Last Saturday D. and I attended a program at the wildlife refuge about "monster bacteria." After a brief introduction, Microbiologist Wayne led us on a hike in the New Chicago salt marsh to gather samples from various spots of the wee critters living there. Then we studied them under the field microscopes back in the Environmental Education Center classroom.
I took the following pics:
California poppies have popped into bloom in the Environmental Education Center parking lot.
One of the incessantly-honking Canada geese in New Chicago Marsh. His bill is closed, though -- I happened to take this pic in between honks.
Lots of scum in the salt marsh puddles. The different colors are determined by different species of organisms, which in turn are determined by the salinity of the water, which in turn is determined by bay water inundation, rainfall and evaporation, and all work together in concert to produce complex, hidden ecologies.
Looking back the way we came on the New Chicago Marsh trail.
Salt pond A16.
The measure of a marsh. (NCM = New Chicago Marsh)
Looking across the marsh to the Diablo Range on the horizon.
Many local seagulls eat nasty stuff at a nearby landfill and die in the refuge, where creatures such as turkey vultures pick their bones clean. Nature is not always pretty daisies and cute ladybugs.
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D. took the following pics:
And sometimes Nature is pretty flowers! These delicate spring wildflowers bloom outside the Environmental Education Center entrance.
A California black walnut at the Center is coming into leaf.
Naturalist Lindy. She begins a new job on Monday with the San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory. Best of luck at your new job, Lindy!
The scum on these ponds is comprised of microorganisms.
The black traces in the mud of this pond indicate the presence of iron in the soil underneath and the kinds of organisms that produce hydrogen sulfide, that lovely "stinky marsh" smell.
The different colors are caused by different species of organisms, all of which prefer a different level of salinity.
Some of it is unappetizing-looking.
A lot of ponds have algae growing in them.
Lichen grows on the boardwalk railing. Lichen is comprised of algae and fungi living symbiotically with each other.
A brown pelican scans the salt pond for fish to eat.
White pelicans soar high above the salt pond.
Microbiologist Wayne takes a sample of water and mud from a small pond in the marsh. Later on we looked at the organisms living in it through the microscopes in the Environmental Education Center classroom.
The marsh can look like a desolate place, but it is teeming with a rich diversity of life. It's just that most of it is invisible to the naked eye.
Many birds are breeding in the marsh and salt ponds. Some bird raided another's nest and had some lunch on the boardwalk.
Whose prints are those??