Thursday, July 26, 2018

Summertime, and the Living Isn’t Necessarily Easy Out There. Still . . .

. . . "The Watershed is full of babies at this time of year."  

So says Watershed Keeper Sarah Lenz. There are fawns, downy baby quail, bald eagle chicks, small fox cubs, and more, all venturing toward independence from their parents and life on their own—in the watershed or elsewhere. Here are a couple of images of this year’s new young residents.

The bald eaglets will be flying and hunting in and near their watershed birthplace for the next several months before they move on. They'll keep that dark brownish mottled color for the next few years before they acquire the adult’s distinctive white head. This is the sixth year in a row that the breeding adult pair has nested and reproduced on the watershed.  

Here, a  gray fox pup explores the tall grassland. These solitary nocturnal animals are the only wild canine species in the U.S. that can climb trees. During the day, they tend to keep to tree hollows or other other secretive spots. So any sighting  is lucky, especially a view of the babies.   

Thanks to Sarah for sharing her look with us. 

The Peninsula Watershed is home to more than 50 different mammals and 165 bird species as well as amphibians, reptiles, butterflies and other organisms that thrive on the 23,000 acres of long-protected and diverse native habitat.  

Friday, July 6, 2018

Life on the Watershed: Just a “Normal Wildlife Sighting”

It is one of the most social--and adaptable--of mammals. 

Coyotes now occupy almost any Bay Area open space, rural and urban. Wherever  one settles, it’s normally wary of humans and tends to stay out of sight. Still, watershed keeper Sarah Lenz captured this Peninsula Watershed resident on camera.  

Wildlife here may be less fearful of humans because of the absence of the human pressures, she says. “But I believe they always know where we are. This was just a normal wildlife sighting on the Watershed.” 

These days, litters of recently born pups have expanded the population. Not all will make it to adulthood, but the ones that do will be able to survive just about anywhere, from watershed to City park.

We don’t know how many coyotes live on the Peninsula Watershed, but the abundance of rodents and other prey make the place ideal for the rangy, mid-sized predator. Along with other green spaces immediately next door, the 23,000-acre space provides an extensive wildlife corridor for them, mountain lions and other roving mammal species. 

Coyotes live in small and close-bonded family units, which at this time of year consist of the two monogamous parents, a couple of cubs from previous litters, and newborn pups. They will fiercely defend their own territory from other coyotes, but socialize with one another—playing, looking after each other, and communicating in a variety of ways, by look and body language as well multiple  yips, growls, whimpers, and howls. 

They routinely roam the same routes, and are superb hunters. They have  long powerful legs for wearing down quick-scurrying prey, along with acute vision, smell, and hearing (they can detect the scurry of a mouse from 100 feet away). Though they prefer mice, gophers and other small live animals, they’re “predators of opportunity,” and will consume whatever else comes there way, including carrion, greenery, berries--or (in more populated areas) a  wayward pet. 

After a year or so, older cubs move on.  A lone yearling in search of its own territory will roam large areas along freeways and even across bridges to suburbs or cities, and possibly back again (a main enemy being the car). A high number of young coyotes will not survive the first year or two of life.

Coyote Safety Tips

The coyote urge to avoid us aside, chance encounters happen, and the normally reclusive animal can be more territorial and assertive at this time of year, during pupping season. So here are some protective guidelines to help safeguard you and our wild neighbors, just in case.
  • Never feed a coyote—it’s illegal and can lure it closer,  endangering you asnd others. 
  • Keep unattended pets indoors or completely enclosed, especially at night. Also don’t assume a fence will keep a coyote out of your backyard.
  • Keep dogs on short leashes (6 feet or less) while walking outside.
  • Don’t run away or turn your back on a coyote.
  • Yell, clap hands, and/or blow a whistle, and try to make yourself look larger to scare away a coyote in your yard or elsewhere nearby.   


Wednesday, June 27, 2018

The Goats Are on Board


Approximately 500 goats arrived recently at one of our valve lots in Redwood City, where they had ample water and all the summer weeds they could eat after what can be a trying journey by truck and trailer. The enclosed site was soon devoid of any overgrowth there, and the new hands were ready for the next couple of weeks along the Right of Way.

The herd is brought in every year to assist with vegetation management along a stretch of hilly terrain in Redwood City that’s inaccessible to our mowing equipment. They’ll be there for the next week or so.

As in past years, our human crews have been using mowers and string cutters to cut the weeds along the rest of of our Right of Way—approximately 30 miles in San Mateo County—and we expect to be done by early July at the latest. 

The crews will return later in the summer, where needed, to deal with other late-season weeds, and to trim along fence lines and around valves of other appurtenances. 

Our annual vegetation control program begins every spring as soon as the ground is dry enough for the mowing equipment. 

Friday, June 22, 2018

Sawyer Camp Trail Update: Cal Fire Postpones Firefighting Exercise to Week of June 25

Friday, June 22—Cal Fire has postponed again its Peninsula Watershed firefighting exercise for first responders  to one day next week, the week of June 25. 

The south half of the Sawyer Camp Trail will remain open, from the Skyline entrance to the Jepson gate at the trail's approximate mid-point, with only the north half closed the day of the exercise. 

For further details on any specific dates that Cal Fire relays to us, please see "Trail Updates" at the top of the righthand column. 

Cyclists should be prepared to use alternate routes during that week.   

Friday, June 15, 2018

El Camino Real Landscape Update

The Regional Groundwater Storage and Recovery (GSR) project has nearly completed its work at the Garden Chapel Funeral Home site along El Camino Real. We have drilled a new approximately 620-foot well, built a new well station, and installed 850 feet of pipeline to connect this with the water transmission system. We removed the trees along the pipeline alignment along El Camino Real between Southwood Drive and Orange Avenue for this project.

After discussions with the City of South San Francisco, the SFPUC has planted 15 Coast Live Oak trees along El Camino Real in a way as to not interfere with the pipes in the ground. The team has also planted groundcover in this area and replaced the fence of the Baden Valve Lot with a new black vinyl-coated fence. 

Additional Project Construction
As the project moves forward into Phase 2 we will work on locating up to three additional well sites in Northern San Mateo County. This may require that  the team access the pipeline that runs adjacent along El Camino Real between Southwood Drive and Orange Avenue. The additional work may disturb the groundcover, which the SFPUC will restore after the pipeline work is complete. There will be no impact to the newly replanted trees.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Sawyer Camp Trail Update--Firefighting Exercise Postponed Again until June 19, 20 or 21

Wednesday, June 13. 2018--The firefighting exercise for first responders, scheduled for one day this week, has been postponed again until the days of either next Tuesday, June 19, Wednesday, June 20, or Thursday, June 21, depending on weather and other conditions. 

The south half of the Sawyer Camp Trail, from the Skyline entrance to the Jepson gate at the trail's approximate mid-point will remain open for all of those days, with only the north half closed the day of the exercise. 

Cyclists should be prepared to use alternate routes during those three days.  


Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Sawyer Camp Trail Update: Firefighting Exercise on Peninsula Watershed Postponed for Day or Two

The firefighting exercise scheduled for June 12-13 has been postponed until this coming Thursday, June 14 or Friday, June 15, depending on weather and other conditions. 

The south half of the Sawyer Camp Trail, from the Skyline entrance to the Jepson gate at the trail's approximate mid-point will remain open, no matter what day the exercise is held.  The north half, from the Hillcrest entrance down to the Jepson Gate will be closed. 

Cal Fire is staging the exercise as a training session for first responders in preparation for the fire season.