Today I had an informational interview with someone from the GGNPC up at Bothin Marsh. After it was over, I stayed for a while to watch the Tam Van in action, as the GGNPC folks were asking for feedback on the developing project to elevate the South trail and move it closer to the shoreline. This is needed due to sea level rise and general improvement to the marsh below.
I stayed so long, observing and seeing this effort in action, that I didn’t quite have time to drive to another spot for Naturing. But I had to go Naturing after. Can’t spend all that bridge toll money just for an interview! So I decided to explore Bothin Marsh.
I’d been before, to one isolated spot right in the middle, for my Ecology of SF Bay class at CCSF last Fall. But I asked my interviewee for any notable spots to check out. He said there were some old growth Coast Live Oaks on the East side and some Olympia Oysters at the bridge on the West side. So, off I went!
I must admit that I truly love the marsh. Wetlands. Any of it. It is so comforting to see that water all the time. It’s tough not to be jealous of those who live so close to it. I honestly can’t imagine not living close to water. Or, close enough that a reallyshortdrive is possible to it. How the hell I survived growing up in San Jose is beyond me.
On the East side, a very kind West Coast Lady butterfly landed in view for me to admire. Tough not to sympathize with all its bird strikes! It’s amazing they can still fly when they’re that eaten up.
The spot with the old Coast Live Oaks was precious and short. But I found a Black-crowned Night-Heron quietly grooming before it noticed me snapping photos of it. As I walked the short bit of it, I couldn’t help but think how that area must have looked before all the development around it. Which then made me think, how good I am not to live so close to it!
Just then, I got to a viewing spot overlooking the Pickleweed Inlet (that is its name, yep!). Such a lovely marshy area. Then I heard a bird sound I didn’t recognize. Merlin’s Sound ID believed it to be an Oak Titmouse! And I soon found it! I’ve heard them far more often than I’ve seen them, so it was a treat. My favorite photo is of it looking down at me. I can’t help but enjoy when the birds I’m taking photos of look back at me. It always has that same look of, “WHAT?” And now I’m feeling like I’ve said this before. Or something like it. HM!
On the way back, a Monarch fluttered over me, and a California Scrub-Jay sat silently while it looked into the sun. I noticed Chicory lining the trail on the East side of the trail. WHUT! There’s a story there…
Before I crossed the bridge back to the West side, I spotted a bird feather on the trail. Looked familiar! Looked like an owl feather! A Great Horned Owl feather, even! It’s always nice to know they’re near.
Back on the West side, I walked South to see about the bridge with the oysters. A Variegated Meadowhawk landed right on the path ahead of me, blocking my way! But it stayed still enough for me to snap some photos, so all was forgiven. On the soccer field, a Western Bluebird was perched on one of the goal net thingies, and it actually looked like it was watching the kids practicing. Just like the parents on the opposite side!
Gumplant and Pickleweed and Fleshy Russian Thistle continued to guide my route to the bridge. Once there, I saw no oysters whatsoever. BUT! I saw a small group of shorebirds kind of hiding in the plants. I watched them for a bit, took photos, watched again, and I noticed that an older lady behind me had stopped to watch as well. I have the feeling she stopped to look because I had stopped to look. I really love when that happens.
She asked me if I knew what they were. I relayed that I was pretty bad at shorebirds, but that I’d guess they were Willetts? Even though I noted their yellow legs and thought maybe they were Greater Yellowlegs. We chatted a tiny bit about both of us going home to find out what they were. And, my inkling was right! Greater Yellowlegs! Maybe my best ever looks at them??
After noting a Great Egret in the distance, I turned around and headed back. The entire way back, I walked on the West edge of the trail to look at all the marsh plants. After I passed a Mourning Dove perched in a bare tree further out, I stopped to look at a particularly wet spot in the marsh. An older man coming from the other direction stopped and asked me, “What are you looking for?” To which, I replied, “Oh, I’m just admiring the marsh plants and how they survive in all that salty water. And the colors right now are so nice with the Golden Hour.” He smiled and said, “Wow, it’s so nice to see someone just stopping to look and appreciate what’s around us.” I mused, “Yep, that’s me!” Yep, that’s me.
I turned back to the trail and saw a number of birds on the East side in the trees and bramble. House Finches (one juvenile making a huge racket while begging for food), Bushtits, and some Western Bluebirds up high at the top of the trees. Then, one Western Bluebird swooped down onto the trail to try grabbing a blackberry. It wasn’t doing so well, and at one point it just stopped with the blackberry at its feet. It had this pose like, “I don’t care about you at all, blackberry. NOT ONE BIT.” Nearby, a Northern Mockingbird was also at the top of a tree. Not making a sound. WEIRD.
Also on my way back, I noticed two newtome plants! Marsh Jaumes and Berry Saltbush! And a tiny blooming Alkali Heath flower was the perfect image to end my time with at Bothin Marsh. How I love a good marsh, folks.