The fabled “there” in Oakland—one of them, anyway—can be found just north of the airport, close by the Nimitz freeway. This green corner salvaged from the city’s industrial underbelly may be the best place in the East Bay to see successful wetland restoration. And you can get to it on the bus!
MLK Shoreline is just a nice city park, until you explore its skein of level paved paths linking a cluster of active wetlands on San Leandro Bay. In the largest, Arrowhead Marsh, endangered clapper rails are often heard and sometimes seen. Look for burrowing owls along the access road, on guard outside their groundsquirrel-hole nests.
But even if you see no rare birds, you’ll meet unexpected wildlife here. Bat rays lazily patrol the shallows at high tide, when ducks of every kind bob on the water. Brown pelicans flap low and dive, harassed by hungry gulls. As the tide recedes, flocks of wading birds forage in easy view.
Sadly, these marshes are poster children for a ban on plastic bags. Every tide floats in human detritus from all over the bay to remain tangled in the pickleweed and drifted on the muddy shore until valiant volunteers turn out, several times a year, to collect it—by the ton!—and haul it away. If you are delighted by the wild creatures you see here, taking part in these cleanups is a fine way to care for them.
Entirely wheelchair accessible, with plentiful facilities; no fees; leashed dogs and bikes okay.