Tags: zeppelin

Baylands Marsh

Baylands Marsh

On Saturday D. and I got out of the house in spite of the threat of rain for some unstructured time in the marshes at the Baylands Nature Preserve in Palo Alto, and I took some pics.

The trail.

The many ponds in the marsh provide critical resting and feeding grounds for migratory waterfowl.

The marsh is full of Common reed.

Since we were there last, someone has taken the lid off the cistern and placed a makeshift cover on it, for some reason.

Another look at one of the ponds in the marsh.

A closer look at the mystery object in the middle of the marsh, first seen in April.

It seems to be connected to the marsh through a black hose. 

The marsh is a very reedy place.

Raccoon tracks in the mud of a shallow pond.

Brass buttons live in a specialized ecological niche. They prefer muddy wetlands with low oxygen concentrations and brackish water. They are very salt-tolerant.

A landfill abuts the preserve, and its strange, sculptural machines are prominent on the horizon.

Looking across a stand of pepperweed past the reeds to the Diablo Range on the other side of San Francisco Bay.

A white-tailed kite hovers motionless over the marsh in search of prey.

♪♫♪ You put your left foot in, you put your left foot out . . . ♪♫♪

White-tailed kite, sittin' in a tree, r - e - s - t - i - n - g.

On a blustery day, the marsh is a bleak place.

More tracks in the mud.

The remains of a crawdad in the pickleweed.

Mats of dead dodder, a parasitic plant, have a gothic look.

Live dodder, with flowers.

Since dodder feeds off its host plant, it doesn't have to make food on its own and thus doesn't need chlorophyll, so it's orange.

This fish skeleton is almost invisible in the pickleweed.

I think we have found the marsh superhighway. 

Colorful mud.

A rainbow sheen floats on the surface of a few ponds.

That water doesn't look too good. 

The strange water doesn't seem to put off the flies, though.

It begins to sprinkle in the marsh.

Black phoebe.

Out in the middle of the marsh are big concrete conduits, just lying there, remnants from earlier days prior to the nature preserve.

Some ponds in the marsh are scummy.

This pond goes from scummy to clear in just a few yards.

The rainbow sheen on this pond is so vivid and unnatural, it's a little scary. 

I have to wonder exactly what is in the ground that is causing that iridescence in the water. 

Several little western pygmy blue butterflies are flying about in the marsh.  Their larvae feed on the pickleweed.

The sprinkles get heavier so we have to turn back and head home.

White-tailed kites are not the only things in the sky today.

The colors of the autumn marsh: dark browns, olive greens, tawny yellows, muted russets and heathered purples.

Autumn in the marsh.


Back To Windy Hill

Back To Windy Hill

On Sunday the unusual threat of snow had passed and it was actually warm enough to bear being outside, so D. and I went back to Windy Hill Open Space Preserve (because the parking lot at our first choice of destination, Arastradero Preserve, was full, and Windy Hill was the next nearest place). Here's my pics.

Blossoms (probably almond) are popping out in the parking lot.

The canopy above us.

Milkmaids are in bloom now.

Maidenhair ferns love all the rain we've had lately.

Nestled among patches of lichen on a log are these jelly fungi.

A typical forest scene: fungi and ferns.

Giant trilliums are about to pop into bloom.

Bracket fungi sprout from the end of this log.

New leaves are popping out all over.

More blossoms are blossoming.

Bramble leaves glow like jewels backlit by the sun.

Poison hemlock leaves in a patch of sun.

A meadow, with the Santa Cruz Mountains on the horizon.

We catch a glimpse of the http://www.airshipventures.com/theship.php Airship Ventures  zeppelin Eureka as it floats past Mission Peak (some snow patches still visible).

The last puffy clouds of the recent cold rainstorm pass by in a brilliant sky.

Corte Madera Creek is up from the rain.

A fallen log in a meadow next to the creek is a study in textures as well as in microhabitats.

Bay laurel trees are in blossom now too.

A mushroom near the creek.


A pied billed grebe and a coot on Sausal Pond.

Looking up the spillway toward Sausal Pond.


Monday Movies: Zeppelin Eureka

Monday Movies: Zeppelin Eureka

Monday Movies: 20 seconds (more or less) of video from the world around me.

This week: The zeppelin Eureka flying directly over our heads on the Bay Trail to land at Moffett Field, about a mile away. How many people can say they've had a zeppelin fly directly over their head?


Moffett Bay Trail 2

Moffett Bay Trail 2

On Halloween afternoon, D. and I decided to get some fresh air since it was such a mild, pleasant day. We returned to the Moffett Bay Trail to see the part of the new segment we didn't have time to walk the last time we were there. We took some pics; first up, mine.

Welcome to the Bay Trail.  Please follow the rules.

Looking out across the reeds growing on the edge of a former salt pond converted into an oxidation pond by the water pollution control plant in Sunnyvale.  The Diablo Range is visible in the distance.

An egret perches along the channel next to the oxidation ponds.  The yellow sign warns of "invisible dangers" (it is a sewage treatment pond, after all).

Number on the leg of a high-tension tower nestled among the reeds alongside the trail.

Ladybug on fennel.

Aerial survey marker next to the trail, so surveying airplanes can see what's what and where's where.

Because managing water among the sloughs, salt ponds and water treatment oxidation ponds is critical, the various channels are kept separate by levees.  Along this stretch we see how the water levels are different (higher on the right).

Another view across the oxidation pond toward the Diablo Range.

Power lines stride across the marsh.

The lonely world of the black-necked stilt.

Maybe at one time this was the case, but no longer.  It is not an actual street, but it does go all the way through now that the new trail segment is open.

A turkey vulture soars over an oxidation pond near the trail.





We'll never know what the danger was.

Looking down the trail.

Across from the fence with the signs, we find a row of short, shrubby olive trees full of fruit.

We suspect they are there as a visual privacy screen, given the nature of the place with the signs. Although all they would be screening the complex from is duck hunters out in the salt ponds.  And now that the Bay Trail goes along their back fence, how much privacy can they reasonably expect?  Still, just in case they are touchy about this, they will remain The Place-That-Shall-Not-Be-Named in this blog. 

It's duck season.  Don't fall for it, Daffy!  It's a trap!  Stay away! 

I love those domes.  They are cool.  They are the lungs of the wind tunnel.

Have I mentioned I love their domes?

So, no trespassing, but it's okay to store funky old RVs there, apparently. 

Behind a barbed-wire-topped fence, these dilapidated steps lead down into a salt pond.

It's a bird!  It's a plane!  It's the zeppelin Eureka!

It flies directly over our heads to land at Moffett Field's Hangar Two, about a mile away.  How many people can say they've had a zeppelin fly directly over their head?

A pair of mallards find a late afternoon snack in Sunnyvale Creek's West Channel, not far from where it flows into Guadalupe Slough.

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And here are D.'s pics.

A hunter on his way to the duck blinds out in the middle of the salt pond.  He's stopping to lock the gate behind him.

This part of the trail doesn't exactly have the friendliest feeling to it.

Looking down the trail toward Sunnyvale and the landfill and water pollution control plant, with the ever-present power lines alongside.

A bee enjoys visiting this California dandelion.

This warehouse roof has an unusual structure.

RBF control.  On the aerial survey marker.  Mmm-hmm. 

A dragonfly zooms over the channel.

Not a through street.

The trail.

Olives growing on the shrubby trees screening The Place-That-Shall-Not-Be-Named from the notoriously prying and inquisitive duck hunters.

A few dunlins probe for tiny critters to eat in the shallow pond alongside the trail.

Ubiquitous sights in the salt ponds: power lines and pilings.

Duck decoy.

A tiny jumping spider atop a set of mounted binoculars next to an edumacational plaque along the trail.

The zeppelin Eureka heading home.

See video here:


Thornewood Open Space Preserve

Thornewood Open Space Preserve

On Sunday D. and I went to Thornewood Open Space Preserve. Thornewood used to be the private summer home of a rich guy named Thorne in the 1920s. Eventually Thorne sold most of the land to spice baron August Schilling (for whom the preserve's Schilling Lake is named). Currently the Thorne house and immediate grounds are privately owned and are being restored. No news if or when they will be open to the public.

So we rambled through the rest of the preserve and I took some pics.

The entrance is through this brick gateway, easy to miss from the road -- especially since the preserve sign is inside the gate.
brick gateway pic

OK, we get the hint, the mansion is off-limits to us commoners. Yeesh.
sign pic

We set out on the Schilling Lake Trail.
trail pic

We find a geocache without even trying. They might want to rethink putting it right by the poison oak.
uncovered geocache pic

The madrone and live oak canopy overhead.
canopy pic

As the trail meanders along the hillside, we catch a glimpse through the trees of San Francisco Bay and the Diablo Range beneath gray clouds (30% chance of rain).
looking east pic

Lichen on a fallen log. Little sprigs of moss are just starting to grow up around it.
lichen pic
mossy lichen pic

Someone's shorts and some trash just off the trail.
shorts pic
People, people -- please keep your clothes on in the preserve! And don't litter!

The calendar says it's still barely summer, but the reddening poison oak leaves and bright California honeysuckle berries say fall is here now.
autumn color pic

The oak canopy above.
canopy pic

Brilliant poison oak climbs an oak tree.
brilliant poison oak pic

An ancient fire took its toll on this tree trunk.
fire-scarred trunk pic

Even fire-scarred trees can foster new life: tendrils of moss are colonizing this charred limb.
moss tendrils pic

This lichen-encrusted branch gets a gentle embrace from some poison oak.
lichen and poison oak pic

We see some more colorful poison oak along the trail.
poison oak pic

The trail leads us closer to the lake.
trail pic
another trail pic

The canopy above us.
canopy pic

California everlastings.
everlastings pic

A view to the east as a cloud shadow passes over us.
looking east pic

gumplant floof pic

Trailside color.
poison oak pic
centaury (zeltnera davyi) pic
sedge pic

Another beautiful view to the east.
looking east pic

The trail enters a mossy oak forest.
trail pic

One of the many dead logs along the trail.
dead log pic

Crossing a dry creek.
wooden bridge pic

Some of the lichen growing abundantly on the bridge.
lichen pic
another lichen pic

The zeppelin Eureka of Airship Ventures sails grandly over Silicon Valley.
zeppelin pic

Turkey tail fungi.
turkey tail fungi pic
another turkey tail fungi pic

We see the first redwoods as we approach the lake.
redwoods pic

Creeping St. John's Wort (Hypericum calycinum) grows abundantly underneath the redwoods.
creeping st. john's wort pic

Trouble in paradise.
slender false brome weed alert sign pic

Paradise has a few Dos and Don'ts.
lake rules sign pic

Schilling Lake.
lake pic
another lake pic

Someone's awfully lucky to have their own private bench at the lake. *envious sigh*
private bench pic

The lake is covered with duckweed.
lake pic
another lake pic
and another lake pic
duckweed with stuff floating on it pic

Another green world.
lake vegetation pic

Schilling Lake is not a natural body of water but is contained by a small earthen dam. Next to the dam is a concrete spillway, leading to Dennis Martin Creek.
top of spillway pic
inside spillway pic
culvert pic

I can personally say there is definitely light at the end of the tunnel.
culvert pic

At the edge of the spillway, a banana slug (Ariolimax sp.) finds a damp place to hide.
banana slug pic

Another banana slug near the shore of the lake. This one was about 8" (20 cm) long.
another banana slug pic
and another banana slug pic

A bracket fungus sprouts from a Douglas fir log by the lake.
bracket fungus pic

The canopy of bigleaf maple, Douglas fir and redwoods at the lake.
canopy pic

A Ganoderma bracket fungus.
ganoderma pic

The complex textures of a redwood trunk.
redwood trunk pic

More redwoods on an unmarked spur trail, undoubtedly an old logging road, going up the side of a gulch.
redwoods pic

The startling blue of a Steller's jay tail feather stands out against the grays, tans and browns of the forest detritus.
steller's jay feather pic

Black fungi grow out of the trunk of this tanoak killed by sudden oak death.
tanoak fungi pic

Poison oak climbs up a young Douglas fir.
poison oak pic

This charred redwood stump shows traces of an ancient forest fire.
charred stump pic

Being among these giant trees makes me feel like I'm in a cathedral.
canopy pic

Near the end of the spur trail we reach the preserve boundary.
sign pic

What an odd thing to find in the middle of the woods.
odd thing pic

Black-tailed deer near the rear of the private estate.
deer pic
(Look at that junk on the ground! Those rusty cans were strewn over a wide area. You'd think rich people would at least have their staff pick that up. )
another deer pic

On our way back we catch another gorgeous view looking east.
looking east pic

Yes, there is a lot of poison oak in this preserve!
poison oak pic

A deer at the gates as we head home.
deer pic


Feathered Friends at the Wildlife Refuge

Feathered Friends at the Wildlife Refuge, 12-28-08

A couple of weekends ago, D. and I went to the wildlife refuge in Fremont to learn about the birds commonly found there. We took some pics.

Here's my pics:

Newark Slough in the foreground, San Francisco Bay in the background, salt ponds full of ducks in between.

The pumphouse.  The pumps are gone now, but they used to help move bay water in and out of the various salt evaporation ponds that were here before this area was a wildlife refuge.

Looking back down the slough from the Tidelands Trail, with the pumphouse and old hunting cabin in the distance.

A snowy egret pokes around in the mudflats as the tide ebbs along the Harrier Spur Trail at sunset.

A cryptic post sits sentinel at the edge of the parking lot.

❧  ❧  ❧  ❧  ❧  ❧  ❧  ❧  ❧  ❧  ❧  ❧  ❧  ❧  ❧  ❧  ❧  ❧  ❧  ❧

Here's D.'s pics:

From the observation deck outside the visitor's center, looking north over San Francisco Bay to San Bruno Mountain.

Looking down upon the old pump house.

Looking west to the Dumbarton Bridge.

The zeppelin Airship Ventures cruises past us on its way back to Moffet Field in Mountain View.

A lesser yellowlegs patrols the shore of the slough.

One of the gates used for controlling the flow of salty bay water in and out of what used to be salt evaporation ponds.  They are now being slowly converted back to the original habitat.

A pair of Canada geese honks going overhead.

This nature walk is brought to you by the number 6. 

An eared grebe floats on one of the salt ponds at the refuge.

A peek inside an old, disused hunting cabin on the slough.

An emergency vehicle drives along the Tidelands Trail, lights flashing.

A snowy egret comes in for a landing in Newark Slough.

Plumbago flowers.

An outcropping of serpentine, the official California State Rock

Another snowy egret poking around in the slough.

Naturalist Mansur takes a break from leading the walk to take a picture of his own.

A red-tailed hawk perches in a tree on the edge of La Riviere marsh.  Its mate circles nearby.

Looking east from the refuge across town toward the huge Niles sign on the hill at the mouth of Niles Canyon.


Coastal Trail, Land's End, San Francisco

Coastal Trail, Land's End, San Francisco

Last Saturday, D. and I met with some friends for lunch, then we went to the section of the Coastal Trail that goes around Land's End in San Francisco. First up, my pics.

We had lunch at Tanforan Shopping Center, which used to be a racetrack.  There's a statue of a racehorse in the parking lot.  Maybe it's Seabiscuit? 

One the way to the Coastal Trail, we stopped for a few minutes at the Beach Chalet and admired its ornate balustrade of odd merpeople.

Land's End.  Lands End.  Whatever.  We'll put them in touch with Apostrophe Protection Society.

Habitat restoration in progress.

A view north into Marin County and Pt. Bonita.

Golden Gate Bridge; Angel Island in the background.

Ft. Point, situated by the south anchorage of the Bridge.

The nearby VA hospital looms above the treetops, almost completely obscured.

It was completed in 1934, in the so-called Mayan Deco style.

The late afternoon sun puts Helmet Rock and the edge of Mile Rock Beach into silhouette.

Sunset at Land's End.

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Here's D.'s pics.

The Farallones float offshore like a mirage out in the Pacific.

The zeppelin Airship Ventures circles in back of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Acacias are coming into bloom along the trail.

A cargo ship on its way into the Golden Gate.

A pair of oystercatchers in flight.

The setting sun puts the Golden Gate Bridge ablaze with ruddy light.

Dolphins cavort off China Beach, just outside the Golden Gate.

Shadowed Helmet Rock and the distant Farallones at dusk.

While taking a break from climbing the nearly 200 steps from Mile Rock Beach up to the Coastal Trail, we spied this peculiar cement thing with 4 tarred pipe-things sticking out of it (probably something left over from the military era).

A cypress-embraced North Tower of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Sunset at Land's End.

The Cliff House is the last thing in San Francisco before the vast Pacific, blue in the twilight.


Palo Alto Baylands with A.

Palo Alto Baylands with A.

A couple of weeks ago our friend A. from Berkeley came to visit. We went to The Baylands in Palo Alto and D. took these pics.

Our friend A.

Looking west.  Not a breath of air was stirring, and the water was like a millpond.

Why was there a fire alarm and sprinkler in the parking lot? 

Not just any fence, but a Fantastic Fence prevents access to the PG&E power lines crossing the marsh. 

Snails in the low tide mud, munching on algae and other microscopic life.  They appear to be the non-native Eastern mud snail, Ilyanassa obsoleta.

I wonder how much of a deterrent this has been? 

A white pelican soars overhead.

The zeppelin Airship Ventures drifts in for a landing at nearby Moffett Field.

Power lines stride south through the marsh toward San Jose.

♪♫♪ "Pictures of Lily" ♪♫♪, or, in this case, carvings of Lily, on the boardwalk railing.

Looking east to the Diablo Range and the unusually flat water in the Bay.

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I took these pics.

Baylands marsh, Bay flat as a pancake, Coyote Hills, Diablo Range.

A northern harrier perches on one of the high tension towers, checking out the scene.

Powerlines stride north through the marsh toward San Francisco.