On this hot day, D. and I decided to spend the afternoon in the bay breezes at the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge in Alviso (in the South Bay). The Refuge is a sanctuary for endangered species and migrating birds and is a mix of salt evaporation ponds, tidal marshes, mudflats and freshwater sloughs.
On one side of the levee trail were salt ponds, open and almost barren areas full of wading birds and other waterfowl. On the other side were thick cattails and rushes, full of little songbirds hardly visible in the tall reeds. It was like walking along an interface between two different worlds.
We saw the usual suspects: gulls, terns, stilts, cormorants, ducks, egrets, herons, sparrows, goldfinches, swallows, some little sandpipers called peeps, plus a first for me: long-billed marsh wrens, whose globe-shaped nests of grasses woven onto the cattail stems attracted our attention even though they were pretty well hidden.
We also got assaulted by some extremely irate terns who mobbed us aerially in one section of the trail. Perhaps we were too close to a nest or something, but several of them came swooping in yelling at us like banshees and scolding us in what was probably very filthy bird language. There was no mistaking the message: "GTF out of here, you %*&#$!!!!! NOW!!!" Fortunately they did not physically attack us, but for a few moments I wasn't so sure we would escape unscathed.
One section of the trail was creepy with spiders. All of a sudden Osiris and I noticed the weeds on the edge of the trail were loaded with big spiders sitting in their webs. They had black legs and reddish bodies with white spots. We were unable to identify them, because no one at the Refuge's environmental educational center had a clue. Their main mission at the center is to teach schoolchildren how cool nature is and stuff, so everything has been dumbed way down. I doubt if any of the staff there knew the difference between a seagull and a hummingbird. So they weren't much help. (Dumbing down is one of my major pet peeves.) Anyway, those spiders were the best incentive I could think of for not straying off the trail.
The sun was hot and relentless on the levees, and the breeze, although welcome, wasn't very cooling, so we headed back home after a while. It was much nicer after dinner taking a quiet stroll through the neighborhood looking for kitties to pet.