Monday, March 29, 2010

China Camp State Park - N. San Pedro Rd. - Mar. 28, 2010

Walking Distance: 2.5 miles
Walking Time: 2 hrs., 54 min. (3:05 - 5:59 p.m.)
Start and End Point: Parked on side of (N. San Pedro) Road, just past China Camp State Park (North) entrance sign, San Rafael, CA

I was treated to another wild turkey sighting today (and the sounds of other turkeys gobbling in the vicinty), within a few seconds of locking up my car and starting to walk. It must be mating season.

It was a little overcast, but still nice spring weather overall. Birds, animals and insects were out, as were lots of wildflowers. For those sensitive to poison oak, be careful when you walk on the Shoreline and other park trails (shown in solid red and purple lines on map) above the road (shown as double yellow lines). The trail system is very nice, but there is quite a bit of poison oak close to the trail edge.

Wildlife Sightings:

1 wild turkey; 12 turkey vultures; 3 crows; 4 deer; 1 black and yellow bumblebee struggling on the ground; 4 little brown jobs (LBJs); 3 mosquitos - 1 bit me; 1 great egret; 1 rusty screw; 1 horse (on private land/farmhouse) and 1 cormorant, 1 duck, and 1 great blue heron (in farmhouse pond). Wildflowers included: blue-eyed grass; California poppies; yellow "buttercups"; little yellow flowers (unidentified); scotch broom (yellow flowers); purple irises; unidentified pink/purple vetches

Thursday, March 25, 2010

China Camp State Park, March 24, 2010

Walking Distance: 6 miles
Walking Time: 3 hrs., 29 minutes (1:00 - 4:29 p.m.)
Start and End Point: $5.00 Vehicle Day Use spot, Bullhead Flat parking lot, China Camp State Park, CA

The stretch I covered today was as far south as McNear's beach, and as far north as the Miwok Meadows area in the park (NW of Buckeye Point). I walked along San Pedro Road (double yellow lines on map), the beaches, and the Shoreline Trail (solid red line), to see as much as possible. I also made a stop at the China Camp Village historic site, where there is a visitor center and some interesting information about the remnants of this old fishing village and shrimping area.

China Camp was a great park that I'd never visited. Great views; lots of wildlife; and, this time of year, some nice wildflowers as well. I met several mountain bicyclists on the Shoreline trail. And, there was some poison oak sprouting up alongside the trail, so I stepped aside to let the cyclists pass -- very carefully.

Wildlife Sightings:
49 unidentified brownish shorebirds; 25 ducks; 10 sea gulls; 2 hummingbirds; 2 willets; 2 ladybugs; 1 Western grebe; 5 snowy egrets; 2 Canada geese; 1 deer; 5 turkey vultures; 1 lizard; 1 reg. (tree) squirrel; 3 orange and brown butterflies/moths; lots of beautiful wildflowers (wild purple iris, blue-eyed grass; yellow scotch broom, etc.); 1 wild turkey; 1 blue jay; 2 great egrets; 3 little brown jobs (LBJs); 1 big fat black and yellow bumblebee; and 1 dragonfly.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Pt. San Pedro Rd., cont. #2 - March 19, 2010

Walking Distance: 1.6 miles
Walking Time: 36 min. (7:15 - 7:51 p.m.)
Start and End Point: Street parking along Knight Drive, San Rafael, CA

As it was getting dark, I enjoyed watching the reflection of the lights on the water (from street lights and the Richmond - San Rafael Bridge in the distance), and a large ship sliding bay on the far side of the bay.

Wildlife Sightings:
8 Canada geese; 46 ducks in bay area; 2 Western grebes; 2 Willets flying (were making some noise, white on wings and a little on tails); and 1 brown pelican flying fairly high up was the last bird I saw before it got too dark. 

Pt. San Pedro Rd., cont. - March 19, 2010

Walking Distance: 1.0 mile
Walking Time: 25 minutes (6:40 - 7:05 p.m.)
Start and End Time: Parked just off Pt. San Pedro, street parking near Chapel Cove Dr., San Rafael

This segment covered Pt. San Pedro Road, from the entrance to the San Rafael Rock Quarry (Dutra Co.) to Riviera Drive. Along the way were views of the McNear brick factory. I enjoyed looking at the attractive logos for Chapel Cove and the subsequent development (peacock).

Wildlife Sightings:
1 cloud of gnats; 8 ducks; 2 red-winged blackbirds; 10 little brown jobs (6 + 4 little tiny ones); 1 dove; and 1 big black and yellow bumblebee, hovering over grass and flowers.

McNear's Beach - Mar. 19, 2010

Walking Distance: 1.0 mile (as far as possible, from one end of the park to the other)
Walking Time: 1 hr., 49 minutes (between 4:30 - 6:30 p.m., including breaks, re-parking car)
Start and End Point: 1.) Beach Parking lot ($8.00 use fee); 2.) unpaved lot by park entrance/exit.

It was a beautiful day to explore McNear's Beach Park. There were very few people on the day (Friday) that I was there. Although, judging for the long line of portable restrooms I saw in the overflow parking lot, I'd say they were ready to handle larger crowds or events. This is one of the better beaches on the Bay. There were birds on the water, shells, and evidence of crabs on the beach. The fishing pier was closed, but a few rod-and-reelers were trying their luck close to shore.

Lesson Learned (again): Never, ever walk without the camera. Once again, some remarkable photographic pleasure unfolded in front of me, and I was unable to capture the image. In this case, in the 10-minute walk I took without my camera, I saw a herd (technically a rafter or gang) of wild turkeys walking through the woods, near the road, about 15 feet from me. The largest male looked like the kind we made in grade school by tracing our hands, and using brightly colored construction paper. Alas, no picture.

I also walked outside of the park, as far as the entrance to the Quarry, off Pt. San Pedro Road.

Wildlife Sightings:
44 ducks; 5 Canada geese; 1 large dredge?/sea crane? by (closed) fishing pier; 1 beehive? in tree/bush (I didn't investigate - just heard buzzing); 5 crows; 3 sea gulls; 7 little brown jobs (LBJs); 1 cormorant; 1 unidentified brownish shorebird; 7 wild turkeys; 3 red-winged blackbirds; and 1 hummingbird on telephone wire. Partial credit for two deer that I took a picture of, but didn't see until I looked at photograph later.

San Rafael, Pt. San Pedro Rd. - March 19, 2010

Walking Distance: 4.2 mi. (2.1 miles x 2)
Walking Time: 1 hr., 42 min. (1:40 - 3:22 p.m.)
Start and End Point: Parked on Bay Way, San Rafael, CA

It was a beautiful early spring day, which helped inspire a long walk today. That and wanting to avoid a long drive for a return trip.

This entry was the first of five segments walked today. I walked northeast along Pt. San Pedro Road, past San Pedro Elementary School, and signs that advertised BBQ, and also the world's greatest bait shop; took a lovely detour on Beach Road; and I eventually reached a small strip of park area (with picnic table and grass) by the bay, across the street from Main Drive.

I then turned around and walked as far southwest as 221 Pt. San Pedro Rd., near the Marin Yacht Club. This was where I'd left off previously, in the dark. So it was nice to see the boats and the water today. There was one section along this road where it was tough to walk (due to overgrown bushes coming out over the curb where I was walking), but otherwise it was a nice walk along a main suburban artery.

Wildlife Sightings:
8 crows; 3 ladybugs; 1 lizard, who seemed to look back at me with both curiousity and indignance after I startled it from its sunning spot; 2 snowy egrets (off Beach Road); 10 ducks; 2 butterflies/moths (1 white, 1 orange and brown); 1 cormorant; 1 hubcap (Nissan); and 2 doves on a telephone(?) wire above the road.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

San Rafael - 3rd. St. to Pt. San Pedro Rd. - March 15, 2010

Walking Distance: 2.0 miles (2 segments combined)
Walking Time: 42 minutes (2 segments combined between 8:30 and 9:32 p.m.)
Start and End Points: Street parking, including spot near Marina Blvd. and Pt. San Pedro Road, San Rafael, CA

I was driving back from a wine country trip further north, and had spent the morning hiking through some old redwood trees. Very nice. I stopped by San Rafael on the way home, after dinner, to do some grocery shopping, and to try to walk at least a few steps further on the Bay Trail. I'm far enough North now that I've been spending about 4 hours driving each day I've set off walking. However, it is still worth it. Still seeing new things every time I walk the trail.

On this evening's walk, I passed a high school, and at least one yacht club; but it was too late in the evening to really see much of anything except for a sidewalk, a road lit by streetlights, tufts of brush, houses, and concrete forms/embankments. I look forward to walking the next part of this road (leading to China Camp) in daylight hours.

Wildlife Sightings:
None, as it was too dark. I thought I heard some frogs in the distance, but I didn't see any.

San Rafael - Beach Park, March 10, 2010

Walking Distance: 2.3 miles (2 segments combined)
Walking Time: 59 minutes (2 segments combined)
Start and End Point(s): Street Parking, and Shopping Center parking lot (combined with errand); San Rafael, CA

Most of this route was following city streets (shown as double yellow lines on the Bay Trail map). However, it was nice to visit a small park, among the restaurants and light industrial/commercial businesses in the area. And, in addition to some fun painted signs (see octopus, shown at right), crowded in a small spot by the bridge/overcrossing (Grand), there was what looked like a little sea scout outpost. No scouts to be seen though.

Wildlife Sightings:
13 pigeons; 3 crows; 1 rusty screw; 1 abandoned chair near water; 3 turkey vultures; 1 hubcap; 1 duck; 1 cormorant gobbling a fish; 2 little brown jobs (LBJs); and 17 sea gulls, including 3 sea gulls with impossibly bright white outlines against a very blue sky

Monday, March 8, 2010

Downtown San Rafael - 3rd St. - March 4, 2010

Walking Distance: 1.4 miles
Walking Time: 28 minutes (4:03 - 4:31 p.m.)
Start and End Point: City of San Rafael Parking Garage (metered, 2 hr. spot), near 3rd. St. and Lootens Place., San Rafael, CA

One crow and 12 pigeons. That's enough to tell me I'm in a heavily urbanized area. And I was. I walked up to the intersection of 3rd and A Streets. I then walked down 3rd Street, past the transit station, under the freeway underpass (thick white line on map) with concrete pillars painted blue with flowers, to the intersection with 3rd St. and Irwin St. 

The blue fish (shown) was "swimming" in a store window.

Wildlife Sightings:
1 crow and 12 pigeons

San Rafael, Andersen Drive, Part #3 - March 4, 2010

Walking Distance: 1.9 miles
Walking Time: 37 minutes (3:08 - 3:45 p.m.)
Start and End Point: 1-hour (street) parking spot on Andersen Drive, San Rafael, CA

This last (eastern) stretch of Andersen Drive (area shown as double red lines on map) wound up a hill and ended at the intersection with Sir Francis Drake Blvd. (area shown as double yellow lines). I turned right on Sir Francis Drake, as no pedestrians or bicycles were allowed to turn left -- i.e. to travel the stretch of road serving as the approach to Richmond Bridge. I continued on Sir Francis Drake Blvd., passing a closed gate to San Quentin Prison, until I'd reached the point where I'd left off several days ago. Then I turned around and walked back.

Note: Although somewhat scenic, with some nice glimpses of the Bay, this route is not a walker-friendly stretch of road. It may be better for bicyclists. Cars come hurtling by you at fairly high speeds. I waited until cars had passed before taking these pictures. The good news: I did walk much faster than usual, so I could get off these busy roads. This meant fewer photo stops, even though I wanted to take one of a San Quentin prison watch tower in the distance, with the Bay in the background. I also didn't feel comfortable taking pictures of the prison.

1 turkey vulture, 1 hubcap, 1 small lizard, and 1 duck flying overhead

San Rafael, Bellam Blvd. - March 4, 2010

Walking Distance: 1.4 miles
Walking Time: 37 minutes (1:48 - 2:25 p.m.)
Start and End Point: Street parking on 300 block of Bellam Blvd., San Rafael, CA

The closest I came to seeing the Bay walking this commercial and residential stretch of Bellam Blvd. between Catalina Blvd. and Andersen Drive (double yellow lines on map shown) was some water in a concrete streambed going under the road.

However, there are a few hardy birds (often crows or pigeons) that seem to make a living in urban areas; and there are always interesting signs, or odd surprises to photograph -- such as a zebra on a muffler shop sign.

Wildlife Sightings:
12 crows

San Rafael, Nature Center and Andersen Dr. #2 - Feb. 25, 2010

Walking Distance: 3 miles (estim.) (3 segments combined)
Walking Time(s): 1 hr., 23 min. (4:30 - 5:53 p.m. ) + 25 min. (estim.)
Start and End Point: 2 different street parking spaces, San Rafael, CA

The Terwilliger Nature Education Center offered a great opportunity to see birds up close, albeit in cages, or stuffed. Pictured here is the white pelican that was in residence. A few (wild) black crowned night herons appeared just before feeding time -- hoping for a free dinner.

In addition to visiting the Nature Education Center (near the Bay Trail, as shown on map), I also walked Andersen Drive, from Irwin to A St.  All these places are located in/near downtown San Rafael.

Wildlife Sightings:
1 white pelican, 1 turkey vulture, 2 woodpeckers, 2 black crowned night herons, 2 cormorants, 1 owl, 1 stuffed Western grebe, 2 crows; 1 peregrine falcon, 1 hawk; 2 ducks, 2 sea gulls; 2 little brown jobs (LBJs)

San Rafael, Andersen Drive Part #1 - Feb. 24, 2010

Walking Distance: 2.2 miles (2 segments combined)
Walking Time: 1 hr., 49 min. (6:32 - 8:21 p.m.) includes 2 stops
Start and End Point: 2 different locations along Andersen Drive, San Rafael, CA

It was completely dark by the time I walked down the industrial/commercial section of Andersen Drive. I stopped in at a hardware store for a quick errand, and at a Wendy's for something to eat.

My only wildlife sightings were a few earthworms that had straggled out from a strip of green lawn onto a concrete sidewalk -- a form of worm suicide?  I threw a few back onto the lawn, hoping that would help, and not make matters worse. I shouldn't play God when I don't know what I'm doing. These worms could have been a great bird buffet.

I walked as far northwest as the Office Depot store on Andersen Drive, before deciding to head home.

Point San Quentin - Feb. 24, 2010

Walking Distance: .1 mile
Walking Time: 7 minutes (6:05 - 6:12 p.m.)
Start and End Point: Point San Quentin Scenic Overlook Parking lot, San Rafael, CA

Good view of the Richmond Bridge, lit up in the dark; but there was nowhere to walk from here. The freeway ramp (going toward bridge) was closed to pedestrian traffic; and Marin Rod and Gun Club (and pier visible on map) was on the north side of this small parking area.

Wildlife Sightings:
1 little brown job (LBJ); too dark to see anything else

Friday, March 5, 2010

Pelican Way, San Rafael - Feb. 24, 2010

Walking Distance: 2 miles (estimate)
Walking Time: 1 hr., 25 min. (4:30 p.m. - 5:55 p.m.)
Start and End Point: Pelican Way, end of cul-de-sac, near 150 Pelican Way, San Rafael, CA

Lots of bird life by Shoreline Park. Acacia trees were in full bloom (see image).

I stopped and took pictures of a sunset over a lagoon/pond (pictured), while a cormorant swam around and dined on several little fish. This was the first time I used my iPhone to try to record some sounds of the Bay. Other than picking up some wind noise, when I was trying to record the red-winged blackbirds, it worked surprisingly well. (Unfortunately, this audio memo file format doesn't upload right now.)

Wildlife Sightings:
39 ducks; 7 little brown jobs (LBJs); 4 sea gulls; 15 American avocets; 3 black-necked stilts; 1 great blue heron; 9 unidentified brownish shorebirds; 2 great egrets; 1 coot; 1 snowy egret; 2 crows; 1 Western grebe; 1 hummingbird; 2 red-winged blackbirds; 1 cormorant; 3 doves; and a cloud of gnats