I am posting a lot of pictures from today….I could
not ask for more gorgeous sites to have visited.
Our work was to clear the nesting grounds of the Least Tern,
an endangered bird that comes to the San Diego region every year to raise its
young. Terns like to make their nests in sandy areas with very little
vegetation. The few plants that do grow must be low-lying in order for terns to
easily spot predator birds. Most native plants in the region we were working in
are naturally flat, and so we set to work removing non-native vegetation. Often, the weeds grow over or under the native plants, so extracting the invasive vegetation is quite delicate work. In
particular, the filaree weeds were a great nuisance…the plants have sword-like
structures, each of which is a seed. When the seeds fall, they curl up into
screw-shaped coils, which allows for easy penetration into the soil or, as in
the case below, my pants. Those little buggers hurt quite a bit….the seeds have surprisingly sharp tips. Another weed we removed, the Devil’s Thorn, has seeds sharp enough to puncture bike tires. Needless to say, there were several scratched hands by the end of the day.
It was a windy day, and the sky was cloudless. The tern
preserve was in a sandy peninsula scattered with yellow primroses, with the San
Diego bay shimmering all around us. After working indoors in
temperature-controlled environments for so long, it was a wonderful feeling to
simply sink my hands into the sand (and there is a certain satisfaction to be
had from pulling out a deep-rooted weed). We started out with gardening gloves,
but by the end many of us had decided to go barehanded.
Below is a picture of the Nuttall’s Lotus, the native plant we’re trying to preserve within the tern habitat. It actually lies flat on the group, and the photo is a shot from below.
After our work, we decided to visit the lighthouse in Point
Loma, continuing the trend of breathtaking scenery for the day. I have never
seen a more gorgeous view of the ocean. There is even a seaside trail that goes
along the cliffs; we didn’t have time to hike it, but it is now officially on
my to-do list for this summer.
For dinner, we decided to have some fun and have a barbeque
on the beach, complete with s’mores afterward. It took a while to get the
campfire started and the charcoal warmed up (how many techers does it take to
light a fire?), but it was definitely worth it as everyone ate burgers and
watched the sunset.
Tomorrow, we will actually be working on the beach. Can’t