Mission Creek and Islais Creek (8/22/2022)

Today I managed to finally visit both Mission Creek and Islais Creek. So convenient that they’re on the same side of the city!

I’ve always been curious to see the houseboats on Mission Creek, and they’re as lovely as they look from the 280N highway far above them. And, far more recently, I’ve been intrigued to see where Mission Creek dumps into the bay. Pre-pandemic, I had no idea that outlet was Mission Creek. I thought it was just where the bay filled into a natural channel. Yeah.

It’s quite nice out there! I was surprised to see so much native plants lining the creek edge. I need to look up photos of what it all looked like before the condos were all built around it. Maybe not too different?

The park part is nothing to write home about, but there was a lot to see close to the creek! Gumplant and Blueblossom and Red Valerian and Alkali Heath and Pickleweed, much of which was frequented by a Sandhill Skipper (?) and Cabbage White and West Coast Lady and Common Checkered-Skipper butterflies.

Even a Variegated Meadowhawk sat still for me. And, noting its glittery bits on its wings once I got home and saw the photo I took up close, I’m convinced this is the magical dragonfly we saw hovering over the meadow at Reinhardt Redwood Regional Park. Glittery dragonfly magic, YES.

Double-crested Cormorants were in the creek, but that was about it. I walked to the park end and stopped once two Skippers allofasudden swirled around each other in front of me. One even landed on my jacket sleeve! I looked down at it. It looked up at me. We had a moment. And then it fluttered immediately out of sight. True love can be that brief.

While the park itself is very basic, I did get to admire a grass I hadn’t recalled seeing before. Grasses. That is like nextlevelnaturing right there. I think of it as perhaps on par with gulls. As a birder, once you advance to IDing gulls, it seems like maybe that’s what it’s like to be a Naturalist and advance to IDing grasses. I could be wrong. OF COURSE. But, that’s my impression so far.

As of now, the jury is still out on what grass it is. Ravenna Grass? Not holding my breath that I’ll get a response on iNat!

Oh, and a Peruvian Pepper Tree (?) or two were over there, as well. Random! Walking back, I noticed Sticky Snakeroot, which seemed to tower over the height I’ve seen at the Lily Pond in GGPark! I passed the midway point and started to see Purple Sage and Red Osier Dogwood and California Fuchsia.

Then I saw a couple drawings of local flora/fauna posted. Sculpin by Milo and Ayan, with Belted Kingfisher by Mary. Turned out to be the beginning of a number of handmade signs on that side of the trail. Just awesome.

I had gotten to a boardwalk plank thing (so folks can get from the parking lot to the houseboats), and two juvenile gulls were crying like big babies! The adult gulls near them looked like Western or California Gulls. GULLS. They’re hard.

Perez’s Sea Lavender and Toyon and California Buckwheat and super bare California Buckeye trees were nice sights to see on the West end. A Eurasian Collared-Dove announced its presence to me while perched high above on a wire. A Black-crowned Night-Heron chilled on a wood post. And an Anna’s Hummingbird tried to be heard above the loud vehicles nearby.

Got to the very end, where a handful of houseboats continue but were out of sight. There looked to be a fenced garden at the end of the trail! All closed and seemingly abandoned, though. Unfortunately, I couldn’t see the end to where Mission Creek dumps out into the channel. Maybe it can be seen from the North side of the creek?

A very nice consolation prize was watching two Anise Swallowtail butterflies flutter-patrolling over there. One even perched on a flippin’ blade of grass for me.

Marmalade-bush was a lovely surprise. I’ve missed it since it was removed from Stow Lake! Also on my way back, I noticed a Snowy Egret that landed on the dock. It walked a couple steps here and there, and then it flew to where a Black-crowned Night-Heron was and made the Heron move!! It quickly flew to the main dock, and THAT made a Great Blue Heron (that was out of sight) allofasudden flap up and down to adjust to all the commotion! I wouldn’t have guessed a Snowy Egret would beat out a Black-crowned Night-Heron!

The last thing I saw was a Northern Mockingbird perched high up in a dead-looking pine tree. But, overall, I saw SO MUCH considering it’s a small little space over there!

I still had time for Islais Creek, so off I went. This time, I wanted to see the North side. Turns out there’s an “Islais Creek Promenade” on that side! Sadly, it has very little character and overlooks trash and graffitied/homeless encampments on the South side. It broke my heart to see all the garbage amongst the Pickleweed and Gumplants lining the creek.

It was an interesting comparison to Mission Creek, hooboy. Guess Islais Creek would be a lot nicer if condos were all around it instead of industrial complexes. I kept thinking how they should build fences or even a flippin’ wall to line that creek channel to keep all the garbage from getting into it and eventually the bay.

Lots of similar plants to Mission Creek, plus Rugosa Roses and Western Marsh Rosemary and Rosemary and Wartleaf Ceanothus and Pinkladies. A nice wood bridge. Some Double-crested Cormorants in the creek. A Caspian Tern parent with crying juvenile pestering it. Even a Common-Checkered Skipper! And a couple Sandpipers I couldn’t ID before they fled to the opposite side of the creek from me.

Got to watch a Caspian Tern diving into the creek a couple times, though! And a Great Blue Heron flew in, too. Ultimately, I’m glad I now know what’s on the North side. But I’m saddened at the state of it all. I couldn’t help but feel ashamed at how poorly this creek has been treated. I didn’t take many photos out there.

All in all, the mysteries of Mission Creek and Islais Creek can now be put to rest for me. Guess that’s the end of my Tale of Two Creeks.

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