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Memories of Gray Lodge

White-Faced Ibis - Plegadis chihi

Wildlife preserves in modern times can serve as reminders of how the natural order of life on this planet was intended. The ravenous demands of an ever expanding society have ground through much of the wondrous original landscapes, leaving behind a trail of homogenized, featureless and damaged versions of its former self. This trend is especially obvious in regions of high density populations, such as many areas in California. In the past two centuries we’ve transformed the land from settled islands amid a sea of natural landscapes, into islands of wildness within a sea of civilization. When I travel through California’s Central Valley I try to find these islands of wildness. In the northern reaches of the valley I’ve found three such places within striking distance of each other: Sacramento NWR, Colusa NWR, and the topic of this discussion, Gray Lodge.

Gray Lodge Wildlife Area is a state run reserve of over 9,000 acres used by hunters, fishermen, and nature lovers. Most of the property was once a family farm and ranch, but was designated as a wildlife area by the Fish and Game Commission in 1953. This site sits between the Sacramento River to the west, and the Feather River to its east, and north of Sutter Buttes. The nearest town to this location is Gridley California. I’ve met dabbling ducks, geese, kingfishers, flycatchers, juncos, sparrows, wrens, shorebirds, waders, and others either making homes here or regular visits in season.

I first visited this place on December 2011, but I travelled here again mid September 2017. My mid-winter visit lasted but 2½ hours, hardly enough to reconnoiter the grounds properly. My mid-autumn visit was even more brief, yet each of these visits provided plenty of subjects to entertain me. Both visits were part of a larger area tour involving several sites, so I did not spend the time here it deserves. I believe I will try to make more time for this place in the future.

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