Recently the 38th annual ARNHA Wildlife Count took place along the American River Parkway and Team Otter was out there tallying observations again. Steady rain washed out most counting on Saturday but the next day was a better time to count many of the species seen this time of year.
A preliminary summary of the Team Otter count can be viewed in this spreadsheet. The data from all the teams is being summarized in eBird and will be used to contribute citizen science to better understand bird trends in the area.
An example of unusual sightings that can happen this time of year was a flock of 20 Tundra swans flew overhead today calling as they headed somewhere else inland. Cormorants, Goldeneyes, Mallards, Gulls, Canada Geese and other many species were out along the river. Nearby upland areas found Yellow-rumped warblers, Western Bluebirds, Western Meadowlarks, Brewers Blackbirds, Red-winged Blackbirds, Black Phoebes, Kestrel, Mourning doves and many more. A large flock of crows were even hanging out at the solar panel farm for reasons only known to them.
SLP remains much cleaner than previous years due to much cleanup effort by volunteers the past few years. Sign of earlier activities remain including compacted soil and erosion along the footpath following the river. Most of the former camp sites have cleaned but there are plenty of signs of where they were found.
Be aware that access along the bike trail is scheduled to be closed in January and February next year due to bridge construction. How much this will affect other actives at SLP remains to be seen. Meanwhile, cleanup crews were removing trash from the triangle mitigation site today and bridge work continues on both sides and in the river at the I-80 crossing. Habitat in the Triangle Mitigation site provide much value for wildlife but heavy occupation and dumping are greatly impacting the location now.
All in all, this is a great time to spend time along the river and SLP in general. Take time out for a visit and slow down to look, listen and enjoy the change in pace and chance to see wildlife enjoying the calmer, cleaner conditions. You won't regret it.