Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Peaceable Kingdom: Redwood Shores

Shorebirds love sewer ponds.
This is our most amusing bit of birding wisdom to date. Our interest in sewer ponds began with a visit earlier this spring to Los Gallinos in Marin, a noted spot for birding. Looking at maps of the Bay Trail, we found several promising spots closer to us. The closest treatment plant was at the tip of Redwood Shores.

I think of Redwood Shores as the "Peaceable Kingdom" after the noted painting. Great swarms of dowitchers, whimbrels, willets, and other shorebirds circle in and out. Ducks and geese feed and paddle about with their young. Stilts and avocets poke about. Lately we've seen terns and their adolescent ternlets, perfect miniatures. Dozens of egrets scattered like marshmallows on the far banks, among the sleepy, sullen night herons who look like they could use a cuppa joe.

For the best birding in Redwood Shores, head out to the end of Redwood Shores Parkway, and turn right on Radio Road. (There's a former radio station at the far end.) No benches. No bathrooms (perhaps at the nearby dog park, must check on next visit). But you can enjoy the spectacle without leaving your car.

If you wish to stretch your legs, it's a short walk uphill to the Bay Trail, closed at the point to protect clapper rail and salt marsh habitat. There's still an expansive view of the bay and various bird life along the estuary, such as cormorants perched on the electric transmission towers.

Redwood Shores is not our secret spot. On a recent afternoon, I found several Sequoia Audubon members armed with serious scopes, taking in the flurry of avian activity. The shorebirds are coming back from wherever they've been. Like 1950s socialites, many of our birds head up to the Sierra, Canada, even Alaska for the nesting season.

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