Thursday, December 29, 2011

Palo Alto Airport - Dec. 24, 2011

Walking Distance: 3.0 mi. (1.8 = "new" miles)
Walking Time: 2 hrs., 12 min. (2:30 - 4:42 p.m.)
Start and End Point: Public parking lot, Lucy Evans Baylands Nature Interpretive Center, Palo Alto, CA

Today I was joined by family in town for the holidays. Thanks to mom, sister Lisa and nieces and nephews for accompanying me on the packed dirt portion of this loop trail (shown as red line on the Bay Trail map shown at right).

We walked from the Lucy Evans Interpretive Center, which was located at the end of Embarcadero Road, past the Duck Pond.

We headed (northish) on the packed dirt portion of this trail, around the Palo Alto Airport. We stopped at the point where we were even with the end of the runway and watched small planes take off above us.

I continued to walk around this loop (red line on Bay Trail map), around the golf course to the Baylands Athletic Center, to Geng Rd., to Embarcadero Rd., past the Duck Pond (pictured), and back to the Lucy Evans Interpretive Center parking lot. Some of this loop (along Geng and Embarcadero) I'd actually covered already earlier today. After saying good-bye to family, I decided to visit "Rail Alley" behind the Interpretive Center.

The California Clapper Rail is an endangered bird that lives in very few places around the Bay; and in part because of its rarity and brownish coloring, it can be hard to spot. The clapper rail's relatively loud and distinctive cry/call is what birders are often more familiar with. Sightings are rare.

So, when I walked along the wood plank pier to Rail Alley behind the Interpretive Center, I wasn't expecting much. However, there were two clapper rails mucking about in the mud at low tide, and feeding on -- or at least poking around -- shells/shellfish with their beaks. It was a rare treat to see (and hear) them.

Wildlife Sightings:
2 killdeer; 1 kite; 220 ducks; 45 sea gulls; 58 unidentified brownish birds (UBBs); 10 American Avocets; 3 black-necked stilts; 1 great egret; 28 little brown jobs (LBJs); 4 cormorants; 2 California Clapper Rails

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Palo Alto, Geng Rd. - Dec. 24, '11

Walking Distance: .8 miles
Walking Time: 0 hrs., 45 min. (11:35 a.m. - 12:20 p.m.)
Start and End Point: Public parking lot, Baylands Athletic Center, Palo Alto, CA

On this short segment walk (#2/3 today), I covered a small stretch of paved trail (with sidewalks, and shown as a "red line" trail on Bay Trail map) on Geng Road and Embarcadero Road, in Palo Alto.

From the Baylands Athletic Center parking lot, I headed southeast on Geng Rd., passing a few squirrels and crows, and skirting some orange cones and long stretch of black PVC pipe that took up some of the sidewalk area on Geng. I enjoyed the smell of eucalyptus trees and the sight of brightly colored purple and white kale (cabbage family) being used as landscaping.

When I reached Embarcadero Rd., I crossed the street to Ming's (Chinese Restaurant), and put in a to go order.

While waiting for the food, I walked east on Embarcadero to Faber Place/Palo Alto Tech Center office complex (across the street from the golf course driving range), where I'd stopped walking previously. I turned around here and strolled back to Ming's to pick up my Chinese Chicken Salad for lunch (which was quite good); and walked back to Geng Road to the Baylands Athletic Center parking lot.

14 crows; 11 little brown jobs (LBJs); 5 Canada geese (on golf course); 3 squirrels; 1 hummingbird; 1 bumblebee; 1 hawk

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Palo Alto Baylands - Dec. 24, '11

Walking Distance: 2.6 miles
Walking Time: 1 hr., 55 min. (9:30 - 11:25 a.m.)
Start and End Point: Public parking spots along Terminal Blvd. (end of San Antonio Rd.), Mountain View, CA

Today was my last day in Mountain View. I took my first walk (of three shorter segments) into and around the Palo Alto Baylands, following "red line" trails (on the Bay Trail map).

From Terminal Blvd., I first walked toward Shoreline Park/Lake, and then turned around and walked north, out toward the Bay, then behind Elwell Court.

There were lots of hunkered down ducks, balletic American avocets (without their rust colored throat color in winter), and other birds out this morning. The faint sound of hunters gunfire in the distance is also a little unsettling this time of year (winter is hunting season). I spotted what I thought might have have been some plastic produce bags up into a tree. Nope. They were black-crowned night herons. That was fun to see them, although they were too far away for me to get a good shot of them.

I eventually popped out onto a paved (asphalt) bike and walking trail along East Bayshore, and I walked north along this trail. Marsh grasses and SF Bay to the right, and the sound of the freeway (Highway 101) to the left (beyond E. Bayshore). The licorice-like smell of fresh fennel was in the air. I walked across the first of two small Town and Country wood plank and metal frame bridges, and passed the James Moore sculpture entitled "Bliss in the Moment" -- a metal statue of a bicyclist stopping to take in the bay view.

I also walked by some photovoltaic arrays and, according to an interpretive sign "photovoltaics (PV) converts light energy into electricity, using no moving parts....photons are absorbed by a silicon crystal cell..." I, as a walker, convert chocolate into energy, using several moving parts, and enjoy absorbing photons (sunlight) along the way. Silly to compare the two, but I do like photons -- and seeing solar energy being used by the City of Palo Alto.

I turned around when I reached the point where the Adobe Creek Loop Trail intersected with East Bayshore. If I'd turned right on this trail, toward the Bay, I would have walked approximately 1.9 miles to Byxbee Park. I know this, because I accidentally walked this trail last week.

Wildlife Sightings:
5 cormorants; 32 sea gulls; 44 little brown jobs (LBJs); 33 coots; 59 ducks; 20 American Avocets; 4 black-necked stilts; 43 unidentified brownish shorebirds (5 tiny ones); 2 great egrets, 2 snowy egrets; 4 brown pelicans,10 white pelicans; 1 great blue heron; 7 black-crowned night herons; 1 ball; 9 Canada geese; 3 hummingbirds; 1 killdeer; 9 crows; 2 hawks/falcons

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Palo Alto Baylands - Dec. 18, '11

Walking Distance: 6 miles (estimate)
Walking Time: 3 hrs., 21 min. (1:24 - 4:45 p.m.)
Start and End Point: public parking lot, Byxbee Park, Palo Alto Baylands Nature Preserve, Palo Alto, CA

Today I covered more of the Palo Alto Baylands (the lower of two) loop trails (shown as red lines on Bay Trail map).

I parked at Byxbee Park -- a hilly, former garbage dump, compost and recycling area (much of it now closed). The sculpted mounds are topped with rows of posts and cement berms arranged in sculptural fashion. The audio component of this experience was provided by small airplanes coming in for a landing at the nearby Palo Alto Airport. I walked around Byxbee Park -- toward the bay and roughly southeast. I had hoped that I'd be able to walk to the point where I left off yesterday; however, this Adobe Creek loop trail led toward Highway 101 and the trail continued along the Bayshore Frontage Road. I walked north on this trail, past the Renzel Wetlands, up to Embarcadero Road.

I crossed Embarcadero (no crosswalk, so look both ways) to walk to the Palo Alto Municipal Golf Course. I stopped at the Bay Cafe at the Golf Course for a late lunch (fresh, carved turkey and vegetables).

This time of year it's been getting dark a few minutes before 5 p.m., so by the time I finished lunch, and spent some time at the Palo Alto Duck Pond, and arrived at Lucy Evans Baylands Nature Interpretive Center, the sun was setting. But, I made it in time to visit the Center, hear bird calls, look at bird exhibits (including a tiny little sandpiper), and a small aquarium. (They also have a few maps of the area.)

I walked south along the bay to a sailing dock, and came across a pheasant that seemed fairly tame. After that I walked back to the car at Byxbee Park, to make it back at before dark. It was also a record day for ducks -- lots of ducks; there were at least 5 different varieties (mallards, scaups, shovelers, etc.).

Wildlife Sightings:
412 ducks; 68 unidentified brownish shorebirds (UBBs), 1 Willet; 48 sea gulls; 14 ground squirrels; 48 little brown jobs (LBJs); 1 brown pelican; 3 cormorants; 2 pheasants; 1 Western/Clarks grebe; 19 coots; 15 killdeer; 1 hawk/kestrel/falcon; 2 snowy egrets, 1 great egret; 6 black-necked stilts; 26 American avocets; 5 crows; 2 kite birds; 5 miscellaneous geese, 1 Canada geese; 10 pigeons

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Shoreline Kickoff, Walk #2 - Dec. 17, '11

Walking Distance: 4 miles (estimate)
Walking Time: 2 hrs., 5 min. (10:07 a.m. - 12:12 p.m.)
Start and End Point: Public parking lot, Shoreline Park, Mountain View, CA

Today I embarked on my second walk around San Francisco Bay. It was a beautiful, sunny day, a few days away from the start of winter.

I started my walk at the Lakeside Cafe, in Shoreline Park. Thank you

to Javier Rojo for fixing me a decaf cappuccino at the cafe. After that, it was time to grab the camera, break open the logbook and get going.

I walked past the boathouse/dock area on the lake, within view of paddleboats, windsurfing boards, small sailboats, and kayaks: all stacked up and ready to go. And from there I made my way along the paved (asphalt) walk (heading roughly east) to the Bay Trail.

In the distance, to the south were the large hangars at Moffett Field in Sunnyvale and a blimp in the same area.

I stopped to talk with a photographer, Ming W., who showed me a fantastic shot of a harrier she had taken. Part of the fun of walking the trail is to meet other people along the way.

I walked north on the Bay Trail (red line on the Bay Trail map), and crossed my first city boundary -- from Mountain View into the Palo Alto baylands,
passing through the Charleston Slough area.

Due to a prior engagement this afternoon, I had to turn around at the "Interrelationships" interpretive sign/plaque on the packed dirt portion of the trail, in between Shoreline Park in Mountain View and the Lucy Evans Baylands Nature Interpretive Center in Palo Alto.

On the way back, when I crossed back over into Shoreline Park, I walked along the lake, back to the Lakeside Cafe, and the adjacent lot where my car was parked.

It was a great day to see lots of different kinds of birds, including
several species of ducks. Given that it was hunting season, and that I could hear the faint sound of guns being fired a few miles off during the walk this morning, I'd say these ducks had picked the right spot
to hang out.

My favorite bird was the sea gull who was trying to carry an overly large shellfish in its beak. A bird after my own heart.

Wildlife Sightings:
38 cormorants; 7 snowy egrets, 5 great egrets; 26 Canada geese; 40 sea gulls; 15 coots; 2 kite birds; 156 ducks; 2 brown pelicans; 5 little brown jobs (LBJs); 2 hummingbirds; 1 cute grebe/diver; 2 crows; 5 pigeons; 1 hawk/kestrel/falcon; 88 American avocets; 8 black-necked stilts; 67 unidentified brownish shorebirds (UBBs); 1 great blue heron; 2 jackrabbits

Saturday, December 10, 2011

1,000 miles - Now what do I do?

After 1,000 miles of Walking the Bay, what does one do?
I plan to start another revolution around the Bay this month (Dec. '11).
I'm sure there will be more to see, discover next time.
See you on the Bay Trail.

Alameda Creek - Dec. 9, 2011

Walking Distance: 3.8 miles
Walking Time: 1 hr., 42 min. (3:50 - 5:32 p.m.)
Start and End Point: Alameda Creek Stables Staging Area, Fremont, CA

Today I finished up the last bit of Bay Trail for this go-round. My original goal two years ago was to walk 1,000 miles around SF Bay. However, when I reached the end of my walk around the bay a few months ago, my mileage total was only 997.28 miles. I had come up a few miles short -- because I'd been forced to skip this last section of Alameda Creek trail; it was closed when I walked by here a few months ago. (Thank you to Greg Hilst at the Alameda Public Works Dept. for confirming that this trail reopened last Wednesday.) This evening I walked this segment and finally reached my official 1,000 mile goal -- at last.

From the Alameda Creek Stables Staging Area parking lot ("P" on map), I walked up a slight hill to the top of the levee, and headed east on the north side (unpaved for equestrians) of the Alameda Creek Regional Trail (red line on the north side of the Creek/Channel Bay Trail Map) toward the Union City Boulevard bridge (double yellow lines in Bay Trail map) over the Alameda County Flood Control Channel/Alameda Creek. I walked under this bridge and then back onto (the east side of bridge that has a sidewalk for pedestrians); and I walked across the bridge. I exited left at the end of the bridge, and went under bridge again, back to west side, and walked up to newly re-opened section of the Alameda Creek Regional Trail (red line on map, south side of Creek/Channel).

This sounds complicated, but this is all a fancy way of saying -- don't try crossing this bridge walking on the west side -- as there is no sidewalk/shoulder for pedestrians or bikes, and cars are zipping along this street at a good clip. Note: walkers and bicyclists can also access this trail through Coyote Hills Regional Park.

Once I made it onto the south side of the Alameda Creek trail (paved for bikes and pedestrians), I headed west toward Coyote Hills Regional Park/SF Bay. On the way, I passed the turn-off to the Dust Trail, an unpaved packed dirt trail, good for trail bike riding. I continued to walk west on the newly asphalted trail, until I reached the intersection of Alameda Creek trail and the Bayview Trail (which continued into Coyote Hills park, and/or toward the Bay (offering nice views of the water and Dumbarton Bridge heading over to Menlo Park.

I started this walk in the 90 degree weather. Tonight I ended my walk in considerably cooler weather. The colors and landscape were muted. Tonight today's not-quite winter sun sank at 4:50 p.m. A colorful orange sunset to the west, and a full moon rising in the east. It was a beautiful way to end a 1,000 mile walk.

Wildlife Sightings:
56 Canada geese; 4 pigeons; 3 great blue herons; 5 snowy egrets; 7 great egrets; 2 killdeer; 79 ducks; 1 turkey vulture; 12 little brown jobs (LBJs); 3 kites (birds); 2 hawks/kestrels/falcons; 3 unidentified brownish shorebirds (UBBs); 10 coots; 9 doves; 9 sea gulls; 2 deer

Monday, November 28, 2011

Guadalupe River Trail - Nov. 27, 2011

Walking Distance: 2.9 miles (estimate)
Walking Time: 1 hr., 22 min. (2:09 - 3:31 p.m.)
Start and End Point: San Jose International Airport, Economy (long-term parking) Lot 1; San Jose, CA

Having walked, unintentionally, south on the Guadalupe River Trail (shown as a purple line on Bay Trail map) yesterday, I made sure I headed north this afternoon. I soon crossed under Highway 101, and then the Trimble Rd. underpass. These concrete structures are cool and silent except for the muffled thurrumping of cars passing by above; they have a solemnity similar to stone cathedrals or catacombs.

After getting above ground again, I spotted a few mature walnut trees along a wire fence. I had been smelling green walnuts/walnut trees yesterday and couldn't see any. I grew up climbing three large walnut trees in my parents backyard, so I recognized the pleasant, green nut aroma. Hard to tell whether the plowed field on the other side of the fence (a rare bit of open space in between office parks and technology companies) was once a walnut grove or not. But, it was a fun trip down memory lane.

I kept going until I reached the point where I'd left off previously

 (near 2701 Orchard Pkwy, or the back of the building located at this address), with the single basketball hoop in the back. It helps to have an identifiable marker or two to make sure I've arrived at the right place.

Continuing on, I found a little pile of white sea shells on a concrete slope leading up to the freeway. I have no idea how these might have gotten here. Raccoon picnic?

On my way back, I passed by a gaggle of Canada geese, sitting on the trail, and nibbling on fresh green grass at the edge of the top of the embankment that sloped down into the Guadalupe River. I'm fairly certain these were the same geese I saw down by the River when I passed here the first time. Even though they are sandwiched between highway over- and under-passes, the geese had found a reasonably undisturbed area of riverbed to visit.

After this relatively short stroll this afternoon, I took the free San Jose airport shuttle bus over to the new terminal (Terminal B) to take care of an errand I needed to run, and to check in early for a Southwest Airlines flight tomorrow, since I was already at the airport.

The Bay Trail runs by most of the major airports in the Bay Area -- San Francisco (SFO), Oakland (OAK); and, if you walk the Guadalupe River Trail (technically a connector trail to the Bay Trail), then you'll pass San Jose (SJC) as well.

Wildlife Sightings:
35 little brown jobs (LBJs); 12 Canada geese; 10 ducks, 2 cute brownish divers/grebes/ducks?; 15 coots; 1 white butterfly; 3 sea gulls; 4 blue jays; 2 snowy egrets, 1 great egret