Peet's 43 Leasts


Last week I spent three afternoons at "Peet's Pond" [across from Peet's
Coffee roasting plant at 2001 Harbor Bay Parkway in Alameda]. It is a
very unique birding site. In my amateur research I would call it an
artificially created backwater salt marsh and mudflat of about 20 acres.
A dike with an inflow/outflow pipe creates tides very out of sync with
the normal tides of the bay. So out of sync are they, that low tide
there can exist while it is a bay high tide. The shorebirds know of
this and hunt its mudflats when in the bay they are submerged.
A significant intertidal roost for terns and other shorebirds is also
present. Here they wait out the tides for a low that will reveal the
mudflats of San Leandro Bay, Elsie Roemer, and Alameda Beach. They do
hunt Peet's mudflats, but in general they are a patient lot on the
wind-sheltered beach.
About once every half hour, a raucous outcry emerges from the Caspians,
the Forster's, and (for now) the Leasts. Then what I would call a "fun
flight" ensues. Half or more of the mixed flock takes to the air
calling and circling. The Caspians fly lowest at about 20 feet, the
Forster's a bit higher, but the Leasts rise to 100 feet or more easily
facing a fierce afternoon gale calling continuously along with the
others. Eventually almost all return to the roost.
I think the Leasts are migrants. I've not seen so many. Here is a shot
of them high in the sky-
I count 43 in the picture.
Here are a couple of other closer shots of individuals-
And, the bad news is-
1. The roost is directly in the path of Oakland Airport's proposed
runway extension.
2. The inlet pipe under the dike is in poor repair, enough that a
volunteer erosive water passage has formed.
3. A long inlet extending from the mudflats for one and a quarter miles
inland is also on airport land.