All are welcome to join Yolo Basin Foundation docents on a free public tour of the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area on Saturday, Dec. 8, from 9 a.m. to noon.
December can be one of the best birding months of the year at the Wildlife Area. Skeins of ducks and geese pattern the sky as migrating waterfowl continue to arrive. Colonies of gulls dive and dip in shallow ponds, and wintering raptors glide over fields and ponds hunting for prey.
The northern harrier is a medium-sized hawk with a long tail and long slender, rounded wings. Males and females look quite different. Adult males are light gray above and mostly white below with some barring. Wings are white underneath with black tips and a black line on the trailing edge.
The larger female is dark brown above and whitish below with brown streaking on the chest and belly. Her tail is brown and barred. Both sexes have a distinctive white rump patch.
Northern harriers fly low and slowly over open fields and wetlands looking for birds, rodents, frogs and other prey.
The Yolo Basin Foundation and the state Department of Fish and Game welcome members of the public to view these and other species on the monthly public tour of the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area. All interested tour participants should meet a few minutes before 9 a.m. in Parking Lot A (the first parking lot with the large notice board) in the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area, at the west end of the Yolo Causeway bridge.
Further directions to reach the tour are available on the Yolo Basin Foundation website at www.yolobasin.org.
Participants should bring their own binoculars, water (there is no potable water on site) and field guide. Docents will have spotting scopes to enhance wildlife viewing. This is a driving tour on gravel roads with several stops and short walks.
A $5 donation is suggested from all trip participants. Children under 12 and members of the Yolo Basin Foundation are free. Tours run rain or shine, and no reservations are necessary. For more information, call Heidi Satter at 530-757-4828 or visit the foundation website.