These late-fall days are ideal for gettingout to see the flurry of activity in the YoloBypass Wildlife Area. A good chance totake a guided tour of the wetlands isSaturday, when the American RiverConservancy will sponsor an outing.
While participants walk about thefloodway, the naturalist guide from theYolo Basin Foundation, education coordinatorCorky Quirk, will talk about thewetland's wildlife - mostly birds but alsofish, frogs, lizards, salamanders andturtles.
Bird-watchers and novices can anticipateseeing a great diversity of birds thatwinter here as well as those just stoppingover during their annual migration.
Conservancy member Kylene Cornellexpects that guests could see such migratorybirds as the bufflehead, northernshoveler, pintail, green-winged teal,white-fronted geese, snow geese andtundra swans. Others that live in the areaor visit include great blue herons, black-crownednight herons, great and snowyegrets, black-necked stilts, northern harriersand various hawks.
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The 16,000-acre wildlife area, just westof Sacramento in the Yolo Bypass floodway,was dedicated in 1997 by then-PresidentBill Clinton. Home to at least 200species of birds, the area is managed bythe California Department of Fish andGame. During wet winters and heavyspring runoff from the Sierra, the bypassarea, created by levees, is often floodedwith water from the Sacramento River.Eventually the water, managed by theSacramento River flood control system,runs into the Delta.
Participants in Saturday's three-hourtour will walk on trails and paths whiletouring the wetlands, riparian area, grasslandsand year-round ponds. Most of thewalking is on level ground, some ofwhich may be muddy. Heavy rain cancelsthe event.
If you want to join the tour, you need tocall to register and get directions to themeeting place. From there, the group willcarpool and caravan to the trailhead.Everyone is encouraged to bring binoculars,water, to dress in layers, and wear ahat and comfortable shoes that can getmuddy.
The suggested minimum age for childrenis 7, and no dogs are allowed. Thecost is a $5 donation.
Saturday's tour is one of several opportunities open for visiting the wildlife area. Docents with the Yolo Basin Foundation run tours the second Saturday of each month through June. (The next one is Dec. 10.) These tours are from 9 a.m. to noon through April, and from 8 to 11 a.m. in May and June. The cost is $5. Participants should call (530) 758-1018 the morning of the trip for additional information (sometimes it's canceled).
You also can go on your own. The area is open daily from sunrise to sunset, except during flooding. Bicycles and dogs are allowed only between Interstate 80 and the railroad tracks. For more information: (530) 758-1018 or www.yolobasin.org/wildlife.cfm.