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

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