Heron’s Head Hike with Karen & Armand – 24 August 2015

Many thanks to Karen & Armand for Monday’s hike in an out of the way place. We don’t get to Bayview-Hunter’s Point that often so it was an adventure just getting there. The closer we got the larger the trucks sharing the streets with us but thanks to Siri we got to the church on time and even a little early. Then the adventure continued on the walk out to Heron’s Head, the Bay Natives Nursery complete with chickens & goats and then have a moment to linger in the sunshine with a veranda lunch at the Mission Rock Resort. The VIMEO VIDEO of the hike follows these photos.

We met a fellow who was giving his four toy poodles some exercise on the dog run, he turned out to be John Robinson who is running too . . . for SF Sheriff – Reeve of the Shire for the City and County of San Francisco.

It is remarkable how this small, bay filled peninsula has developed its own ecosystem since it was laid down in the 1970’s. Slated to be Pier 98 Shipping Terminal, it was never completed and the peninsula was left to winds and tides with a salt marsh appearing. The Port of San Francisco returned the area more to nature by removing over “5,000 tons of concrete, asphalt, metal and other debris, created a tidal channel to improve circulation, and constructed upland trails, bird viewing areas and a fishing pier.” It’s heartening to see how soon nature with a little help from her friends will renew and rejuvenate the landscape making it welcoming for man and beast.

Then at the end of the head, it seemed “almost” the middle of the Bay, was a fisherman who shared the blue of the day and a view of his catch with us as we got into the fabric of the scene.

Karen emphasized that this was just an introduction to the area, that the richness of birding would come later in the year with the migrations of fall and winter. SF Port includes A FIELD GUIDE TO 100 BIRDS OF HERON’S HEAD on their site. Karen had her own paper copy, maybe a collector’s item, since I couldn’t find a way to order it from Heyday Books. You can print your own if and as you need it.

http://www.sfport.com/index.aspx?page=221 http://www.sfport.com/index.aspx?page=210

On the way back, we noticed great piles of concrete rubble and wondered if this was what was left of Candlestick Park. Is this what’s left of the WHERE all that history once occurred: Richard Nixon throwing out the first baseball on the opening day, April 12, 1960, all those Giants and 49er games, the Beatles final full concert on August 29, 1966 and Paul McCartney performing the last scheduled event there 48 years later on August 14, 2014? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Candlestick_Park https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MH8ObibNCoo https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zBHjtcr7wQM https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YUKNvoAAa8s

We’d all been looking forward to the BAY NATIVES NURSERY just across from Heron’s Head where a variety of native plants are for sale as well as for viewing – chickens and a herd of “working goats”. Unfortunately for us most of the goats were out on assignment but we did get to see just a few munching in their enclosure. Working Goat # 102 is one handsome fellow with a bravo beard. http://citygrazing.com

EcoCenter at Heron’s Head Park Gives ecology education programs for K-12 during the school year. Also open to the public but sadly not on Monday when we visited.

Every good hike deserves a neat finale, here we enjoy a bay view and some frutti di mare at the Mission Rock Resort.
http://www.missionrockresort.com/#!lunch/c205k

And now on with the HIKE . . . .

https://vimeo.com/137669127 Music for the first part is Erik Satie’s Je Te Veux (1902) played by Jean-Yves Thibaudet followed by J.S. Bach’s Partita # 6 in E (1731) played by Igor Levit.

Post Script and Notes:

On one side of Heron’s Head is India Basin to the south and to the north is Lash Lighter Basin. India Basin has an exotic air and we wonder how it was named. According to Wikipedia, the name first appeared on the maps in 1868 and the best guess is that it was named for the India Rice Company which docked their ships there in the 19th Century. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/India_Basin,_San_Francisco The curious name “Lash Lighter Basin” refers to a pattern of marine transport – a system called LASH or Lighter Aboard Ship. Some ships are designed to carry special barges (lighters). The barges can go to smaller docks or go on inland waterways “loading cargo in those places and then carry it back to the ship which lifts the barges aboard, with their cargo, and transports them overseas. Discharge of cargo is accomplished in the same manner.” http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/systems/ship/barge.htm

http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/nativeson/article/Scow-schooner-Alma-sails-to-India-Basin-4006532.php The good scow ALMA, built 121 years ago at an India Basin shipyard made a historic visit on November 2, 2012. India Basin was the site of bay scow schooner construction from the 1870’s to the 1920’s by “family-owned businesses operated by English, Scandinavian and German immigrants. These flat bottomed ships were ideally suited and designed to ply the sometimes very shallow waters of San Francisco and San Pablo Bays. Originally fitted for sail operation some were later adapted for marine engines but with the rise of trucks in the 1920’s this unique tradition died. The main cargo for these craft was hay, the motive power of the 19th Century replaced in the 20th Century with oil & gas.

‎www.sf-planning.org/Modules/ShowDocument.aspx?documentid=4049 This remarkable document from 2008 is background for the Bayview-Hunters Point Redevelopment Plan. It is well worth a perusal with clearly, well written, remarkable history of this area. It has some more technical charts and specifics that are probably not of interest but these are skipped over easily so we can continue to enjoy some fine writing and fascinating descriptions. Old photos in various places add to the feast.

“Originally cloaked in native grasses and coastal sage scrub, Hunters Point is well-watered possessing several streams and subterranean springs, several of which are still active. The presence of fresh water, a relatively mild climate, and nearby tidal flats, made Hunters Point a popular residence for indigenous California Indians.” P.7 “Several middens were known to have existed on the shoreline of the peninsula, giving Hunters Point its first European name, Punta de la Concha or “Point of the Shells” P.8 “Throughout the entire Spanish period, Hunters Point remained uninhabited except for Mission cattle that were pastured in the area called Potrero Viejo, or “Old Pasture.” P.9 “In 1827, a British expedition commanded by William Beechy arrived on the ship HMS Blossom. Captain Beechy’s chart of San Francisco Bay – the first to survey the coastline in detail – mislabeled Punta de la Concha as Point Avisadera, a name that remained on the charts for the next three decades.” P. 9 “In 1850, a real estate speculator John Hunter began trying to sell lots in an entirely new city called “South San Francisco” on the peninsula that now bears his name.” P.10

As usual the site FOUND SF has some great history of the area with photo illustrations that fill in some more of its intriguing history:

http://foundsf.org/index.php?title=India_Basin_and_the_Southeast_Bayshore http://foundsf.org/index.php?title=India_Basin

Scott pointed out the former Alameda Navy Yard across the Bay from the point at the end of Heron’s Head. The view from our lunch spot, Mission Rock Resort, gave an even better angle to appreciate the berthed WW 2 aircraft carrier, USS HORNET, now a museum. http://www.uss-hornet.org/history/heritage/

EcoCenter at Heron’s Head Park Gives ecology education programs for K-12 during the school year. Also open to the public but sadly not on Monday when we visited.

http://www.softschools.com/facts/animals/praying_mantis_facts/125/ We saw a couple of light brown, almost blond praying mantises. They’ve always been green on our hikes before.

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