Sunday, July 9, 2017

Trip Report: Cosumnes River Preserve

Cosumnes River Preserve, Galt, California, USA
January 2017

Duck, var.

Another day in paradise, another trip to a local birding destination. These pictures were taken when your amateurnithologist found himself with some unusual time off and was able to go on some fun day trips to birding locales slightly further afield.

Cinnamon Teal, has a youtube prank video series

Today's pictures come from the Consumnes River Preserve and the adjacent Woodbridge River Preserve in eyebrow-raisingly named Galt, California. The preserves are part of California's heavily farmed central valley and the Consumnes River represents the last free flowing river of the valley. Located between Sacramento and Stockton, there are 46,000 acres of protected land, 40,000 of which are farmed.

Green-winged Teal couple, collect salt and pepper shakers

It's an important spot for birds, and your amateurnithologist was blown away by the variety and sheer quantity of birds present. And that makes a lot of sense, since this spot is part of the Pacific Flyway, one of the 4 major migration routes for American birds. Among its 250 native bird species are the rare Sandhill Cranes (got em') and Tri-colored Blackbirds (WHEN?). Both the Audubon Society and the American Bird Conservancy have declared it an "Important Bird Area."

Sandhill Crane, always stands next to shorter birds to make himself appear taller
The preserve itself is beautiful and well-maintained, and given that we attended in the middle of the day, on a weekday, it was surprisingly well-attended, mostly by like-minded bird people. Some serious scopes were on display.

White-fronted Goose, high tolerance for crowds
It was mostly a waterfowlful affair, and all manner of ducks and geese and assorted others were on display. I had the great experience of getting a much, much better shot of a Northern Pintail immediately after I had posted a blog about him. Such is the life of a bird blogger. We appeared to be right in the middle of White-fronted Goose migration, who got riled up and all took off together and blacked out the sky a few times.

Northern Pintail, always acts weird when you try to take a picture of him

Best spots for me were the rarely observed Sora (still have no idea how I spotted him in the reeds) and the vaunted and endangered Sandhill Crane. It was my first time getting a shot of the California subspecies (all previous cranes I had seen were in Florida). Other birds seen, but not included in this photo essay included Great Egret (in breeding plumage), Northern Shoveler, Belted Kingfisher, Canada Geese, American Kestrel, and Black-necked Stilt.

Sora, loves to do amateur research on topics that interest her

Overall I would give Galt, CA objectively high marks. It's a veritable fountainhead of birds, and you won't find yourself shrugging off enough birds to fill a whole atlas. Take the train. Go Ayn-y time.

Final Rating: Yes

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