Exploiting disaster victims

On Wednesday, Thursday and Friday there will be some of the highest tides of the year in San Francisco Bay, so I’m going to look for the northern ssp. of saltmarsh harvest mouse and the black ssp. of ornate shrew at Lower Tubbs Island on Friday. Vagrant shrew and San Pablo Bay ssp. of California vole have been seen there during the previous king tide, and other interesting mammals and birds (such as Ridgeway’s and black rails) are possible. If you’d like to meet there and look together, you are welcome. The high tide will be at noon, but it takes more than an hour for the water to fill the marshes, so plan to stay at least until 1 pm. The trail description is here; it’s usually better to use a bicycle, but the trail might be too muddy this time. Walking from the trailhead to the marsh (the loop part of the trail on the map) takes a bit over an hour. The weather forecast is fairly good so far.

UPD: I’ll be going there on Friday, not Wednesday. Sorry, family obligations.

Vladimir Dinets


  • vnsankar123

    I was hoping to meet Vladimir to look for harvest mice and shrews at Tubbs Island but didn’t have time to drive up there either day this week so went to Palo Alto Baylands instead today to give it a try.

    The conditions looked good for looking for mice/shrews but it turned out the boardwalk was closed about 50-60 feet after the nature center. Most of the few clumps of vegetation above the water line that looked good for small mammals were beyond the closure sign and apparently there was a broken pylon or something under the walkway so I didn’t want to risk walking out further. I talked to a few birders who were there and none had seen rails or Harvest Mice (they had seen both species many times in past years when the boardwalk was open, even right next to the boardwalk itself) – they said both preferred the more substantial clumps of vegetation further out beyond the closure area. Even if you use a scope it’ll be difficult to spot tiny mammals out there from the very limited length of open boardwalk left.

    If anyone knows any other specific sites worth trying for Salt Marsh Harvest Mouse and Ornate Shrew in the South Bay, please let me know as I’m hoping to try again somewhere on Friday. Thanks!

    • vdinets

      Hayward Regional Seashore used to be a good place, but I haven’t been there for many years.

      Are you sure you can’t make it to Tubbs on Friday? There will be no traffic, and it would be nice to meet you in person.

      • vnsankar123

        Unfortunately it seems like I won’t be going anywhere tomorrow due to family commitments… Looking forward to hearing about what you see at Tubbs Island.

        I hope to meet you in person next year – I’d like to do a trip or two with you in CA!

      • vdinets

        Well, the flooding wasn’t particularly extreme this time (strong wind from NW instead of S), and the sunlight was very bright, so I didn’t see a single rodent (although the whole place was crisscrossed with California vole runways). Got two shrews (an ornate crossing the trail, and a vagrant perching on a wooden peg about 100 m into the marsh – I would never find it without a scope). Also watched two mule deer swimming to the higher ground.

        The inside of the loop is now too overgrown to see anything, so the best part is on the outside of the N part of the loop trail (unfortunately, it is still washed away just 500 m from the beginning).

        There were lots of egrets and raptors attending the event, but I didn’t see any of them catch any mammals. Almost stepped on a great horned owl.

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