By Melissa Wynn

It is true when they say that the journey is half of the adventure. When road trippin’ in our neck of the woods you are sure to spot some kind of critter along the way.

Each of our small mountain communities hosts its own population of magical mammals. The most common are deer, having a small herd in the front yard is a common site in these parts. Less often, but frequently we catch a glimpse of our other four legged, furry friends like the elusive Coyote and crafty Red Fox. Rare and special sightings include the majestic Brown Bear, timid Bobcat and the stealthy stalking Mountain Lion. Fell lucky if you spot one of these but keep your distance. These are dangerous predators.

Local photographer Jeffrey Woodall keeps his camera close at hand and, as you can see, it pays off  frequently. During a late Spring visit to Westwood, Ca’s  Walker Lake he captured these great shots of a happy little raccoon family. They let him get so close! Many animals call Walker Lake home including a large population of Osprey, the aerobatic fishing falcon. An afternoon on the shore is sure to bring many wildlife sightings.

If birds are what wish to see the Lake Almanor causeway on the edge of Chester, Ca offers a wide range of species, year round, and every day brings a whole new feathered crowd. Regal Bald Eagles, Turkey Vultures, White Pelicans and countless water fowl are just a few that may catch your eye.

Red Bluff and Chico areas host healthy populations of strange but cute Virginia Opossum. Keep your eyes in the trees, they love to climb. Watch the roadside along the way in these areas and you just might find yourself racing the speedy Road Runner like we did near Payne’s Creek. Wander near waterways and you are sure to see some amazing amphibians like silly salamanders and a wide variety of funny frogs. Don’t forget to watch for all the little weasels as well, like Ermine, Fischer and the playful, fish loving River Otter.

Grey squirrels and chipmunks scamper about all over the Sierra,  adding their chatter to the music of the forest. Twitchy and always busy they are really a joy to watch.

From Reno to Redding , Chico to the Oregon border and everywhere in between a simple drive is a wildlife viewing adventure the whole family will enjoy. Forget playing “slug bug”, count squirrels and chipmunks. How many critters will you spot along the way?