Sunday, January 15, 2012

Preserve Park - Jan. 15, 2011

Walking Distance: .9 mi. (estimate)
Walking Time: 26 min. (12:59 - 1:25 p.m.)
Start and End Point: Public parking lot, Preserve Park, Redwood Shores, Redwood City, CA

A few weeks of warm weather lulled me into thinking I'd become hardy, and immune to winter's chill. But, today it was blustery, cold and overcast, and I realized I'd just been spoiled by all the warm sun.

I walked briskly, with my hands in my pockets to keep warm, from the parking lot in Preserve Park, to the trail, and turned right. The two other walkers I saw were bundled up in hooded, down coats. It's definitely winter now. I walked across this fairly drab terrain along a paved (asphalt) path.

This whole area (including Preserve Park) was the result of recent re-grading and new construction that was not completed the last time I walked through this area two years ago. From what I can remember, the trail has been curtailed a bit (probably to wall off some habitat, perhaps to protect some endangered species like the California Clapper Rail and Salt Harvest Mouse), but the new paved trail is probably more accessible to bikes, wheelchairs, and other types of traffic.

I walked roughly in a loop -- out to trail, following the asphalt trail to the point/intersection where I left off last night. Instead of walking back on Bay Trail (same way I'd come); I walked on Public Access sidewalk then turned right, walked along Shearwater Parkway, past the front of Redwood Shores Elementary School, to Preserve Park, where my car was parked. I'm not sure whether The Bay Trail Map snapshot shown really reflects the current trail exactly, or whether this map was done before construction was completed.

Wildlife Sightings:
3 coots; 50 ducks; 3 great egrets, 7 snowy egrets; 2 turkey vultures; 5 sea gulls; 6 little brown jobs; 2 black-necked stilts; 1 crow.

Redwood Shores/Radio Rd. - Jan. 14, '12

Walking Distance: 2.8 miles
Walking Time: 1 hrs., 15 min. (5:13 - 6:28 p.m.)
Start and End Point: Street parking, near Shore Dogs Park, Redwood Shores, Redwood City, CA

I had some time this evening, so I picked up where I'd left off on an earlier walk this morning. I started at Shore Dogs Park, as the sun was starting to slip below the horizon. I walked past the entrance to Shore Dogs Park out to end of the packed dirt path leading to the levee trail (Bay Trail), and turned left toward the Wastewater Treatment Plant -- where a small flame was rising (burning off surplus methane gas perhaps?).

At the end of this path at Redwood Point, there was a closed gate, announcing this habitat restoration area was closed to the public. The path/area beyond this gate is shown as a gray dotted line on the Bay Trail map.

I returned to Radio Road, and walked northwest on this road past the large duck pond that was chock full of ducks and other birds -- and was filling up with Canada geese who were flying in and landing, presumably to spend the night -- to an old transmission tower and radio station. The radio station is now a church. Then I walked then out to the end of a spur trail (not shown on map) -- to the end of a wood observation platform and back.

I continued northwest crossed a small bridge, turning right, toward the Bay, and began a loop (shown as a red line on map) around a housing tract -- pausing to walk out to the end of two more wooden platform extensions/viewing areas with interpretive signs -- which I couldn't really see in the dark. Eventually I came to a paved (asphalt) section that forked off in another direction. (I'll check this out tomorrow.)

I kept heading around the loop on the map, south and then southeast along a paved (asphalt) path with arrows, until I crossed Redwood Shores Parkway, where I headed back to Radio Road.

I was hoping to stop at The Bay Leaf Cafe (part of a  larger building), but it was closed, so I did not have a chance to stop there to eat. However, there were two rabbits grazing on the lawn nearby, that ringed this set of office/commercial buildings (The Pointe at Redwood Shores).

Wildlife Sightings:
80 unidentified brownish shorebirds (UBBs), flying in mixed flocks near the water; 20 little brown jobs (LBJs); 3 great egrets; 80 American avocets; 56 Canada geese; 93 ducks (mallards, canvasbacks, others); 5 coots; 2 rabbits (nibbling on lawn); 1 cat (feral, tortoiseshell) near waste treatment plant; 2 mosquitos(?).

Redwood City Shore Dogs Pk. - Jan. 14, '12

Walking Distance: 4 miles
Walking Time: 2 hrs., 14 min. (10:31 a.m. - 12:45 p.m.)
Start and End Point: Street parking, end of Spar Drive, Redwood Shores, CA

From the end of Spar Drive (cul-de-sac), we climbed up a short dirt rise, up onto the wide, packed dirt/gravel section of the Bay Trail (shown as a red line on Bay Trail map), headed northwest. We passed Mariner Park, and a few other smaller parks along the way.

Thank you to Julie for joining me on this walk today. Sometimes it's fun to just walk and watch what's unfolding around you.  We spotted a white cat dozing in the sun near some homes on the left/north side of the trail. It politely ignored us when we called out to say hello.

We watched a group of little brown birds hopping around -- little "dumplings" with legs and beaks.

Out in the slough/bay there were a few kayakers, and a smattering of American Avocets moving their long curved beaks side-to-side through the mud, along with other shorebirds. We eventually reached Shore Dogs Park (where there was parking available); a bit further on was the Wastewater Treatment plant at the end of Redwood Point.

Shore Dogs Park had separate fenced in areas for smaller and larger dogs. (Dogs were allowed on certain sections of the trail we walked today, but only on-leash, primarily to prevent dogs from going after bird and wildlife nearby.)

Across Radio Road from the dog park, was a large pond that was teeming with birds of all sorts, mostly mallards and canvasbacks and other types of ducks we couldn't identify. Good place for them to hide during duck hunting season.

The first half of January this year has been marked by warm, dry, sunny weather, like today. Great for walking, but rain may be on the way by next week.

Wildlife Sightings:
8 starlings; 34 American avocets; 44 unidentified brownish shorebirds (UBBs); 17 little brown jobs (LBJs); 1 hawk; 2 great blue herons; 1 mockingbird; 4 hummingbirds; 44 ducks (mallards, canvasbacks, other); 6 crows; 1 white (domestic) cat; 1 snowy egret; 6 turkey vultures; 15 sea gulls; 1 black-necked stilt

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Redwood Shores - Jan. 8, '12

Walking Distance: 2.4 mi. (estim.)
Walking Time: 1 hrs., 53 min. (2:23 - 4:03 p.m.)
Start and End Point: Parking lot, at SW end of Twin Dolphin Dr., Redwood Shores, CA

Another beautiful, sunny winter day; we haven't had much rain yet this month. I started this walk near the edge of the San Carlos Airport. I walked over small cement bridge toward the Marriott TownPlace Suites. On the bay side of the Marriott I found the paved (asphalt) trail, and walked east, then northeast (trail shown as a red line on the Bay Trail map) along the shore (Steinberger Slough). 

I stopped briefly to talk with some kayakers who were bringing up their kayaks up to shore, and then kept walking through a short section hemmed in by wild fennel plants, before enjoying more sweeping views again.

At one point, there was a large body of water on the left and the Bay on the right, making for good bird watching. I could actually hear all the different birds poking around in the mud, presumably for food.

Eventually the paved trail turned into a packed gravel trail. I turned around near the end of cul-de-sac -- Spar Drive (not visible on map), that joined up with the trail via short gravel path; and I walked back to the intersection of Redwood Shores Parkway and Twin Dolphin Drive.

From here, I headed northwest on Twin Dolphin Dr., past several large office buildings. Bird watching along this stretch is generally limited to crows, Canada geese and little brown jobs (LBJs).

I crossed Shoreline Dr., and walked around the back side of the Hotel Sofitel (which faced the large lagoon shown on map), then around to the hotel's front entrance. I went inside to look around; the interior was modern with a European/French flair. I admired their attractive pastry and chocolate case in the guest shop, and bought a bottle of chilled fruit juice, and some green sencha tea instead. I then walked back (southeast) along Twin Dolphin Dr., back to the car.

Wildlife Sightings:
1 great egret; 87 ducks; 12 little brown jobs (LBJs); 4 sea gulls; 3 kayakers; 10 willets; 47 sandpipers; 74 unidentified brownish shorebirds; 36 American avocets; 2 UFO grebes/divers; 12 crows; 30 coots

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Redwood City - Jan. 7, '12

Walking Distance: 4.4 mi. (estimate)
Walking Time: 2 hrs., 5 min. (3:03 - 5:08 p.m.)
Start and End Point: Public parking lot, near Bair Island Marina, Redwood City, CA

I started this afternoon's walk near the Bair Island Marina. From here I strolled northeast on Bair Island Road/Uccelli Boulevard out to Pete's Harbor, founded by Pete Uccelli, in the 1950s. The Waterfront restaurant was closed when I passed by, so I walked out to the end of the marina before turning around to continue north.

I walked back out Uccelli Blvd./Bair Island Rd. and turned right onto the mostly packed dirt trail that headed northwest (shown as a solid gold line on the Bay Trail Map).

This trail ended near Whipple Ave. and East Bayshore Rd., near a sign indicating that Bair Island was (still) closed, and it also marked the beginning of a paved (asphalt) bicycle/pedestrian path (solid red line on the map) at the Bair Island closed gate. I followed this path, which paralleled Highway 101, north toward the San Carlos Airport.

This bike path ended in a Public Shore parking lot (8-10 spaces), near some office buildings (Skyway Blvd.). I walked a very short little packed dirt/gravel path that extended from the parking lot, and then walked back to Bair Island Road.

This time, I turned right/west on Bair Island Rd. (double yellow lines on map), passing a new housing/condo development, to the end of the road -- a round-about that joined with E. Bayshore Rd. Near the round-about I noticed a thin asphalt path that extended south, and went over a foot bridge and headed toward Peninsula Yacht Club/Docktown Marina (this area was shown as a dotted line on Bay Trail map).

So I followed this narrow path and crossed to the other side of the bridge (called the "Bridge to Nowhere" on Google Maps), and then turned around, and walked back on Bair Island Road to my car.

Wildlife Sightings:
50 unidentified brownish shorebirds (UBBs), 12 sandpipers; 47 ducks (with at least 1 teal); 45 little brown jobs (LBJs); 30 starlings; 4 snowy egrets; 12 sea gulls; 2 pigeons; 2 black-crowned night herons; 2 crows; 2 hawks

Friday, January 6, 2012

Redwood City - Jan. 1, '12

Walking Distance: 6 miles (estimate)
Walking Time: 3 hrs., 38 min. (1:38 - 5:16 p.m.)
Start and End Point: Public parking lot, Municipal Marina (Seaport Ct.), Redwood City, CA

Today's walk could be divided into three parts. First, I started in the middle (where the "P" for parking appears on the Bay Trail map is shown at right), and enjoyed the short, paved path along the marina, and past the public fishing pier.

It has been great to re-visit spots from my first walk around the Bay. I was looking forward to having a late lunch or early dinner at Bella by the Bay Italian Seafood Restaurant (off Seaport Court, off Seaport Blvd.). Sadly, the restaurant was closed (I hope just temporarily) for repairs/remodeling due to a burst pipe. I enjoyed stopping to talk with several people in the area instead.

Next, I walked southwest (on the sidewalk along Seaport Blvd.) toward Highway 101. I turned right on Blomquist (shown as double yellow lines on Bay Trail map), which took me to... Malibu Castle. I had to go in. It was a castle, after all. I bought some popcorn and bottled water. I watched children and their parents play electronic games -- and as they won, strips of yellow tickets streamed out of machines -- to be redeemed for prizes. If I'd had more time, I would have stopped and played a few games of Skee-ball. I walked back to Seaport Blvd., and walked toward the Bay. Who needs to be enjoying popcorn inside a dark movie theater when you've got a nice view of the Bay like this?

A large salt pond area on the right/southeast side of the road belongs to Cargill (although there was a souvenir -- a large replica of a Leslie Salt shaker on the property, behind a locked fence). Cargill was the big winner in salt -- in an industry where there once were many other companies. There were what looked to be rusty open, transport containers for moving salt along a set of rails, sitting abandoned -- a sign of what once was.

At the end of Seaport Blvd., was a road that went into Pacific Shores Center -- a modern office park.  A series of high rises with curved lines and aqua-colored glass co-existed with a strip of public open space along the shoreline. PDI Dreamworks, responsible for the animated "Shrek" feature films was located here, as were several other technology companies.

It was interesting to walk through this carefully manicured campus on the way to the public shore area. Several people were out walking their dogs and enjoying a New Year's breathe of fresh air. At the end, I had to walk briskly back to my car, as it was getting dark by the time I finished.

Wildlife Sightings:
34 coots; 23 sea gulls; 67 Canada geese; 2 Western/Clarks grebes; 1 seal/sea lion; 1 snowy egret, 1 great egret; 21 tiny sandpipers; 3 unidentified brownish shorebirds (UBBs); 36 little brown jobs (LBJs); 2 doves; 5 ducks; 19 black-necked stilts; 2 killdeer; 4 American avocets; 1 small cloud eye-level gnats; 3 hummingbirds; 1 tree squirrel; 1 rusty screw; 2 crows; 1 cormorant; 4 balls.

Bayfront Park - Dec. 31, '11

Walking Distance: 3.91 mi.
Walking Time: 2 hrs., 9 min. (9:06 - 11:15 a.m.)
Start and End Point: Public parking area (unpaved) in Bayfront Park, Menlo Park, CA

What a great sunny, crisp morning for a walk on this last day of 2011. And thank you to Laura for joining me on this walk and for providing some great conversation. We walked around the perimeter of Bayfront Park and stopped to talk for a bit, and also walked up the small hill toward the center of the park area.

A few years ago, when I ambled around here (on my first walk around SF Bay), I remember seeing a large number of ground squirrels in Bayfront Park. I also remember reading that these squirrels had been exterminated shortly after that (in a somewhat controversial move). And, consistent with that news -- I saw not one this time. The only small creature that was similar was one small brown mouse who darted out onto the packed dirt trail, briefly in front of us, to look for some food, and then disappeared back into the grass. Good thing for the mouse that there were no birds of prey flying overhead.

After we finished our walk in the park, I continued my walk on a paved (asphalt) bicycle/pedestrian path along Bayfront Expressway/Highway 84 heading east toward the Dumbarton Bridge, and shown as a solid red line on the Bay Trail map. Along the way, I enjoyed seeing the strange, bright colors that accompany areas of accumulated salts -- purples and oranges along with the whites and the blues.

I walked as far as the relatively new Facebook corporate headquarters (old Sun Microsystems campus) at the end of Willow Road and Bayfront Expressway/Highway 84, before turning around and heading back to Bayfront Park where I'd left the car.

Lots of interesting ducks and other birds out this time of year (winter). A few ducks even found good perching spots in the water (on submerged tires).

Wildlife Sightings:
2 killdeer; 1 kite (bird); 51 little brown jobs (LBJs); 24 coots; 15 American avocets; 12 black-necked stilts; 1 mouse; 1 whiffle ball; 1 blackbird; 18 unidentified brownish shorebirds (UBBs); 2 great egrets, 3 snowy egrets; 40 sea gulls; 50 ducks; 6 Canada geese; 2 UFO grebes/divers; 17 pigeons; 7 crows; 1 small cloud of eye-level gnats.