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Upcoming adventure: Return to the wilds at Quail Ridge Reserve

Hikers who join the Quail Ridge Wilderness Conservancy outing near Lake Berryessa on Feb. 11 are likely to see early wildflowers, black-tailed deer and maybe a soaring bald eagle.

The easy walk at the Quail Ridge Reserve will reward guests with panoramic views of the lake and oak woodlands.

"People will see what California used to look like, take a step into the past," said Frank W. Maurer Jr., the conservancy's executive director. "The land looks like it did before Sutter's Fort was built" in what now is Sacramento.

Maurer will lead the gently paced walk, pointing out the wildlife and flowers and guiding hikers into listening to the birds and bats. He expects the woodland stars and manzanita to be in bloom and the pileated woodpecker to be among the birds hikers can hear - if not see.

Other birds that hikers may spot include spotted towhees, ruby-crowned kinglets and bushtits.

At dusk, Maurer plans to pull out a special bat-listening device so hikers can hear the nocturnal creatures as they begin to feed.

Instead of a trail, hikers will walk along an old dirt road. Along the way, Maurer plans plenty of stops for comments about the plants, history and geography.

"We'll pass by a couple of apricot trees that were part of the old dryland farming that was part of the land," Maurer said.

Maurer plans to introduce hikers to a 120-acre parcel the conservancy anticipates adding to the reserve. It would make the reserve grow to 2,000 acres.

Maurer started the reserve in February 1989, so he calls this month's outing a birthday walk.

Directions appear in the box at right. The hike goes on light rain or shine, but will be canceled by heavy rain.

Day hike at Lake Berryessa

Who: Quail Ridge Wilderness Conservancy

Where: Overlooking Lake Berryessa

When: 1:30-6 p.m. Feb. 11

Why: To introduce a new parcel at the reserve

Difficulty: Easy; interested children welcome

What to bring: Snack and water; camera optional

What to wear: Dress in layers appropriate for the weather

Cost: Free, but donations appreciated

Registration required: (530) 758-1387

Directions: Meet a little before 1:30 p.m. at Maurer's research farm, 25344 County Road 95 (six miles west of Davis and 0.6 miles north of Road 31, which is Covell Boulevard in Davis).

For more information: www.quailridge.org

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