Date: March 19, 2020
Place: Don Edwards National Wildlife Refuge, Fremont Unit, Fremont, California
Address: 2 Marshlands Rd, Fremont, CA 94555
Length: 2 miles
On March 16 the shelter-in-place order came into effect in the Bay Area. The schools, and most other establishments were closed or limited to only necessary function. We were instructed to remain at home but were told that it is ok to go out to nature for exercise and for fresh air as long as we avoid getting together with other people. For that purpose most parks and hiking trails remained open and available to the public. One of the places that remained open was the Don Edwards National Wildlife Refuge (NWR).
Don Edwards NWR is a frequent destination for my family, and throughout the years we've lived in the area we visited there numerous times. On our last visit there I was conscious about writing a blogpost on this pace and most of the photos here are from that hike, but here and there I added some photos from previous hikes we've had there.
It was partially cloudy on the day of our hike and mostly on the cloudy side when we arrived at the parking lot adjacent to the visitor center, which was closed of course. The wintery air didn't mask the strong signs of spring - the foliaged buckeye and the blooming redbud trees.
|At the trailhead|
|Western Redbud, Cercis occidentalis|
|Our hike as captured by my GPS|
|LaRiviere Marsh Trail|
|Fox Sparrow, December 2010|
|Barn Owl, November 2012|
|LaRiviere Marsh Trail- the boardwalk|
|Yarrow, Achillea millefolium|
Pappa Quail and the elder chika were looking for birds in the sky but although I was the one carrying the binoculars, I was looking at the mountains. What I saw there had me pull Pappa Quail's sleeve and request a special high zoom photo. Rose Peak of the Ohlone Wilderness was snow-capped!
Once giving me the image I requested, Pappa Quail returned his attention to our feathered friends.
|Great Blue Heron, November 2014|
|Black-capped Night Heron, June 2015|
|Blue-eyed Grass, Sisyrinchium bellum|
Much of the sebaceous vegetation in the refuge is invasive. Nevertheless, their bloom is pretty too.
|Bird's Foot Trefoil, Lotus corniculatus, Non-native|
|Harrier Spur Trail|
|White-tailed Kite, August 2012|
|Northern Mockingbird, February 2011|
|Toyon, Heteromeles arbutifolia|
|American Century Plant, Agave americana, Non-native|
On this hillside bloomed California poppies. Not in great numbers but in small patches here and there. They're always an eye candy.
|California Poppy, Eschscholzia californica, February 2011|
|The Salt Ponds and the Newark Slough|
|The Newark Sough|
|California Dodder, Cuscuta californica, on pickleweed, Salicornia pacifica|
|Black Phoebe, December 2010|
The birds were there, however, only doing other things. Singing, for example.
I approached the water to look for the brine shrimp that grow there. Usually I can see them swimming near the surface but this time I couldn't see any - the water was too murky and the ripples to disrupting.
On the shore however, there plenty of brine flies and little sandpipers were skimming the waterline, picking those off.
|American Pipit, November 2014|
Pappa Quail sometimes goes there on his own or with friends. Once time he got information that a rare visitor - a long-tailed duck, was seen at Don Edwards. He went there and got lucky - he found the rare duck among more common species. This individual doesn't have the long tail because she'd a female.
|Long-tailed Duck, female. November 2014|
The birds that my birdwatchers were interested in were Bonaparte's gulls - a migratory species that stops at Don Edwards on its way.
|Eared Grebe, November 2014|
Once again we crossed the Newark Slough. Below us there were more waders looking for food before the tide would roll in.
|Snowy Egret, February 2013|
|Northern Rough-winged Swallow, June 2015|
|Barn Swallow, June 2015|
|Left - the education center. Right - up the hill and over to the visitor center.|
|Black Sage, Salvia mellifera|
|Snowy Island Snapdragon, Gambelia speciosa|
|Sonoma Sage, Salvia sonomensis|
Up the hill the trail reconnects with the hillside trail coming from the south side of the refuge. There is an observation deck there with a picnic table. A few people that were sitting there got up and left when they saw us approaching. I really don't like the feeling that this social distancing gives me, but it is the safe way to go about when there's an epidemic going on.
|The Newark Slough seen from the observation deck|
|Red-tailed Hawk, November 2014|
|Anna's Hummingbird, male|
|Bewick's Wren on sagebrush.|
|Golden-crowned Sparrow, November 2014|