Sunday, November 9, 2008

Side Trip Home from Fresno

We decided to take the back roads on our return to the Bay Area from Fresno where we attended Adeline's memorial. Our original thought was just to head straight back to the Bay Area and then to do boring stuff like grocery shopping and cooking and all that went straight out the window. But then Dino has never been one for getting on the freeway to go somewhere if we have an extra couple of hours.

We headed west out of Fresno on a little two-laner, and drove through prototypical California farmland; these miles were filled with raisin grapes, already harvested and the vines looking pretty shabby for the winter, interspersed with acres of almond trees.

We spied a promising pond on the side of the road and stopped to see what we could see. A bird-filled goldmine! Great blue heron, great egret, snowy egret, and will wonders never cease, a black-crowned night heron! Neither one of us had seen one before, so this was exciting.

From there, we got on the freeway for about two miles, then took another detour through an area known for wetlands. These are wetlands that have been there for millenia, I guess, but of course are highly manipulated now to accomodate agriculture. Nevertheless, they remain a haven to wildlife, and especially birds. We spent a couple of hours driving very slowly down a gravel road looking for spyholes through the reeds and brush on the side of the road for open areas of water. We saw lots of birds of prey, of course; red-tailed hawks which are the most common, but also white-tailed kites and northern harriers (aka marsh hawks). I thought I saw an osprey but wasn't able to spend enough time watching to confirm. Also, a loggerhead shrike which aren't so common anymore. Plus, we saw gobs of the usuals: house finches, white-crowned and house sparrows, three different kinds of blackbirds, coots, mallards and well, Dino's got the whole list.

We ended up popping out around Santa Nella, so went to Andersen's for some delicious pea soup. To cap off the wonderful side trip we were treated with the most glorious sunset ever.

Another shot of California farmland.

1 comment:

Tom Hurley said...

Again, nice pictures! You’re gettin’ real good!

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