Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Mallard Slough Trail #2/2 - Aug. 20, '11

Walking Distance: 3.1 mi.
Walking Time: 2 hrs., 17 min. (9:49 a.m. - 12:06 p.m.)
Start and End Point: Public parking lot, Environmental Education Center, Alviso/North San Jose, CA

Today I returned to finish walking the Mallard Slough Trail - starting at the SF Bay National Wildlife Refuge Environmental Education Center at the end of Grand Blvd., in N. San Jose/Alviso area.

Yesterday, I had to cut the walk up the east side of this loop trail (not shown on this Bay Trail map -- but it lies to the east of the larger Alviso Slough loop trail -- which is shown as solid red line on map). Today I walked up the west side of the Mallard Slough trail and after a little more than 3 miles I reached the top of this loop -- with views of the now abandoned settlement of Drawbridge on Station Island (top right corner of map). And I got a better/closer look at the tops of some abandoned wooden structures, across a channel.

Fortunately, I arrived at this vantage point at the same time that a docent-led tour was being given in this same location. I was able to hear a few interesting facts about historic Drawbridge. Once a thriving community of residents and weekend hunters, and an area rich in shrimp and oysters, several factors led to its eventual decline: development, over-pumping of groundwater (which caused buildings to sink), and encroachment of the salt industry were a few of the challenges. The last resident left in 1979.

I was able to ride back to the Environmental Education Center in one of the tour vans. I'm including a photo of a view through the van window. Still a beautiful view, but I think it's a good example of how much more one can see on foot.

As with yesterday's walk in this same area, there were lots of birds to see, including a boatload of white pelicans and one lone brown pelican, successfully fishing for lunch. As usual, my rather unscientific account of wildlife spotted is published below. It's a shame to think that at least part of this trail might be closed in the future.

Wildlife Sightings:
1 orange and black butterfly; 2 fuzzy caterpillars; 8 white butterflies; 1 black and yellow butterfly; 1 coot; 2 crows; 1 UFO grebe/diver; 21 willets (or maybe some godwits); 52 Canada geese; 65 swallows (2 kinds); 4 little brown jobs (LBJs); 25 black-necked stilts; 19 great egrets, 41 snowy egrets; 50 white pelicans, 1 brown pelican; 62 unidentified brownish shorebirds (UBBs), 28 tiny UBBs; 16 American Avocets; 7 ducks; 25 cormorants; 10 terns; 1 cloud of ankle gnats (near hunting sign); 1 turkey vulture

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