By Joe Watson

What you see when you come out to volunteer with The Habitat restoration Team (HRT) depends on whether you’re looking up or down. Saturday’s job description required looking up and trimming some overreaching branches along our public pathways. With loppers and pruners in hand, the crew headed out across The Savanna on a spectacular sunny day. Looking down, HRT members Vic and Jane pointed out some native wildflowers and grasses to our newer members only to be interrupted by a chorus of migrating Sandhill Cranes flying overhead.
As we approached the Cosumnes River, the canopy began to close in as it has wanted to do. It didn’t take long before we came across our only “widow maker” for the day. A widow maker is a term used to describe a large broken branch of a tree or the tree itself that is about to fall on an unsuspecting passerby. One of the jobs of the HRT is to make the Cosumnes River Preserve a safe experience. Living in harmony with Nature means making the relationship between Mother Nature and humans a safe and happy one. This dangerous broken branch was small enough for our experienced volunteers to take down.
This Saturday we were close enough to The Barn to enjoy our lunch sitting at our portable picnic tables. After lunch, our task was to hunt down the invasive alien Milk thistles growing around the seasonal wetlands by The Barn. We maintain these wetlands for migrating birds like the Sandhill Cranes we saw earlier that morning.
Unwilling to be outdone by the cranes, the breeding swallows put on quite a display as they competed for the nest boxes we had erected on poles in the water near the edges of these large ponds. The areal acrobatics of the swallows looked more like the sorties of fighter jets than the mussel flexing of feathered suitors.
If you’re interested in visiting the inner workings of The Preserve, you will have to sign up for a workday and get your hands dirty. If we were to open all of the gates and trails through out The Preserve for all of the nature tourist that visit The Preserve, the wildlife would go somewhere else for the business of life. But, The Restoration team does look forward to your company the next time you have a Saturday to give Mother Nature a helping hand. 

Crossing the Savannah
Looking up for Cranes
Buttercup (Ranunculus californicus)
Cranes Flying North
“Widowmaker” overhanging the trail
Lunch at The Barn
Hunting for Milk Thistles
Hunting for Milk Thistles
Hunting for Milkthistles
Swallows Battle for Nest Boxes
Swallow Imitates a Fighter Jet
Jim Unclogs the Water Level Control
Looking Up or Looking Down

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