Monday, Nov 10, 1997 Wings over Oregon 1

Colusa NWR
eBird - Casual Observation, 0mins,

Colusa Wildlife Refuge offered a charming driving tour of what I presume are irrigation channels, ponds, and fields of cattails. The birds were quite acclimated to cars, but flushed immediately when I got out of the car to retrieve something from the trunk. The new binoculars worked out very well. I didn't need them to see the pheasants, though -- they stood right on the road and stared at me. I saw something that looked like a Curlew dipped in coal dust, and decided it must have been some kind of Ibis, although the light wasn't good enough to see any color details.

A short drive along the river brought me to Gray Lodge Wildlife Refuge, although the number of hunters there made the term "refuge" seem a little funny. Apparently, there's a lot of people out there who think it's fun to camp out in a muddy camping lot on a Monday night in order to put their names in a lottery to earn the right to wander around in the marsh and shoot birds. Myself, I prefer to gaze on them from the comfort of my car, although these birds were a lot more skittish, and even hiding in the car didn't stop them from running away. In addition to the plentiful ducks I expected, there was a lovely two-point white-tailed deer, and some kind of marine mammal in a pond. I heard reports from two fellow birders that the Sacramento Wildlife Refuge had lots of vultures and geese, which I didn't get to see today -- perhaps I'll stop there on the way back.

The region containing these two refuges reminded me a lot of central Illinois. Very flat, roads running in straight lines, most of the land consumed by agriculture. Except that you'd see a flooded field with SEAGULLS sitting in it. That seemed really out of place!

On the way back to I5, I had the distinct pleasure of crossing the Princeton Ferry -- A platform the size of a large houseboat that pulls itself across the 50 feet of the sluggish Sacramento River for a mere 50 cents. Why not a bridge? I can only assume the river isn't always so sluggish, and must vary a lot in depth. Either that or Glenn County doesn't have much of a tax base for infrastructure.

The drive up to Weed was uneventful. I did pass by an unlit sign saying "chains required next two miles" and other sign saying "summit 3,900 feet" that reminded me that I'm _not_ in Illinois.

Tomorrow -- a marsh just north of here on I97 that is supposed to have lots of raptors and geese and stuff.

Also saw Dowitcher sp.