Sunday, December 14, 2008

Our Watery World


From what I've read, scientists estimate that 70% of the earth's surface is covered with water. And of course, depending on how close the moon is to the earth, the water advances and recedes in the form of high and low tides. This weekend was an exceptional tide cycle, and if we hadn't made plans to go birding, we would have been down at the sea-side, checking out the exposed tidepools.

We did take advantage of the tides, though, but not to look at sea-dwelling creatures.

One of our favorite local spots for bird-watching is Arrowhead Marsh, which is an unlikely bit of nature, located smack-dab in the shadow of the Oakland Airport. This is one of the first places Robb and I returned to when he was regaining his ability to walk. It is also the home of the highly endangered California Clapper Rail, a shy chicken-like shorebird. We are always delighted to spot one of these elusive birds, stalking along the reeds of Arrowhead Marsh.

This weekend, the tide waters were eight feet above normal, and just about every inch of Arrowhead Marsh was under water. The familiar marshy meadows were completely obliterated by the waters of the San Francisco Bay. The Rails, and their cousins the Soras had fewer hiding places, and would be much easier to see.

So, despite the threat of rain, Robb and I loaded up our bikes, and headed down to Arrowhead Marsh, hoping to see some Rails and Soras. (We also expected to see Very Serious Birders, and their Very Serious Gear.)

We were not disappointed.

This isn't a great photograph, but it shows why Soras are so difficult to spot. This is a "life bird" for me and Robb, meaning that it is the first one we've ever seen in the wild.

Rails, which are so very rare, were in abundance. Many, like this bird, were trying to keep out of the rain by hiding under bushes.

Do you see the curving black line, jutting out of this bird's back? I understand that this is a radio antenna, for scientific tracking. I wonder what this little robo-bird is teaching the humans who are studying him.


Music WOman said...

I saw yesterday while watching the New England vs. Oakland football game that you guys were getting hammered with rain!

Those of us in the Northeast are probably feeling a little underwater right now due to the deluge of inches of rain we got this week (well, some may be still under ice in the northern parts). The CT River has overflowed its banks and had flooded all of the meadows in the Wethersfield/Glastonbury area, and Route 17A in Portland is closed again. These things don't usually happen this time of year. Usually this is common in springtime after the snow thaw from Vermont......

Hope you're above water!

Lisa said...

We were literally across the freeway from the Oakland Colloseum. So strange to look at "nature" in this industrial zone.

Anonymous said...

Your last photo on this entry did not show up on my screen.Problems?


~ Lisa ~ said...

Try re-loading.

It's fine on our end.


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