Wednesday, August 20, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Duck Days highlights cooperation in the bypass

duckdays1W

Third-grader Solomae Getahun from Sacramento holds a duckling Saturday with the help of a Duck Days volunteer. Getahun was there with her nature bowl team. Wayne Tilcock/Enterprise photo

By
From page A1 | February 23, 2014 |

There were more than just ducks at California Duck Days this sunny Saturday. There were the fruits of conversations between the stewards of the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area — the farmers, the conservationists and the scientists.

A dip of a net in a rice field — that is part-time food producer, part-time environmental study — turns up a handful of twisting and swimming zooplankton.

These critters — visible to the unaided exploring eyes of Yolo County children Saturday morning — are a bountiful dinner in the food chain. Diners include endangered young salmon on their way to sea, as well as numerous shorebirds, ducks and geese that pass through the valley on migration through the Pacific Flyway from Barrow to Tierra del Fuego.

California Duck Days is an annual event to celebrate the wetlands and wildlife they provide. It is organized by the Yolo Basin Foundation and hosted by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The festival begins at the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area Headquarters. It branches out with tours to several locations in the area giving bird watchers with binoculars and high-powered cameras images of flying flocks of birds that look a lot like shimmering fish with wings — the dunlins, the least sandpipers and the American avocets to name a few.

But much less of this wildlife might be here without agreements between the conservationists, scientists and farmers.

Clad in a cowboy hat and flannel shirt, Jacob Katz not only entertained groups of bird watchers, he educated them about the food chain and the importance of sharing the delta for both food production and wildlife.

Katz is director of salmon initiatives for CalTrout, whose mission is “to protect and restore wild trout, steelhead, salmon and their waters throughout California.”

Rice farmers who traditionally would burn the fields at the end of harvest to prepare for the next season, said Katz, have now gone to flooding the fields after a harvest following recent statewide clean-air initiatives.

Katz is now studying the weights and populations of young salmon who feed on zooplankton in nine, 2-acre flooded fields compared to young salmon reared in other locations like the Sacramento River.

“The food isn’t in the river — it’s in the flood plains,” said Katz, as he pointed to photographs of young salmon from both locations — those from the flood plains being visibly larger. “Low-lying marshlands are now in rice (production) — and they can still provide habitat for fish.”

John Brennan of Robbins Rice Company participated in the study at Knagg’s Ranch, just off Interstate 5 between the Sacramento International Airport and Woodland, which was one destination of the California Duck Days tours.

“We are trying to integrate environmental use into agricultural landscape,” Brennan said. “We have to prove that we can actually raise fish populations before we can get anyone to support it.”

Multi-use of the flooded fields is between growing seasons, Brennan added. Rice straw after harvest is mashed into the ground in conjunction with field flooding to increase nitrogen fixation, which is beneficial for farming as well as zooplankton.

“We want to show that you can actually raise fish on a rice field but not take rice out of production,” he said. “We don’t want to lose rice.”

With those studies ongoing, bird watchers turned their lenses as 200 to 300 silver and gray dunlin passed over a flooded rice field, while altogether changing direction for the cameras of avian enthusiasts up early on a Saturday morning.

Meanwhile, back at the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area Headquarters, 6-year-old Benjamin Leeman, with dad Thomas Leeman, learned how to gut a rainbow trout.

Hands covered in fish blood, the Leemans learned the difference between a fish pancreas and a liver and the good stuff for the grill.

Mike Mullins, volunteer for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, has been volunteering here for five years.

“Let the kids take ‘em home,” said Mullins, whose children have now grown up. Mullins also teaches hunter’s education including courses in firearm safety and archery.

More than 200 rainbows were brought to the pond at headquarters this year where hundreds of kids stood at the banks with fishing poles.

“Pan-fried with lemon, garlic, parsley and a little pepper and salt,” said Mary Horne of Davis, as her son, Solon, 9, washed his hands in the bucket.

Katz said more ducks and geese were counted this season than in any year in the bypass area, and fish were doing quite well too.

An aquarium set up by Fish and Wildlife showed 18 species found at Nimbus Fish Hatchery on the American River upstream near Sacramento.

Only six of these species were native, however, said Karin Petrites, scientific aide for the Department of Fish and Wildlife: rainbow trout, Chinook salmon, Sacramento pikeminnow, blackfish, hitch and the tule perch.

More information about next year’s California Duck Days can be found at www.yolobasin.org.

— Reach Jason McAlister at jmcalister@davisenterprise.net.

Comments

comments

Jason McAlister

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

    Report details the face of hunger in Yolo County

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Summer jobs aren’t always in the bag

    By Spencer Ault | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Davis Arts Center gets a new look, thanks to Brooks

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    More details emerge in Woodland officer shootings

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Bob Dunning: Taking on a Specktacular challenge

    By Bob Dunning | From Page: A2 | Gallery

    For the record

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2

     
    Sunder campaign will be at Farmers Market

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Classic car show slated in Woodland

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Students can practice safe bike routes to junior highs

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

    ‘Monsters University’ to be screened in Central Park

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    California regulators approve PG&E rate hike

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

    America’s ‘it’ school? Look west, Harvard

    By New York Times News Service | From Page: B3

     
    School board preps for new academic year

    By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A3

    The big moveout, on ‘Davisville’

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Public opinion sought about Nishi Gateway

    By Lily Holmes | From Page: A4

     
    Davis Art Garage honored; bench dedication set

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8 | Gallery

    Woodland historical award winners announced

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8

     
    .

    Forum

    Can’t understand this change

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

     
    Delta-friendly water bond is a win for all of California

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

    Bravo! The road diet works

    By Rich Rifkin | From Page: A6

     
    Support water bond in November

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

    Relay for Life team says thanks

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

     
    Tom Meyer cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A6

    .

    Sports

     
    Hard hoops schedule features defending national champs at UCD

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Crisp’s big hit helps A’s

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Aggie QB is back to pass … Touchdown, Tina! Tina?

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Sacramento scores early to snap skid

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B8

     
    Unplayable? Cubs, rain hand Giants a loss

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

    UCD roundup: Aggie gymnasts are awesome at academics

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B8 | Gallery

     
    .

    Features

    Food that travels well for cooking out

    By Julie Cross | From Page: A5 | Gallery

     
    .

    Arts

    Crowd funding campaign offers support for Art Theater of Davis

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

     
    Visit Crawfish and Catfish Festival in Woodland

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

     
    Artists invited to paint at Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7 | Gallery

    Goldberg, Milstein to play at Village Homes

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7 | Gallery

     
    The voice on the CD comes alive at Music Together concert

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

     
    .

    Business

    .

    Obituaries

    Railroad museum will host Aberbach memorial

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    .

    Comics

    Comics: Wednesday, August 20, 2014

    By Creator | From Page: B6