The female ruddy duck looks quite a bit like the winter-plumaged male, except for the dusky line across the light cheek patch that only the female has. Mike Reinhart/Courtesy photo

Local News

See diving ducks at guided tour of city wetlands

By From page A1 | October 26, 2012

Members of the public are invited to join docents from Yolo Basin Foundation on Saturday, Nov. 3, for a free, guided tour of the city of Davis wetlands. Visitors will learn about the wetlands and its role as habitat for seasonal and resident diving ducks.

Buffleheads, common goldeneyes and ruddy ducks are some of the diving ducks often seen in the wetlands in November. Although different in appearance, all three share similar adaptations that help them dive underwater to feed.

Large feet propel them under the surface to forage for aquatic plants, insects and small fish. Compact bodies and wings are efficient for underwater movement but divers are awkward on land because of short legs located at the back of their bodies.

Also known as a stiff-tailed duck, the small ruddy duck stands out due to the breeding males’ blue bill, bright chestnut coloration and white cheek patches. Its stiff, black tail is often held upright for display. In winter, the male’s bill fades to gray and bright plumage fades to brown, resembling the female. Only the female has a dusky horizontal cheek stripe. Both sexes have a dark cap.

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 from Davis on Pole Line Road, turn right on Road 28H and go 3 miles east, just past County Road 105. The group meets at the gate east of the intersection.

This is a free tour; 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.

The Yolo Basin Foundation works in cooperation with the city of Davis to offer the Davis wetlands tours. Yolo Basin is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the appreciation and stewardship of wetlands and wildlife through education and innovative partnerships.

Enterprise staff

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