Sunday, October 10, 2010

Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge

A long gravel road, dry grass, and bright sun in my eyes. We took a guided tour through the Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge. I looked out across the field and didn't see anything that looked wild or living. Then the guide showed us the swallow boxes where the birds gather to nest. He told us about the Central Valley Miwok who used the natural resources on the preserve to make baskets, boats etc. They made baskets from the long flat grasses that grow near the water (you can see the grass from the platform.) At first I saw nothing, yet the field was full of wildlife and natural resources. Across the wetlands were egrets, geese, and there were signs that otters had been on the trail. The shaded viewing platform was the perfect place to feel the breeze and hear the singing birds.

There were Tree Swallow nesting boxes along the road. The swallows are very social song birds.  They often travel in large flocks and then settle into pairs for nesting. The boxes aren't far apart and make up a community of birds. Like their human neighbors, many of the bird species travel and gather in groups. The birds made me think of our family gathering this weekend where we seemed to flock together from various parts of the state and the country. With all of the laughing we may have sounded more like cackling birds than song birds, but I also heard the plucking of a guitar, the splashing of a fountain, and other music. Then we all scattered back to our homes to gather again whenever we can.

60+ minutes walking (about a 2 hr guided tour with stops for photos)

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