What’s the cutest fish in the sea? To some biologists, it’s the bat ray, which cruises along the floor of local bays and estuaries, chomping on clams and other creatures.
From migrating monarchs to giant yellow swallowtails to tiny pygmy blues, butterflies are endlessly enthralling. For folks like retired East Bay Regional Parks naturalist Jan Southworth and artist Liam O’Brien, what started as an interest in colorful insects became a passion for creating nectar gardens and protecting habitat to sustain butterfly populations in San Francisco, the East Bay, and beyond.
Gulls don’t inspire the awe that a golden eagle or red-tailed hawk does. Or the affection we feel for hummingbirds. But the Bay Area’s dozen gull species are true survivors: Adaptable, voracious predators, they breed by the thousands in the South Bay and at the Farallones, and it takes some determined biologists to keep an eye on them.
The great rafts of ducks on San Francisco and Tomales bays, mostly surf scoter, greater and lesser scaup, and canvasback, are a wintertime spectacle. Scoter flocks can range from many hundreds to a few thousand birds. Why do they form these aggregations?
Within view of Richmond, Brooks Island today is a haven for nesting terns. That’s just its latest incarnation. A short paddle across the harbor to this island refuge takes you back centuries and “away from it all.”
At Hayward Regional Shoreline, East Bay Regional Park District staff and volunteers have created new nesting habitat for the endangered California least tern. Here’s the recipe…
Do birds have extra eyelids?
The Marin Headlands is justifiably renowned as a great place to see raptors. But did you know that the world’s highest density of breeding golden eagles is found near Altamont Pass? Indeed, the East Bay is a prime location for observing and studying native raptors, from prairie falcons nesting on cliffs near Mount Diablo to bald eagles fishing in local reservoirs and Cooper’s hawks snatching prey out of the air above the streets of Berkeley.
The dramatic fall silhouette of the California buckeye shows off its giant seeds, that largest of any of our native plants.
You might be taken by surprise at this marshland wildlife area, with its plethora of wandering elk, playful otters, acrobatic owls, and diverse waterfowl. Just be sure it’s not hunting season when you go.