Tours will run from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. and 1 to 3 p.m. on Saturdays, from November through January. Required pre-registration is available at Also check the site for tour locations.

For more information, call 916-358-2869.

Golf Show

What: Golf enthusiasts of all ages and skill levels are welcome for the Bay Area Golf Show, which will include golfing lessons, putting competitions, swing analysis and equipment demonstrations. Guest speakers will include Professional Golfers Association professionals Ben Alexander and Eric Jones, who will share their insights into the game. All attendees will receive a free round of golf at Roddy Ranch Golf Course.

When: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday

Where: Alameda County Fairgrounds, 4501 Pleasanton Ave., Pleasanton

Cost: $12 per adult; $10 per senior; free for children under 12 years old


Haunted Jelly Belly Factory Tour

What: California’s Jelly Belly factory opens its doors every day this week for tours of its on-site haunted house. Explore the candy-making process on a 40 minute walking tour of the factory, decorated to get attendees in the Halloween spirit. Samples of the company’s more than 150 candy products come included.

When: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday through Saturday through Oct. 31

Where: 1 Jelly Belly Lane, Fairfield

Cost: Free


Halloween 5k Walk and Run

What: Racers and recreational runners and walkers are welcome to participate in a 5-kilometer Halloween-themed course. Participants can dress in costume for the fright-filled race and its pre-party.

When: Check-in begins at 4 p.m.; race starts 7:30 p.m. Friday

Where: 2004 Fairgrounds Road, Monterey

Cost: $35.00


Soul Camp West

What: Escape on a four-day adult sleepaway camp in Fresno County filled with traditional camp activities, entertainment, gourmet meals and “soul care” such as yoga and meditation. Soul Camp West, a top-rated and highly reviewed program by magazines such as Traveler and Fitness, focuses on rest, rejuvenation and holistic well-being.

When: Wednesday through Sunday

Where: Wonder Valley, Sanger

Cost: Ticket prices begin at $1,100 per person


USS Hornet Haunted Ship

What: Explore this historic aircraft carrier, where there’ll be an interactive, onboard haunted ship show after sundown telling the fictional tale of the Hornet’s explorations in the Bermuda Triangle, the reported site of numerous ship and airplane disappearances. Tours will not run Halloween night due to a several event, the Monster Bash, held aboard the ship.

When: Thursday 7 to 11 p.m.; Friday 7 p.m. to midnight.; Sunday 7 to 11 p.m.

Where: USS Hornet, 707 W. Hornet Ave., Alameda

Cost: $40 per person