The Epic Circumnavigation of San Leandro Bay

Last weekend, I headed down to the San Francisco Bay to see a few friends for President’s Day weekend. Thanks to the birthdays of our nation’s early leaders, I had several days of fun. A few of my activities fit nicely into this blog, so you’ll be hearing a bit about some, but there were more Californian adventures packed into a few days than I could count. Highlights that I won’t even begin to go into were the Oakland Museum of California (the California History exhibit is a must next time you’re in the Bay),  the new and exciting Rosie the Riveter World War Two Homefront National Historic Park in Richmond (Had you heard of the Port Chicago Mutiny?), the ancient stone Buddahs at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, wonderful time catching up with old friends, and a truly epic burrito.

San Leandro BayTo be honest, the ninety minute circumnavigation of San Leandro Bay was probably less epic than that two foot long burrito, but it was a wonderful bicycle excursion on my first morning in the Bay. As you may note on the map below, San Leandro Bay is adjacent to to the Oakland Airport, the Oakland Colosseum, and some other industrial stuff.

It’s also a protected bird sanctuary, so in the hour or two my friend and I spend circling the Bay by bicycle, we saw tons of neat birds, some interesting plants, and generally enjoyed this bit of urban nature. My friend finally taught me to identify eucalyptus trees (hint: if it’s a tall tree with shaggy bark  in the East Bay, it’s probably a eucalyptus) and told me the interesting story of their origins. I recommend reading about the now ubiquitous eucalyptus here.

The this little bay is actually on the Pacific Flyway, a corridor down the West Coasts of North and South America that migratory birds travel up and down on their truly epic seasonal migrations. I’m not sure how many of the birds we saw were residents, and how many were just passing through, but they all looked quite comfortable.

In addition to looking at coots, stilts, seagulls, and various other unidentified birds, we stopped for a few minutes to watch this Great Egret by an outfall pipe. Great Egret by Outfall Pipe

It was neat to see it moving slowly on those big legs, with that curved neck, which it then extended suddenly into the water when it saw something it wanted. According to Wikipedia,

“The Great Egret feeds in shallow water or drier habitats, feeding mainly on fish, frogs, small mammals, and occasionally small reptiles and insects, spearing them with its long, sharp bill most of the time by standing still and allowing the prey to come within its striking distance of its bill which it uses as a spear. It will often wait motionless for prey, or slowly stalk its victim.”

I’m glad it could find what it was looking for, even next to that huge outfall pipe, just as I found some sun, a nice bike ride, and a taste of the Great Outdoors, even in an industrial area of Oakland. It was a great start to the trip. Stay tuned for more on the culinary adventures that followed.

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