Monday, March 14, 2016

Acorn Woodpeckers (and Spring Wildflowers) on the Tuolumne River Parkway

I've had a few chances to follow the Tuolumne River Parkway Trail in Waterford. It follows the river for about two miles at the point where the river leaves the Sierra Nevada foothills and flows into the Great Valley. The trail has been "almost complete" now for about 12 months (!), but it is walkable along its full length, although the surface has not been fully prepared yet (meaning there are pools and mud after a rainstorm).
I've seen the Acorn Woodpeckers (Melanerpes formicivorus) most often in the oak trees on the upstream end of the trail, but they can be seen all along the trail where there are large trees. They are very nearly a California endemic, with a few being found south and north of the borders of the state in oak woodlands. They are comical looking birds, and their antics can be clown-like as well as they chase around the treetops.
Spring is arriving on the river, and a few wildflowers are poking up through the thick grass, including Golden Poppies, and Blue Dicks (Brodiaea)
With the rains of March, the river is up a little bit, although a lot of water is being held back in Don Pedro Reservoir upstream. We are still at a great water deficit, so this is probably not the year that we'll get a channel-clearing flood. The river is beautiful, though, and it is a privilege to have a nice stretch to explore within walking distance of my house.

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