Saturday, January 18, 2020
Monday, January 13, 2020
|This portion of the canyon would be inundated by the proposed reservoir.|
The Diablo Range is one of the principle "sub-ranges" of the California's Coast Ranges, running more than 100 miles from Highway 46 at Polonio Pass to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. There are only a few major highways that cross the range, principally the Altamont Corridor and Pacheco Pass at San Luis Reservoir. There are a handful of state parks that preserve a portion of the range, mainly Henry Coe and Mt. Diablo, but for the most part the lands are privately owned and are given over mainly to grazing and ranching. Only one paved road provides access to the interior of the range north of Pacheco, and that is the winding route of Del Puerto Canyon.
Del Puerto is the only public access to the mountain range in Stanislaus County, and as such is one of very few places where anyone can study the unique bird life (and many other animals) in this intriguing place. But now there are plans afoot to eliminate much of that access, and indeed to severely impact the natural environment. There are plans to build a large dam that will inundate five miles of the extraordinarily scenic canyon.
The canyon is one of the most important bird habitats in Stanislaus County, offering a significant variety of ecosystems, including riparian wetlands, grassland prairies, oak woodland, and a unique serpentine soil-based gray pine habitat. The eBird archives record more than 160 species of birds in the canyon
|Bullock's Oriole, a summer migrant in the canyon|
|Black-headed Grosbeak, another summer migrant|
|Say's Phoebe in the lower canyon|
|Northern Harrier in the proposed dam site|
|Western Kingbird in the lower canyon|
There will be many reasons offered as to why this reservoir is SO necessary, and how there will be SO many benefits. But the question needs to be asked, what is this taking away from all of us?
If you are on Facebook, check out https://www.facebook.com/groups/463664377903706/
Read the Environmental Impact Report at this link. If Del Puerto Canyon has significance to you, please respond and be active in the opposition! If you have expertise in any of the areas that will affected, you need to be heard from.
There are several important meetings and deadlines coming up very soon:
1/15 3:30pm Protest. Corner of Ward and Sperry
1/15 4:00pm Public Meeting. Hammon Senior Center 1033 West Las Palmas, Patterson
1/21 6:30pm City Council Meeting. 1 Plaza Circle. - request they take a stand, voice concerns
1/27 5:00pm Public Comments DUE. firstname.lastname@example.org OR Anthea Hansen PO Box 1596 Patterson CA 95363
1/28 9:00am Board of Supervisors Meeting 1010 10th St Modesto CA - voice concerns, they have final decision
Thursday, January 9, 2020
The Acorn Woodpeckers range across the southwest and into Mexico and Central America, living in oak woodlands. They carve out cavities for their nests, but often must compete with invasive European Starlings and other bird species to maintain ownership. It gets noisy at times!
Tuesday, January 7, 2020
Just a quick follow-up to my last post...as always, if a post pictures of a particular bird species, I invariably get better pictures the next day. In this case, we went from crummy pictures to so-so pictures. The Great Horned Owl was in the same tree, but this time it was better situated, and it was actually looking my way!
Sunday, January 5, 2020
Last year, I never saw a single owl on the Tuolumne River Parkway trail. In November I heard a Barn Owl, but never saw it either. A Great Horned Owl tried unsuccessfully to nest in an oak along the trail in 2018. But I hadn't seen any since.
So today, I saw the Great Horned Owl! On only the fifth day of the year. But of course, it wasn't nearby. It was across the river, way up in a tree, and looking the other way. But I got pictures! And that's why these pictures are the worst you'll probably see all year.
Happy birding this year!!
Friday, January 3, 2020
|The first bird of 2019 near the Tuolumne River|
The Tuolumne is one of the most spectacular rivers in North America, with its headwaters in the alpine country of Yosemite National Park. It flows through a gorge as deep as the Grand Canyon, is trapped for a time in Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, and then flows free again for a number of miles before being trapped again in Don Pedro Reservoir. After that, the river flows unimpeded until it joins the San Joaquin River near the Sacramento Delta. The stretch I walk almost daily is a two mile trail (the Tuolumne River Parkway) where the river emerges from the Mother Lode of the Sierra Nevada into the Central Valley.
|High water, 2017. At around 15,000 cfs, portions of the trail are underwater.|
The river has many moods. Although the flow is controlled by the dams upstream, there are times when the dams have to open their spillways to prevent them being overwhelmed by floodwaters. For much of the year, the flow is artificially kept at around 200-400 cubic feet per second (cfs). During 'normal' years, there will be a few 'surge' flows to help the salmon runs, and the water will reach 2,000-3,000 cfs. But in emergencies, the flows will reach 18,000 cfs or more (the worst ever was 1997 when the flows reached a record 70,000 cfs). At 15,000 cfs, almost the entire floodplain is inundated and portions of the trail end up underwater (see above, from 2017).
|The first Bald Eagle to be reported officially on the Parkway Trail|
|Western Tanager, a summer migrant along the river. One our most colorful species.|
|A Hooded Oriole. They nested on the bluffs this year and usually head south in the winter, but two of them remained in late November, the only ones reported in Central California|
|A Rufous Hummingbird along the river. I saw only a couple this year as they migrated through the region.|
|A female Phainopepla. The males are entirely black.|
|A male Bullock's Oriole. Like many birds, the females are less colorful.|
The spring also brings the swallows, the Barn Swallow, Tree Swallow, Cliff Swallow, and Northern Rough-winged Swallow. The sky is sometimes filled with hundreds of them.
|American White Pelicans occasionally fly over the Tuolumne River|
|The shallows of the Tuolumne provide good fishing for the Osprey (also known as the Sea Hawk).|
|Red-breasted Sapsucker, seen just once this year along the Tuolumne.|
|Lazuli Bunting at Ceres River Bluff Regional Park, downstream of the Parkway Trail|
I saw a Blue Grosbeak several times, at the Ceres River Bluff Regional Park downstream from the Parkway Trail, and I was especially surprised to find the bird upstream at Robert's Ferry Bridge. To make the experience even stranger, I saw a bobcat a few moments later. Our region is at the extreme north end of the range of this tropical bird.
|Blue Grosbeak at Ceres Bluff Regional Park, downstream of the Tuolumne Parkway Trail|
If you are a glutton for punishment, here is the complete list of all the Tuolumne River's 116 birds seen in 2019 (the all-time list numbers 133 species). If you click on the name, you'll be taken to eBird description of the species. If you want to contribute to the 2020 list, you can find it here: https://ebird.org/hotspot/L2153651?m=&yr=cur&changeDate=Set. I'm still an amateur at this, and would love the help of sharper-eyed people than myself. Who knows what we can find this year!