Saturday D. and I went to Redwood Shores, which is a developed community on a peninsula sticking out of Redwood City into San Francisco Bay. The area used to be marshes (some of which are being restored) full of shellfish which were an important food source for local Native Americans. They created shellmounds of oyster shells all around the Bay, which some anthropologists think were made to protect their settlements from flooding. Once the Europeans showed up it became grazing land and eventually got turned into salt evaporation ponds. After the salt ponds it became the site of Marine World and then the headquarters for Oracle. Now it's a combination of residential and office complexes, nicely landscaped, with man-made lagoons here and there, all encircled by sloughs which are a designated ecological reserve.
The Bay Trail runs through the area, so we walked part of it and saw interesting stuff.
Lots of bright iceplant.
Another colorful bloom.
Silly street names. (D. wonders if we'd have to whisper and wave if we lived there. And what the hell's the deal with "treedust"? )
We've seen hardly any bees this spring, and it's worrisome, but we see a few here.
There are pairs of Canada geese everywhere, even sauntering down the middle of the road like they live here. Oh wait, they do.
Blacktail jackrabbit, almost perfectly camouflaged in the tall grass.
Northern harrier. Watch out, jackrabbit!
This cormorant is in a little lagoon fishing, and it pops up from underwater, utters a deep bark, then dives again, pops up, barks, and dives. Who knew a bird could bark? I figure maybe it's been hanging around the seals too long.
Ruddy duck enjoying the lagoon.
That little red dot at the tip of my shoe is a tiny wild strawberry. They are growing as groundcover along most of the sidewalks.
Fake lighthouse in traffic circle. It was shorter than all the buildings, didn't have a real light in it, was almost obscured by surrounding landscaping, and was nowhere near the actual Bay. It's the Ironic Lighthouse, I guess.
Then we went up to San Mateo and a relatively new park called Seal Point. It's another one of those former landfills; now it's planted with native grasses and wildflowers and has a kite-flying hill, picnic areas, a dog park, multi-use trails, and a kayak and windsurfing launch area. It's really close to another park which has some of those Indian shellmounds. But the landfill hill is a lot taller.
We happened to show up when the tide was ebbing. The mudflats went out for a long, long way. I've read that at that part of the Bay, the water is only about 10 feet deep, away from the dredged shipping channel. We saw all kinds of debris stuck in the mud where San Mateo Creek emptied into the Bay: about a dozen shopping carts, at least one bicycle, a big recycling bin, a number of tires, one or two orange traffic cones, etc. We wondered why they were just left there in the mud. Maybe it costs too much to collect them and dispose of them properly. Maybe people don't mind it because it's all out of sight, out of mind twice a day when the tide is in and only visible during an ebb tide. Or maybe it's only cleaned out periodically and we were there just before the next scheduled clean-up.
The breeze was quite brisk, and there were whitecaps on the Bay. Seagulls were having a difficult time flying into the wind and wound up being swept sideways. Windsurfers were working hard not to be blown over into the chilly water. Up on the hillside, scores of red-winged blackbirds were flying and calling in and above the tall grasses swishing in the wind, flexing their wings to show off brilliant red patches. Swallows were soaring around as well in the bright sunshine. Down by the kayak launch point, we saw a seagull with a prize tennis ball it had found in the mudflats. It was washing it off in the water as though it was some kind of delectable clam to have for lunch. Good luck opening that one up, seagull!