Brionnes Drought

Jim Chiropolos

I biked Brionnes today and was shocked by the drought. Its early April and Sindrich lagoon, the best area to bird there, is a mudflat (only a 10 foot diameter puddle) - no birds there. Its early April, and portions of the hills are already getting brown. The drought was best shown by a desiccated dead newt found on the trail, probably looking to mate and a puddle in the spring - but no rain. Last year in a drought year, Sindrich had more water in September! In over 10 years of birding Brionnes, this is the least of amount if water - ever - on April 3!!! (Sindrich did completely dry last year around October- and I thought that was extreme).

Rain = bugs = birds
Rain = seeds = rodents = raptors

This year on all my bike transects, I am seeing 1/3 the raptors of most years. As Josiah Clark in SF says, the drought will have major adverse implications on bird populations. It is a very dynamic time of change, and we get to see it. We might get to see some rare birds as a result, but they will be wandering to find food and mate.

I also wonder if this will have effects on private bay area open space ranchers. Cattle need spring rains to raise their calfs, and cows will raise calfs in these drought conditions but Likely will be unable to bear calfs again. This will stress local ranchers as their herds are not self sustaining and their herds become mostly older cows. Will this increase the conversion of open space ranches to housing tracts?

Its tough conditions out there. It will be interesting to document the changes in bird populations.

Jim Chiropolos