THE CREAGRUS CALIFORNIA COUNTIES PROJECT
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Sutter County
all photos & text by Don Roberson
all photos taken in California
Ash-throated Flycatcher dives on Swainson's Hawk
early morning 23 June 2006 at Bobelaine Audubon Sanctuary
Sutter County is a small county in the Sacramento Valley. It was one of the original 27 counties in 1850 but it got chopped down to its current size within a year, when Placer County was created in 1851. Although named for John Sutter, whose employee, John Marshall, discovered gold along the American River in 1848 in what is today El Dorado County, this county never had gold. It is an agricultural county; its primary city is Yuba City. The Sutter Buttes, a geological anomaly in the flat wide valley, anchor its northwestern corner and provide interesting habitat (alas, almost all of it is in private hands). Otherwise the county is mostly agricultural land, with use ranging from orchards to grazing. The Butte Sink and bottomlands along the Sacramento River, bordering its western edge, host many winter waterfowl. There is also nice riparian habitat along the Feather River, particularly at Bobelaine Audubon Sanctuary.
    County birding statistics and links are on Joe Morlan's site.
    My headline photo for Sutter County comes from Bobelaine Audubon Sanctuary. We arrived with the early morning sun hitting a backlit Swainson's Hawk that was being dive-bombed by a succession of smaller birds, including Ash-throated Flycatchers (this shot but both members of a pair were involved) and Bullock's Orioles. Two other photos from Bobelaine that date (23 June 2006) are below: a singing male Blue Grosbeak (below left; appears to be a first-summer male) and a Canada Goose swimming on the Feather River. The latter was probably part of the introduced population of "Lesser Canada Goose" which now live in urban areas throughout the State, and not one of the many migrants that grace the wildlife refuges in winter.
Sutter County is one of the few Sacramento Valley counties that does not have much habitat beyond the ag land, marshes, and rivers of the Central Valley. It does not have significant swathes of foothills or mountains as do all the other counties up this way. So here's a shot of agricultural land (upper photo, below) this one showing mostly orchards and a bottom photo of the fine oak woodlands and oxbow lakes at Bobelaine Audubon Sanctuary (both shots 23 June 2003)
All photos & text © 2006 Don Roberson; all rights reserved.

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Page created 20 Mar 2006, updated 13 July 2006