Our favorite birding spot has no official name. It's on the Foster City Bay Area Trail, just below the Highway 92 San Mateo Bridge. "Shell Beach" is a good guess, as it's composed of mounds of crushed oyster shells that seem to wash up endlessly from the bay floor. To get there, look for the two posts rising above the substantial levee. Find a legal parking place -- be careful when school is in session. Walk up the incline, and you'll find benches and picnic tables placed at convenient distances. And, throughout the winter months, amazing flights of birds.
There's plenty of room to walk, ride, skate, or walk your dog, if you prefer. The birds are cool with it all. It's fun to watch them change plumage over the seasons. In winter they are pretty uniformly gray -- then they break out into colors, like the plovers here, who showed up all decked out in April.
By June, the mud flats are largely deserted. I'm happy to find one lone cattle egret reflected in the outgoing tide. Where have the birds gone? Like summering socialites, they've gone to Tahoe, Mono Lake, Canada, even Alaska. They'll be back in the fall, en route to Mexico for the winter.