Egrets, herons, and you

It's nesting season for the birds of Bolinas ― prime time to get a good look
Rachel Levin

Not often do you get a chance to see flocks of 2- to 4-foot creatures with wingspans of up to 6 feet engaged in daily routines like gathering sticks for nests. Or the plume displaying, twig shaking, crooning, and bill clappering that take place during courtship.

Or the flailing and crash-landing of young chicks embarking on their first flights in June or July. But at the Audubon Canyon Ranch's Bolinas Lagoon Preserve, you might see all that and more.

Even locals who have cruised this curvy stretch of State 1 for years are often so captivated by Bolinas Lagoon that they drive right by the 1,000-acre preserve at Audubon Canyon Ranch.

That's a shame, especially since this month through mid-July is the annual nesting season, when great egrets, snowy egrets, and great blue herons set up temporary shop atop 100-foot-tall redwoods, as they've been doing for the past century or so. And you get a bird's-eye view from platforms mounted with high-powered scopes. Until you grow wings, this is as close to the birds as you can ever hope to get.

Info:  Audubon Canyon Ranch (10-4 Sat-Sun and holidays from Mar 18-Jul 17; free, but donations suggested; 4900 State 1; 415/868-9244)