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Local Egret Colony Thriving on Bay Farm

In the spring of 2011, Bay Farm residents enjoyed the return of an egret colony, with both snowy and great egrets nesting in a pine tree on the main lagoon, according to resident Reyla Grager. This has been the pattern over the past four years, she says, adding that the snowy egret is the official bird of Alameda.

The great egret is considered a federally threatened species, according to Grager, while the smaller snowy egret is listed as endangered – though it’s thriving in Alameda. (She explained issues affecting egrets in the area in the most recent issue of “The Gull’s Call,” a Harbor Bay publication.)

A count in the Bay Area recently found 29 egret nests, including the Bay Farm colony.

Residents who find injured baby or other birds, should contact members of the Bay Farm Nature Connection, including Graber, who can be reached at 510-865-6645.

The Bay Farm birding group is hosting its first bird-watching walk on October 15. Participants will meet at 9 a.m. at Coffee & Tea Traders in the Harbor Bay Landing shopping area.

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Alameda Bird Group to Host Post-Thanksgiving Walk

For those looking to get out for a good stretch after this week’s big Thanksgiving feast and appreciate local wildlife, Bay Farm Nature Connection has scheduled a bird walk for 9 a.m. Saturday, November 27.

The bird walk will be led by Tim Molter, the group’s resident field guide.

Walkers should meet at 9 a.m. at Coffee & Tea Traders, 883 Island Drive, in the Harbor Bay Landing shopping center.

Bring binoculars! There are lots of migratory and other birds in the San Leandro Channel and other areas in and around Bay Farm Island these days.

Also, holiday decorations are popping up around town, including lights in the park near the Harbor Bay Ferry terminal for night-time walkers to enjoy.

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Time to Join the Bird Watchers!

There’s plenty of excitement on the Main Island and Bay Farm Island these days — within the community of bird watchers.

That’s right, bird watchers.

While many of us stroll around Crown Beach or Shoreline Park to appreciate the sunsets and walk the dog, there are groups of residents paying careful attention to the winged inhabitants of our special community.

Some of them are members of the Bay Farm Nature Connection. The group was formed about three years ago, when several Bay Farm Island residents noticed a large number of egret nestlings in the lagoon, including one infant that had fallen out of a nest.

“They needed monitoring,” said Reyla Graber, one of the group’s organizers.

“This is a big deal,” explained Graber. “We’ve been told by the San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory that we’ve got the third-largest colony of egrets in the Bay Area.”

In addition to tending to the egrets, the Bay Farm Nature Connection organizes bird walks, so that area residents can better appreciate local wildlife. Past walk include parts of Bay Farm, Crown Beach and the nearby Arrowhead Marsh in Oakland.

“We try and do a walk every month or two,” Graber said. “There are all kinds of birds here.”

Members of the group recently organized a successful effort to rescue and treat an exhausted, young red-tailed hawk. Raptor-expert Harvey Wilson, shown above in a photo taken by Ralf Stinson, then released the hawk after a couple days of rest and rehydration. 

Tim Molter, a member of the group who’s been birding for two decades, says that we mainly see residential birds in Alameda who live in the Bay Area and may choose to winter in and around the shoreline, mudflats or lagoons. “This is a great habitat for them,” Molter said, and it’s also a popular breeding ground.

Some birds do go through Alameda between November and March from Alaska and the Artic. “There are a few migratory birds to be seen, but they are just moving through Alameda,” explained Molter.

“We have a large number of species, which makes for an interesting experience for bird watchers,” he said. “The best way to learn about birds in Alameda is to go on one of our field trips.” 

The group’s next outing is set for 9 a.m. on Saturday, November 7. Meet at the Coffee & Tea Traders, 883 Island Drive, Bay Farm Island.

To get on the Bay Farm Nature Connection’s mailing list, send e-mail to dmolter@sbcglobal.net.