Two Refuges in One Day

Vacation Day 3.  I got up bout 6:30 this morning, and headed over to the Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge in Elk Grove.  I’d never been there before and was anxious to check it out.  Too bad it was something of a disappointment.  It would be a nice place for little kids and handicapped folks to go.  The trails are paved and relatively short, but it was so confined and “pristine” that there wasn’t really much of anything to see.  Mostly sparrows and Red-Winged Blackbirds, a hawk that teased me, and some Harlequin Bugs.  In the early summer it might be a nice place to look for dragonflies… but otherwise… Meh.  I was disappointed and probably won’t go back there again any time soon.

It’s just down the highway from the Cosumnes River Preserve, though, so I drove up there, and went up and down Desmond Road until the gates to the wetlands opened up.  When I first arrived the place was socked in with fog, which hampers photo-taking.  But as the sun rose it burned off the fog, so I got some better shots toward the end of my walk/drive… Saw a lot of Red-Winged Blackbirds. Meadowlarks, a Red-Tailed Hawk, an American Kestrel, Northern Shovelers, Black-Neck Stilts, Greater Yellowlegs, Coots, White-Fronted Geese, Canada Geese, Crows, Wilson’s Snipes and Long-Billed Dowitchers (it’s hard for me to tell them apart), a Green Teal, a Loggerhead Shrike, Mallards, Pintails…

The preserve has totally redone their boardwalk area, and I must say, it looks great.  Before, when you walked down the boardwalk path, you were face-to-face with walls of tule and cattails… so you couldn’t really see the wetlands beyond them.  Now, there are still stands of the tule and cattails, but they’ve been thinned out and sections have been cleared away so you can actually see more of the water now – and more of the birds.  It’s still early in the season, of course, so there are aren’t a whole lot of birds to see right now, but in another month or so the viewing should be great.  I saw a couple of birds today that I couldn’t readily identify (some of the shore birds look alike to me), so I’ll need to dig out my book to ID them properly.

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Between the walking and driving I was out for almost 6 hours(!)