On Sunday, D. and I went to the Palo Alto Baylands Wildlife Refuge after dinner to walk on the Adobe Creek Trail during sunset. Here's some of what we saw (all pics by D.).
A view across the marsh, early evening
Bird sculptures at the trailhead.
Markings on the trail. Yes, the marsh is that way.
Birds gathering in Adobe Creek for the evening.
Seagulls take a communal bath in the slough.
A spigot on the side of a pumphouse is covered with barn swallow droppings.
One of the many swallow nests in the eaves of the pumphouse.
A cormorant soars over the trail.
White pelicans in Adobe Creek.
A pelican soars overhead and comes in for a landing in the creek to join the flock.
A great blue heron circles over the slough.
A cluster of little brown shorebirds in the slough. Dunlins, maybe?
A seagull walks on the trail ahead of us, pecking at pebbles. The Coyote Hills of the East Bay can be seen in the distance, as fog moves in.
One of the structures used to control the flow of water. It gets complicated, with fresh-water creeks, brackish sloughs and the salty tidal Bay all commingling in what used to be a natural marsh, once free of artificial salt evaporation ponds and levees. The salt ponds have been decommissioned and the natural habitat is being restored, little by little.
Misty in the early evening light, we can barely make out the Hoover Tower at Stanford University across town.
A large flock of curlews is disturbed from the creek. Part of the Pole Field at Byxbee Park can be seen in the background.
A lone curlew, with a good look at its curved bill.
One of the edumacational signs along the trail. This one tells us about interrelationships among the marsh denizens.
Looking southwest back into town, we see the fog trying to creep over the Santa Cruz Mountains.
Cormorants roosting in the high tension lines that run through the marsh.
High tension lines and marsh, with evening fog rolling in.
One of them has a northern harrier nest in it.
High tide engulfs the cordgrass on the bay side of the levee.
Mama duck and duckling in the cordgrass.
As the sun sets into the fogbank, the water darkens to a cobalt blue.
The door of an empty red maintenance structure turns even ruddier in the sunset light.
The cube gleams atop distant Mt. Umunhum just before the sun disappears into the fog.
Terns swirl in the twilight air.
Sunset at the marsh.
The Pole Field's stately ranks at twilight.
A strangely-configured airplane comes in for a landing at Palo Alto Municipal Airport, next to Byxbee Park and the Refuge. It has its engine at the rear instead of in front, and it looks like it is going backwards in the sky. It is amazingly quiet as well, making next to no noise as it goes overhead. We don't know what the orange square is hanging from the fuselage.
Twilight at the marsh is magical. Looking southeast past Moffett Field.
A pelican in the twilight sky looks for a roost for the night. (We also see a pheasant and its chick, but it is too dark to get a clear pic of them.)
Evening means the jackrabbits come out to frolic.
Mayfield Slough, Coyote Hills, twilight fog.
A black-crowned night heron. Several of them are circling the marsh, uttering harsh barks as they pass.
Walking back to the car along the frontage road, next to US 101.
Night magic -- East Bay cities light up the fog behind the Byxbee Park knoll, with the East Bay hills beyond.