S13. WHITE SLOUGH, VALLEJO
Most resource agencies and Vallejo residents consider White Slough vacant wetlands; however, unique circumstances make this area one of the best birdwatching spots in Solano County. In 1964 a nearby levee was breached. The Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) repaired the breach with the understanding that the property owners were to be responsible for levee maintenance. In 1969, the levee breached and was repaired by the Corps again. During the winters of 1976, 1977 and 1978, the levees along the Napa River failed again. During these years the Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) became involved and claimed the land, since any historically diked wetland in the San Francisco Bay Area, flooded for more than one year, reverts back to the State of California and is thus, under BCDC jurisdiction. A proposed State Highway 37 widening project may prevent visits to the north side of the highway in the distant future. In the meantime, witness how quickly a wetland forms naturally without any management. It is
now an area teeming with wildlife. Relish intimate views of birds in a short time and at all seasons of the year.
Location: White Slough lies between the Napa River to the west and Delta Meadows residential area to the north, Sonoma Blvd. (Hwy 29) to the east and Redwood and Sacramento Streets in Vallejo to the south. The wetlands encompass about 820 acres, with State Hwy 37 bisecting it into 440 acres toward the northwest and 380 toward the southeast. NCA&G grid: Page 94 C3.
Habitats: Fresh water and brackish marshes; tidal areas, muddy shores; residential areas.
Birding the Area:
From the parking lot behind the commercial property at 490 Redwood Street: the sign at the entrance, Redwood Square Parking is at the west side of the commercial property.
From the western parking lot of the commercial property at 700 Sereno Street: the lot is adjacent to Sonoma Blvd.
From the west end of Sereno Drive that lies just west of the intersection with Sonoma Blvd.
North of the parking lot of the commercial property on the northwestern corner of the intersection of Hwy 37 and Hwy 29 (Sonoma Blvd.): the parking lot is chained off and entry must be made on foot.
From the south end of Enterprise Street: access Enterprise Street from Yolano Street going west from Sonoma Blvd.
Small parking area on the north side of Hwy 37 just west of White Slough Bridge: parking at this spot is extremely hazardous during commuting hours due to heavy, fast-moving vehicular traffic.
Small parking area on southeast corner of the intersection of Hwy 37 and Sacramento Street: parking at this spot is hazardous because of traffic and because it is immediately adjacent to a construction site.
Caution! Some access points begin from private lands. Fishermen, hikers and birdwatchers currently have no problem gaining access. However, permission to pass could change.
Best Birding: Any season can provide surprises and unusual sightings.
Birds of Interest: White Slough probably produces more birds now on the Federal and California Endangered, Threatened, or Protected lists than anywhere in Napa and Solano Counties. These include the Brown Pelican, Tundra Swan, White-tailed Kite, Golden Eagle, Peregrine Falcon, nesting Black Rail and Clapper Rail, Least Tern, Common Yellowthroat, subspecies Geothylpis trichas sinuosa and Western Snowy Plover.
The quiet lagoon is a great place to sort out Clark’s and Western Grebes. Assorted waterfowl and shorebirds abound during migration, including Red Knot in spring. Killdeer, Black‑necked Stilt, Mallard, Ruddy Duck and Forster’s Tern nest on the islands in May and June. During the summer Caspian and Forster’s Terns and Double‑crested Cormorant nest on Knight Island. Passerines include Song Sparrow, subspecies Melospiza melodia samuelis. For those doing a county list, this is one of the best places to see Ruddy Turnstone, Elegant Tern, Black Skimmer, Brant and Barrow’s Goldeneye.