When August rolls around, I like to pack up the family and head for the warm waters of Hawaii. Unfortunately, due to the effects of global warming on our travel funds, we did not make it to the islands this year. So no in the water all day, fresh pineapple and papaya in the morning, trade wind blowing tropical vacation experience. Instead, we packed up the car and headed up the coast to Marin County.
We stayed in a hotel in lovely Mill Valley that overlooks Richardson Bay, an ecologically rich arm of San Francisco Bay. Richardson Bay got its name from a young British sailor, William Richardson, who arrived in the Bay Area back in 1822 and was so impressed with what he saw that he applied for Mexican citizenship so he could become a permanent resident. In 1838 Captain Richardson received a 20,000 acre land grant that extended from Sausalito to Mill Valley and out to the Pacific Ocean. Not a bad piece of real estate. Unfortunately, the Captain died in 1856 of an overdose of mercury tablets that had been perscribed for his rheumatism. No word on what happened to Tennille.
Bordering on the bay is the Bothin Marsh, a saltwater sanctuary where the shorebirds come to feed at low tide in the mud flats. This is where I took the shots of the great egret and the snowy egrets. Now you’re probably saying to yourself, “Geoff, what’s the difference between the great and the snowy?” I’m glad you asked. The great egret has the yellow beak and black legs while the snowy has the black beak and yellow legs.
Both birds were almost hunted to extinction for their plumage which was used in women’s hats. This near disaster led to the conservation movement in the US and the formation of the National Audubon Society. Richardson Bay receives over 1 million migratory visitors a year, not including the snow birds who stay at the nearby Holiday Inn Express. The first morning when I walked out into the marsh I counted 23 snowy egrets. Wow! Then I quickly hurried back so I wouldn’t miss the all-you-can-eat breakfast.
There were all kinds of exotic birds in the marshes but these white wonders really caught my eye. The last shot is a snowy egret that I shot one morning at Natural Bridges State Beach. Love the westside. Enjoy the egret experience and have a great weekend.