Thursday, March 13th, 2008 at 12:39 pm in Family Outings.
If you’re a city dwelling parent, like most of us, and you want to give your kids a taste of nature they’ll never forget, consider taking a day trip up Highway One just north of Stinson Beach to see one of the largest snowy egret and blue heron nesting sites on the West Coast, the Bolinas Lagoon Preserve.
What’s so special about this place is that you can easily see the birds and nests just a few steps from the parking lot, making it easy for little ones, elderly folks or people with disabilities. Just grab a pair of binoculars and you’ll get a front row seat at one of the most beautiful sites in nature I’ve ever seen. The snowy white birds, displaying their special frilly mating plumage, do a delicate courting dance perched on the edge of their huge nests in the dark green redwoods.
After the little ones hatch, you can see them learn to eat fish caught by their parents in the nearby lagoon. They slowly learn to fly and fend for themselves, until mid-summer, when all the birds leave the preserve until it all starts again next spring.
The preserve, run by Audubon Canyon Ranch, is only open to the public a few months a year. Starting this Saturday (March 15) it’s open on weekends and holidays (10 a.m.-4 p.m.) through July 13. On weekdays school children from around Bay Area area take field trips there.
The preserve has some wonderful volunteer docents who lead walks and know everything there is to know about the plants and other animals that make this incredible spot their home, including bobcats, raccoons, deer and rabbits.
If hiking is more your thing, take a short walk up to several higher viewing spots, where observation decks make it even easier to watch the birds soar through the canyon.
Admission is free. Picnic and restroom facilities are available as well as an environmental education center and book store. A suggested donation of $15 is appreciated. For more information, call 415-868-9244 or visit www.egret.org.