2011-02 "Flyway Festival Celebrates Return of Millions of Migrating Birds" by Myrna Hayes
Once again, local and regional bird lovers are throwing a wild party for our migrating neighbors from the north at the peak of migration season. Both birds and people will be flocking to Mare Island in Vallejo to celebrate what has become an annual ritual each winter on the “north shore” of San Francisco Bay: The San Francisco Bay Flyway Festival is a unique, three-day bird-watching and wildlife viewing event that draws an estimated 5,000 people each year to celebrate the return of over one million shorebirds and hundreds of thousands of ducks, geese, hawks and even monarch butterflies, which migrate through or winter in the San Francisco Bay Area.
This year the Flyway Festival will be held Friday, February 11 through Sunday, February 13 in Building 223, 500 Connolly St. on Mare Island. Admission is free. Festival-goers will be able to choose from hundreds of fun activities, including a Family Wildlife Exploration and Birding Expo with over 100 exhibitors, learning sessions, birding and wild bird demonstrations, art and photography exhibits and food.
Take one of more than 20 guided outings on Mare Island, along with a self-guided wetland walk to the edge of San Pablo Bay on a new 2-mile trail opened in December. For the fourth season, Vaca Valley Volks will host an American Volkswalk Association-sanctioned 5k and 10k walk routed along wetland trails and through the historic and new neighborhoods of the former U.S. Navy shipyard founded in 1854.
Mare Island outings will include guided tours of the Navy’s oldest cemetery in the Pacific and Sierra Club guided walks to the Navy’s first arsenal in the Pacific, both founded more than 150 years ago. Both of these sites are located on the Island’s scenic south end in the Mare Island Shoreline Heritage Preserve—Solano County’s newest regional parkland—from which you can take in scenic vistas of seven counties from a hilltop vantage point. St. Peter’s Chapel, with the most Louis Comfort Tiffany-designed stained-glass windows under one roof in the western United States, will be open for tours, as will the Mare Island Museum and World War II’s only remaining landing craft support gunboat, docked along the Napa River/Mare Island Strait. Visit www.sfbayflywayfestival.com or call 707-249-9633.
Looking like decoys, a pair of cinnamon teal ducks use the Bay Area as an important staging area during their migration south. Photo by Bob Dyer
Birdwatchers will be on the lookout for red-tailed hawks like this one on guided outings during the Flyway Festival, February 11-13. Photo by Bob Dyer