Wow!!! Three rare and wondrous sightings, plus homemade marshmallows and hills to play on…a fabulous adventure to start the year!!!
We warmed up with cocoa and amazing homemade marshmallows (thanks, Eli!) (recipe available). The walk down to the river felt great in the crisp morning, and then we started seeing wildlife. First, a flock of goldeneyes in the water. Then some disturbance upriver…a dog? With a flipper? It was a friendly sea lion playing with its salmon breakfast, breaking it up by repeatedly hitting it on the water. Several gulls gathered round to help pick up the pieces.
The sea lion moved on after a while, and we continued up the trail. A lump on a log across the river turned out to be a beaver. It stayed in that position the whole time we were there, showing off its best profile. Then, who should swim by but a river otter! We've never seen all three of these celebrity aquatic mammals in one day—trifecta!
In an embarrassment of riches, we also saw a Northern flicker fly into the bailer building (and out again), a pair of courting Anna's hummingbirds, an osprey, plus a female wigeon, Spotted sandpiper, American kestrel, bufflehead, Common goldeneye, Common merganser, Pied-billed grebe, Great egret, many species of sparrows, Yellow-rumped warblers, and a Belted kingfisher.
Meanwhile, a happy pack of kids moved beyond wildlife sightings; they climbed and slid down hills of sand, playing, exploring, and enjoying the wild terrain to the fullest.
Our Sutter's Landing stretch of the American River is fabulously rich in wildlife and their stories, and a place where kids can experience nature and wildness. Join us next month in this ongoing adventure.
NEXT MONTH: Valentine's Day Fungus Hunt! Join us on February 14th to look for mushrooms and other fungi at Sutter's Landing. Ryan LaPorte, our favorite mushroom expert, will lead the group in a search on and under trees, in the grass, and all the other places fungi hide. We'll start at 10 am so you can sleep in a bit. Details to come.
Photos by JoEllen Arnold: