Gave the Park a break this sunny afternoon and went for a walk in the Meadow instead. That’s officially the McLaughlin Eastshore State Park, but for decades it’s been called the Meadow. It was ground zero of a major war between developers and environmentalists (see Norman La Force’s book on the topic) and the environment won. Just like Cesar Chavez Park, the Meadow used to be a dump. There’s even a sign that commemorates it (see photo). But the East Bay Regional Parks staff seems to be able to get trees to grow pretty much anywhere in the Meadow, something that the City of Berkeley’s Parks and Waterfront Department seems unable to accomplish in Cesar Chavez Park. I had my trusty shirtpocket camera with me, and very soon a pretty pair of Western Bluebirds presented themselves and posed for their portraits on the fence. The male, as usual in the bird world, is more colorful than the female.
Coming out the northeastern exit of the park I found myself at the outfall of Schoolhouse Creek, or rather the culverted remnant of what used to be Schoolhouse Creek. This whole piece of shoreline including the playing fields north of here is also a former dump, and this particular little strip next to the creek mouth must have been a special dump for broken glass and porcelain. Glass is everywhere, mixed in the gravel, for about a hundred feet. Definitely not a spot for barefoot wading.
That didn’t affect the birds, however. Walking along the trail that would be Virginia Street if Virginia Street extended that far, I spotted Snowy Egrets, Short-billed Dowitchers, a Willet, a Lesser Yellowlegs, and a few American Wigeons. Not to mention sea gulls, not pictured.
By the way, there’s a very cool web app for identifying bird photos. It’s the Merlin BirdPhoto ID. You upload a photo of the bird, click on the bill, eye, and tail, and in a few whirrs and spins, Merlin gives you its best guess at the bird’s ID. Works for me! That being said, I have to say I’m a little doubtful about the Short-billed Dowitchers.