The lesser sandhill crane and the greater sandhill crane winter from September to February in the Central Valley from Chico to Pixley. The greatest concentrations of cranes are in the central east Delta (around the Cosumnes Preserve), the Merced Grasslands and Pixley regions, and the Chico-Marysville area.
They are one of the oldest living bird species, and eat insects, small animals and grains. The cranes have adapted to modern agriculture as their natural habitat has diminished and now show a strong preference for cornfields and other agricultural landscapes where they can find a high concentration of food.
The cranes roost in habitat consisting of wetlands or flooded agricultural fields and prefer around 3 inches of standing water. Farmers and wetlands managers in Northern California intentionally keep some of their land flooded to attract cranes and other waterfowl.
There is a terrific very short video from the Wall Street Journal that explains how the tunnel boring machines work. These tunnel boring machines (TBMs) will be used to build the proposed Delta water conveyance. Fascinating.
The proposed tunnels will start at the intakes at Hood and travel 150 feet below ground to Clifton Court Forebay. Currently, two 40 foot side-by-side tunnels are planned to move the water using gravity flow.
We launched at B&W Marina on Brannan Island Road about 10 a.m. on a beautiful weekday. There were few other boaters on the river and the sun was shining and slight breeze kept us from getting too hot.
I have to confess that I am not a boater. However, I love spending the day outdoors and anytime that you can be out in the Delta (and call it work!) is a good day. We saw other boaters stopping at a beach to swim and jet ski, others were fishing, and my fellow boaters say that sometimes they stop and swim.
Stopping to eat and drink is also a big part of the boating experience. There are a number of marinas along the way. Take a GPS, though. The monotony of the rip-rapped levees make it so you are never sure where you are.
If you are boating in the South Delta, then Union Point Marina Bar & Grill is a pleasant spot for lunch or drinks. Recently I was in a group of 10 boating on a weekday. We stopped for lunch about 1:00 p.m. The deserted deck made us wonder if the restaurant was open. It was open and we ordered at the bar, which allowed us to pay individually. In a short time we were sitting under the awning on the deck enjoying a variety of good food.
Everyone was very satisfied with my food, except me. I ordered the special ceasar salad and while the chicken was perfect, the lettuce was a little wilted and the dressing too heavy. My friends liked the fish and chips, hamburgers, and everything else. In fact, we tried most of the menu and we enjoyed it all.
The Union Point Marina is at the southern end of Bacon Island. If you are travelling by car, it is on Highway 4 between Stockton and Discovery Bay.