Have fun outdoors with hikes and bird watching opportunities in Fairfield

[caption id="attachment_1343" align="alignnone" width="1000"]A raptor tour hike at Lynch Canyon A raptor tour hike at Lynch Canyon[/caption]


Fairfield's wet and rainy season is officially here but even in the fall and winter months, there are still many adventures that can be found outside. The Solano Land Trust, a non-profit that protects natural areas, working farms, and ranchlands throughout Solano County, offers hikes, bird watching, volunteer opportunities and other activities year-round at its five properties. These areas include Rush Ranch, Lynch Canyon and Rockville Trails Preserve - all popular outdoor destinations here in Fairfield. The organization's website, www.solanolandtrust.org, is full of information on how you can get involved, volunteer or take part in one of the many outdoor adventures. Here is just a sample of some of the upcoming activities.



Saturday, Dec. 6: NATURE HIKE, King-Swett Ranches, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Come explore the hills between Fairfield, Benicia, and Vallejo! You'll be led by Jim Walsh and/or James Chang, both expert Solano Land Trust guides who know this area—known as the King-Swett Ranches—inside out. During this free hike, guides will share insights about the birds and other wildlife that call this area home, and also give visitors a great workout! Take advantage of this special opportunity if you can because the King-Swett Ranches are otherwise closed. This hike is typically scheduled on the first Saturday of most months.

Meet Jim and/or James promptly at the (unmarked) Park-and-Ride lot where McGary Road, Hiddenbrooke Parkway, and American Canyon Road intersect (on the Hiddenbrooke side of the American Canyon/Hiddenbrooke Parkway exit, off Interstate 80). Be ready to immediately carpool or caravan from there to the trailhead.

Only very heavy rain cancels—call Jim at 916-870-4824 if the weather is uncertain. RSVP (appreciated, not required) to Jim Walsh at 916-870-4824 or james.walsh@landcare.com.


Sun, Dec. 7: BIRDS OF PREY IDENTIFICATION AND NATURAL HISTORY HIKE, Lynch Canyon, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Join Larry Broderick and the Solano Land Trust Raptor Team for a hiking tour featuring resident and over-wintering birds of prey. Previous sightings include golden eagles, bald eagles, rough-legged hawks, Cooper's hawks, sharp-shinned hawks, ferruginous hawks, peregrine falcons, prairie falcons and other more common birds of prey.

Broderick brings over 25 years of experience studying, researching, identifying, rescuing and rehabilitating birds of prey. Over the last decade he has been sharing his love of hawks on these Solano Land Trust birds of prey hikes and tours. He’s a gifted and entertaining teacher who is anxious to share his knowledge of and passion for raptors with anyone who is interested. He distinguishes a ferruginous hawk from a red-tailed hawk and a prairie falcon from a peregrine falcon from great distances. He is known to demonstrate the wing beat movements and wing configuration patterns of different species by using his spread arms.

All ages are welcome but they must be prepared for a slow-to-moderate pace covering about four miles. The route includes rugged, steep, and slippery hills that are full of sticky seeds and thorny plants. Expect rough, rocky, uneven ground. This is a working ranch where free-range cattle roam as they please. Maintain a safe distance from cattle and wildlife. There is no drinking water and participants are encouraged to bring a backpack with water and snacks.

Extreme weather cancels (e.g., heavy rain). Call Mary Beth Crittendon at (707) 685-5908 if the weather is uncertain.

COST: $10 per person (payable when registering) plus $5 per vehicle (payable at the park). Advance registration required at http://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/event?oeidk=a07e9q0ainp4940c6ee&llr=k4v5ckmab

[caption id="attachment_1212" align="alignnone" width="960"]photo by Tom Muehleisen photo by Tom Muehleisen[/caption]


Saturday, Dec. 13: HIKE FOR EXERCISE AND THE VIEWS, Rockville Trails Preserve, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Hike through beautiful California oaks on this winter morning with Solano Land Trust volunteer Jim Hanser. Get some exercise on the hills, appreciate great views of the surrounding valleys, and listen to the music of the birds and squirrels.

Since there is no parking lot at Rockville Trails Preserve, please meet your guide promptly and be ready to leave immediately from the big red "Ice House" building on Suisun Vly Ct, near the southeast corner of the Rockville Rd. and Suisun Valley Rd. intersection, behind La Barista Espresso, Fairfield, CA. Park beside the red barn. A Rockville Trails Preserve docent will be there to greet you. Be ready to carpool from there to the trailhead. Be prepared for a 4 to 6 mile hike at a moderate pace. All ages are welcome, but you must be prepared to hike at this pace on rough, rocky, uneven ground. The route includes rugged, steep, and slippery hills that may be full of sticky seeds and thorny plants. Some travel may be off-trail.

RSVP appreciated online at conta.cc/1tFGKmE. For questions, call Jim at 707-372-6090.


Saturday, Dec. 20: GET THE RUSH, Rush Ranch, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Get the Rush is a series of free and fun activities for the whole family, offered on the third Saturday of every month at Rush Ranch. All ages and mobility levels are welcome! This event is 100% volunteer-run. Timing and activities vary month-to-month based on volunteer availability and the weather. From November to March, the working blacksmith shop is open to visitors. Although the wagons are in storage for the winter, other activities will be available, depending on volunteer availability and the weather. Guests are encouraged to bring water, snacks and picnic lunches. Get the Rush is made possible by Rush Ranch Educational Council, Access Adventure, and Solano Land Trust volunteers.


Saturday, Dec. 20: FALL INTO WINTER BIRDING HIKE, Lynch Canyon, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Join Solano Land Trust volunteers on this last day of fall for a hiking tour featuring resident and over-wintering birds, especially birds of prey. Previous sightings include golden eagles, bald eagles, rough-legged hawks, Cooper's hawks, sharp-shinned hawks, ferruginous hawks, peregrine falcons, prairie falcons and other more common birds of prey and migratory songbirds. The hike is free but parking is $5 per vehicle.

Meet guides in the parking lot before 10 a.m. All ages are welcome but they must be prepared for a slow-to-moderate pace covering about 4 miles. The route includes rugged, steep, and slippery hills that are full of sticky seeds and thorny plants. Expect rough, rocky, uneven ground.

REGISTRATION. An RSVP is requested (not required) to Mary Beth at mbcrittendon@comcast.net or (707) 685-5908. Extreme weather cancels. Call Mary Beth if the weather is uncertain.

For more information on these hikes and other activities and volunteer opportunities available through the Solano Land Trust, visit http://www.solanolandtrust.org/