Learn Something New Every Day!

As my friend and I continued our Winter Trip, we planned our second stop to the Gray Lodge Wildlife Area.  We were hoping to see some birds as we headed north from Sacramento, California, heading to Medford, Oregon.  The wet weather expected in the area was not due until the evening, so we were confident we would have pretty weather for the drive.

The Gray Lodge Wildlife Area is located a little more than an hour from Sacramento, off Highway 99.  In some marshy fields a bit before reaching the wildlife area, we saw our first birds for the day.  Big birds.  In great numbers.  Not the expected red-winged black birds, but swans, geese and cranes.

I was ecstatic.  It has been a long time since I first started birding and keeping a life list.  But today’s sightings were all new birds for that list.  Yeah.

TUNDRA SWAN:  45 to 59 inch length, 5.5 to 6.9 foot wingspan

SNOW GOOSE, (Dark or Blue Phase):  25 to 32 inch height, 4.4 to 5.4 foot wingspan

SANDHILL CRANE: 31 to 54 inch height, 5.5 to 7.6 foot wingspan

RED-TAIL HAWK:  18-26 inch length, 3.6 to 4.7 foot wingspan

Feeling that we had already had a great day out in Nature, we continued our drive, still looking for the Gray Lodge Wildlife Area.  We found it within a few minutes and were delighted by even more birds.

The Gray Lodge Wildlife Area, located about 60 miles north of Sacramento, is situated along the Pacific Flyway.  The Area provides a haven to over 300 species of birds year-round.  Its roughly 9,100 acres include reflective ponds, grassy fields, and wooded areas, offering water and shelter for birds and animals.  Seeing and hearing all the birds in the area was majestic.  I could have spent a lot of time there, just enjoying the experience.

As abundant as the water birds were today, quite a few were not very cooperative about being photographed.  For example, we saw Canada Geese, Wood Ducks, and Black-Necked Stilts that would not let us snap an individual photo.  But lots of other birds were cooperative!

Actually, the broad, open expanses with so many birds was fascinating, engaging.  I could just watch them all for hours!

SNOW GOOSE, (White and Dark Phase):  25 to 32 inch height, 4.4 to 5.4 foot wingspan

GREAT (or COMMON) EGRET:  up to 3.7 feet tall, 31 to 41 inch length, 4.3 to 5.6 foot wingspan

LITTLE EGRET:  22 to 26 inch length, 2.9 to 3.5 foot wingspan; black legs and beak, yellow feet

GREAT BLUE HERON:  36 to 54 inch length, 45 to 54 inch height, 5.5 to 6.6 foot wingspan

We saw smaller birds as well.  I think these names are correct, but if anyone notices a problem, let me know.

Northern Pintail

Bufflehead Duck

American Wigeon

Ruddy Duck

American Coot

Northern Shoveler

Ring-Necked Pheasant

What can I say?  This place was incredible!  I am already making plans to visit Gray Lodge Wildlife Area again in the Spring to see what birds visit at that time of year.

 

Comments on: "Winter Trip Stop 2: GRAY LODGE WILDLIFE AREA" (15)

  1. I just love birds and you got some amazing pictures. I did have to read up on a few of the birds you mentioned, as I hadn’t heard of the species prior.

    • Thanks for stopping by. I love birds too but had not been “birding” in years and realized how much I missed it with this trip. Gray Lodge offered a bird list, so I had some names of likely sightings to check online. It was a day with lots of birds!

  2. Great pictures Cuz….thanks for sharing…knowing you’re happy makes me happy..’–)

    • Thanks, Cuz! I did have a great time on my trip–and after playing with the photos. Wish we lived closer–I bet we could go birding! Love you.

  3. Char Myers said:

    Wow. Such a variety of birds in one area.
    Beautiful display of nature at work.

    • Thanks for stopping by. I am so amazed at this wonderful birding spot–with a drive through route even. Wish I had stumbled onto it before–it is really rather close, just north of Sacramento. Stay warm with all this crazy weather.

  4. What a beautiful, fantastic voyage! Thank you so much for sharing your lovely images, Patti. It’s a privilege to come along, even if only vicariously.

  5. Look at all those birds in the early pics. Whoa! …. The close-up of the Sandhill Crane will perfect … and I love seeding grasses.

  6. Great photos and so glad you had fun while taking them.

  7. Nice captures, Patti. I’ve never heard of the tundra swan. My goodness, its wingspan, on the shortest side, is still wider than I am tall.

    • I was overwhelmed by the size of these birds. They did not look that big in the field–and did not see them flying. But they are impressive!

  8. […] first time I visited Gray Lodge Wildlife Area north of Sacramento was in February 2019.  It was a great day with lots of birds:  geese, ducks, herons, egrets and even sandhill cranes […]

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