We turned north from Sandymush Rd onto Lone Tree Rd. We searched and searched for a way into access Duck Slough #3 and the other named colonies. We went up to Shippee Rd and tried to loop down to S Quinley via (Ventura - Bert Crane Rd (off Merced 6 map) but Ventura Rd was locked. So we turned back south on Lone Tree Rd and stopped near a water crossing that appeared to be connected to Duck Slough #3. There was a very narrow dirt levee road along that water, going west of Lone Tree Rd. The road was not gated nor marked as private. We scanned from Lone Tree Rd and we spotted foraging lines to the west of Lone Tree Rd very near where Duck Slough #3 should be. So we decided to chance driving out on the narrow levee road. We were happy to be driving a vehicle with decent ground clearance but also narrow enough to navigate that road. Conditions were dry. That road should not be taken in wet or recently wet conditions.
As we drove west on the levee road, it turned south and we could clearly see a large area where a colony was located!
37 12 15.7N 120 35 53.5W
Note, while we were not clearly on Merced NWR land, the colony did appear to be. A barbed wire fence separated use from the colony and it appeared the Merced NWR was on the other side of this fence.
The foraging lines may have been using the same dairy as the Merced NWR West Farmfield colony we saw earlier (south of Sandymush Rd) but there was also a dairy on Lone Tree Rd.
This colony had peripheral activity of other blackbirds and we were not able to get as close as we would like. In addition, we did not have great sightlines as we were somewhat lowlying relative to the colony. Estimates are probably more reliable if made from the service roads of the NWR but we did not have access.
This is possibly the same colony through time as described in prior years at
Merced NWR Honker Lake
Merced NWR Dead Man Slough
Duck Slough #1
Duck Slough #3
Merced NWR North
Merced NWR Duck Slough Farmfield 1
With Orien Richmond and Partha Nandi.
Lat/Long: my device has data in degrees minutes seconds; I used fcc.gov to convert data to digital.