Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area Sunset - taken December 1st, 2017
Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area Sunset – Taken 12-1-17

Exploring the Yolo Bypass

The Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area is one of the lesser known gems of the Sacramento region. It comprises just under 17,000 acres on the east side of Davis, CA, bordered by Highway 80 on the north side, and essentially goes to West Sacramento on the east side. Although many people only tour the area in their cars, there are also many miles of walking trails to explore.

For photographers, the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area is a wonderland to explore. The variety of subjects available is virtually unequaled in the area. If you are into wildlife photography, you will never have a dull moment exploring. You will find many varieties of water fowl, shorebirds, songbirds, and raptors. If you are lucky, a few weeks a year, you can see the elusive yellow-headed blackbird. I have also seen river otters, beavers, coyote, and deer.

Wildflowers and Bats a Plenty

The wildflowers bring in a variety of butterflies and plenty of bees. The area is also a haven for dragonflies and damselflies. One of the most impressive animal features in the area, are the 250,000 Mexican free-tail bats that call the underside of the freeway home during the summer. The evening fly-outs are truly a sight! If you stay to watch the bats in the evenings, you might also see a peregrine falcon hunting the bats as they fly out. One exciting evening, I saw a falcon take down four bats.

Wildlife is is far from the only reason to explore the area. Although sunrise can be very nice in the Yolo Bpyass Wildlife Area, the sunsets can be breathtaking. Late in the year, when there can be an abundance of clouds to reflect off the shallow waters, you can see amazing reflections and colors.

Great blue heron in the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area.

My favorite subjects to photograph

Some of my favorite subjects in the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area, are also some of the most common to see. It is uncommon to visit the area without seeing a good number of great egrets, and snowy egrets too. Not quite as common, but often seen, are great blue herons. Once you get familiar with their behaviors, getting good captures is not overly difficult.

Even with all the other birds, animals, and sights to see at the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area, I will drop everything when I spot american white pelicans. They spend a good portion of the year in the area. They are excellent at finding places to hide in plain view. Once you find them though, you can often find them again.

There are so many reasons to visit the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area over and over again. No matter how often I go, it is never the same twice, and I can always expect a few surprises.

American White Pelican floating along in the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area
American White Pelican

Yolo Bypass Area Map
Yolo Bypass Area Website