Visiting the Cormorant Rookery at the Bufferlands

On Saturday, I slept in a tiny bit and got up around 7:00 am.  I was out the door a little after 8 o’clock to get over to the Regional San’s (Sacramento Regional County Sanitation District) Bufferlands area.  They were having a nature walk through part of their riparian and wetlands habitat that included some rookery sites.

Our guides were Roger Jones and Bryan Young.  Roger is an awesome photographer and has allowed me to use some of his photos in our Tuleyome Tales articles and in our Species Guide book.  He invited me to table for Tuleyome at their upcoming “Walk on the Wild Side” event on May 16th.  I will probably take him up on that.  He’d like to do more with Tuleyome.

Anyway, on the tour, we saw Kites, Swainson’s Hawks, Cooper’s Hawks, Red-Tailed Hawks, Double-Crested Cormorants, Brewer’s Blackbirds, Red-Winged Blackbirds, Tricolored Blackbirds, Tree Swallows and Barn Swallows, egrets, herons, and even some American White Pelicans… but most of them were so far away it was hard to get photos of them.  Although there were still several Cormorant nests in one colony, most of the herons and egrets had already moved out, so we saw only a handful of their nests.  It was a little bit disappointing, but you can’t expect Mother Nature to perform on cue.  And I was glad I got to see where the rookeries are and what the nests look like; now I know what to look for.  I most enjoyed watching the cormorants in their nests – and seeing them feed their babies.  What was interesting, too, was the fact that the cormorants don’t “sing” or make other sounds like that; instead, to greet one another they use a pig-like grunting sound.  Sounded like a massive “bacon fest” in the tree tops.  Hah!

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We also got a little bit of information about the Sacramento Regional County Sanitation District’s plant operations, and the “symbiotic” relationship they had with some adjoining facilities.  Not only does the plant do all of the waste water management for Sacramento County and part of Yolo County, they also give some of their solid waste materials to a plant next door that uses it to make industrial fertilizer which is shipped out to farms in the surrounding counties.  Another plant next door, takes some of the methane from the waste water facility and uses it to generate electricity.  I’d love to do a tour of the waste water plant someday… maybe over my vacation?

We were done with the tour around noon, and it only took me about 20 minutes to get back to the house.