Friday, October 31, 2008

Looking Forward to Lodi's Sandhill Cranes

From Lodi07 10/31/08 4:45 PM

"Stuck in Lodi Again" was a song of my youth. Last year we found Lodi has become a place you can seek out voluntarily, when we went to see the Sandhill Cranes.

If you have never seen these marvelous birds, do treat yourself to the sight. They are huge, almost 5 feet tall, and graceful. In the winter months, thousands of them fly in each evening to roost in open flooded fields surrounding Lodi. It's like accounts of early California by John Muir and others. They clack, chatter, and dance with each other during the day (when they are not feeding.)

Many sandhill crane viewing sites are perfect for drive-by birding. Last year's trip was the inspiration for this blog. We'll have more details and better photos to share, now that I have a zoom lens. We'll also have a detailed posting on Consumes River Preserve, another very accessible spot. Bird-filled ponds you can park by and gentle boardwalk trails.

The Sandhill Crane Festival takes place, Friday Nov. 7 through Sunday Nov. 9. The Festival is free; there are over 50 excursions, with some places still available. We were able to score motel rooms as well.

Beyond birding, there are winery tours and good restaurants -- I'll vouch for School Street Bistro, Wine and Roses Inn, and Michael-David Winery cafe. There are also some amazing murals done in honor of the city's centennial on the sides of downtown buildings.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Birding the San Francisco Bay Trail

We have yet to visit the San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory down in Alviso. Their web site,, lists interesting classes and outings throughout the year, rated as to how family-friendly or arduous they are. It also has an excellent list of birding resources for the Bay Area.

They offer a free booklet, Birding the San Francisco Bay Trail, which I recommend to anyone reading this blog. It lists 16 sites around the Bay Trail, with short descriptions and clear directions for access. We have visited about half these sites on our own, and can vouch that accessible birding is provided. Handicapped access, restrooms, picnic tables, and benches is clearly indicated for each listing.

My favorite local spot, the shell bar near Tarpon Street in Foster City, made the top 16, along with Palo Alto Baylands, Coyote Point, Las Gallinas Sanitary District, and Sholllenberger Park. Looks like I have some posts to catch up on!

Another great resource, not free but available for $15 from bookstores at nature centers is a series of detailed maps of the Bay Trail. It's great for spotting potential birding "hot spots" along bays, inlets, preserves, and sewage treatment ponds. You can see the maps online and a list of where to buy them at