Great Egrets are commonly seen wading along a shoreline, in marshes and wetlands waiting for fish to come near before catching them with a quick thrust of its bill.
Great Egrets primarily eat small fish. However, their diet can also include reptiles such as lizards, amphibians, birds, small mammals, shrimp, worms, dragonflies, beetles, water bugs, and grasshoppers.
This particular Great Egret decided to stroll into the old campground at Alameda Point in search of food. It walked slowly up to a Rosemary bush and stood there for about five minutes, occasionally making slight head movements, before plunging its head into the bush to catch a lizard.
After holding the lizard in its bill for a few minutes, it gulped down the lizard and proceeded very slowly to another bush.
Ospreys returned again this year to nest at Alameda Point’s Seaplane Lagoon. But midway through the rearing process, the female became the sole provider and protector of her three chicks, after the male became entangled in fishing line. Such osprey single parenting is unheard of.
Bottlenose dolphins do not usually come to mind when thinking of wildlife at Alameda Point. In fact, only three have been observed there in recent years, and those sightings were from canoes and kayaks. But on July 24, two more dolphins were observed with two regulars meandering around next to Breakwater Island. The standalone rock wall, or breakwater, is visible from Pier 3 where the USS Hornet Museum is berthed.
Photos of a Great Egret foraging for Yellowfin Gobies in the shallow mudflat next to Breakwater Beach at the southeast corner of Alameda Point. After catching a Goby, the Egret would then have to fling the little fish into the air to maneuver the fish back to its mouth. Photos are from Friday, February 9, 2018.
Alameda Point’s harbor seal population fluctuates between single digits and 50 during most of the year on the specially-built harbor seal float. But when the Pacific herring arrive in the winter to lay their eggs, many more seals arrive to feast on the herring, causing a sudden spike. Last winter, a spike in seal numbers to a record 70 came on January 5, 2017, in the midst of the herring run. This winter, the herring arrived sooner, in December, and so did more harbor seals, causing a spike to a new record of 73 on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
In the brief time span since the new harbor seal float was set in place, local monitors have assumed that it was simply the colder water temperatures that enticed greater numbers of seals to use the float in the winter. But in fact, they discovered it’s not the full story.
It turns out that dropping water temperature indeed has an effect, but the effect is on the herring. Ideal water temperature for herring spawning is between 50 and 53.6 degrees Fahrenheit. The water temperature at Alameda Point dropped below 54 degrees the afternoon of December 16 and continued dropping another 2.3 degrees, according to data collected by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. This brought on the herring run and, in turn, the voracious seals.
The rain ended, the sun came out, and so did the harbor seals at Alameda Point. So many of them came out of the water to warm up on their new float on January 5, hardly any of the structure was visible. The number has many observers asking for a second float.
The regional ferry agency installed the new float after removing an old Navy dock used by the seals, in order to make way for a ferry maintenance facility.
“I nearly keeled over when I saw the platform,” said Lisa Haderlie Baker, harbor seal monitor and Alameda resident. “So many seals packed cheek by jowl, literally, that I had to count them four times using binoculars to make sure there were 60 of them, at least, basking in the sun, which I knew had to be close to a record. It was a tremendous thrill.” Continue reading “No vacancy on float for harbor seals”