Agriculture + Environment

Winter ends at the Wildlife Area

By March 3, 2011

An American bittern freezes at the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area in hopes of remaining unnoticed. Rob Floerke/courtesy photo

An American bittern freezes at the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area in hopes of remaining unnoticed. Rob Floerke/courtesy photo

The end of winter offers the opportunity to view a wide variety of bird species in the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area. Recently sighted species include American avocets, black-necked stilts, least sandpipers and long-billed curlews, along with cinnamon teals, green-winged teals and the elusive American bittern.

The Yolo Basin Foundation and the state Department of Fish and Game welcome community members to look for these and other species on a public tour of the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday.

The American bittern is a large, stocky member of the heron family. Adults are brown with white streaking and have yellow eyes. They are most active at dusk. Usually solitary, bitterns move stealthily through dense tule or cattails stalking fish, amphibians and other aquatic prey in shallow marshes.

When sensing danger, bitterns freeze with bill pointed straight up, effectively blending in to the surroundings. They have a unique, almost eerie call, “oong-GA-chunk.”

All interested tour participants will meet at 9 a.m. in Parking Lot A (the first parking lot with the large bulletin board) in the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area, at the west end of the Yolo Causeway bridge.  No reservations are required.

Visitors should bring their own binoculars, water (there is no potable water on site), insect repellent 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. Tours run rain or shine but are subject to cancellation if the Wildlife Area is closed due to flooding.

A $5 donation is suggested from all trip participants. Children under 12 and members of the Yolo Basin Foundation are free. For closure or other tour information, call Heidi Satter at (530) 757-4828 before the day of the tour, or visit the Yolo Basin Foundation website at http://www.yolobasin.org.

Enterprise staff

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