Field Trip: American Canyon Wetlands

Date: Saturday December 17, 2011

Time: 8:00 AM

Trip report added on 2/20/2012. (NSAS Event)


Leader:David Takeuchi

Trip Report: by David Takeuchi
Eleven members of Napa Solano Audubon Society met on a sunny cool morning to walk along the newly opened loop trail adjacent to the old American Canyon garbage dump. We started our stroll along Eucalyptus Drive. The tide was in and so were the ducks in the south march. This was a welcome sight. Avocets were seen and appeared to be swimming.

The no trespassing sign at the end of Eucalyptus Dr. is gone and replaced by the Mike Thompson Loop trail sign. The loop goes around the old dump. There is another sign next to the Thompson sign announcing that there will be a trail (incidentally it is wide, well packed gravel) going five miles to the north toward Green Island Road. In the first north pond, a large raft of white turned out to be roosting Avocets. They shared the pond with more ducks.

The Thompson sign does not say how many miles the loop runs around the dump. We began our counter clock walk on the loop looking at sparrows and ducks in the north pond. Margaret Barson found a Savannah Sparrow sitting on truck tires several tall. We came to a new road on the right. The gate, which was closed stopping shorter access from the older trail on the west, is now opened and we decided to cross this access to scope the south west pond. This large pond was mostly dry and large groups of shore birds were resting, waiting for the tide in the marsh to recede before flying in to forage. A bird was spotted, sitting on the dried topmost flower stalk of a yucca plant. Joanne Castro brought it to my attention. It was falcon, specifically a Merlin. A nice find by whoever it was that found it. A father and son rode by, but the bird did not appear to be disturbed. Don Wong carrying his photo gear, went closer to get pictures. As he was setting up a fisherman with two long fishing poles flashing overhead went by the Merlin. Although the Merlin tolerated the father and son, the fishing pools appeared to be too much and it took flight, disappearing behind the dump. Alas, Don did not get his picture.

We had heard that the bridge across the canal had opened two day earlier. We decided to walk north to check out the new bridge and get a closer look at the birds to the west.. The tide was receding and shorebirds came in to feed. More and more Western Sandpipers and Dunlin descended. The bridge had yellow no trespassing tape warning us not to cross. The concrete, although looked dry, had not cured, preventing crossing to the other side. The fresh concrete was too tempting and someone had scratched his name to let you know he had been there.

We looped back to Eucalyptus Drive. We scoped the two settling ponds which are separated by a service gravel burm. We could hear rails calling and played our tape. The rails came closer. A most accommodating Sora popped in and out giving us good looks, as it posed. Don set up to get photos, but the Sora walked into the reeds before Don got a picture. It seems Don was unable to get pictures of any bird this day, however, this is not true

In the far distance, Mikey Riva saw a river otter, calling out the mammal. It disappeared and few got to see it. At the September field trip, we were treated to sighting of five river otters in these ponds. We had heard that the otters were destroying the ponds and attempts were made to relocate them.

A total of 52 species were seen. Pied-billed Grebe, Eared Grebe, Double-crested Cormorant, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, green-winged Teal, Mallard, Northern Pintail, Cinnamon Teal, Northern Shoveler, Gadwall, American Widgeon, Canvasback, Common Goldeneye, Bufflehead, Ruddy Duck, Cooper’s Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, American Kestrel, Merlin, Sora, American Coot, Killdeer, Black-necked Stilt, American Avocet, Willet, Marbled Godwit, Western Sandpiper, Least Sandpiper, Dunlin, Long-billed Dowitcher, Ring-billed Gull, Glaucous-winged Gull, Rock Pigeon, Morning Dove, Tree Swallow, Marsh Wren , Northern Mockingbird, European Starling, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Savannah Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow, Western Meadowlark, House Finch, Lesser Goldfinch, American Goldfinch.

Pre-trip Description: Come and experience another season of coastal bird migration in a location that is becoming a favorite shorebird viewing location.

This area is part of the Pacific Flyway for migrating waterfowl. We expect to see winter ducks and woodland birds in the Eucalyptus trees. If the tide is accommodating, we will see shore birds. We may see raptors, and perhaps a falcon. This is a half day trip with moderate walking We will bird Eucalyptus Drive and part of the newly opened American Canyon Wetlands trail. The trip will end at about 11:00AM.

Directions: Meet at parking lot at the corner of Wetlands Edge Rd & Eucalyptus Dr; to reach this area from Hwy 29, take American Canyon Rd west to Wetlands Edge Rd. Turn right (north) & continue to the end. Turn left onto Eucalyptus & find the parking lot on your immediate left.

submitted on December 10, 2011, at 06:54 AM PST

NSAS Viewing Station at SF Bay Flyway Festival © 2008 Dave McMullen Lunch break on Friday Bird Walk © 2010 Dave McMullen Murray Berner © 2009 Frank Toller Friday Bird Walk at Long Canyon © 2010 Dave McMullen

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