Everyone knows that birds fly south for the winter. So that means winter must be on the way.
Migratory sandhill cranes made their first appearance in the San Joaquin Valley on Aug. 25, as Department of Fish and Game docent Esther Milnes-Schmierer spotted a group of eight to 10 feeding during a birdwatching tour. Other crane sightings were reported shortly thereafter, well in advance of their usual arrival in mid-September.
"I think 2012 sets a record for earliest arrival," said Gary Ivey, Western Conservation Manager of the the International Crane Foundation.
One of the best places to view sandhill cranes is at the Woodbridge Ecological Reserve near Lodi. From October through February, the DFG offers guided tours on the first three weekends of each month.
Go to dfg.ca.gov/delta/cranetour/ for details and registration.
Smokey Bear Run
Where: Bass Lake
Following a three-month hiatus, the 2012 Valley Runner of the Year Series resumes with this 25th annual race that starts and finishes at Recreation Point.
The 10-kilometer main event (8:30 a.m.) is worth 20 series points, preceded by a 2-mile run/walk (8:15) and three kids races (starting at 7:45). Details: smokeybearrun.com/.
Tour de Fresno
Where: Start/finish at California Armenian Home (6720 E. Kings Canyon Road, Fresno).
Choose from five rides, ranging from 18 to 110 miles, at this fourth annual charity event that showcases the scenery and cities of Fresno County. Rest stops and SAG support are provided, along with a chicken kebab lunch. The longer rides begin at 7 a.m. The 18-mile scenic ride starts at 10.
Online registration closes today at signmeup.com. Those who wait until Saturday will be charged a $10 late fee.
News & notes
- Rangers at Hensley Lake are seeking volunteers to assist on improvement and beautification projects Sept. 29, which is National Public Lands Day. Meet at 8 a.m. at the Buck Ridge Recreation Area. Lunch will be provided. Bring appropriate work clothing. Details: Nick Figueroa, (559) 673-5151 or email@example.com.
- Help clean Yosemite National Park after a busy summer during the ninth annual Yosemite Facelift. Check in Sept. 26-30 at the Valley Visitor Center from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. or Sept. 28-30 at the Wilderness Center in Tuolumne Meadows. Litter sticks, trash bags and safety vests provided. Volunteers receive a ticket for a daily 5 p.m. raffle.
- Mountain recreation lakes in the Big Creek Hydroelectric Project will be drawn down to lower-than-usual levels this fall and winter. Huntington Lake will be at 50% by the end of the month with Edison and Florence both at 5%.