Tags: california hornsnail

Baylands Marsh

Baylands Marsh

On Saturday D. and I took a brief walk around the wetland marsh section of the Baylands in Palo Alto.  For different reasons both D. and I have trouble walking, and the Baylands has flat trails, plus it's close by.  The marsh was as dry as we've ever seen it, with large expanses of dried, cracked mud where open water used to be.  I was troubled to see numerous deep cracks in the ground everywhere we walked, not just in the usually wet areas.  Yet in spite of this, we saw lots of waterfowl, including avocets, coots and a few ducks.  We also startled a red-tailed hawk that had been feeding on a pheasant in the brush beside the trail.  The hawk took off flying with a bulging full crop, and circled back after we had moved on.

Some surprises: a broken egg; the sight of Stanford's Big Dish radio-telescope in the distant foothills; and a couple of empty California horn snail shells (Cerithidea californica), a local endangered species being edged out of its habitat by the invasive Eastern mud snail (Ilyanassa obsoleta), so it was heartening to see signs of the native snail a little farther away from its usual range.

Here are some of the pics I took.


Two cold, wet days at the Wildlife Refuge

Two cold, wet days at the Wildlife Refuge

This past weekend D. and I attended a couple of programs at the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge in Fremont. It was really cold and showery, but we had our thermies on and braved the inclement weather to learn a few facts about the medicinal plants on the refuge and the hidden stories found there. D. took these pics.

The Dumbarton Bridge looks like a prostrate brontosaurus, hunkered in the mist and rain.

Looking west across Newark Slough, the salt ponds and San Francisco Bay toward the Peninsula.  The Santa Cruz Mountains are barely visible, shrouded in storm clouds.

Looking southeast across Fremont to the Diablo Range.

An acacia-like tree none of us could identify glows against the gloom.

Agaves were planted here long ago by August Schilling, the spice guy, in a failed attempt to develop the area.

Cold rain does not deter a pair of red-tailed hawks from patrolling their territory.

A vast expanse of salt-loving pickleweed next to Newark Slough.  Pickleweed is edible.  It tastes like salty lawn clippings.

An abandoned hunting cabin predates the wildlife refuge and is preserved there due to its historical significance.

Snails feasting on an enormous mat of algae in La Riviere Marsh on the other side of the Refuge.  They appear to be the native California hornsnail (Cerithidea californica).

Stinkwort is fuzzy with seeds ready to disperse.  It is not native to the U.S.

Coyotebush is fuzzy with blooms.

Curled Dock, also known as Curly Dock or Yellow Dock

Wild oats has gone to seed.

Wild rye bobs in the wind off the Bay.

Mallow leaves.

Acacia foliage takes different forms depending on the age of the tree.

A bleak gray day for little gray birds.

Toyon's holly-like berries inspired the city of Hollywood's name.

Two kinds of sage, Sonoma and black.

Fennel seed heads rise on stalks over our heads.  It is a very invasive non-native species.

We were astonished to see someone ride by on a penny-farthing.

A gull glides through the stormy skies.

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I took these pics.

Dramatic agaves catch a brief peek of sun.

Newark Slough, looking west toward the Santa Cruz Mountains.