Portraits of Spring Neighbors

Common merganser female right at Las Gallinas smaller
Common merganser at dusk

There’s a period early in the year in the Bay Area when the wintering birds overlap with the spring wildflower season, and I can hardly contain myself. Here are a few images from a couple months ago.

One of the best birdwatching sites nearby is the unglamorous Las Gallinas Valley Sanitary District sewage treatment facility. Multiple ponds not only allow natural processes to break down waste, but provide habitat for waterfowl, songbirds and raptors. While some are residents year-round, the place really comes to life with the migrants present throughout the winter and spring.

Common merganser female left at Las Gallinas
A different view of the same common merganser

Canvasback at Las Gallinas smaller

On a different day, I headed to see forest-dwelling flowers at the Martin Griffin Preserve of Audubon Canyon Ranch. Posting these a couple months after the fact feels like waving goodbye to familiar friends that I’ll see again next spring.

Douglas iris ACR 4-2016 smaller
Douglas iris

Western columbine ACR 4-2016 smallerWestern columbine

Coral root ACR 4-2016 smallerSpotted coralroot

Miners lettuce ACR 4-2016 smallerMiner’s lettuce


  1. As usual, lovely pictures – even if they are from a few weeks ago. We will look forward to the next batch. The light on the Columbine (a flower I know) and the Iris (this species I did not know) was particularly lovely. I could feel the power of the light and had to “blink” at it. Our spring just turned into summer. The peonies in my back yard had small buds one day, less than 1″ across, and suddenly there were 12 full-blown peonies 4+” across open to the sun – and the sudden shower as well. Enjoy your ability to get to these unusual “nature sites”! Harriet

    • Even though I know these cycles repeat themselves every year, I can’t help feeling wonder about it all, when flowers burst out of plants in a splash of color. And this year in particular in Northern California, plants are so vibrant after years of drought. Thanks for sharing the seasons in Michigan.

  2. The post and the experience share beyond the arbitrary parameters of time. Thank you for finding and sharing the beauty in this place!

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