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The Baylands, Palo Alto

The Baylands, Palo Alto


On Saturday D. and I went to the Baylands Nature Preserve in Palo Alto to talk a walk in the marsh. Here's some of my pics.


A view of the marsh from the parking area.





This is a sculpture by James Moore called “Bliss in the Moment,” and it commemorates renowned Bay Area cyclist William Bliss and his work on the San Francisco Bay Trail (which runs right past the preserve) and bicycle safety issues.  It is 6' 9" tall and made of brushed stainless steel.  It is an abstract depiction of a cyclist contemplating the natural beauty of the Baylands preserve, and was installed about 4 months ago.  William Bliss was killed during a cross-country bicycle trip in 2005.





At the trailhead, we are warned about nesting season.



(And now I have Daffy Duck's and Elmer Fudd's voices in my head yelling, "It's rabbit season!" "It's duck season!" "It's rabbit season!" "It's duck season!")



A peek into the marsh through the cattails.





A ladybug perches on the tip of this plant, its wing covers glossy in the sunlight.





The marsh is full of white-crowned sparrows singing away, staking out territory to nest in.





Another look at the marsh.





♪♫♪ You put your right foot in, you put your right foot out . . .  ♪♫♪





Canada goose and mallard duck: The Odd Couple.





"You lookin' at me?"





"You lookin' at me?"





The marsh.





Canada geese mate for life.  Most do not breed until their fourth year.  This pair grazes peacefully at the edge of the marsh.







Branta canadensis.





Wetlands and marshes have many important functions that benefit people and wildlife.  They provide habitat for a wide variety of plants and animals; they filter, clean and store water; they collect and hold flood waters; they absorb wind and tidal forces; and they provide places of beauty and many recreational activities.









Unlike most ducks, the Bufflehead is mostly monogamous, often remaining with the same mate for several years.





The proliferation of lawns, parks and nature preserves offers Canada geese such reliable habitat that in some areas the birds stay all year round instead of migrating like they used to do.









A cistern.  In the middle of the marsh. 







Raccoons have been here recently.





Saltwater marshes occur along coastlines, inlets and estuaries where they are affected by tides, and often have a source of fresh water from surrounding land, rivers or ground water.



The buildings visible in the middle distance on the other side of the water are on the far side of US Highway 101, which runs along the west side of San Francisco Bay.



A mystery object in the middle of the marsh.









The female Canada geese selects the nest site and does much of nest construction, adding down feathers and some body feathers beginning after the second egg is laid.  We find several clumps of feathers here and there along the trail.





The trail.





A red dock leaf lingers on from last autumn.





Just a couple of yards off the trail, I spot a goose mom sitting on her nest, lying very still and low in the grass.





Duck, duck, goose.





We find another cistern out in the middle of the marsh, with a jacket hanging off one side.





The cistern has something else on it too -- a geocache.  And not just any old geocache, no siree -- an *"official" geocache.





This pair of geese complain about our presence with whiny honks every 2 seconds as they waddle down the trail a few yards ahead of us.





Things get a little too watery for us, so we turn around and head back.





Hey, look, it's more geese.





We sit for a moment at a philosophical bench.





What wisdom could we gather from this filaree at our feet? 





Looking back down the trail into the marsh.





A sparrow.





We walk farther along the Bay Trail and find an access road going behind the Palo Alto Municipal Service Center.  It runs along the edge of the flood control basin, which is integrated into the surrounding wetlands.





Blue elderberry is in bloom along the path.







Shortly we come across a peculiar road full of regular perforations.  It is the Matadero Creek overflow bypass channel, which carries excess flow from Matadero Creek directly into the Palo Alto Flood Basin during moderate to severe storm events.



The holes allow some of the overflow to recharge the groundwater rather than all flow directly into the marsh.



This flap gate permits the outflow of water from a drainpipe into the channel while preventing backflow when water levels are high.  (Recent high water line can still be seen partway up the wall.)





When the flood control channel was created 6 years ago, they removed a lot of non-native vegetation and planted native species, including this California blackberry.





The path eventually reaches Matadero Creek, where it flows under US Highway 101 (highway sign visible in the background).





The box elder bug is also known as the zug, or maple bug.  These two are makin' baby zugs.





As we make our way back, we spot part of a crayfish in the channel.  A raccoon may have enjoyed a meal here recently.




.
Tags: animal tracks, baylands, bench, bird, box elder bug, canada goose, crawdad, duck, feather, field trip, flood control, flower, geocache, insect, ladybug, mallard, marsh, mystery object, palo alto, sculpture, sign
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