Many people who blog do so from a position of knowledge, i.e. they are already experts at something, and they are deigning to pass their wealth of knowledge to us, the unwashed masses. I might do that over at Geotripper, but here on my "hobby" blog, you are witnessing my education on birding in real time. In no way would I call myself any kind of expert, but I do enjoy photographing these little creatures and sharing with you what I learn (and I know I have gotten things wrong; I keep waiting for an expert to go through my old posts and send me corrections!). In any case, I'm carving out a little niche of the county as my "territory", and that is obviously the Tuolumne Parkway Trail that follows the river through Waterford. Lately I'm trying to be a bit more disciplined about recording bird species and reporting them to eBird. It is one of the less traveled places in the county for birders as the trail only opened in the last two years. Several experts have made a number of reports, most notably Siera Nystrom of the great blog Natural History Journal, but with 85 noted species thus far, I know the potential exists for a great many more discoveries (our county has recorded more than 300 species after all).
The Gold Rush of the 1850s had a profound effect on the river as vegetation was torn out and river sediments were processed for the yellow metal. The natural channels disappeared, and critical fish habitat was destroyed. Later on huge quarrying operations removed vast amounts of sediment leaving behind the ponds mentioned above, fed by groundwater, and often stagnating during hot summer weather.
In the modern era, including most of the nearly thirty years that I've lived here, the river was mostly ignored, hidden behind private property lines. The bluffs were used as a dumping ground, and there was little recognition of the little treasure in the midst of our community. It wasn't until the last decade that the idea grew to construct a public trail along the river and the city sought and received grants to build the pathway. It's been a success, as people can be found fishing and jogging/hiking along the river all the time.
If this post seems a bit different than the usual, it's because I realized the margin information on the blog hadn't been updated in a long time. When I started the blog in 2014, I made most observations at school, or in the pastures near my house, since I didn't have access to the river. That's changed now in a big way, and most of the birds I report on are on or near the water.