Friday, October 13, 2017

Life on the Watershed: Native Turtle Hatchlings on the way Home

It’s time for newly hatched Western pond turtles to be making their way across the grasslands, from nest to permanent reservoir home. 

Digging a nest above San Andreas Res.
The mother digs out the nest a little way from shore in early summer, and then returns to the water while her eggs incubated in the warm covered sands for the next several months. The young turtles are on their own from the start but seem to know where they’re destined to be for the next several decades. 

Western pond turtles can live up to 50 years in the wild, and won’t reach maturity for six years or more.

The Peninsula Watershed is home to an abundance of native California wildlife species and has the highest concentration of rare, threatened or endangered species in the nine-county Bay Area. The Western Pond Turtle is designated a “species of special concern” by The California Department of Fish and Wildlife. 

Friday, October 6, 2017

San Mateo County to Close Sawyer Camp Trail Weekdays October 9 -- 27

The San Mateo County Parks Department will close the south half of the Sawyer Camp Trail weekdays, from Monday, October 9  through Friday, October 27, for public safety due to San Mateo County construction activities. 

The closure will be in effect from the Crystal Springs entrance to the gate just beyond the Jepson Laurel at the trail’s approximate midpoint. Weekday cyclists should use alternate routes during this period 

The entire trail will be open for weekend use Friday evening, October 13, 5 p.m., through Sunday, October 15, 8 p.m., and  Friday evening, October 20, 5 p.m., through  Sunday, October 22, 8 p.m.  
Information and Updates: 
Coyote Point Ranger Station: 650-573-2592;   

The Crystal Springs Dam Bridge Replacement Project 
The County of San Mateo’s Crystal Springs Dam Bridge Replacement Project is under the jurisdiction of the County of San Mateo’s Public Works Department. The replacement follows the 2014 completion of several SFPUC Water System Improvement projects to upgrade the Lower Crystal Springs Dam and other nearby facilities. Because the previous 1920s bridge had been determined as seismically unsafe, the County demolished it before the SFPUC began its upgrades. The bridge reopening is currently scheduled for August 2018. 

For further information and updates, please visit the County of San Mateo Department of Public Works website at

Friday, September 29, 2017

Migration on the Watershed

It's migration season. The Peninsula Watershed can be a good place to see a few or more colorful birds that aren't usually around the rest of the year.  

September through early October is peak migration season here in the Bay Area for multiple species of birds passing through on their way south from their northern breeding ranges to the warmer wintering grounds.  

Flying long distances in a single day or night, many will stop for a few days at various woodsy Bay Area spots to refuel for the next leg of the journey. Some species glean insects from tree leaves or bark, while others dart out from a perch to catch flying prey in the air.  
The abundance of insect life, native trees and other greenery makes the watershed an attractive rest area for birds on the move. If you're out on the trail, here are some typical western migrants that you might spot before they move on. 
Photos, top to bottom:  Yellow warbler; Black-throated gray warbler, Western tanager; Pacific slope flycatcher 

Friday, September 22, 2017

Trail Update: Temporary Closure of San Andreas Trail September 26 – 29

The paved portion of the San Andreas Trail, between Larkspur Drive and San Bruno Avenue, will be closed from Tuesday, September 26, through Friday, September 29 for a pipeline repair.  

Cyclists should use alternate routes during that period.    

Friday, September 15, 2017

Bald Eagle Report: 2017

The breeding pair of Bald eagles returned to the watershed to nest and reproduce again this year—though this time it was an only chick. 

It was the fifth year in a row that the pair had nested here--after a more than 100-year absence of the species from  San Mateo County. 

Though the young eaglet won’t be returning to the nest, it will continue to hunt in and near the watershed for another few months. It will keep its uniform brownish mottled color before acquiring the distinctive white head at full maturity in four years.    
Bald eagles mate for life, and—because they can live up to 30 years in the wild—chances are that one or more of our pair's progeny will return to the watershed too, when ready to nest and reproduce.  
Update: Last week's San Francisco rare bird alert reported “a juvenile Bald eagle soaring with Peregrine Falcon and Red-shouldered Hawk” above Lake Merced. Could it have been ours, checking out the neighboring terrain? 

Keep watching.  

Friday, September 8, 2017

Clearing Away for Wetland and Native Woods

People have been asking about the tree clearing along the reservoir just to the north of Highway 92. 

The approximately 80 non-native, invasive trees are being removed to restore a stretch of natural wetland that over time will again nurture and sustain water- and shoreline-dwelling wildlife. We’ll also bring back several acres of adjacent native grassland. 

Starting next week, you’ll also be able to see another tree-clearing project from Highway 280 near Trousdale.  We’ll be removing mostly eucalyptus trees, and replacing them with historic native grasses and Coastal oak woodland. 

Threatened California red-legged frog.
The work at both sites is part of the Peninsula Watershed Habitat Restoration Program to bring back native environments—and the plant and wildlife communities that depend on them—at different locales throughout the watershed. The SFPUC will maintain the new plantings and monitor their performance for up to 10 years.

The 23,000-acre Peninsula Watershed is home to a diversity of native California plants, insects, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and animals, including the highest concentration of rare, threatened or endangered species in the nine-county Bay Area.  The watershed is also designated a State Fish and Game Refuge. 

Friday, September 1, 2017

The Jepson Laurel: Centuries-Old Natural Monument Marks Sawyer Camp Trail Midpoint

The Jepson Laurel, known to be at least 600 years old, marks the Sawyer Camp Trail midpoint. At 55 feet in height, and some 22 feet around, it’s the largest laurel in California. 
It stands just north of where one Leander Sawyer kept an inn called Sawyer Camp in the 1850s and ‘60s. The establishment provided lodging for horsemen and wagons, as well as food for daytime picnickers. Old-timers said that Sawyer and his wife Sophia lived nearby in an adobe cottage close to a natural spring. Sawyer also grazed cattle in the area to control the brush and maintain access for incoming wagons. Today nothing remains of either the camp or the Sawyer dwelling.

The Jepson Laurel stays on, monitored and safeguarded by our natural resources staff. It is named after distinguished  UC Berkeley early botanist Willis Linn Jepson.