Nature Walk at Marin County’s Hal Brown Park
On October 21, 2023 WRA Wildlife Biologist Katie Smith, PhD co-led a nature walk with Bay Nature’s Wes Radez at Hal Brown Park, part of the County of Marin Parks system. Bordering Corte Madera Creek and offering spectacular views of Mount Tamalpais, the park contains Creekside Marsh, a salt marsh landscape and tidal wetland home to a host of native plants and wildlife. The group explored the range of habitats in the park from the terminal reach of the tidal action, to the narrow strip marsh outside of the leeve containing this muted tidal marsh.
The group discussed the history of the marsh and park, identifying historical features and those that have been altered over time. They discussed maintenance and restoration activities, and how those actions likely impacted wildlife in the area. County staff and volunteers have been working on restoring park lands for the past 13 years. Work has included removal of non-native plants and re-introduction of native vegetation to the area to enhance habitat for endangered species. Several of the participants were local residents who chimed in with their own valuable observations and perspectives. Finally, the group discussed a current Marin County project that WRA is supporting that will both improve infrastructure for people and the environment, and serve as a habitat restoration, streamlining the permitting process.
The final highlight of the tour was spotting the notoriously elusive California Ridgway’s rail (Rallus longirostris obsoletus) who put on a great show. The field trip was specifically planned to coincide with a high tide with the hopes that it would force the rails out into the open, and it worked! Not only did the group get to see the bird, but it hung out, foraging out in the open while participants and the general public walking and biking by got to snap lots of photos and video. If you have always wanted to see a rail in person, Creekside Marsh is a good place to go looking!