This is a salt marsh habitat restoration project in south San Francisco Bay in the town of Newark just across the Dunbarton Bridge from Palo Alto. Salt marshes are very productive habitats from an ecological perspective. Most of California's salt marshes have been destroyed. In south San Francisco Bay, many salt marshes were converted to salt ponds to produce commercial-grade salt from the evaporation of salty Bay water. Though man-made, salt ponds attract and sustain their own wildlife ecologies. Learning how to balance the interests of both salt pond and salt marsh ecologies is an ongoing focus of restoration ecology.
I'd never been here before. I thought it would be interesting to see a salt marsh on my own before I go with the class.
The Bay marshes are on the other side of this hill. I see they've also done a lot of native plant restoration.
Flowers of Arbutus menziesii (Ericaceae)
Salvia spathacea and Ceanothus...'Julia Phelps'?
The Ceanothus buds go from plummy purple to rosy pink before the flowers open.
Salvia mellifera, right?
The salt ponds and marshes on the other side of the hill. That's a former hunting cabin, rather restored I think.
Clear biotic zonation where the pickleweed meets the dry upland.
Pickleweed (Salicornia sp., Chenopodiaceae). Chenopods have none of the symbioitic relationships with mycorrhizzal fungi that help other plants survive in adverse
Pickleweed migrates salt from roots to shoots and compartmentalizes the salt in extremity plant part. Then the plant scissions the salty extremity and lets it fall off.
Some bird sightings:
I think this is a dowitcher, possibly a winter?
The black-necked stilt, Himantopus mexicanus.
The Peterson Guide says, "A large, extremely thin wader; black above, white below. Note the grotesquely long red legs and needle-like bill. In flight, the black unpatterned wings contrast strikingly with the white tail, wing, and underparts.
Voice: A sharp yipping: kyip kyip kyip.
Well, I didn't hear any of that. But he took off and his legs were very long.
And then this dude jogged past me with his long, stilt-like legs. You can't make it up, folks.
I think the technical name for this one is "little brown bird".
Mallards, Anas platyrhynchos.
The silty clay dredged up to shore the levees was interesting in its own way too.
Lots of embedded oyster shells.
These might be identified in the plant key handout for the reserve. I'll look them up later.
Lots of Chlorogalum.
I've never seen it so profuse in a disturbed space like this.
This little lupine is starving for something. Maybe water?
Lots of small den-like structures in the marsh.
Time to go.
Introduction and TOC.