Birds, wildflowers, trails & vistas: Activities happening at South Yuba River State Park | TheUnion.com

Birds, wildflowers, trails & vistas: Activities happening at South Yuba River State Park

Submitted to The Union

Spring at the South Yuba River State Park is the time of the year when a large number of birds arrive to nest and raise their young or, in some cases, to break before continue their migration. Some of the more notable arrivals include: Bullock's Oriole, Yellow-breasted Chat, Ash-throated Flycatcher, Black-headed Grosbeak, Yellow Warbler and several varieties of swallows.

Resident Western Bluebirds, Spotted Towhee, California Quail, and several species of woodpeckers are also often seen this time of year. It may also be possible to see our annual pair of nesting Bald Eagles and their young as well as the elusive American Dipper, John Muir's favorite bird.

Bird walks with park docents are offered at South Yuba River State Park's Bridgeport location the second Saturday of each month (April 14, May 19 and June 9). There is also a walk at the same location on Friday, May 4.

Typically, you should see 20 to 30 species. All of the walks will begin at 8 a.m. except for June which will begin at 7:30 a.m.

The walks last about two hours over mostly flat terrain. Meet at the Bridgeport north parking lot (where the Buttermilk Bend trail starts). Bring binoculars and good walking shoes.

Wildflower update

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A guided walk on the Buttermilk Bend Trail will take place at 11 a.m. Saturdays and Sundays through Mother's Day, May 13.

Flowers seen on the walk this week: Poppies, Hill Lotus, Lupin, Larkspur, Pipevine, Lace Pods, Pretty Faces, Bird's Eye Gilia, Bulb Iris, Silver Puff, Redbud, Miner's Lettuce, Fiddle-Neck, Buttercups, Popcorn Flower, and Caterpillar Facilia.

Stop by the Bridgeport Visitor Center (open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday through Sunday) to pick up a free copy of the plant list or to buy the booklet with photos of the most common flowers. There is also an expanded book with wildflower photos and more details about the flowers.

Point Defiance Loop Trail hikes

If hiking is more your speed, then try a guided hike to Point Defiance. The hike is a three-mile loop trail that requires moderate hiking skills as it passes through varied habitats.

The Pt. Defiance Loop Trail begins across from the North Parking Lot, approximately three miles, and ascends through exquisite Blue Oak Woodland, studded with such wildflowers as Western Buttercup, Blue Dicks and Pacific Sanicle.

Continuing through mixed forest canopy, you will cross over a saddle to a gated, dirt road to descend the shady, north slope above the Middle Fork of the Yuba River. Big Leaf Maples, Madrone trees, Ponderosa Pines and shrubs line the road in this Lower Conifer Forest. Here you can look for some special treasures: flowers that are different from those found on the Buttermilk Bend Trail.

Fairy Lanterns and Fawn Lilies plus ferns and mosses might be seen, as well as Bowl-tubed Iris, Grand Hound's Tongue and hanging gardens of Indian Pinks.

About two miles into the hike, the road ends at Pt. Defiance at the confluence of the Middle and South Forks of the Yuba River, where there is a Bureau of Land Management campground that is only reached by hiking or boating. Turning east, the trail narrows and goes up-and-down over rocks through a Riparian Forest.

There is a myriad of lovely wildflowers among the trees and flowering shrubs as the trail winds back toward the covered bridge. Along with views of the South Yuba River, you may see the resident Bald Eagles in or near their nest. The guided hike typically takes three to four hours, but walkers can forge ahead to return to the parking lot at will. State Parks Parking fee applies.

The hikes will start at 9:30 a.m. Thursday, April 19 & May 17.

Walkers are advised to bring drinking water, sunscreen and a hat for all of these activities.

Visit http://www.southyubariverstatepark.org website for more information and brochures.

For more information on any of the activities happening contact South Yuba River State Park at 530-432-2546.

Source: South Yuba River State Park

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