Things were happening at the Ukiah Waste Treatment Plant last week. Reports of 9 American White Pelicans arriving at the ponds last weekend and a Buff-breasted Sandpiper coming in a few days later. The pelicans are listed as rare during this time and the sandpiper is extremely rare. I watched the reports of the pelicans dwindle in number. From 9 to 6, then 3, then 1. Thursday was the first day I could get over there because of work. On Wednesday the Buff-breasted Sandpiper was still there and only one pelican. I had to get to Ukiah. As explained in previous posts to get to Ukiah as early as possible I have to take the CC Rider which means driving to Fort Bragg to catch the bus at 7:30AM. There has been another option but it’s never worked before. MTA has an early pickup in Mendocino but you have to schedule it the day before by noon. Every time I called there hasn’t been anybody being picked up that early. I can’t justify calling them to just pick me up. My truck still gets better mileage then the little bus they send for the early run. When I called Wednesday they said that I wasn’t the only person for Thursday so I scheduled a 7:00AM pickup. It costs me an additional $2.50 making my round trip to Ukiah $7.50. Still worth it and it saves me an additional 20 “green” miles. The trip to Fort Bragg went smoothly. There were actually three of us for the ride making the trip even greener. A man who was on the early bus said that he was commuting from Mendocino to Willets every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday which means I will be able to use this service to get into Fort Bragg early.
While waiting for the bus to Ukiah I got to talking with some people with bikes. They said that there were 11 bikes on the trip Wednesday. All but two had to be loaded into the back of the bus. Don’t know how they did it. Last week the CC Rider bus had broken down on it’s way to Santa Rosa and was in for repairs. It’s bigger than the normal coast buses and can hold more. So when our bus came it was one of the smaller buses which we almost filled. It was only the second time riding that I didn’t have a seat of my own. I sat next to the guy from Mendocino and we had a conversation about his commute to Willets, his world travels and the fast cars he had driven in his life. He did most of the talking. We had three bikes on the bus. Along the way we made two stops for other passengers who were carrying lots of luggage including a guitar and a big bass fiddle. We could have started a band. I guess we only needed chickens on the roof. When my seat mate got off in Willets another seat mate got on. In fact the bus was so full that a 300 pound man in a wheelchair had to be told that we were full and he would have to catch the next bus into Ukiah which would be a 45 minute wait. My new seat mate was an older man who had grown up in Fort Bragg. He knew several people and their histories that I knew at the assisted living facility where I work so I was able to get a few words in during our conversation. MTA transferred all the passengers to a bigger bus when we arrived in Ukiah. I took the Local 9 to the waste treatment plant.
I have been meaning to take some pictures of the WTP but I always forget. Below is a Google Map view from the air. It shows all the ponds full. If you look closely you can see them shooting water into the air (between lower second and third ponds). They do that to get the water to evaporate into the air during the hot weather. During my current trip the top pond was dry and the middle was going down leaving some good mud for shorebirds. The Russian River is on the right and you can see the MTA’s maintenance plant to the left. The Russian River provides some good riparian habitat for other birds.
To make an already long story short I found two White Pelicans but missed the Buff-breasted Sandpiper. The pelicans took off just after I got there so this picture is the best I could do.
The sandpiper was seen at 7:43AM that morning. It hasn’t been reported since so I missed it by at least 2 hours. Bummer!!
The rest of the day was spent returning some shoes for my wife at Payless, touring a Kohls (had never been in one before) and doing some shopping at the Home Depot and having lunch at the local Denny’s (food as bad as I remembered but used their WiFi).
Returned to the coast by the southern route and because my truck was in Mendocino instead of Fort Bragg I only had to drive the five miles home. American White Pelican was number 229 for the year.