10th Annual San Francisco Bay Osprey Days
Free public event highlights osprey nesting on San Francisco Bay with Guided Hikes, Car Caravans and Presentations
Headquartered on Mare Island, Vallejo, California
[VALLEJO], CA – Friday, June 24, Saturday, June 25 and Sunday, June 26, 2022 the 10th Annual San Francisco Bay Osprey Days will take place at the Mare Island Shoreline Heritage Preserve and other locations throughout Mare Island in Vallejo. Mare Island is teaming with recently fledged young osprey in the sky and perched on high spots in the vicinity of their nest sites. There is no cost or preregistration required to attend the in-person field trips and zoom presentations. Two-hour guided boat trips departing the Vallejo Marina are $45 per person and do require advanced registration with Dolphin Charters. The free event features numerous car caravan and walking tours scheduled all three days led by field guides from the local Napa-Solano Audubon Society and the Golden Gate Raptor Observatory, other naturalists and the Mare Island Heritage Trust volunteer team.
Guided hikes in the Mare Island Preserve and car caravan tours of nest sites throughout Mare Island
Starting Friday morning, at 8:15am, Fairfield resident, Bill George, former Mare Island Shipyard worker and avid “unofficial” photographer of the Mare Island Preserve, will guide a free walk in the Preserve on the lookout for osprey and other wildlife to photograph in the one hour 1/2 mile walk. Myrna Hayes, Osprey Days Co-founder and Co-founder and volunteer Mare Island Preserve manager from 2007-2019 will guide a number of afternoon and evening guided walks. She will also lead a car caravan tour of the Island nest sites, Friday afternoon, June 24, 1:30-3:00pm. Saturday, Jun 25. Tony Brake will guide a similar car caravan, leaving from the Preserve main gate from 1:15pm-3:15pm, as well. All car caravan tours will meet at and depart from the Mare Island Shoreline Heritage Preserve Entrance Park, Correa Ct @ Azuar Dr. at the South end of Mare Island in Vallejo. “We really want people taking the tours to understand how critical it is to permanently protect the wildlife and cultural history of the southern Mare Island Shoreline Heritage Preserve area of Mare Island and to work to protect nest sites throughout Mare Island”, said Myrna Hayes.
Osprey viewing boat tours of the Mare Island Strait/Napa River with Dolphin Charters
Four, 2-hour boat cruises are scheduled by Dolphin Charters on both Saturday and Sunday. “Although due to the pandemic, we are restricting the number of passengers, we still hope to accommodate everyone who wishes to view osprey easily visible along the Mare Island and Napa River/Mare Island Strait shoreline”, said Barbara Fitzgerald, of Dolphin Charters. Limited seating is still available for all tours. Departure times from the Vallejo Marina for the 2-hour osprey viewing boat trips are, Saturday and Sunday, 9:00am-11:00am and 1:00pm-3:00pm. The cost is $45 per person. Pre-registration is required. For Reservations: call 510-527-9622 or 800-472-9942 or visit dolphincharters.com
Osprey nesting on San Francisco Bay is still considered a new phenomenon
Until recently, osprey have been described as occasional visitors to San Francisco Bay by wildlife management agencies. Yet, the number of nesting pairs on the Bay and in particular at the confluence of the Napa River/Mare Island Strait and the Carquinez Strait on and near Mare Island have captured the attention of the Golden Gate Raptor Observatory and local Audubon Societies, particularly the Napa-Solano Audubon Society and the Golden Gate Audubon Society, as well as National Wildlife Refuge personnel. Osprey have been nesting in very small numbers for more than a decade in the Bay, flourishing in San Francisco Bay since the early 2000’s when the first successful nesting pair took up residence at the southernmost tip of Pier 34 at the mouth of the Napa River in the Mare Island Shoreline Heritage Preserve. The number has tended to remain stable or grow each nesting season.
In 2021, 19 nest sites were documented on the Napa River/Mare Island Strait, with 56, Baywide. Osprey have not been documented to have nested in San Francisco Bay in the 20th or 21st centuries or even in more ancient times dating back to the Shellmounds of Native Indigenous people of the Bay. Public interest in and scientific monitoring of these newcomers continues to grow. Although the first successful nest on the Bay was documented on Pier 34 on Mare Island at the mouth of the Napa River in 2001, osprey nesting and in growing numbers, moving southward from Mare Island, is still a relatively new phenomenon in San Francisco Bay. Because of this significant increase and a growing interest in the story by the public, the Mare Island Heritage Trust which founded and for 13 years, managed the Mare Island Shoreline Heritage Preserve where many of the nests are located, is hosting this 10th annual event that features San Francisco Bay’s osprey phenomenon.
Two Bay Area webcams help the public view osprey nesting virtually
Webcams are popular tools for public access to nesting birds. Two webcams monitor Bay osprey nests. The latest webcam placed by Island Energy is at the northernmost nest on Mare Island at the intersection of the Hwy 37 offramp and Walnut Ave. This Youtube link takes you to that site which is live, but due to technical issues, currently has no sound or night viewing. https://youtu.be/XxkRzdX012Y The viewer can scroll back up to 12 hours. Located in Richmond sfbayospreys.org is hosted by Golden Gate Audubon Society. It’s high-definition, dual camera webcam is perched above the osprey nest on the whirly crane at the Richmond CA harbor. Installed just about 5 years ago, it can be viewed 24/7.
Osprey Days still partially hybrid/virtual with “citizen science-based” presentation given via Zoom/Facebook Live due to continued closure of Mare Island Shoreline Heritage Preserve visitor center headquarters of the Osprey celebration event
Following hybrid/Virtual Osprey Days in July 2020 and June of 2021 due to challenges of Covid, this year’s event will once again be given as a hybrid in-person and online event. Without access once again to the Mare Island Shoreline Heritage Preserve’s visitor center, due to the dismissal of the Preserve founding non-profit land trust, the Mare Island Heritage Trust, the facility is still barricaded and under lockdown by the City of Vallejo. As a result, the popular in-person lunchtime presentation given by Tony Brake, Volunteer Golden Gate Raptor Observatory Bay Osprey Monitoring Project Director, will be given on Zoom/Facebook Live on the Mare Island Shoreline Heritage Preserve Page, Saturday, June 25, 11:30am-12:30pm. It will repeat via Zoom and Facebook Live aired on the Mare Island Shoreline Heritage Preserve Page the following day, Sunday, June 26, 11:30am-12:30pm.
Tony’s “citizen science-based” Osprey talk is packed with info. about the nesting osprey population in San Francisco Bay which has grow and expanded Southward over the last decade, with a documented 48 active nests between Vallejo and the South Bay this 2022 season, down from 56 successful nest sites in 2021. Since almost all of the nests are on human-made structures, there have been numerous cases of nest removal and disturbance. Tony notes that “such conflicts are readily remedied by providing alternative nest platforms to divert osprey.” This has been accomplished for about ten nesting pairs, so far. Continued education of wildlife agencies, biology consulting firms and property managers about this approach will allow this iconic species to continue to expand and thrive in San Francisco Bay. And, Dr. Brake observes that while this has been an “approach adopted elsewhere, since Osprey nesting is new to this region, it is now needed in the Bay Area.”
Where and when to view Osprey on Mare Island in guided outings during Osprey Days and self-guided hikes and driving tours of the Preserve and Island following the event
During the Osprey Days event, various guided outings will take place June 24, 25 and 26 along the first half mile of the Mare Island Shoreline Heritage Preserve Trail leaving from the parking lot at the closed visitor center, 167 O’Hara Ct. @ the deadened of Azuar Dr and leaving from the gate entrance of the Mare Island Preserve, on Mare Island in Vallejo. Self-guided hikes can be taken in the Mare Island Preserve throughout the Osprey Days weekend, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, June 24-26, 8:00am-5:00pm. Even after the Osprey Days event, the public can continue to view osprey into late August, when the Preserve is open, every Friday through Sunday 8:00am-5:00pm using markers and directional arrows pointing to nest sites visible along the first one-half mile from the parking lot at the closed visitor center along the main paved trail. The public will see osprey nests and osprey perched and flying in the skies there into the late summer months before their migration South. Osprey Fledglings are in the sky throughout the central historic shipyard including the waterfront areas near the Napa River and over Alden Park, the historic forested park with the gazebo bandstand near Officer’s Row. Osprey enthusiasts can also drive on their own near the Mare Island shipyard shoreline area where there is limited public access, to view osprey perched on cranes and other structures and soaring above the Napa River. One most northerly nest on the Island is located near the offramp to Mare Island from Hwy 37.
Osprey Days continues into the evening hours with gatherings Friday and Saturday evenings at the Mare Island Shoreline Heritage Preserve Gate area
Friday evening, June 24, 5:00pm-8:00pm short guided walks by Myrna Hayes will be given to a pair of nearby nests to view osprey on or near their nests.Walks begin at 5:30pm, 6:30pm and 7:30pm from the Mare Island Shoreline Heritage Preserve gate. A gathering scheduled Saturday evening June 25 from 6:00-8:00pm at the Mare Island Shoreline Heritage Preserve Entrance Gate Park, Correa Ct at Azuar Dr. on Mare Island in Vallejo will include a light BBQ and refreshments for a requested donation. It is likely that osprey will soar and call overhead the small park area outside the gates of the Preserve on these evenings. Park Users and Osprey enthusiasts have taken to parking and gathering outside the Preserve gate due to the 5:00pm closure of the main Preserve by the City of Vallejo public works department. Osprey and other wildlife take advantage of the “hunting hour” till dusk, making it an ideal time of day to view wildlife.
Mobility challenged will be accomodated on all Osprey Days Outings
Mobility challenged individuals will be accommodated on all outings. It is advised that the public visit the event website www.mareislandpreserve.com or the Mare Island Shoreine Heritage Preserve or San Francisco Bay Osprey Days, Facebook pages for a detailed schedule. Dogs are allowed in the Mare Island Preserve on leash. Organizers assure that dogs can also be brought along on the car caravans, as long as they can be kept comfortable.
History of San Francisco Bay Osprey Days’ Founding on Mare Island
“We held our first osprey day with very short notice in July 2013. In talks together with our volunteers and Tony Brake and Harv Wilson from the Golden Gate Raptor Observatory, we felt like it was really important to get an event together so that we would have a jumpstart on what we needed in place for the annual nesting season. For the second year, osprey were observed migrating from their southern range in February, even earlier than the previous March and April timeframes. We timed this year’s event at the peak of nesting and fledging activity in late June”, said Myrna Hayes, Co-founder of Osprey Days, President of the Mare Island Heritage Trust and volunteer Preserve Manager 2007-2019. “We have been seeing the numbers of nests and chicks remain stable in our Preserve where osprey are using former Navy shipbuilding cranes, now idle and abandoned lightpoles, even rooftops and other structures including the most amazing one of all, a palm tree, upon which to build their nests. We have learned that the nests on the dead palm tree is the only nest not on a manmade structure in the Bay. That’s pretty wild, when you think about it! It is so exciting when Preserve users return from the mile roundtrip walk and report their observations of nests with adults and young.”
“Beginning in the 2019 timeframe, as really a bonus for birdwatchers, we have 10 pairs of nesting great egrets, some just a few feet off the main trail and a number of great blue herons nesting within easy view of the trail, as well. This year, in the 2022 nesting season, volunteer citizen monitors have documented 14 great egret nests in the Mare Island Preserve. It’s all quite spectacular and very noisy!”, said, Ms. Hayes. An added bonus for bird viewing in the Preserve is the many trees close to the river for the young to perch on as they learn to fly and an abundance of lightning rods throughout the former Naval Ammunition Depot on which the Preserve is located, also used as perches by young and adult birds.
Petition Campaign to Return Founding Non-profit Land Trust as Managers of the Preserve
In addition to the ongoing Pandemic concerns related to public gatherings, this year continues to be a daunting challenge for the entire team of dedicated scientists, researchers, guides, volunteers and board of the Mare Island Heritage Trust. After a series of fires in September 2019, and after 13 years of trusted and protective care of the Preserve, the nonprofit founder, funder and manager of the Preserve, the Mare Island Heritage Trust, was dismissed by the Vallejo City Manager as operating managers of the Mare Island Preserve, for no clear reason. Left to the heavy-handed management of the Public Works Dept, the Preserve has been downgraded in the last 2.9 years, to little more than a jogging trail with the closure of the visitor center, destruction of all informational, rattlesnake warning and wayfinding signs and removal of the land trust team who founded and operated it with skilled and gentle care and at no cost to the City of Vallejo. In response to what is perceived as an unfair and unproductive move by the City, more than 9,860 Preserve Users have signed an online petition found on the Preserve website, www.mareislandpreserve.com requesting that the Preserve be returned to the founding non-profit organization’s care. Another 1,000 signatures were collected on paper, prior to the pandemic.
Features of the Mare Island Shoreline Heritage Preserve
In addition to nesting osprey, key features of the Preserve are spectacular scenic vistas encompassing 7 Bay Area counties, Mt. Diablo, Mt. Tamalpais and Mt. St. Helena, the Carquinez Strait and Sonoma and Napa Valleys and the U.S. Navy’s first cemetery in the Pacific, founded in 1858. The Mare Island Naval Ammunition Depot on which the Preserve is now located, was founded by the US Navy to manufacture, store, transport and dispose of munitions for the Navy’s Pacific operations, 165 years ago this year, in 1857. For info. Text/call 707-249-9633. Visit our website: www.mareislandpreserve.com
Attached is the complete schedule as a PDF.
Please note: Tours of The Preserve are available to any reporter or photographer covering these events. Call Myrna Hayes, 707-249-9633 (cell) to schedule a tour. Attached are the following photos: