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Sweeping Fall Away

Doug Wilber sweeps leaves along 43rd St. in Sacramento (11/18/17) John Poimiroo

41st St., Sacramento (11/18/17) John Poimiroo

Doug Wilber spent part of his Saturday, much as he has done each Autumn for the past 17 years… raking and sweeping leaves into a pile in front of his Sacramento home.

His neighbors along 43rd St. had or were doing the same when I visited today.

The City of Sacramento calls this time of year, “Leaf Season.” It’s when the city’s fastidious residents rake, sweep and blow leaves from their front yards into piles every few feet along city streets.  Then, every couple of weeks from November through January, city workers come by and scoop them up.

That leaf removal continues for three months in Sacramento tells you just how many trees grow there. This capital city loves its deciduous trees, which provide cooling shade in summer and warming sunlight during winter.

Folsom Bike Trail (11/18/17) John Poimiroo

Mormon Island Wetland Reserve, Folsom (11/18/17) John Poimiroo

Even SMUD, the local public utility, encourages their being planted to save energy. Sacramento County residents are able to get ten free shade trees through a partnership between the Sacramento Tree Foundation and SMUD.

In Sacramento’s Shady Eighty program, residents can choose the desired height, shape, level of water dependency, if the tree flowers, how close or far it might be planted to structures or power lines, and – yes – desired fall color (red, yellow or orange).

Gingko biloba, William Land Regional Park, Sacramento (11/18/17) John Poimiroo

Gingko biloba leaves and clover, Land Park, Sacramento (11/18/17) John Poimiroo

Each year in the week before Thanksgiving, Sacramento streets are layered with canopies of ruby, crimson, orange, gold, yellow, green and buff-colored leaves. It is an impressive sight and worth a trip to Sacramento in addition to its great museums, bars, restaurants and the Freeport Bakery with its famous leaf cookies and other irresistible baked goods.


Roosters, Village Park, Fair Oaks (11/18/17) John Poimiroo

Leaf Cookies, Freeport Bakery, Sacramento (11/18/17) John Poimiroo

My favorite locations for seeing fall color in Sacramento County include: Mormon Island Wetland Reserve and bike trails of Folsom, quaint Fair Oaks where chickens run free, East Sacramento’s Fabulous Forties (Gracious Tudor, Colonial Revival, Arts and Crafts, California Bungalow and other grand homes along tree-lined streets numbered in the 40s), William Land Regional Park in South Sacramento and along the American River Parkway (Jedediah Smith Memorial Trail – a 32-mile paved bike and pedestrian trail from the Sacramento River to Folsom Lake).

Sacramento County – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!


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Butte Beauties

Main and 5th, Downtown Chico (11/11/17) Danie Schwartz

Bold color is being seen throughout Butte County in the northern Sacramento Valley, from Oroville north to Paradise.

Sumac, Biggs (11/12/17) Cindy Lee Hoover

Western redbud, Biggs (11/12/17) Cindy Lee Hoover

Western redbud and valley oak, Biggs (11/12/17) Cindy Lee Hoover

Chinese pistache, Biggs (11/12/17) Cindy Lee Hoover










Biggs Pond (11/12/17) Cindy Lee Hoover

The Midway, Durham (11/11/17) Danie Schwartz

Esplanade, Chico (11/1/17) Danie Schwartz

Paradise Lake (11/12/17) Cindy Lee Hoover

This is the week to see Oroville, Durham, Biggs, Chico and Paradise at peak.  The color will likely last through Thanksgiving day (conditions permitting), though not much longer. Click to enlarge photos.

Black oak, Paradise (11/12/17) Cindy Lee Hoover

  • Oroville’s Sank Park is splashed with yellow gingko, fluorescent Chinese pistache, red-orange redbud and valley oak.
  • Vance Rd. along the Feather River in Biggs is literally dumping leaves of every color.
  • Chinese Pistache along the Midway from Durham north to Chico have transitioned from hot yellow, lime and pink to deep orange and auburn.
  • In Chico, The Esplanade and Main St. are heavy with dark red, orange, yellow and lime color.
  • Paradise is Past Peak, though spots of gold, brown, orange and lime are seen among black and brewers oak.

Butte County – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!





Sank Park, Oroville (11/12/17) Cindy Lee Hoover

Gingko biloba, Sank Park, Oroville (11/12/17) Cindy Lee Hoover

Maple, Sank Park, Oroville (11/12/17) Cindy Lee Hoover

Lott Home, Sank Park, Oroville (11/12/17) Cindy Lee Hoover

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Rainbow Season

Rainbow and Sandhill Cranes, Lodi (11/4/17) Crys Black

California is entering its rainbow season. It runs from autumn through springtime.

When storms are clearing, the best time to see rainbows is when the sun is behind you and you are looking toward rain or mist.

Color spotter Crys Black captured just such a moment at the Sandhill Crane festival (Woodbridge Ecological Reserve, west of Lodi) as sunset approached.

A storm had just departed and illuminated by sunset light in the moist sky were rainbows and Sandhill Cranes. The latter were returning to the reserve to spend the night safe from predators.

Rainbow season provides all sorts of moments in which to be inspired by nature’s beauty.

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Color Spotting Starts Early

Dogwood, Durham (11/9/17) Paige Kermen

Color spotting need not be done or appreciated only by grown ups. Paige Kermen, age 7, proves that with her photograph of dogwood, dripping with red in Durham.

Good eye, Paige. You can now say your photography has been published.

This Sacramento Valley farm town, south of Chico, is peaking as walnut orchards turn golden, sycamore turn chartreuse and the last of California’s dogwood are heavy with bright red berries.

Durham – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!

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Autumn Accipiters and Asteraceae

Redtail Hawk (11/5/17) Robert Kermen

Ferruginous Hawk (11/5/17) Robert Kermen

Coopers Hawk (11/5/17) Robert Kermen

Robert Kermen was looking skyward to find these hawks watching him from autumn posts spare of leaves.

Accipiters are the largest genus of birds, writes Encyclopaedia Brittanica, with more than 50 species of falconiform birds.

Kermen found these on one morning in Northern California. Though, many others have been attracted to Northern California to prey on migratory waterfowl.

In autumn, hundreds of thousands of duck, geese and other migratory birds pass through the Central Valley, providing a flying feast for these raptors.

After looking skyward, Robert looked down to see another form of living autumn color in full bloom…  exotic Asteraceae, a flower native to South Africa.

Central Valley Flyways – Peak (75-100%) – GO NOW!

Kiss Bronze Star Gazania (11/5/17) Robert Kermen




Lake Camanche Begins to Perc

Monument RV Park, South Shore, Lake Camanche (10/31/17) Terry Willard

When the Central Valley begins to perc, Terry Willard at Lake Camanche is one of the first to report.

Lake Camanche is a popular destination east of Lodi, known for camping, fishing and just getting away. In autumn, the lake’s shimmering waters are lit with the reflections of autumn colors from exotic tree of heaven, Chinese pistache, flowering pear and plums.

South Shore, Lake Camanche (10/31/17) Terry Willard

Tree of Heaven, South Shore, Lake Camanche (10/31/17) Terry Willard

Native cottonwood are now crested with bright yellow and Valley oaks have not yet turned.

Lake Camanche, Ione – Patchy


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Color or B&W?

Black oak, Hideaway Rd., Greenville (10/29/17) Jeff Luke Titcomb

Black oak, Hideaway Rd., Greenville (10/29/17) Jeff Luke Titcomb

Jeff Luke Titcomb reports that black oak are peaking in Greenville (Plumas County) along Hideaway Rd.

Nancy Hull found red, orange, yellow and lime ash peaking near the Colusa Unified School playground.

Jeff says the oak look good even without their color. Which do you prefer: color, or black & white?

Greenville, Plumas County – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!

Colusa – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!



Ash, Colusa Unified School (10/29/17) Nancy Hull




Ash, Colusa Unified School (10/29/17) Nancy Hull

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Shasta Cascade on Pace for Early Peak

Cottonwood, Westwood (9/29/17) Chris Gallagher

Unlike the Eastern Sierra, which is a week to two late, we’re getting early reports of fall color from the Northern Sierra and Cascades.

Admittedly, the color is at the starting to patchy phase, but still, the photos don’t lie. Even valley locations in the northern Central Valley, like Colusa, are showing early color.

We’re not close to issuing a GO NOW! alert, as too few photos have been received to indicate a trend, though will be watching closely. What a weird year!

Westwood (Lassen County) – Patchy (10-50%) – Chris Gallagher, Lassen County District 1 Supervisor, sent a photo of patchy cottonwood near a Westwood barn to score a First Report. Westwood was a lumber mill town, east of Lake Almanor and beside the lovely (bring your kayak) Mountain Meadows Reservoir and Dyer Mountain, the northernmost point in the Sierra Nevada.

Fall River (9/29/17) Martha Fletcher

Fall River – Patchy (10-50%) – Martha Fletcher reports that the Fall River area, particularly Upper Fall River near the Spinner Fall Lodge remains Patchy with the color at 50% and showing shades of yellow, gold, some reds and green from willow, black oak and river grasses.

Mountain Ash, Colusa (9/29/17) Nancy Hull

Colusa – Patchy (10-50%) – Mountain ash have brightened in Colusa (Central Valley), Nancy Hull reports. Several National Wildlife Refuges are located near Colusa, which is a great location for wildlife viewing in autumn.



Special Report: Sandhill Cranes

Sandhill Cranes, Woodbridge Ecological Reserve (11/10/16) John Poimiroo

Sandhill Cranes, Woodbridge Ecological Reserve (11/10/16) John Poimiroo

As trucks and motorist sped by silently in the distance at dusk, the Sandhill Cranes began arriving by the thousands.

Sandhill Cranes, Woodbridge Ecological Reserve (11/10/16) John Poimiroo

Sandhill Cranes, Woodbridge Ecological Reserve (11/10/16) John Poimiroo

Sandhill Cranes, Woodbridge Ecological Reserve (11/10/16) John Poimiroo

Sandhill Cranes, Woodbridge Ecological Reserve (11/10/16) John Poimiroo

Black ribbons of the big birds could be seen above the horizon at first.

Then, they shouted as they flew in, trumpeting, squawking and cawing as they descended and found the perfect spot in the middle of the wetland to stand together, feed and guard each other from foxes and coyotes that might be hidden in the grass along its edge.

This scene has been replayed each autumn night for millions of years. Seeing it is a touchstone to eternity and to the essence of life in California.

The spectacle is free at a number of Central Valley and northeastern Shasta Cascade wildlife areas. Some of these areas require guided escort. Others are open 24/7.




Sandhill Cranes can be recognized in flight by their fully extended necks and feet and on terra firma by their red crowns, that contrasts with the ash-gray of their long-legged, long-necked bodies. A white cheek and black legs and toes signify mature cranes, a California Fish and Wildlife folder advises.

CLICK HERE to learn more about crane tours and how to find their wildlife refuges.

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Another Great Autumn Sunset

Folsom Lake (11/8/16) John Poimiroo

Blue oak, Folsom Lake (11/8/16) John Poimiroo