The main park event of the week was the hearing at the Air District offices in San Francisco concerning the landfill gas system in our park. The Air District (BAAQMD) alleges that the City of Berkeley is in violation of its permit for the landfill gas system. It intends to force the City to do a major overhaul involving digging up dozens of well heads and thousands of feet of trenches. If the Air District wins, the park will be a noisy, torn-up mess filled with heavy equipment for at least a year. I spent most of Tuesday observing the hearing and then additional hours reading up on the issues, and published my report yesterday afternoon. See “Gas War in Our Park,” Jan 25 2024. Between that and the days of rain, I collected fewer Nature images than usual. But I did catch a few small delights.
Sparrows are dry birds. They don’t swim, they don’t wade on mudflats at low tide foraging for marine protein like sandpipers. But they love a good bath when they can find it. Our days of rain have made that easy. Here on the paved trail on the south side of the park, along Spinnaker Way, a little flock of more than a dozen White-crowned Sparrows foraged in the wet grass, and several took time out for a frolic in the puddles. Splashing around was not only fun, it probably helped the birds get rid of the little parasites that infest their feathers and their skin. In dry times they’ll take dust baths. Some birds squat on ant hills and let the ants clean them up. But the most fun is probably splashing in a puddle.
Birds You Might Already Know
Here are some of the birds seen in the park this past week. If you’ve been following this blog, you probably know them all without peeking at the captions. How well did you score?
Here’s a few seconds of two Ground Squirrels in the park tangling up. I saw them while I was scanning the rip-rap east of the Burrowing Owl Preserve checking to see if our owl had got tired of Pt Isabel yet and come home. No luck. Were these furry rodents just playing, like kids will? Or was this a sign of rising hormones at the beginning of mating season?
Conservancy Board Meets
The Chavez Park Conservancy Board of Directors held its annual meeting on Tuesday January 23 starting at 6 pm on Zoom. A quorum was present. The board approved the Minutes prepared by board secretary Jutta Burger. It approved the Financial Reports prepared by treasurer Lana Lew. It approved the Annual Report prepared by CEO Martin Nicolaus. As required by its Bylaws, the Board checked for conflicts of interest among its members and officers, and found none. Under new business, the board amended the Bylaws to correct a clerical error, making article 13 consistent with article 10 as regards the number of directors. The board thanked Norman La Force for his years of service as board chair, and elected Jutta Burger as the new board chair. The board elected Sheila Jordan to replace Jutta as board secretary. The board heard a report from Bob Huttar on progress in applying for grants to install signage in the Native Plant Area, and discussed ways and means of securing greater protection for Burrowing Owls on the north side of the park. After general discussion and information sharing, the meeting adjourned at 7.