Central Valley California Lake Reflections
Cental Valley Lakes California



Central Valley California Reflections

by: Barbara Steinberg

The Central Valley is most captivating this time of year.  The first rains have re-greened the summer gold and wintering wildlife is flocking (pardon that pun) to newly plowed and fallow fields.  

Joining other wildlife and eco-tourism enthusiasts at a 2-day conference in Stocktonn brought more than its share of surprises. The conference included trips to Woodbridge Ecological Reserve (I am a frequent visitor) and Lodi Lake (a place I had never visited) to view birds and other wildlife.

Woodbridge is Mecca for sandhill cranes (and other migratory birds) this time of year...and we were not disappointed. They are returning by the thousands.  Trumpter swans, egrets, great blue heron, kestrals, hawks, cormorants, geese, ducks -- just a few of the other birds witnessed.   If you have never visited...GO!  It is an unforgettable experience.  Photos of the incoming cranes were hard to capture with my little camera -- especially in the misty light.  But the feeling is clear.
Lodi Lake...it's a wilderness retreat in an urban jungle. Totally unexpected and I plan to return to really explore its riparian landscape and primordial forests.  The docent said that the winter months are the most interesting...certainly the most quiet. We saw many birds (beautiful wood ducks) and signs of river otters, deer, and beaver.  Yes, this is Lodi!
And some personal thoughts while driving to Stockton. Wish there were photos but difficult to capture this view:
Driving away from the city -- skies are clear, blue, and sun-filled.  Speeding furiously into the flow of traffic (there's no choice), but up ahead plumes of white rise before us...is it smoke?  Slowly, slowly, we drive into the tule fog which is gracing the winter valley.  The sun filters through and gradually disappears as the thick white swallows the road, fields, and sky.

Note:  Woodbridge Ecological Reserve (aka Isenberg Crane Reserve) features guided tours of Sandhill Cranes, many species of waterfowl, and other wildlife. Guided tours run from October through February. Take I-5 to Lodi area (south of Sacramento) and exit either Turner Road or Peltier Road and turn east. Immediately turn onto Thornton Road (northbound from Turner; southbound from Peltier) and proceed approx 2 miles to Woodbridge Rd.; turn west and proceed 2 ½ miles to parking area and viewing mound on the south side of road.  www.dfg.ca.gov/reg2/shcranetour