The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (formerly Department of Fish and Game) recently released its calendar of events for January. More outdoors and nature-oriented events that are not sponsored by DFW are on the online calendar at wildlife.ca.gov/events.
Sandhill Crane Wetland Tours are held the first three weekends of each fall/winter month through February at Woodbridge Ecological Reserve near Lodi. The docent-led tours start approximately 90 minutes before sundown and run to about 30 minutes after sunset. Pre-tour registration is required online at wildlife.ca.gov/delta/cranetour and may be made up to six weeks in advance. Suggested donation is $10 per adult. The South Unit of Woodbridge ER is accessible to the public at any time. It features informative interpretive panels, and viewing of sandhill crane “fly-overs” at sundown is common. The Woodbridge North Unit (accessible only by tour) includes a bird-viewing blind and typically receives the “fly-in,” where the cranes come to roost for the night. For more information, visit the website or call 209-948-7708.
Guided Swan Tours in rice fields near Marysville are held Saturdays in January, from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. and 1 to 3 p.m. Driving tours follow a short route with very little walking required. Guests can see tundra swans, ducks, geese, cranes, shorebirds, white pelicans, herons, egrets and raptors. Pre-registration is required at wildlife.ca.gov/regions/2/SwanTours. Tours are free, but registrants are encouraged to make a donation online to the California Wildlife Foundation to support this program. For more information, call 916-358-2852.
Guided Wetland Tours of Gray Lodge Wildlife Area are held on weekends 12:30 to 2 p.m. at 3207 Rutherford Road in Gridley (95948). On the Pacific Flyway at the base of the Sutter Buttes, Gray Lodge WA is one of the premier birding spots in northern California. This public land provides appealing habitat for waterfowl, shorebirds and other wildlife. Migrating ducks arrive through fall and winter populations grow to hundreds of thousands. Local experts lead a 0.3-mile stroll on a paved trail to an elevated viewing deck and discuss wildlife adaptations, natural history, conservation efforts and how to identify wildlife. Tours are included in the $4 entrance fee and self-guided visitors are also welcome. Tours are cancelled in heavy rain. Reservations required for groups of 12 or more. For information or scheduling, contact the Gray Lodge WA Naturalist Office at 846-7505 or firstname.lastname@example.org, and visit wildlife.ca.gov/lands/wa/region2/graylodge/index.html.
Elkhorn Slough Ecological Reserve docent-led walks are held every Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Binoculars and bird books available to borrow at no cost. The visitor center and main overlook are fully accessible. Day use fee is $4.32 per person, age 16 and older. Groups of 10 or more should schedule a separate tour. Directions and more information are available at wildlife.ca.gov/lands/er/region4/elkhorn.html.
Volunteer Stewardship Field Crew Mondays at Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve are held every Monday at 1700 Elkhorn Road in Royal Oaks (95076), 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Help preserve natural habitat by doing seed collection, planting, trail maintenance and weeding of introduced species. Details are available at wildlife.ca.gov/lands/er/region4/elkhorn.html or elkhornslough.org.
International Sportsmen’s Expo at Cal Expo in Sacramento runs Jan. 10 – 13. Visit Department of Fish and Wildlife displays where staff will answer questions, demonstrate online license sales and sell the CDFW Warden Stamp that supports CDFW enforcement and helps fund the purchase of equipment ($5). Visit the enforcement display trailer with enclosed laser shot game. Expo admission is $15 for adults; kids and active military (with military ID) are free. Additional information is at sportsexpos.com.
The CDFW Climate College lecture, Go Big or Go Home: Collaborative Partnerships in a Changing Climate, will be held 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. Jan. 15 at the Natural Resources Agency Building Auditorium at 1416 Ninth St. in Sacramento (95814). It will also be broadcast live via WebEx. Guest speakers are Diana Craig, regional wildlife ecologist, U.S. Forest Service; and Emily Young, senior director of environment analysis and strategy, San Diego Foundation. Lectures are designed for CDFW employees but open to agency partners and the public. Email email@example.com to sign up at least two days prior to the lecture, and indicate whether participation will be in person or via WebEx. More information is available at wildlife.ca.gov/Climate_and_Energy/Climate_Change/Climate_College/.
Jan. 15 is also the deadline to apply for hold permit-only wild pig hunts, to be held Feb. 1 – 3 at Tejon Ranch. Hunters with a valid California hunting license may apply through the Automated License Data System. A $10 non-refundable application fee will be charged for each hunt choice. To apply for these hunt permits visit wildlife.ca.gov/licensing/ols. Step-by-step instructions are at wildlife.ca.gov/wildlife/hunting/share.
The Rangeland Science Symposium and California Rangeland Conservation Coalition Summit is set for Jan. 24 and 25 at University of California, Davis’ Freeborn Hall. The two-day event will feature diverse presentations and discussions by leading scientists, researchers and resource and land management experts on striking a balance between conservation and rangeland objectives, and opportunities to enhance both agricultural production and environmental goals. For more information visit carangeland.org/calendarevents/2013summit.html.