The city of Davis and Yolo Basin Foundation invite community members to join docents at the Davis wetlands on Saturday, Sept. 7, for a free guided tour from 3 to 5 p.m. Tours are offered the first Saturday of the month, year-round.
Many shorebirds, waterfowl and even some raptors are seasonal visitors to the area, but not all birds move on as seasons change. Mallards, great blue herons, Northern harriers and pied-billed grebes are just a few species of birds that make the city wetlands their home year-round.
The pigeon-sized pied-billed grebe is rarely seen out of water. Having lobed toes, much like a coot, and legs set far back on the body, similar to a loon, grebes are quick and efficient swimmers. They have the ability to control their buoyancy, allowing them to submerge into the water, leaving just their head above the waterline, much like a periscope on a submarine.
Pied-billed grebes are mostly brown with a white tufted tail. Their bill is pale in color, short, and broad and can easily crush the shells of crayfish, their preferred catch. Other crustaceans, fish and aquatic insects round out their diet.
All those wishing to join the tour should meet a few minutes before 3 p.m. at the gate in front of the Davis wastewater treatment plant, east of the Yolo County Landfill on County Road 28H.
Visitors 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.
To reach the waste water treatment station, 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 Michael Herrera at 530-758-1018 before the day of the tour, or visit the Yolo Basin Foundation website at www.yolobasin.org.