BwBTC Outing at Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge and Wildhorse Golf Club

by Larry on November 23, 2009

Snow Geese in Flight Over Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge

The outing held in Northern California for the Birders Who Blog, Tweet and Chirp (BwBTC) was enjoyed by everyone, even though it was a bit on the chilly side for most of the day.  But hey, it is the middle of November, what would you expect?  We were fortunate be able to spend a great day birding with a super group of new friends under beautiful blue skies and sunshine.

We started out in the refuge parking lot getting to know each other as we watched hundreds of White-fronted Geese and Snow Geese fly overhead in the morning light.  We saw a few birds in the parking area, Red-shouldered Hawk, Ruby-crowned Kinglet and several Turkey Vultures to name a few.

As we headed out from the visitors center on the walking tour, we spotted some persistant House Sparrows that seemed to follow us around the ponds near the center.  Once we got into the riparian area, we were able to pish out some Golden-crowned Sparrows, Yellow-rumped Warblers and a Marsh Wren.

Cheryl of Martinez Beavers quickly spotted a beaver dam on the walking trail, just below the Wood Duck nest box.  It was a great find and she explained to us a bit of how they build their dams and what to look for to identify beaver dams.

Not too much else seen on the walking trail besides Song Sparrow, Golden-crowned Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow, Ring-necked Duck, Mallard, Northern Pintail, American Wigeon, Northern Shoveler, Cinnamon Teal, House Finch, Black Phoebe and some American Goldfinches.

We made a pit stop back at the visitor center, that was now open, to find lots of cool stuff like a display of mounted birds that gave a real good close-up view of many of the birds seen at the refuge.  Then it was on to the auto tour as it got colder and the wind began to blow.

A gentleman in the visitor center told us of the whereabouts of a Great Horned Owl that we finally spotted after several minutes of arduously peering into a willow tree on the first leg of the tour.  Here’s a look back at the first leg of the auto tour with the snow covered Coastal Mountains in the background.

I was surprised to see this pond nearly empty of birds as were the mud flats across the road.  Looking back down the road we did see a Great Blue Heron seemingly watching a Northern Harrier Hawk as she hovered over the bulrush eying lunch I imagine.

We did see Black-necked Stilts and a flock of Long-billed Dowitchers on the mudflats before heading up to the observation platform where we took a group photo you can see at Dawn’s Bloggy Blog.

Other creatures seen around the auto tour were Black-tailed Deer, Black-tailed Jackrabbit and this California Ground Squirrel munching on a seed pod.

Heading back toward the visitor center we saw Bufflehead, Northern Flicker, American Pipit, Snowy Egret and a lonely Long-billed Curlew, thanks to Jeff’s Kowa 88mm spotting scope.  Wow, what a great piece of equipment that is!

We also got good looks at a few Red-tailed Hawks on the way back.

Without much time to spare, we headed down the highway toward Davis and the Wildhorse Golf Club to see my favorite Burrowing Owls.

I think everyone enjoyed seeing these little guys and they were a perfect way to end a good birding day.  Finally we went out for a well deserved dinner at the Black Bear Diner in Davis where this group photo was snapped by our waitress.

Left to right, Kathy, Cheryl, Jeff, Dawn, myself, Geno, Eric, Scott and Heather

Jeff went through the bird list after we stuffed ourselves and tallied up sixty species observed (he actually counted 59 but as I write this report, I am counting 60 ticks on our list)!  Not bad for a days birding.

The birding was good but the most important thing I brought back from this outing was the power of blogging and conservation.  Everyone at this table is making a contribution to conservation of the environment and sharing it with everyone they come in contact with generating a positive force for good in the world.

An even more important discovery I made is that having friends that Blog Tweet and Chirp is fantastic but actually meeting them in person and spending time with these wonderful people is priceless!  Thank you Dawn for making this all possible.  I had a blast!

This is my post for Bird Photography Weekly this week.  Go check out the rest of the great bird photos.

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