Posted by: atowhee | October 10, 2021

BIRDING TRIP: WILLAMETTE TO SONOMA–THE CONDITIONS WE SAW

OCTOBER BIRDING TRIP, 2021

Albert Ryckman and I have completed a 1400-miles birding trip from the Willamette Valley to Sonoma County, and back.  As I write this it’s a cool, wet afternoon here in Salem.  We saw little sign that such weather has been occurring in many of the places we stopped.

Oct. 1    Plat I Reservoir east of Sutherlin.  About half full.  Many ducks, herons, egrets, swallows.
                Emigrant Lake Reservoir, southeast of Ashland.  Historically empty as it has not been since the dam was enlarged in 1960.  One White Pelican, a few ducks, geese and gulls.

Oct.  2   Miller Island south of K-Falls.  Ponds well-filled, but surrounding fields and marshes dry.  Dabblers and white-fronted geese.
                Lower Klamath NWR, including Township Road—only one pool with water.  Other areas dust dry. Few birds.
                Tule Lake NWR.  Sump 1 (west side) alkali salt pans, dry.  East side Sump 2 had water and high concentration of waterfowl.  Some cranes in the vicinity.
                Link River—water level low but numerous Hooded Mergansers were there, likely because their more covert habitats were dried up.  Putnam Point—closed.
                Fields west of Running Y—dust dry.

Oct. 3    Butte Valley—dry fields, zero raptors!

                Hedge Creek Falls, Dunsmuir—nearly dry with trickle of water.  Not enough in stream for dippers which I have found there in wetter times.

                Sacramento River—low water in Siskiyou County, a shallow creek running at the bottom of backed mud canyon through most of “Lake” Shasta. 

                Lake Shasta Reservoir—at historic low levels, still enough water for some boating as ramps have been lowered more than fifty feet from the “full” mark.

                Sacramento NWR Auto Route—Less than half of the usual pools had any water.  Waterfowl concentrated in those with water.  Visitors Center ponds bone dry.

Oct. 4     Bodega Bay—the tides still run as ever.  Many birds.  We visited it each day through the 7th.

Oct.  5    Shollenberger Park, Petaluma—pools powder dry, little water in side canal.  We stayed five minutes.

                San Pablo Bay NWR—the parking lots look like trash dumps, not encouraging one to walk away from a vehicle.  Skaggs Island Road blocked off. Some pools are tidal and have shorebirds, waterfowl.  Some pools and roadside canals are desiccated, weedy, birdless.

                Grizzly Island—mostly dry.  Interior trails closed for all except hunters.

                American Canyon Wetlands.  Open water, reedy ponds with water, tidal flats.  Scads of herons and egrets.  Numerous waterfowl, White Pelicans.

Oct. 6     Pt. Reyes—Tomales Bay;  disappointing ack of birds.  We did not go west of Inverness Ridge.

Oct. 7    Sugarloaf Ridge SP—no water in creek, lower slopes burned over.  Heard both pygmy-owl and Mountain Quail.

                Goat Rock Road, south side of Russian River.  The river is blocked by sand bar at the “mouth.” But water will be flowing both ways.  Hundreds of Brown Pelicans on the sand bar.

Oct. 8    Colusa NWR—entrance pond has water and waterfowl.  Large south pool dry and weed choked.

There are fire scars along I-5 in Jackson County, Hwy 97 in Siskiyou County, along I-5 in Siskiyou County,  in the hills bordering Napa and Sonoma valleys.  If you want to pretend climate change is myth, do not make this trip.  Returning to green grass here in the Willamette felt comforting.

You can check previous blogs on this site for records of each day and lots or images.

Tule Lake dry sump:

Low water in Link River meant many exposed rock ledges upstream from dam. Yellow dot over Hooded Merganser male:

Hedge Creek Falls:

Here are drone images of Lake Shasta:

After the fire (Siskiyiou County):

San Pablo Bay NWR:

Inverness signs:

Large pool at Colusa NWR:


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