Wonderful landscapes and climate are the gifts of nature that not every country has. The U.S. has a variety of outstanding areas to be proud of. Palo Alto Baylands is one of such. It is a land of rivers, lakes, and flatlands filled with birds, plants, and astonishing views. The climate seems rather mild, yet it is windy due to the flat terrain. It is obviously the place for birds – numerous water sources provide hundreds of species of birds with food. Pelicans and other transit habitants of Palo Alto Baylands feel comfortable in the open space.
It seems an excellent place for those who would like to meditate having the opportunity to meet no one for hours. This is the place to walk or ride a bicycle, enjoying the beauty of the North American nature. Hot sunny summer with beaches and palm trees are not about this place. Brown, blue, and gray colors prevail here. Only birds and flatland flowers can add some color to this place. Palo Alto Baylands is the place to have a peaceful vacation, watching birds. It is a paradise for birds’ lovers and those who like to have peaceful, calm relaxation without extensive heat of coldness and dozens of people around.
The beauty of this land can be viewed on the numerous photos made to provide future visitors with information regarding the structure of the Palo Alto Baylands facilities. Thus, The Lucy Evans Center (photo #1, Taylar, 2013) works on preservation of Baylands’ history and develops such programs as nature classes and the appropriate walks. The Broadwalk Trail (photo #2, Taylar, 2013) provides an excellent opportunity for bird watchers to catch a glimpse of various rare birds. It has scopes along the walk path for convenience.
The Boradwalk Trail View (photo #3, Taylar, 2013) is an example of such a view. It spans for over a mile and is the first auto bridge that has been ever built in this area. Cooper’s Hawk image (photo #4, Taylar, 2013) is one the examples of what species of birds can be met there. The hawk can be met there in the winter. The Baylands Duck Pond (photo #5, Taylar, 2013) was a swimming pool before it was transformed into duck pond. The Marsh Front Trail (photo #6, Taylar, 2013) can be walked for a mile along the marsh terrain, and it provides the view of many wintering birds. The Palo Alto Airport (photo #7, Taylar, 2013) is one of the peculiarities of Palo Alto Baylands – its flight route is in utter closeness to the pond with ducks so the planes that are used are the small ones. The Charleston Slough (photo #8, Taylar, 2013) is an entry point for those who would like to visit six-mile Adobe Creek Trail of the Baylands. The Charleston Slough as Low Tide (photo #9, Taylar, 2013) is the low tide place for viewing Charleston Slough. Finally, the Shoreline Lake & Aquatic Center (photo #10, Taylar, 2013) is an image of the 50-acre Shoreline Lake and Park around it. It is a former junkyard.
The Baylands Nature Preserve of Palo Alto is one of largest areas of undisturbed marshlands that remain in the Bay of San Francisco. It includes fifteen miles of trail that can be used by unique habitants. It is considered as one of the best areas for watching birds on the West Coast. In addition, it is located on the path of the major migratory bird routes of the Northern America. According to City of Palo Alto (2013), the following activities can be performed at Nature Preserve: “Include walking, running or biking on 15 miles of trails; bird watching; wind surfing and boating (non-motorized craft such as canoes, kayaks or small, hand-launched boats and sailboards).”
There are six major facilities at the Baylands Nature Preserve: Lucy Evans Baylands Nature Interpretive Center; Byxbee Park Hills (Art Park); Emily Renzel Wetlands; Baylands Athletic Center (baseball and softball); Wildlife observation platform and benches; and Picnic facilities and barbecues (City of Palo Alto, 2013). There is a quote of John Muir, explaining the beauty of walks: “In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks.” (City of Palo Alto, 2013).
The Palo Alto Baylands Nature Preserve has rich history. Thus, the Coastal Conservancy of California provided a $1,000,000 grant for the completion of the Emily Renzel Wetlands project. The project was aimed to provide the salt marsh portion of wetlands with water from the bay. It helped in the creation of a new pond with fresh water of 15-acre square. The nearby Palo Alto Regional Water Quality Control Plant is one of the participants of the project – it provides pumped reclaimed water.
The map of birding hotspots provides the following information regarding species that can be met during the year. Thus, spring is the time for nesting of black-necked stilts and American avocets, along with cliff or barn swallows and nesting of black crowned night heron and snowy egret, in addition to black skimmers and Forster’s terns. All other birds are multiseasonal: fall-winter season is the time for wintering shorebirds, and wintering ducks; California clapper rails are present during fall-winter-spring season; and summer-fall season is good for the American white pelicans.
The following birds inhabit San Francisco Bay area (photos #1-20, Taylar, 2013b):
- American Avocets – their feeding process is peculiar;
- American Avocets in breeding colors – have different plumage during non-breeding season;
- American White Pelican – they scoop for food under water unlike other pelicans;
- Black-Bellied Plover – have black spots under their wings;
- Canada Geese in flight – usual habitants of parks;
- Common Goldeneyes – have a crescent shaped spot of white color on the cheeks;
- Eared Grebe – are good in underwater hunting for food;
- Heermann’s Gulls – the only gull of the North America that breeds on the other side of the border and comes for non-breeding season;
- Hooded Merganser – can change the properties of its eye in order to accommodate vision under water;
- Killdeer – fakes broken wing to lure predators off;
- Belted Kingfisher – has different female coloration than male;
- Northern Pintails – have feet that are set farther back to facilitate diving;
- Marbled Godwit – similar to many other species at the shore;
- Male Surf Scoter – they are sea ducks;
- Whimbrel – an exceptional crabber;
- Willet – large sandpipers;
- Willet in flight – different coloration in the flight;
- Male & Female Scaup – differs from the Male Surf Scoter by head shape;
- Snowy Egret – is distinguished by its bill (dark);
- Western Grebe – have a yellow bill, which is darker than Clark's Grebes bill.
According to Taylar (2013c), the following winter birding spots can be found on San Francisco Bay:
- Arrowhead Marsh (Oakland) – is a part of the 741-acre Martin Luther King Jr Shoreline;
- Coyote Hills Regional Park (Fremont) – includes panoramic view of San Francisco Bay;
- Crissy Field Marsh (San Francisco) – was used as a field for military aviation;
- Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge (Fremont) – is one of the major spots of along the major migratory route;
- Elsie Roemer Bird Sanctuary (Alameda) – has an aquarium featuring various species of San Francisco Bay;
- Hayward Shoreline (Hayward) – provides stunning views;
- Lake Merritt (Oakland) – is the oldest refuge for wildlife in the U.S.;
- Las Gallinas Wildlife Ponds (San Rafael) – has numerous species of birds to watch;
- Palo Alto Baylands Nature Preserve (Palo Alto) – one of the most interesting places of marshland flatlands to visit;
- Point Isabel Regional Shoreline (Richmond) – a good place for bird watchers;
- Richardson Bay Audubon (Tiburon) – a very short (less than a mile) trail but filled with forest and grassland habitats;