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 hoe 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.
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Veteran environmental activist, writer, editor, publisher, educator, and coastal wetlands scientist Phyllis Faber has made countless contributions to the Bay Area environmental movement.