This last Thursday I decided to target a few birds that could be most easily found at the Mendocino Dam, just North of Ukiah. These birds are Ring-billed Gull, Rock Wren, and Clark’s Grebe. This trip to Ukiah would the first time I’ve taken my bike there. The reason for that is because the bus doesn’t go to the dam. I would have to get off just before the bus turns onto Hensley Creek Rd. towards Mendocino College and continue on bike for a little over 2 miles to the dam. I was a little nervous about this ride as North State Street is a busy road with many large trucks using it.
The trip started out a little late in Fort Bragg And by the time we got to Willets we where 17 minutes behind schedule and I was worried that I would be late transferring to the Local 9 going North. Actually made it in time but when I went to put my bike on the rack I learned that Ukiah wasn’t as bike friendly as the coast. Apparently because of their bigger busses and some narrow turns on some streets the bike rack intrudes into the oncoming lane. The driver said I would have to get on at the Library if I wanted to go North. I guess seeing my jaw drop and the fact I didn’t know how to get to the Library, the driver relented and took me to my getting off spot. I can see their reasoning for the restriction but it’s not mentioned in any of their schedules. I checked.
The bike ride to the dam was easier then I expected. There was a bike lane almost all the way. I almost made it to the top of the dam but did have to walk a short distance.
I found a Rock Wren as soon as I walked through the gate. It might have been carrying nesting material. Rock Wrens are rare in Mendocino. In fact most maps of their distribution seem to show them outside our area. ROWR’s are regular on the dam. I’ve also seen them in the Covelo area. Found at least 3 of them (maybe 4) on the dam. There was a large raft of Grebes below the dam. Most of them were Westerns with a few Clark’s mixed in. Cliff Swallows had arrived, a new year bird. They nest under whatever the structure pictured above is. Only saw 2 gulls that turned out to be first year California Gulls so I missed Ring-billed Gulls. Will have to find them later in the year.
The ride down from the dam was easy. It was all downhill. When I got on the bus to head South to the Ukiah Waste Treatment Plant the bus driver told me how I would have to bypass the narrow streets they couldn’t take my bike. When I got to the Library I got off and biked two blocks south to Gobbi and Safeway. Got back on the same bus to continue to Plant Road.
Added 2 birds at the UWTP. A Lincoln’s Sparrow which Steve helped me find and 2 Northern Rough-winged Swallows. Could not find the Chipping Sparrows that were being found there. Apparently they have only been seen in the morning and I was there in the afternoon.
As an example of riding the bus system, you find ways over time to catch rides. I had been thinking that I needed to catch the bus at the Pear Tree Center to get back to the coast. After several rides I realized that I could catch Route 75 across from Plant Road. It added to the time I could bird by just catching it there.
Early that morning I added a Great Horned Owl at Spring Ranch on the way to the bus stop in Fort Bragg. With the Brown-headed Cowbirds I found on the way to do my SOS Survey and the Rufous Hummingbird I found at the airport I’m now at 159 birds with at least 663 miles saved.
When your’re at the Mendocino Dam you get the feeling you’re on top of it all.