We had a fascinating and very educational FORB event today at Sutter’s Landing Regional Park this morning. Our friend, Brian Collett, took about a dozen or so guests on an adventure near the banks of the American River showing us native and non native trees, shrubs and other plants that most of us do not pay much attention to when we walk down to the river. I can assure you after this event, everyone that attended will be paying attention to what we learned about today and sharing it with their friends and families.
Curly Dock. This plant starts out as a green leafy growth which is used as a vegetable and medicinally for skin and internal ailments. It is also high in Vitamin C content. Its flowers and seeds are usually very small, growing in yellowish green to green to purplish plume-like clusters at the top of the plant.
Today at Sutter’s Landing Park, our very own Entomologist, Nita Davidson, gave us a “Bugs Eye View” into the world of insects that live, fly and breed at our own Regional Park and along the American River.
We learned about true bugs Stink bugs, boxelder bugs, and bed bugs are true bugs (Suborder Heteroptera) and have mouth parts that are modified for piercing and sucking.
The highlight as always is passing out nets to the children so they could catch and release whatever insects they could find. On one small sandbar willow bush right near the river, one of the children found hundreds of beautiful blue willow leaf beetles (Plagiodera sp., Family Chrysomelidae) It was a source of fascination for all in attendance as most of us had never seen these beetles before. We also learned that caterpillars of Western tiger swallowtail butterflies life cycle actually begins in the cottonwood and sycamore trees at Sutter's Landing Park and thrive on sycamore and ash trees throughout the older parts of Sacramento.
Nita, thank you for taking the time to share your vast knowledge of the insect world. I am sure you have inspired a few kids to become fascinated with the insects that inhabit our amazing Park!
Here are a few of the other insects that were seen at the Park today. Thanks to Kathy for this summary and Nita for leading this great FORB outing and sharing her insect knowledge with all who attended!
JoEllen Arnold led another batty gathering on May 12. After an informal presentation about bats in the Sutter’s Landing parking lot & new gateway to the Parkway, we went down to the river to meet the bat ambassadors she brought and listen for bats with fancy echolocating equipment. The high point of the evening was when JoEllen released a recovered Mexican free-tailed bat to the wild. Thank you, JoEllen!!!
Another excellent and well attended event enjoyed by all who were able to be there. That included at least one pair of wild Swainson's hawks soaring overhead while we learned about these great raptors from our friends and the UC Davis Raptor Center again this year. A northern harrier, one or more Red-tailed hawks, Turkey vultures and other wild neighbors were also in the area.
Thank you to the UC Davis Raptor Center and Julie Cotton, Diana Munoz, and Joleen Maiden for coming to Sutter’s Landing and bringing Whistler and Grasshopper. We all enjoyed your most informative presentation about Raptors and how Whistler and Grasshopper came to be wonderful ambassadors from the Raptor Center.
Spring has returned to the Sacramento Valley and that means Swainson's hawks are returning from their long migration south to find mates and nests for another season. FORB will welcome them back again this year on April 14th with what promises to be another great event you won't want to miss. Meanwhile, here are some sneak previews.
What an unforgettable day it was for the few of us who ventured out to Sutters Landing Park and for the wildlife who live there, to see the river freshly transformed into a Winter Wonderland of hail and snow!
It all started in the afternoon last Monday Feb. 26. 2018, when dark clouds formed over the green grassy mound, which made a dramatic backdrop for streaks of lightening bolts! Shortly after that, hail began to fall and increase in intensity! This was followed by a few snow flakes and a lot of memories...
Of course I couldn’t pass up this opportunity to see our stretch of the American River, freshly decked out in a blanket of hail and snow, so I slipped and slid down the trail and below are sights I’ve never seen along the river before!
Surely the elder Beavers, Coyotes, Otters and other critters will be telling stories about this day for a long time to come!
On February 11, an enthusiastic crowd followed mycologist Ryan LaPorte around various habitats at Sutter’s Landing to seek mushrooms and other fungi. While Sutter’s Landing is not the very best place for observing fungi, Ryan knew where to look and we founds lots of interesting specimens in interesting places and heard fascinating stories about the lives of fungi. Many thanks to Ryan (and his family), who came all the way from Ukiah to share his expertise and passion for these very intriguing lifeforms.
After much delay and under clear blue skies today we gathered to acknowledge completion of the bike trail and other features of the state grant project Friends of Sutter's Landing Park played a large role in helping the City of Sacramento be awarded.
The project came together around 2011 but delays and conflicts slowed the start of construction by 1-2 years. Meant to better establish Sutter's Landing Park as the city's gateway to the American River Parkway the project included less than a mile of paved bike trail, removal of invasive plants, establishment of native vegetation, creation of a defined staging area, plaques and more. The city still needs to construct a much needed restroom as grant match but landfill constraints, safety and maintenance concerns, and cost overruns have delayed it. Maybe next year.
The project is a compromise, at best, of the design and goals suggested by neighborhood groups and organizations but does meet the need for a basic gateway. Most of the people who attended the two community design workshops strongly objected to the idea of gabions, which now disappointingly fill the area. We hope that features that are missing or inadequate can be improved over time. Future phases should extend the bike trail eastward to Sac State, expand the size of Sutter's Landing Park and further improve adjacent areas of the American River Parkway. The recent establishment of a Lower American River Conservancy creates a means to continue and expand this type of work. Future phases will hopefully include acquisition of additional lands to the west of Sutter's Landing Park, relocation of buildings and other infrastructure away from the river and ultimately restoration and creation of more riparian/upland habitats and recreation opportunities to enjoy this unique resource.
Swallows, kestrels and other raptors were present to welcome us as always and to take in the scene today. The bright blue skies and wispy clouds welcomed all visitors. The numbers of visitors and impacts on the area have increased greatly since back when this project was envisioned. Today's visitors included a young man with a cat in a carrier on a skateboard, a drone flier, cyclocross participants and a number of other bike riders on gear able to travel in many areas not paved, dogs of all shapes, sizes, ages, health and level of restraint. A young crew of Sacramento Regional Conservation Corps was on hand to maintain the area which is in good shape now. One nearby bike rider pushed a cart with camping gear while his partner had a stroller carrying a 5 gallon water bottle back to camp. Many joggers, walkers, birdwatchers, nature lovers, thrill seekers and other types of enthusiasts are seen regularly.
One thing is for sure. Sutter's Landing Park and the project site will receive much more use and wear by all in the months ahead this year and beyond. That includes many new and recent visitors and all they bring as they come out to enjoy this very special area.
UPDATE 12/30/17: The final count results have been posted for all 12 teams that participate in this annual wildlife count which identified 14,326 birds in 119 species and other animal species. Details can be found on the ARNHA blog site.
The 33rd Annual Wildlife Count took place on the American River Parkway on Saturday December 2nd. 2017. In recent years, Sutter's Landing Park was included in the count effort as "Team Otter" has come out early there under all sorts of weather conditions to count wildlife and enjoy another great day outdoors. This year was no different! We even had an on the water presence with Tom paddling near the group while counting wildlife, removing invasive plants, and noting illegal camp sites in sensitive habitats. It was a good year for bird and other wildlife observations as the numbers below show. There is even an outstanding question about the identify of one raptor species which might be the Black merlin seen across the river by another team or not...
Thanks to Rachel and American River Natural History Association for again coordinating teams and communication this year including making sure all the data gets into eBird where it is available to help all better understand the health and distribution of wildlife in our area. See you out there for the count next year and hopefully sooner to enjoy all the great wildlife to be observed now.
American River Parkway--Sutter's Landing Park, Sacramento, California, US
Dec 2, 2017 9:11 AM - 11:11 AM
7 ground squirrels
3 Gray Squirrels
1 Fox Squirrels
8 Red-eared Slider Turtles
2 feral cats
3 camp dogs on the north side
We had one observer in a canoe and 7 on foot.
46 species (+1 other taxa)
Canada Goose 41
Wood Duck 3
Common Goldeneye 36
Common Merganser 2
Great Blue Heron 1
Turkey Vulture 1
White-tailed Kite 2
Cooper's Hawk 3
Red-shouldered Hawk 3
Red-tailed Hawk 4
Spotted Sandpiper 2
Ring-billed Gull 1
California Gull 6
gull sp. 4
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon) 60
Mourning Dove 12
Anna's Hummingbird 2
Belted Kingfisher 1
Nuttall's Woodpecker 2
Northern Flicker 9
American Kestrel 5
Black Phoebe 6
Say's Phoebe 2
California Scrub-Jay 12
American Crow 11
Oak Titmouse 3
House Wren 2
Bewick's Wren 2
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 9
Northern Mockingbird 7
European Starling 25
American Pipit 3
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Audubon's) 5
White-crowned Sparrow 3
Golden-crowned Sparrow 21
Song Sparrow 2
Spotted Towhee 13
Western Meadowlark 3
Brewer's Blackbird 6
House Finch 29
Lesser Goldfinch 2
American Goldfinch 24
House Sparrow 1
What an important cause and wonderful way to spend one special day at the river each year, with the best wildlife neighbors!
Special thanks to newest team members Brian & Tom, who saw two Beavers down river where I hadn’t known them to be before, as he paddled his sleek canoe up and down the river.
Thanks to our longtime team member Jane and her “see all spotting scope!"
Thanks to our Salmon finder and group photographer Asli (missing in the top group photo but seen above) Ya!
And lastly, thanks to our eBird team of JoEllen, Dale, Tom who wrapped things up at a local coffee shop afterwards. Thanks especially to JoEllen who did another great job entering our data into eBird.
I agree with Siri who recently told me; “what would you do without me?” :)
Ya, Team Otter!
On October 14, we celebrated our annual Welcome Back the Salmon event at Sutter’s Landing Park. Many thanks to those who made it happen, including:
• A.J. Bennet for checking out the beach area
• Tom Biglione for bringing his beautiful canoe down to the river’s edge and for taking the time to pick up trash on the beach
• Laura Drath from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife for bringing her wealth of knowledge about the Salmon, handouts, games and nature examples
• Kathy Kayner, who helped organize the day
Laura informed us that the Salmon that are returning to the American River are from the drought year of 2014. There is concern that the numbers may be smaller because of that. Right now, the water temperature is between 58-60 degrees. This is just right for the Chinook but not quite cold enough for the Steelhead. Steelhead like temperatures at 56 degrees or less.
At the end of the event, a sea lion swam by to say hello.