In the first part of our Don Edwards San Fransisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge post we introduced you to the refuge and began our tour at the visitor center with a walk through LaRiviere Marsh. Part two took us around to the Tidelands Trail and the Newark Slough Trail south to the salt ponds.
The photo above is taken from the Newark Slough Trail as we head back northward, along the salt ponds, toward the footbridge that leads back to the park headquarters. Click on photos for full sized images.
There were huge flocks of Eared Grebes (Podiceps nigricollis) foraging in the salt ponds along the bay side of the trail as I made my way toward the old hunting cabin. This cabin was built by Joe Pine who lived there until the late 1960’s.
Just beyond the hunting cabin is the footbridge that crosses the Newark Slough bringing the trail back to the park headquarters. You can see an extension off this bridge to the left that will take you to a nice picnic area.
The picnic area is replete with an outside deck with tables, and includes a “picnic shelter” that not only keeps you out of the wind and any unexpected bad weather, it works really well as a photo blind!
Peering over the Newark Slough from the picnic shelter were several groups of birds foraging through the silty slough substrate for aquatic insects and larvae, molluscs and crustaceans. Seemingly barren, mudflats are actually teeming with life. A handful of Bay mud may contain 40,000 tiny living creatures1.
This Snowy Egret’s (Egretta thula) golden slippers were covered in the slough’s gray mud.
There were also several Canvasback (Aythya valisineria) which are known to nest on the refuge. Here a drake is trailing the two females.
A pair of Green -winged Teal (Anas crecca) were spotted dabbling in the mud as well.
Proceeding over the footbridge toward the Learning Center Pavilion you will notice a large pipe spewing water which flows down to the slough. This is the pump house operated as part of Arden Salt Company’s salt works from the 1920’s to the 1960’s. It pumped brine through a tunnel to crystallizer ponds on the east side of the Coyote Hills.
Just out of the picture to the right of the pump house is the Learning Center Pavilion where this Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura) was nesting nearby.
As I approached the pump house I noticed a Barn Swallow nest on one of the horizontal ledges of the building.
From here you will head south on a switchback trail leading back up to the park headquarters where you can get a fabulous view of the Newark Slough, salt ponds and the San Francisco Bay in the background.
This concludes our tour of the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge. I hope you enjoyed what is only a partial look at this expansive national wildlife refuge. I put together a short video of some of the birds seen at Newark Slough. I hope you enjoy it.
You can get more information at their official webpage including a complete species list for the refuge which includes birds, a refuge bird list showing the abundance of each species by season, and a plant list, all in PDF format.
Be sure to watch the informative video of the San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Complex at the top of the sidebar giving you an overview of the seven National Wildlife Refuges that make up this incredible treasure of wildlife habitat in California.
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References: 1US Fish & Wildlife Service