Love watching birds? Like free stuff? On July 6 in Davis you can have both during the 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. tour of the City of Davis Wetlands.
During this hot, dry weather, a variety of gulls, Tree and Cliff Swallows, Marsh Wrens, Great Egrets and Killdeer are a few of the bird species taking advantage of the City of Davis Wetlands, said Yolo Basin Foundation spokesman Michael Herrera in a press release. He said, “The wetlands provide the food, water and shelter needed for them to survive and raise young in the hot summer months.”
Many bird species can be viewed during the docent-guided tour.
“One of the most common, but often ignored, year-round residents of the Davis Wetlands is the California Gull,” Herrera said. The gull’s adult plumage is a slate-gray back and wings, white head, white under parts, and a yellow bill with black and red markings near the tip, he said, adding, “Juveniles are generally mottled brown and white with a mix of adult plumage showing more and more until they reach sexual maturity at four years.”
Herrera calls the California Gull “an efficient, opportunistic omnivore (eats everything).” The gull employs a variety of foraging strategies such as scavenging through garbage scraps at landfills, grabbing insects and small mammals stirred up by the plowing and irrigation of agricultural lands, diving or pecking for fish or insects near the surface of water, he said, “and even stealing eggs and chicks from other gulls.”
California Gulls in the Sacramento region are part of the southern subspecies and migrate to the San Francisco Bay area or the Great Basin during breeding season, explained Yolo County Bird Breeding Atlas Coordinator Ed Whistler. He said there have been attempts to establish a breeding colony here. “In 2010, 2011, 2012 California Gulls nested at the Davis Wastewater Treatment plant levees,” said Whistler. “None showed up to nest this year. The maximum number of nests was 76 in 2010. Only one chick survived to leave the nest but disappeared after three days.”
Want to take the Davis Wetlands tour? A little bit before 9 a.m. be at the gate in front of the city’s wastewater treatment plant east of the Yolo County landfill on Road 28H. You’ll want to bring your own binoculars, but you can also borrow a wildlife spotting scope from a docent. Bring bottled water (there’s no potable water on site) and a field guide. Most of the tour is by car on firm gravel roads, with a couple of optional short walks in the wetlands. A portable toilet is available on the route.
IF YOU GO
To reach the waste water treatment station from Sacramento, go west on I-80, take the Mace Boulevard exit and turn right (north). Take the first right (32A) and proceed to Road 105 and take a left. Travel to Road 28H and turn right. The group meets at the gate east of the intersection.
The free tours run rain or shine and no reservations are required. For more information call Michael Herrera at (530) 758-1018 before the day of the tour, or visit www.yolobasin.org .
About the Yolo Basin Foundation
The Yolo Basin Foundation works in cooperation with the City of Davis to offer the Davis Wetlands tours and also offers guided tours of the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area. The Wildlife Area is managed by the California Department of Fish & Wildlife. Co-Executive Director Ann Brice describes the Yolo Basin Foundation as a nonprofit organization dedicated to the appreciation and stewardship of wetlands and wildlife through education and innovative partnerships.
E-mail Sacramento region nature-related story tips, events and press releases to firstname.lastname@example.org.