Up at 5:30 am and out the door with my friend Roxanne to head out to the city of Woodland by 6:00 am. It was about 61° already that early in the day, and it got up to 100° by the late afternoon.
We wanted to visit the East Regional Pond and Ibis Rookery in Woodland. Both of them are just off Road 102, and pretty close to one another. We’d let Greg Ira (the statewide director for the University of California’s Certified California Naturalist program) know we were coming, so he met us at the East Regional Pond after we stopped at Dutch Brothers for some much-needed coffee. I’d never been to the pond before, so it was a fun first for me.
The pond is a large water retention pond right across the street from the turn out to Farmer’s Central Road in the city of Woodland, CA. It’s surrounded on three sides by private property and protected nature areas. Because these areas are screened off by fences, you cannot walk all the way around the pond. There is a wide gravel trail, however, and three viewing platforms from which you can view and photograph wildlife.
This time of year, there isn’t a lot of water in the pond, but I could definitely see the potential for future outings in the winter and spring when the rains come and the weather cools off. I really enjoyed being able to see the place.
We got to see Showy Egrets, Great Egrets, American Avocets, Black-Necked Stilts, Greater Yellowlegs, Spotted Sandpipers, White-Faced Ibises, pelicans and other birds. Many of them were in the far side of the pond, but as we walked from one viewing platform to another a handful of them sort of followed us around.
There were little cottontail rabbits bounding all over the place. Sometimes we’d see two or three together, running this way and that, chasing each other, stopping to munch a little bit on the vegetation. They were constant conversation interrupters.
We also saw about four or five Pacific Pond Turtles in the shallows of one part of the pond. They were all poking their heads up above the surface. And when they moved around, they left a trail of mud floating behind them in the water.
Although there were gnats and midges in the air, we didn’t encounter many insects, and saw only one or two dragonflies. But we did find a large Paper Wasp nest. These wasps are usually pretty mellow, so I was able to tilt the nest up to get some better photos of it.
The queen builds all the first cells and rears all the first offspring by herself. After that, her daughters do all the work, and she just lays the eggs. In this nest, we could see that the larvae were developing in their cells at different stages, and that some of the cells had already been sealed off. Inside the sealed cells, the larvae pupate, and then emerge as adult wasps. Here is an article I wrote about them in 2017.
After about an hour or so, we headed over to the ibis rookery. I was assuming there would be a lot of juveniles out there by now, and I was right. There were a handful of the ibises still sitting on eggs, but most of the nests had trilling, begging, head-bobbing youngsters in them. With their striped bills, they’re very striking.
We also saw some Coots paddling through the water with their own youngsters behind and around them. I hope they won’t hate me for saying it, but I think their babies are the goofiest, funniest, ugliest little things I’ve ever seen. “Ugly Baby Judges You.” They’re partially bald with red faces and yellow pokey-out feathers are called “ornaments”. The more ornaments a baby has, the more attention and food she’ll get from the parents. Bling matters, apparently. Here’s an article I wrote about them in 2018.
CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.
We were out for about 4 ½ hours round-trip.
- Alkali Heliotrope, Chinese Parsley, Heliotropium curassavicum
- American Avocet, Recurvirostra americana
- American Coot, Fulica americana
- American White Pelican, Pelecanus erythrorhynchos
- Barn Swallow, Hirundo rustica
- Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans
- Black Saddlebags Dragonfly, Tramea lacerate
- Black-Necked Stilt, Himantopus mexicanus
- Broad-leaved Pepperweed, Lepidium latifolium
- California Buckwheat, Eriogonum fasciculatum
- California Fescue, Festuca californica
- California Fuchsia, Epilobium canum
- California Mugwort, Artemisia douglasiana
- California Wild Rose, Rosa californica
- Canada Goose, Branta canadensis
- Carrot, American Wild Carrot, Daucus pusillus
- Common Bluet Damselfly, Enallagma cyathigerum
- Common Crow, Corvus brachyrhynchos
- Common Spikeweed, Centromadia pungens
- Common Sunflower, Helianthus annuus
- Coyote Brush, Baccharis pilularis
- Desert Cottontail Rabbit, Sylvilagus audubonii
- European Honeybee, Western Honeybee, Apis mellifera
- Fremont’s Cottonwood, Populus fremontii
- Great Egret, Ardea alba
- Greater Yellowlegs, Tringa melanoleuca
- Great-Tailed Grackle, Quiscalus mexicanus
- Green Heron, Butorides virescens
- House Finch, Haemorhous mexicanus
- Killdeer, Charadrius vociferous
- Mallard duck, Anas platyrhynchos
- Mediterranean Praying Mantis, Iris Mantis, Iris oratoria [very narrow ootheca]
- Naked Buckwheat, Eriogonum nudum
- Non-Biting Midge, Chironomus sp.
- Northern Harrier, Marsh Hawk, Circus hudsonius
- Northern Mockingbird, Mimus polyglottos
- Orbweavers, Family: Araneidae
- Pacific Pond Turtle, Western Pond Turtle, Actinemys marorata
- Paper Wasp, European Paper Wasp, Polistes dominula [black & yellow]
- Pied-Billed Grebe, Podilymbus podiceps
- Red-Eared Slider Turtle, Trachemys scripta elegans
- Red-Winged Blackbird, Agelaius phoeniceus [nest]
- Ruddy Duck, Oxyura jamaicensis
- Saltbush, Big Saltbush, Atriplex lentiformis
- Snowy Egret, Egretta thula
- Spotted Sandpiper, Actitis macularius
- Steel-blue Cricket-hunter Wasp, Chlorion aerarium
- Swainson’s Hawk, Buteo swainsoni
- Tree Swallow, Tachycineta bicolor
- Tule, Common Tule, Schoenoplectus acutus
- Variegated Meadowhawk Dragonfly, Sympetrum corruptum
- Western Kingbird, Tyrant Flycatcher, Tyrannus verticalis
- White-Faced Ibis, Plegadis chihi