You've been walking through a kingdom of tidal marshes... where water from San Francisco Bay enters and retreats twice a day and nourishes the native cordgrass and pickleweed that grows here. These small wetland plants provide safe homes to many animals… including two endangered species. One is a bird… the California Clapper Rail. And the other is a little rodent… the Salt Marsh Harvest Mouse.
As wetlands around the Bay disappeared following the Gold Rush… so did these native animals who depend on tidal marshes for their survival. Restoring these wetlands is giving these vulnerable critters a new lease on life in the 21st century. Keep an eye open… and if you're tremendously lucky… and you'll have to be… you may see a Clapper Rail moving stealthily in the marshland nearby looking for small fish, crustacean, or bird eggs. In the winter… you'll have no problem seeing huge flocks of migrating waterfowl who love to spend time in wetlands resting and feeding during their epic… many thousand mile journeys… up and down the Pacific Flyway. For that reason, Hamilton, and the Bay in general, has more water birds in it during the winter than the summer. You'll see western sandpipers and black bellied plovers, whose sights and sounds put on quite a show. Now…as you journey up the trail….you'll be gradually leaving the tidal marshes behind and will walk parallel to a wetlands path birds and other animals use to move from tidal marshes to seasonal wetlands just ahead. Look and listen for their movements as you enjoy yours.