[non-avian] Bradford Island Fire Damage


Ethan Monk
 

I made a quick loop of Bradford Island today just to assess how much damage the fire that started August 2nd had done, birding only incidentally. The South side of the island remains almost completely intact. The sand dunes, cow pastures, ferry dock etc. were not touched and I imagine winter waterfowl will not be impacted. Driving North from the ferry, the damage only starts about halfway up the east side, just after where the road pulls away from the levee to go around the Eucalyptus surrounded house. About half or more of the island's woodland was burned, although wetter bits survived in small pockets. The eastern half of the row of houses on the island's North side were burned, the West half were saved. The area referred to as "Central Road"--the island's stronghold for Chats and the location of breeding Bell's Vireos in 2019 and 2020--was completely burned with smoking embers still smoldering across from the Bell's Vireo site today, eleven (?) days after the fire's start. I expect a serious reduction in chat numbers next summer. In good news, the grove where Bell's bred in 2018 and where a Yellow Warbler held down a territory this summer is totally intact. Both traditional Bank Swallow roosts on wires on the island's East side are ok (although swallows were only using the wires by the ferry today) and the private, generally inaccessible, "old-growth" cottonwood grove on the island's West side survived. They are pumping water onto the island to extinguish any last flames, but the water is being directed into the (formerly) wooded parts of the island so shorebird and waterfowl habitat have not increased.

It will be interesting to track the island's changes over the next couple of years. Hopefully recovery is fast: Green grass is already sprouting from the ashes next to a melted trailer home on the island's NE corner.

Ethan Monk