Wednesday, March 29, 2017

More Signs of Spring: Tree Swallows Nesting at Two-Mile Bar Recreational Area

One of the surest signs of spring is the return of the swallows from their winter sojourn in the tropics. There are a number of swallow species in the Great Valley, but one of the earliest to arrive is the Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor). Like most swallows, they chase and consume insects, but the Tree Swallow can utilize other food sources if insects aren't yet abundant.
The Tree Swallows nest in the hollows of tree trunks, but are well-known for utilizing nest boxes. That's where we found the swallows last weekend. Two-Mile Bar Recreational Area is a rafting take-in site on the Stanislaus River between Knight's Ferry and Jamestown, downstream of the monstrous New Melones Reservoir and Tulloch Lake. Nesting boxes have been placed on the property boundary fences a few dozen yards apart for most of the length of the access road.
There was plenty to see of the emerging signs of spring, including the early blooming wildflowers like the Ithuriel's Spears in the picture above (the bees were certainly happy), and the intense green of the grasses and oak trees growing on the volcanic rocks of the Mehrten Formation above the Stanislaus River.

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