Davis and Yolo County, California
We visited Davis for a brief weekend to attend a wedding reception of a long time friend who gotten married back in April. Having not spent time in the Sacramento valley area, we took advantage of this opportunity to look around in a couple of places close to Davis and Sacramento.
Stebbins Cold Canyon Nature Preserve, which is owned by UC Davis and BLM, was an amazing piece of land comprised of the chaparral, oak foothills that surround the valley. The loop trail leads up the grassy and oak filled canyon along the now dried up creek bed until hitting the old homestead remains. There the trail took a steep climb up to the ridge above the canyon. The climb was strenuous, especially in the 90 degree full sun weather. But the ridge offered beautiful views of the surrounding foothills and Lake Berryesa to the north. Once on the ridge the trail traveled along the backbone of the hills, dropping up and down between peaks. Many Western Scrub Jays called from the trees; Wrentits hopped around in the underbrush; and Oak Titmice chattered as they gleaned branches. It was a beautiful trail and a good introduction to the environment.
Before heading back home, we took a day to travel up through the valley floor farm land to the Cache Creek Canyon Regional Park. The park was situated in a narrow chaparral canyon as we saw with Cold Canyon. There was a running creek, which gets more use when the water level is higher. It was an excruciatingly hot day so instead of hiking the BLM-maintained "Frog Pond Trail" as planned, we took advantage of some abandoned inner tubes on the cool creek to find relief from the heat. We floated on the water as the Acorn Woodpeckers flew back and forth over the creek and a Black Phoebe called from the water's edge. Not a bad way to take in the birds. As we dried off and packed up into the car, we saw a Nuttall's woodpecker tapping away in a tree, a common sighting in the valley, but a new bird for me.
We stopped at the Fremont Weir State Wildlife Area, which was right next to the Sacramento Airport (one exit away). As we drove up to the wildlife area, a family of 5 full grown river otters crossed the dirt road ahead of us. They were swimming in the irrigation ditch and had to cross in order to get to the next ditch. The wildlife area was a floodway for the Sacramento River. There was large riparian and marsh buffer surrounding the large irrigation ditch. Surrounding the entire wildlife area was farm land. A lot of birds seemed to use the area, but our timing wasn't very good and it was probably a lot quieter given the oppressing heat. Still we saw quite a few raptors, Yellow-billed Magpies, Lark Sparrows, and Blackbirds. There were also a few warblers in the willows and Western Bluebirds in the grass.
Great Blue Heron
Western Scub Jay
Other Critter List
Northern River Otter
Western Gray Squirrel
Stebbins Cold Canyon
Cache Creek Canyon
Fremont Weir State Wildlife Area