Sunday, September 18, 2011

Alameda Creek, Niles - Sept. 17, '11

Walking Distance: 5.9 miles
Walking Time: 2 hrs., 31 min. (1:29 - 4:00 p.m.)
Start and End Point: Public parking lot, Niles Community Park, Niles district of Fremont, CA

Today was a Saturday (a non-work day), which meant I could take a longer walk, during daylight hours. I headed east from Niles Community Park. It was hot in the mid-day sun, but it wasn't quite a "death march" hike. It would have been much more comfortable if I'd remembered to bring some water. I did see a lot more daytime creatures, such as lizards -- some very small -- and a turtle, sunning themselves on rocks.

After walking the Alameda Creek Regional Trail (shown as a pair of solid red lines near the Bay, and a pair of purple lines further east on the Bay Trail map) a few miles at a time for the past month or two, I finally reached the eastern end of this 12-mile Trail -- and walked over the Old Canyon Bridge (built in 1948) from the north to the south side of the trail -- where I walked west on the return trip.

I continued walking a few miles west until I reached the Sequoia Road bridge, where I could cross back over to the north side, and back to Niles Community Park.

The south side of the Alameda Creek Trail was paved (asphalt), whereas large sections of the north side trail were packed dirt. Both are fairly wide, with plenty of room for shared use. Equestrians are encouraged to ride on the north side; however, I saw no sign of horses or horse traffic while I was walking this past week.

There were interesting things to see along the way, including the usual birds (ducks, cormorants, egrets, etc.) a green heron, a turtle, and several large fish (carp?) in Alameda Creek, visible from 40 feet from the trail. These fish were big enough (2 feet long I'm guessing) that I doubt birds fishing along the shore would pick a fight with these guys.

And there were also model mariners races going on in an adjacent pond/lake. All in all, an interesting day for a walk.

Wildlife Sightings:
3 little brown jobs (LBJs); 2 great egrets, 2 snowy egrets; 17 lizards (including 3 tiny ones); 44 ducks; 6 cormorants; 7 orange and brown/black butterflies, 5 white butterflies; 12 black-necked stilts; 5 unidentified brownish shorebirds (UBBs); 3 blue jays; 17 Canada geese; 4 tree squirrels and 3 ground squirrels; 2 grebes/divers; 6 pigeons; 11 dragonflies; 7 coots; 1 turtle; 1 snail; 11 white pelicans; 5 turkey vultures; 4 sea gulls; 5 crows; ~20 large fish (carp?) in water

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Alameda Creek, cont. Sept. 16, '11

Walking Distance: 3.9 miles (estimate)
Walking Time: 2 hrs., 3 min. (4:40 - 6:43 p.m.)
Start and End Point: Isherwood Staging Area (off Isherwood Way), Alameda Creek Regional Trail, East Bay Parks Rec. Dept. (EBPRD), Fremont, CA

The walk up/east toward the headwaters of Alameda Creek continued this evening. I walked on the north side of the Alameda Creek Regional Trail, on a (primarily) packed dirt levee path from the Isherwood Staging Area public parking lot up to Niles Community Park (in the Niles district of Fremont) -- where there was a field of small children suited up and practicing football before dark.

Most of this trail is shown as a pair of purple lines (connector trail) on the Bay Trail Map.

After walking east from the Isherwood Way Staging area, and passing relatively near a few houses, the terrain became a bit more undeveloped. Trees, including pepper trees (pink peppercorns), provided intermittent shade.

This was a pleasant, evening walk, with a fair number of dog walkers, bicyclists, walkers and joggers. There were also scenic views of the Quarry Lakes along the way. Although separated from some of these lakes by a wire fence, there was an opportunity to go through a few gates to take a closer look -- and walk parallel to the Bay Trail on a packed dirt path -- for at least a half mile.

There was a steady smattering of birds, especially in the Alameda Creek Channel. In one section of the trail, a large number of turkey vultures circled overhead. A group of vultures group is called a venue, committee, wake, or -- if circling in the air, a kettle.

Regardless of what you call them, I feel a bit uneasy when I see them circling -- knowing they may be closing in on a carcass with their ultra-developed sense of smell. Fortunately, for me, all I could smell was the smell of some hickory smoke and a barbecue wafting over from a cook-out.

Out on the gravel islands in one of the Quarry Lakes, there were visible white specks (birds) of different sizes. I later determined that these "specks" included white pelicans, egrets and sea gulls. I was able to take a few pictures of these small lakes by holding my camera through or over sections of wire/barbed wire fence.

The railroad/rail bridges were marked with interesting graffiti art, and carried the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) trains; a few whooshed by during the time I was walking back and forth.

Wildlife Sightings:
2 blue jays; 28 ducks; 11 little brown jobs (LBJs); 56 crows; 2 butterflies (orange and brown/blk); 7 black-necked stilts; 5 snowy egrets, 1 great egret; 5 unidentified brownish shorebirds (UBBs); 3 dragonflies; 5 killdeer; 2 white pelicans; 3 cormorants (+ 2 others diving birds?); 5 turkey vultures; 1 dove; 5 Canada geese; 22 sea gulls 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Alameda Creek - Sept. 13, '11

Walking Distance: 4.1 miles
Walking Time: 1 hr., 30 min. (5:58 - 7:28 p.m.)
Start and End Point: Street parking on Arizona St. (and Copa Del Oro), Union City, CA

This evening I continued to work my way up the Alameda Creek Regional Trail. I started at Arizona Street in Union City - near a small bridge over the creek, where I'd left off last week.

I walked east on the paved (asphalt) trail (shown as purple lines on the Bay Trail map). Some parts of this trail (underpasses) were packed dirt, but it was a nice broad trail for shared foot and bicycle traffic.

Alameda Creek is actually a large/broad creek bed that is bolstered with rocks on either side in many places. The rocks are less intrusive than walls of solid concrete and allow for some hiding places for lizards, ground squirrels and other small living things, and allow winter rains to percolate a bit more slowly into the ground I would imagine.

There is a slightly elevated path on both sides of Alameda Creek, and several over- and under-pass crossings. I saw several walkers, runners, bicycle riders, and dogs out for a walk with their owners this evening on both sides of the creek channel, and a few local denizens, like this squirrel up on a fence.

Wildlife Sightings:
7 dragonflies; 14 little brown jobs (LBJs); sound of woodpecker in tree, but couldn't see it; 1 mockingbird; 1 blue jay; 10 Canada geese; 2 hummingbirds; 1 black-crowned night heron; 2 crows; 16 sea gulls; 6 starlings; 4 red-winged blackbirds; 12 pigeons; 2 fuzzy caterpillars; 7 ducks; 1 bumblebee; 1 ground squirrel; 1 great egret

Monday, September 12, 2011

Home Stretch Walk - Sept. 11, '11

Walking Distance: N/A
Walking Time: 1 hr., 5 min. (11:25 a.m. - 12:41 p.m.)
Start and End Point: Michael's at Shoreline/Michael's Restaurant, Mountain View, CA

Today I celebrated walking around the San Francisco Bay with a group of family and friends. Thank you to all who joined in the fun. After meeting in front of Michael's at Shoreline, we followed the same paved (asphalt) bicycle and pedestrian path (solid red line on Bay Trail map) that I had scouted yesterday, with one small shortcut (we crossed over Whisman Slough on the first bridge vs. the second one.)

After walking a loop back to Michael's Restaurant, we had a bite to eat (I recommend the chopped cobb salad), and sampled some chocolates (since I was also celebrating five years of eating a different type of chocolate every day). Life is good, and thank you to Dan, Teri, Ashish, Ken, Alec, Sueling, Tom, Elle, Toni, Susan, and Elise for being part of the home stretch celebratory walk.

I'm sure I missed some wildlife today, as I was enjoying talking with people along the way. So, what I saw out of the corner of my eye, is listed below. I'm already planning to extend this Bay walk a bit; e.g. I will walk a few "new" or newly re-opened segments of trail in the next few months. At that time, I anticipate I will arrive at the 1,000 mile mark, after walking a few Bay Trail connector trails (purple lines on Bay Trail map).

5 white pelicans; 5 terns; 6 sea gulls; 7 ducks; 2 red-tailed hawks; 7 swallows; 1 little brown job (LBJ).

Home Stretch Walk - Sept. 10, '11

Walking Distance: 3 miles (estimate) (2.5 "new" miles)
Walking Time: 1 hr., 46 min. (8:25 - 10:11 a.m.)
Start and End Point: Michael's at Shoreline/Michael's Restaurant, Mountain View, CA

Today was a practice run for my "home stretch" walk back into Shoreline Park -- my starting point for this round-the-Bay walk 2 years ago. I am looking forward to doing this walk again tomorrow with a group of great people who have joined me on Bay Trail walks.

From Michael's at Shoreline/Michael's Restaurant (near the Shoreline Golf Links golf course), I walked across the street (N. Shoreline Blvd.) out toward San Francisco Bay, and followed the (solid red line) trail in a southeasterly direction, then turned right (southwest-ish) and then over a bridge (second one actually, not shown on Bay Trail Map) and then northeast, toward the Bay again, until the trail ended at a locked gate. I then returned to Michael's via the same route.

On the way, I stopped to talk with a few people who were out walking, including one mother and son who was working on a Boy Scout badge; and I dawdled to do some bird-watching. I enjoyed watching white pelicans on the Bay; and one snowy egret, wading in some shallows, extending its yellow toes into the water and shaking its foot -- presumably to attract small fish. I was told that the fish think they see a worm wiggling. The foot shaking (fishing?) seemed to be working for the egret.

All in all, it was a very pleasant walk. The Bay was glassy still. The white tops of the Shoreline Amphitheatre (concert venue) poked up behind the golden brown hills (molded from garbage from many years ago when this Park was a dump site).

While I am returning to my starting point in Mountain View, I still have a few more segments of trail left to walk (some were closed for construction when I passed by originally). I should hit the 1,000 mile walk milestone before the end of 2011.

Wildlife Sightings:
7 terns (at least 4 elegant terns) - squawking and diving for food; 9 ladybugs; 1 cormorant; 1 turkey vulture; 39 sea gulls; 1 hummingbird; 26 little brown jobs (LBJs); 22 swallows; 2 pillbugs; 16 white pelicans; 2 great egrets, 7 snowy egrets; 27 ducks, 1 darker headed smaller bird; 2 unidentified brownish shorebirds (UBBs), 6 tiny UBBs; 1 black-necked stilt; 12 starlings; 3 white butterflies, 4 skippers; 2 dragonflies.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Alameda Creek, cont. - Sept. 8, 2011

Walking Distance: 3.6 miles
Walking Time: 1 hr., 43 min. (5:43 - 7:26 p.m.)
Start and End Point: Peregrine Way and Falcon Dr., Fremont, CA

This evening I walked another section of the Alameda Creek Regional Trail and, in the process, went from Union City to Fremont and back to the Union City area again. I started in an adjacent residential block, and followed a dirt path up to a short hill to get to this trail. (The eastern section of this trail is shown as a purple, solid line/trail on the Bay Trail Map.)

While not technically part of the Bay Trail, I'm following this trail toward Niles Canyon area because I following Alameda Creek further up into the hills to its source looked interesting, and also because a section of the Alameda Creek trail down toward Coyote Hills was closed until next month.

I found out later in the walk this evening that I was walking on a closed section here as well. Oops. What was my first clue? Probably the recently rearranged dirt and the earth movers. I failed to see the closed trail sign, as I entered this trail mid-way through this section.

However, once started, not easily stopped. So, I continued east to a section of the Alameda Creek trail that was open -- and followed this trail until a bridge, near the intersection of Arizona St. and Copa del Oro, in Union City.

Along the way I stopped to take some pictures under the Highway 880 underpass; not something I would normally see if I were driving along on top. This area, with pillars reflected in the creek, had the stillness of a cathedral.

The first leaves are starting to turn colors, a sure sign that summer is in retreat. I'll miss the light that has made evening walks possible in the past several months.

On the wildlife front, I saw a hawk; some lizards soaking up the last rays of sun on the rocky creek bank; swallows darting about before the sun slipped below the trees; and a housecat stalking a duck. I couldn't resist warning the duck.

Wildlife Sightings:
6 swallows; 5 little brown jobs (LBJs); 1 ground squirrels; 1 hawk/kestrel/; 3 pigeons; 22 Canada geese; 1 dove; 1 blue jay; 1 ball; 6 lizards; 2 dragonflies; 3 crows; 11 ducks; 1 orange and brown butterfly; 1 cat (I'm guessing it was a domestic cat)

Monday, September 5, 2011

Alameda Creek NE - Sept. 5, '11

Walking Distance: 1.7 mi.
Walking Time: 1 hr., 10 min. (4:38 - 5:48 p.m.)
Start and End Point: Public Parking lot, Alameda Creek Regional Trail, off Union City Blvd./Lowry Rd., Union City, CA

The bulk of my round-the-bay-revolution is drawing to a close this month (Sept. '11); however, today I revisited Alameda Creek Regional Trail to see if the piece on the south side of the Alameda Flood Control Channel near/in Coyote Hills Regional Park (solid red line on map) was open. It was still closed due to some construction, so a friend and I walked an alternate segment -- on the North side of this trail (shown as a solid purple line on the Bay Trail map).

We started and ended our walk, on this fine Labor Day holiday Monday afternoon, from a public parking lot (located off Union City Blvd. and Lowry Rd.). We climbed up a small embankment up to the trail, and walked northeast toward the trail's end in Niles. We stopped to view some white pelicans, ducks, egrets and other birds in the wide channel bordered by marsh grasses; and we later paused again to gaze upon some mini "rapids" in another section. A snowy egret and a cormorant hovered around the shoals in search of dinner. There is something very relaxing about the sounds of flowing water over rocks.

I plan to return, to finish this purple (connecting) trail -- following the channel, past quarry lakes, up to the base of the hills in the east and the Old (Niles) Canyon Bridge and back.

Wildlife Sightings:
1 lizard; 3 cormorants; 11 ducks; 5 white pelicans; 1 great blue heron; 24 unidentified brownish shorebirds (UBBs); 1 great egret and 4 snowy egrets; 7 pigeons; 2 doves; 1 blue jay; 4 crows, 2 swallows

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Alviso Slough Trail - Sept. 3, '11

Walking Distance: 9 miles
Walking Time: 3 hrs., 35 min. (2:20 - 5:55 p.m.)
Start and End Point: Alviso Slough Trail, Alviso, CA

Today was "walking the big loop" day -- and, the loop in question was the 9-mile Alviso Slough Trail, near the Alviso historic district. The trailhead was located adjacent to the public parking lot of Alviso Marina County Park. I encountered a few runners, at least a half dozen bicycle riders, and one other walker.

This is one of a few trails where you get out into the Bay itself and, at its apex, you are out far away from everything. Well, almost. The distant, thumping base beat from a concert in Shoreline Park wafted out over the Alviso Slough, from several miles away. There were a few trains and boats that passed by. And there was the intermittent, annoyed squawks of a few departing great egrets and great blue herons who I had disturbed by walking by them on the trail; and the squawkings of terns who were diving swiftly down into the surface of the Bay. It was very peaceful.

Today was a warm, dry day with a bit of a breeze, and a layer of haze (smog) in the valley. The salt ponds were starting to dry up a bit, and the earth was dried and cracking in spots. But, there was still patches of green and thickets of marsh grass. There were hundreds of sea gulls spread out along the way, and also some white pelicans, egrets, and other birds.

Wildlife Sightings:
1 pretty brown and green snake; 3 small clouds ankle gnats; 16 ducks; 1 "gnat" moth; 4 UFO grebes/divers; 251 sea gulls; 3 dragonflies; 16 tiny unidentified brownish shorebirds (UBBs) + 97 UBBs; 11 little brown jobs (LBJs); 10 swallows; 5 cormorants; 32 white pelicans, 2 brown pelicans; 15 white butterflies; 2 willets; 17 great egrets, 14 snowy egrets; 41 terns (including 27 black eyed terns); 2 great blue herons; 5 crows/ravens; 1 hawk/kestrel; 2 ground squirrels.