Visitors to the city of Davis wetlands for a free public tour Saturday are invited to look for a diverse population of waterfowl on the wing and shorebirds in shallow ponds. Yolo Basin Foundation docents will lead the tour from 9 to 11 a.m.
March is a time of transition in the wetlands as many species begin the migration to northern nesting grounds. Lingering winter waterfowl include ruddy ducks, northern shovelers and American widgeons. Early-arriving spring shorebirds include long-billed curlews, black-necked stilts and American avocets.
The American avocet is a large and elegant shorebird with a distinctive black-and-white pattern on its back and sides. A winter white head and neck change to rust in the breeding season. It swings its long, black upturned bill through shallow water to catch invertebrates or snaps up its prey on sight.
All those wishing to join the tour should meet a few minutes before 9 a.m. at the gate in front of the city’s wastewater treatment plant, east of the Yolo County Landfill on County Road 28H. 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.
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. Tours run rain or shine.
To reach the wastewater treatment plant, head north on Pole Line Road, turn right on Road 28H and go 3 miles east, just past County Road 105.
No reservations are required. For more information, call Heidi Satter at 530-757-4828 before the day of the tour, or visit the Yolo Basin Foundation website at www.yolobasin.org.