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LAKE COUNTY – On Jan. 1, welcome in 2011 with a celebration walk with park docent and birder extraordinaire Brad Barnwell in Clear Lake State Park, 5300 Soda Bay Road, Kelseyville.
Early January is an excellent time to experience winter in the park.
The walk will start at 8:30 a.m. from the visitor center ramp. This is a great starting point for the walk as early arrivals have a great opportunity to survey the bird activity in this area and late arrivals can see in which direction the group is going and quickly join in.
Listening is a great way to begin this activity.
There are a dozen species of woodpeckers on the Birds of Lake County List, and most common are the acorn woodpecker and our only brown backed woodpecker, the northern flicker.
Nuttall’s and downy woodpeckers are fairly common. Knowing the distinctive calls and drumming patterns of woodpeckers help in locating them for observation.
A sound very often heard in the park is the heavy drumming of the pileated woodpecker. A number of years ago, this crow-sized bird was a rare visitor to the park, but now regularly feeds and nests in the park. Its length can be up to 19 inches. Both sexes have a massive red crest. Barnwell will explain the difference in plumage that distinguishes the male from the female.
Whether or not this species is seen, you will see where it has stripped bark from trees to feed on wood-boring insects and where it has excavated roosting and nesting cavities.
Pileateds may also be seen digging in the ground for a variety of insects. Acorns, seeds of tree cones and a variety of fruits are included in its diet. All of these are abundant in the park.
There is no entrance fee to the park for participating in walks. All ages are welcome. Binoculars and a pocket bird guide always add to the experience. Rain cancels the walk.
Visit www.clearlakestatepark.org for great photos, activity schedule and park information provided by Clear Lake State Park Interpretive Association.