During a recent visit to California, it was great to meet up with former Ducks Unlimited colleague Andy Engilis, and to re-visit two key waterbird sites in the delta of the Central Valley. Last seen in 2001, managed wetlands at Cosumnes River Conservation Preserve and the Yolo Creek By-pass Wildlife Area have matured very well. The visit in mid-autumn coincided with the first waves of over-wintering waterbirds arriving to seek respite from cooler northern temperatures. We saw large flocks of cackling geese (like a smaller version of Canada geese) weaving across the sky and groups of sandhill cranes grazing in the fields and grasslands, all within sight of downtown Sacramento.
Andy is now based at UC Davis and Curator of the amazing Museum of Wildlife and Fish Biology, with rows of cabinets filled with drawers of specimens, like bats, humming birds, waterbirds, even a cabinet with a lion skin, leopard skin and tiger skin in successive drawers! He teaches mammology, ornithology, icthyology and herpetology, and has inherited ‘orphan’ collections from other institutions, making the UC Davis museum collection one of the best in the US! Meeting some of his students, it seems he is an inspirational teacher, as well as being a dedicated birdwatcher. Andy combines all these interests into research projects to understand use patterns and habitat needs of birds using the managed regional wetlands. Thanks for an inspiring visit!