Bay Nature magazineJanuary-March 2001


Letter from the Publisher: Introducing Bay Nature Magazine

January 1, 2001

For most of the nearly four years it has taken to turn BAY NATURE from an idea into the magazine you now hold in your hands, I worked out of my house in north Berkeley. Could be worse: there’s a creek out back, and the house is surrounded on three sides by coast live oaks.

Sitting at my computer, I could turn and look out the window into the branches of one of those oaks, ready access to a tiny slice of the nature this magazine will explore. I started to keep a little diary -just a list, really-of life observed, and found myself drawn into the rhythms of this place. I didn’t see any extraordinary rarities-no Eurasian warblers blown off course from Siberia, no blue-footed boobies lost on their way to the Galapagos -though the appearance of a Nuttall’s woodpecker was a cause for genuine excitement. But I wasn’t looking for novelty. The treat I found was an invitation into the patterns of life taking place around my home. Now I know that Anna’s hummingbirds stay in Berkeley year-round. I know that ruby-crowned kinglets will return in the fall; that bushtits will pair off in winter to build foot-long hanging nests of small sticks, leaves, feathers, and other assorted debris; that the acorns will begin to reappear, shiny and green, in late summer.

This is what I hope you’ll get from BAY NATURE: a window onto the corner of the world you inhabit, as well as a deeper knowledge of the natural patterns that lie just under the surface of the familiar. A genuine re-cognition of what’s been there, but perhaps wasn’t quite visible.

It’s winter now. Much of the rest of the country is living indoors, and nature lies dormant. But here in the Bay Area’s Mediterranean climate, winter is when nature springs back into life. Our creeks are running full again, color is returning to the hills, and shorebirds have arrived in huge flocks to fatten up on the bounty supplied by San Francisco Bay, the largest estuary on the west coast of the continental United States.

And so it is appropriate that this first issue of BAY NATURE focus on the Bay, the feature that, more than any other, defines our local landscape. In future issues we’ll also wander up into the hills and valleys and creeks, but always staying close to home and, hopefully, enlarging our sense of that home.

On behalf of all those working on BAY NATURE, I thank you for joining us on this inaugural excursion. We hope you like what you find here. Please let us know what you think, and what you’d like to see in the future. We hope you’ll come back again, and again.

About the Author

From 2001-2017, David Loeb served as editor and then publisher of Bay Nature magazine, and executive director of the nonprofit Bay Nature Institute. A Bay Area resident since 1973, David moved here after graduating from college in Boston. The decision was largely based on a week spent visiting friends in San Francisco the previous January, which had included a memorable day at Point Reyes National Seashore. In the late 1990s, after many years working for the Guatemala News and Information Bureau in Oakland, David had the opportunity to spend more time hiking and exploring the parks and open spaces of the Bay Area. Increasingly curious about what he was seeing, he began reading natural history books, attending naturalist-led hikes and natural history courses and lectures, and volunteering for several local conservation organizations.

This was rewarding, but he began to feel that the rich natural diversity of the Bay Area deserved a special venue and a dedicated voice for the whole region, to supplement the many publications devoted to one particular place or issue. That’s when the germ of Bay Nature magazine began to take shape. In February 1997, David contacted Malcolm Margolin, publisher of Heyday Books and News from Native California, with the idea of a magazine focused on nature in the Bay Area, and was delighted with Malcolm’s enthusiastic response. Over the course of many discussions with Malcolm, publishing professionals, potential funders, and local conservation and advocacy groups, the magazine gradually took shape and was launched in January 2001. It is still going strong, with a wider base of support than ever.

Now retired, David contributes to his Bay Nature column "Field Reports."

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