A member alerted me to the fact the refuge had been closed before Christmas due to an extreme high tide which flooded the road. But I called the refuge and was assured that the refuge had reopened and only one small area was still closed.
We arrived, all 13 of us to find the following sign and cones across the main road. So, someone said there was another entrance. We drove to that and discovered it was an authorized entry only area. And while we could have walked it, a bunch of people walking scares off the birds. Cars don't have the same effect.
So, someone suggested we head to Grizzly Island Refuge. Great idea, and it was closer to our return home than going to the Sacramento Refuge, although one member opted to do that.
In fog of varying intensities, we headed to Grizzly Island which fronts on the upper reaches of San Francisco Bay at Suisun Bay. We arrived to find that it was totally closed to the public, except for an area open to hunters with permit. Two members did try going into that area and were promptly thrown out. (interestingly, at Yolo Bypass, one couple opted to try the road which directed folks to the hunter check in site.....and they found lots of birds, and as long as they didn't go past the checkpoint, it was okay to be there....but it sure wasn't clear from the signage).
The drive to Grizzly Island refuge passes some great tidal areas, the fog created some nice effects and we had fun. By this point the group had scattered, but five of us ended up at Rush Ranch, a conservancy area which is both a working ranch and which is open to the public. It is used a lot of school groups. John Muir's great grandson trains horses and give carriage rides designed for the disabled at the ranch. He was away that weekend at a national event, but trains horses to pull wagons, carriages etc. as part of a program for the disabled. Mr. Muir developed multiple sclerosis as a teen,but loved horses and continued to ride until riding became difficult. Then he developed his skills as a carriage driver. He trains the horses and gives rides to visitors at the ranch about once a month.
It is embarrassing to lead a field trip to a place that isn't open. But we had a good time and people did get some good photos.
Here are just a few of my photos from the day
|Low winter fogs are common in the two areas, as well as most of the California Central Valley in winter|
|One of the carriage horses raised by Michael Muir. There were several with this interesting black white spotted horses, some more white with black spots and some black with white spots like this one.|
|Inside the blacksmith shop on the ranch|
|Rolling hills on the way home|