Saturday, 13 April 2024

Cache Creek's bald eagles on display during BLM hikes

CACHE CREEK – Winter brings with it an opportunity to view amazing wildlife in Lake County.

The Bureau of Land Management will host free guided hikes on Saturdays in January and February to view wintering bald eagles in Lake County's Cache Creek Natural Area.

Hikes will be held Jan. 16, 23 and 30, and Feb. 6, 13, 20 and 27.

The California Department of Fish and Game reported that the bald eagle is a regular winter visitor in the Cache Creek area, where they can be seen roosting or soaring from mid October through mid August.

California state law classifies the bald eagle as a “fully protected bird.” The bald eagle was added to the federal list of endangered species in 1967, and to the California list of endangered species in 1971 after its numbers dropped to 30 nesting pairs in California.

Use of the pesticide DDT was reported to have had the most effect on the bald eagle's population, although numerous other impacts also were reported to have dropped its numbers, including habitat changes because of timber harvests, agriculture, poisoning and shootings, according to the Department of Fish and Game.

Lake County is reported to have two nesting territories for bald eagles, one in the far north and the second in far south at the Napa County line, according to state records.

Fish and Game also reported that bald eagle numbers and the territories they inhabit also are increasing across the state.

Participants in the January and February hikes will meet at the Redbud Trailhead parking area, eight miles east of Clearlake Oaks on Highway 20 at 10 a.m. The trailhead is just west of the North Fork Cache Creek Bridge (38° 59' 13.20" N, 122° 32' 22.50" W).

The four-mile hikes last three to four hours. The trail includes a steep 600-foot climb in the first mile, so hikers should be in good physical condition.

Hikers should wear sturdy hiking boots suitable for wet conditions and dress for cold weather. They should carry water, a lunch and binoculars, as most eagle sightings are at a distance. Hikes will be canceled in rainy weather.

Those who join the hikes will enjoy scenic vistas of the Cache Creek Canyon, where eagles often soar over the creek or perch in streamside trees. Participants often spot other wildlife including tule elk, golden eagles, osprey, herons, red-tailed hawks and egrets.

Those interested in participating should reserve space for a specific date by calling the BLM Ukiah Field Office, 707-468-4000.

Early reservations are suggested for the popular hikes, which are limited to 25 participants each.

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