pahavit (pahavit) wrote,

Bayfront Park 3

Saturday's field trip: Bayfront

Saturday D. and I went back to Bayfront Park in nearby Menlo Park.

Before we even got into the parking lot we saw a small falcon, probably a sparrow hawk, on the power lines, catching bugs. We also saw a turkey vulture, black phoebes, Canada geese, a common egret and many hummingbirds. Lots of LGBs as well.

Here's the trail in part of the park.

The view across the marsh toward the East Bay.

The methane gas produced by the landfill is used in an engine generator to produce electricity. It was really loud and annoying. I'm not sure how the wildlife can stand it all the time.

There were yellow flowers here and there along the trail (gazanias?).  There were orange flowers there too.

There were flocks of pigeons circling around.

We saw many juvenile red-tailed hawks soaring overhead.

One hawk kept on soaring over the barren salt flats. It must have been just passing through, because it didn't seem to know there was no lunch to be had in such a desolate habitat. It needed to move over the grassy hillsides instead.

At the salt ponds, we saw lots of little salt islands emerging from the concentrated brine.

It's a surreal world in the salt ponds. As the ponds reach the near saturation point for salt, organisms lower on the food chain are the only ones who can survive such an extreme environment. These are called halophilic, or salt-loving, bacteria. The most dominant, Dunaliella, actually changes the color of its protoplasm. As the brines grow saltier, the algae darken and its orange hue transforms into a brilliant vermillion, coloring the ponds the same vivid red.

The foam that floats along on the surface is salty brine.

When foam collects up against an obstacle such as some salt islands or a curve in the channel, it gets all scummy-looking.

We saw some pretty red plants growing along the edge of the salt ponds.

The coyote bush has gone to seed and glows in the autumn sunlight.

As we walked back to the truck, a northern harrier was on patrol over the hillside. The air was filled with the sharp, high-pitched alarm calls of the ground squirrels.

Just before the parking lot we saw a feral cat also on patrol. I hope the kitty had a good feast on the abundant ground squirrels that were frolicking with abandon up and down the hillsides and had a warm place to sleep at night.

Tags: bayfront park, bird, cat, field trip, flower, hawk, menlo park, northern harrier, pigeon, red-tailed hawk

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