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Coming Adventure: Great wildlife viewing -- and so close to home

How often do we drive across the Yolo Causeway just west of Sacramento and wonder about the wildlife below: the wetlands -- sometimes the underwater lands -- that stretch for miles and make up an integral part of the Pacific Flyway, winter home to thousands of migrating birds. And home to the Yolo Wildlife Area.

We have a great opportunity on Feb. 25, during California Duck Days, to explore the wildlife refuge with a guide. Hikes of other areas also are offered.

Staff members and volunteers with the Yolo Basin Foundation are organizing the activities. Among them are a dozen enticing field trip choices, including:

* Waterfowl viewing on the Conaway Ranch in the Yolo Bypass, starting at 8:30 a.m.

* A hiking tour of Stebbins Cold Creek Canyon (noon to 4 p.m.), which explores the woodland and riparian environment on the University of California Natural Reserve near Lake Berryessa.

* Walking about restoration projects along the UC Davis Putah Creek Riparian Reserve.

* Walking paths to find daytime hideaways for owls.

Sign up: Participation in the field trips requires preregistration (see details in box at right). One is already full. Information is at www.yolobasin.org.

Among the 10 hands-on workshops for Duck Days are raptor recognition, duck calling, waterfowl drawing, a bird dog demonstration and decoy making. No registration is needed for the workshops.

Children in particular are likely to gravitate toward the encounters with mallard ducklings and making nest boxes.

Cost for workshops or hikes is $20 per adult, free for ages under 16.

Getting ready for takeoff: You can take in an event from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Feb. 24 at the Davis Art Center, 1919 F St., Davis. The free reception will feature wildlife art by high school students.

California Duck Days

Where: Yolo Wildlife Area headquarters

When: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 25 (Some field trips start earlier or end later.)

Who: All ages

Registration: www.yolobasin.org

Cost: $20 (free for ages under 16)

Directions: From Sacramento, go west on Interstate 80 and take the Mace Boulevard exit in Davis. Turn left at the off-ramp light, left at the next light at Mace Boulevard and Chiles Road. Drive east about 1 1/2 miles to 45211 Chiles Road (a.k.a. County Road 32-B), home of the Yolo Wildlife Area's Department of Fish and Game Headquarters.

For more information: (530) 757-3780 or www.yolobasin.org

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