|Thousands of Swans and Millions of Waterfowl
including Snow Geese Wintering in
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The Pacific Flyway ranks as one of the greatest migratory pathways in the entire world, stretching from the
Bering Strait off the coast of Alaska to the steeps of Patagonia in South America. Millions of migratory
birds representing hundreds of species use this great avian highway each year, and nowhere is this
abundance of wildlife more accessible than right here in Sacramento Valley in California. Winter is the
raining season in California. With an ideal combination of mild winter weather, abundant food and rich
quantities of water in winter season, the area attracts a huge wintering population of waterfowl and raptors
Every winter, thousands of migratory swans, 2 million migratory geese and 3 million migratory ducks arrive
at the post-harvest flooded rice farm field in Sacramento Valley in California as their winter home.
We came to Marysville area in California to join winter guided Swan Tour group on Saturday, December 3,
2016 to enjoy watching thousands of tundra swans and millions of waterfowl on about 23,000 acres of post-
harvest flooded rice field. This area is about 50 miles north of Sacramento, California. Such winter Swan
Tour is free but is limited to 30 people in each tour group. So, interested swan watchers must pre-register
on the following website:
After completing the registration, the website will provide detailed instruction and the meeting-staging area
for the tour group to meet at the starting point of the 2-hour driving tour.
Expert birders and biologists from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife lead a carpool/caravan
driving tour along the back roads in (water) District 10. The swan tour last about 2 hours and offers
participants a spectacular opportunity to encounter these stately, elegant tundra swans. The tour explores
an area called (water) District 10, a 23,000-acre expanse of privately-owned rice farm fields and restored
habitat just north of Marysville in Yuba County. This area boasts one of the largest winter concentrations
of Tundra Swans in California Central Valley, as well as a wide variety of other species, including White-
faced Ibis, white fronted geese, other ducks, shorebirds, herons, egrets and raptors. It is the flood basin of
the Feather River and Yuba River just north of Marysville. It is about 143 miles north of San Francisco Bay
One of large groups of swans on a flooded post-harvest rice field in the winter season.
A small portion of another large group of swans on a flooded rice field.
Zoom in for closer views of swans, white fronted geese, pintail; ducks and other waterfowl on the flooded rice
I used my camera to scan the width of a flooded rice field to show the large number of swans on this
rice field and uploaded the movie clip YouTube at the following website:
飛翔, 舒展著它們雪白的翅膀, 那份賞鳥的衝勁與浪漫。
Swans in the air with their long necks straight out, exuberantly calling to their mates and to their
Many swans on the post-harvest flooded rice field.
Massive Lift Off of Thousands of Swans and Snow Geese:
When we were at the staging area for Swan Tour, we saw a massive lift off of thousands of swans and
snow geese far away. I had to use the 65X optical zoom of my compact super-zoom camera to take
movie clip through the gap between trees and upload the movie to YouTube at the following website:
Please enjoy the amazing experience of watching huge number of swans and snow geese circling in
Some snow geese in the sky.
Some swans and some pintail ducks on the flooded rice field.
Some swans and some ducks on flooded rice field, and some ducks in the air.
Huge number of ducks on this flooded rice field.
色彩, 醉心於飛羽攝影, 有了很豐富的收穫, 滿意的踏上田園歸途。
We admire the wonders of incredibly spectacular golden sunset casting a warm glow on the rice farm field
while we were driving south to go back to San Francisco Bay Area.
百雀呼朋引伴，振翅飛過， 成群地在草地上覓食，吱吱喳喳，鼓舌鬥唱， 相互呼應。
Lots of black birds on the rice field.
In this 2-hour Swan Tour, we also saw such huge structure of Rice Dryer in the middle of the huge expense of
rice farm field.
Another view of the Rice Dryer.
The big truck brings the harvested rice to the Rice Dryer.
The truck is unloading the rice into the intake hole on the ground surface of the Rice Dryer.
Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge:
Two of many pintail ducks and other waterfowl in Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) on December
2, 2016. This is the first day of our 2-day bird watching trip. On the second day of December 3, 2016, we
did the Swan Tour as described above. But on the first day of December 2, we drove from San Francisco
Bay area and arrived at Sacramento NWR at about 4 PM, for the golden sunset hour when the light is
beautiful and soft.
Sacramento NWR is California's premier waterfowl refuge of nearly 11,000 acres in the heart of the
Sacramento Valley. The visitor center is located at 752 County Rd. 99W (i.e., Old Highway 99W), Willows,
CA 95988. This NWR has a 7-mile Auto Tour Loop and a large elevated viewing platform for visitors to drive
their own cars to enjoy bird watching on their own at their own convenience.
Many snow white geese and vibrantly colored ducks come to Sacramento NWR as their winter home. It is an
amazing sight to behold.
Magnificent snow geese.
Spectacular Evening Fly Offs of Snow Geese and Ducks
Our main goal to visit Sacramento NWR near sunset time between 4 PM to 5 PM in the winter season is to
enjoy the spectacular evening fly offs of huge number of snow geese and ducks. During the sunset time, with
orange colored sky, there are thousands and thousands of snow geese and ducks flying off all over the sky.
Group after group and wave after wave of snow geese lift off from the marshy ponds and fly in formation to
nearby post-harvest flooded rice fields to feed on decomposing rice stubble. It is awe-inspiring and one of the
most memorable experiences ever.
I took several movie clips of evening fly offs of snow geese, connected them into a movie and uploaded it to
the following YouTube website:
It is a pure joy to watch such wave after wave of fantastic evening fly offs of large number of snow geese,
spectacular views as the huge flocks take off!
I stood on the Observation Platform along the 7-mile Auto Tour Loop in Sacramento NWR to take the movie of
the evening fly offs. The observation platform is next to a big tree. There were lots of small birds on that big
tree. The background sound of my movie on evening fly offs of snow geese was the chatter and chirping (鼓舌
鬥唱, 相互呼應) of many small birds on the big tree, and not the sound of the snow geese.
My movie of the evening fly offs of huge number of ducks is on the following YouTube website:
一張絕美的畫面，在這不經意間收穫如此美景， 讓人癡迷和驚歎， 我為這樣的畫面陶醉
A lovely sight at sunset, the thrill of the moment.
If you visit Sacramento NWR in the winter season, do not miss the fantastic evening fly offs at sunset
time when thousands of snow geese lift off from the refuge waters to spend their nights foraging in
nearby rice fields, and do not leave too soon. Just make sure you stay for sunset, because the pink
and orange sky filled with snow white geese will be one of your most memorable experiences ever.
Sacramento Valley 田園濕地的落日餘暉， 黄昏戀曲， 最美不過夕陽紅，如此撩人, 久久
A gorgeous, memorable and photographic sunset view from the Observation Platform in Sacramento NWR.