January 7, 8am
This is a very foggy and cold morning. As I drove through Willits the town was quiet, but out here in the valley the air is filled with the many sounds of birds, ducks in particular. In every wet area there are ducks of many species seemingly interacting and mingling. Small ponds that formed from the last rains flooding are teaming with action. There are the very small Green-winged teal, a few brightly colored Cinnamon teal, squeaky American wigeon, tiny black and white Buffleheads, gorgeous-spectacular Wood-ducks (my favorites), Northern shovelers, Canada geese, and of course Coots. The Willits valley is part of the Pacific Flyway which is a major north-south flyway for migratory birds in America, extending from Alaska to Patagonia. Every year migratory birds travel some or all of this distance both in spring and in fall following food sources, heading to breeding grounds, or traveling to overwintering sites. We are definitely an overwintering ground for many ducks and geese. I have counted over 300 American wigeon and 200 Green-winged teal in one of the interior wetland areas in the north end of the valley. This day there were two unusual geese with the Canadian flock, a White -fronted goose and a small “minimus” Cackling goose.
Each day out here is full of surprises, one never knows what will show up on its’ way on the Pacific flyway!