Alameda Magazine: Turning Point for the Terns: It’s Wildlife Refuge vs. the VA at Alameda Point, December 2010


It’s Wildlife Refuge vs. the VA at Alameda Point

Drive onto the proposed site for Alameda’s wildlife refuge this spring and you won’t see much — at first. There are acres and acres of gray cement, spreading out in every direction. There are a lot of weeds (at least in the summer). There are a few small outbuildings here and there. There’s a big corral-like area where, supposedly, a colony of least terns is rearing its young. (To be honest it, looks like it’s filled with many pieces of white litter.) And, of course, there’s the Bay and one glorious view of San Francisco. But the area looks dingy, somehow. Industrial. Abandoned. Not very full of wildlife. Not very much like a reserve.

But peer closer — especially with the aid of a pair of binoculars — and a whole world of least tern life begins to emerge. White and black parent birds swoop across the flat, pebbly site, looking for their young. Fledglings earnestly run hither and thither. Chicks huddle beneath small wood A-frames. And if you lift your eyes to look beyond the colony, you might see brown pelicans on a breakwater, red-tailed hawks circling in the wind, even great blue herons gracefully launching from the reeds.