Much of Central California is now quite dry. A drought year has dried many occasional or seasonal water sources. Thus water is prized by wildlife in these last weeks before the next rainy season is expected.
Yesterday I birded briefly along Putah Creek in Yolo County. All the migrants were concentrated in the gallery forest along the stream which was flowing strongly toward the Sacramento River. The creek does not reach the river on the surface but vanished into the earth at the Putah Sink east of Davis.
This is an Orange-crowned Warbler who was drinking at the creek’s edge and maybe hoping for a thirsty insect to land in the creekside mud.
Other migrants I saw along Putah Creek included a large number of Yellow Warblers, Wilson’s Warblers, Pacific-slope Flycatcher, Western Wood-Pewee. A Yellow-billed Cuckcoo has been spotted in that area as well.
PUTAH CREEK RESERVE, U.C. DAVIS
This map shows the western end of the reserve. The area I birded was at the Pedrick Road Bridge. You can exit I-80 west of Davis directly onto Pedrick Road and head north to Putah Creek.
CROWDED POND If you’ve read my book, FREEWAY BIRDING, you know one of my favorite late summer birding stops is the northbound I-5 rest stop at Milepost 583. It was not a disappointment. There are four rice field irrigation impoundments just east of the fence around the rest area. Yesterday the workers were mowing the grass and had left the gate open so I could get right next to the ponds. I wasn’t the first one there. Shorebirds on migration and a female Shoveler had already found this man
In a short time I saw first this Nuttall’s Woodpecker drinking at this water-tank. Then a ground squirrel, followed by a pair of Oak Titmouse and later a Scrub-Jay. This tanks is
in Rockville Hills Park west of Fairfield. This city park has steep trails through an arid oak woodland. This tank is for use by wildlife and dogs as horses aren’t allowed. It was laced with algae and housed a good population of small fish. Life giving water as the Ponds in the park were bone dry this year.