Friends of West Pond are at it again — improving habitat, creating beauty, sharing knowledge and having a good time doing it. They are a great model for neighborhood groups.
The latest big deal: Tall rocket-style bat roosting boxes are now at the north end of the greenbelt. This is a personal project of Eagle Scout-to-be Andrew Davis. It was accomplished with help from his father Paul Davis, other Boy Scouts and leaders and city of Davis wildlife resource specialist John McNerney.
Gene Trapp and Jo Ellen Ryan suggested the idea to the city several years ago after seeing similar boxes at the Sutter Buttes on the Dean Ranch. They bought a design manual and shared it with staff. Now, thanks to Andrew Davis and others, it is a reality.
They had to drill holes into the soil, pour concrete and place three tall poles. They put them at the north end of the pond, an area that the Friends of West Pond re-vegetated with native plants and trees after an arson fire in 2005. The pond and streetlights will attract mosquitoes and the bats will feast on them. Gene and Jo Ellen will monitor the boxes and promise a report when the bats move in.
In the past, the Friends of West Pond have created a butterfly and hummingbird garden, held cleanups and dug out invasive starthistle. More recently they have added artwork to the garden. Volunteer Patty Flynn, a face-painting artist at the Davis Farmers Market, is painting old tree stumps. Several Friends are making mosaic stepping stones at artist Donna Billick’s studio on Tuesday nights. You can see them on Facebook, Friends of West Pond.
All are invited to a monthly birding and botany walk/stroll of the West Pond and the surrounding area the first Wednesday of each month. Meet at the gazebo on the west end of Isle Royale Lane at 8 a.m. with binoculars. In October, the walk will switch to 9 a.m.
But where is West Pond, people ask? The pond — actually a storm water detention basin that is managed for wildlife, recreation and education — is east of Lake Boulevard and north of Arlington Boulevard. There are a bike path and benches on the eastern edge and decks for viewing. A good access point is the gazebo at the west end of Isle Royale Lane.
Sept. 21 is the California Coastal Cleanup Day. Last year in California alone, 62,668 volunteers participated in Coastal Cleanup Day. Volunteers removed more than 728,289 pounds of trash and 143,291 pounds of recyclable waste from 1,500-plus miles of shoreline. Los Angeles County boasted more than 50 cleanup sites located at various beaches and inland waterways.
Friends of West Pond were part of the California Coastal Commission-sponsored city of Davis pond cleanup in 2012 and will be participating again from 9 a.m. to noon on Sept. 21. If you would like to help, meet on Lake Boulevard next to Circle K; bring gloves and a bucket.
A leader is needed for a North Pond/Julie Partansky Wildlife Area cleanup on the same date. Unfortunately, both McNerney and I will be out of town on that date so we cannot lead it. Volunteers? Julie fans? Northstar neighbors? I have cleaned it a couple of times in the past and it is interesting what comes through our sewers. The Friends of West Pond can give some tips on how to do it as well.
September and October are the birdiest months of the year. The great migration is happening. There are shorebirds in the ponds and mudflats and warblers galore along Putah Creek. Large flocks of Swainson’s hawks are gathering.
Birder extraordinaire Steve Hampton found the following species in North Davis in 30 minutes one recent morning: rufous hummingbird, Western wood-pewee, Pacific-slope flycatcher, house wren, Nashville warbler, MacGillivray’s warbler, yellow warbler, black-throated gray warbler, hermit warbler, Wilson’s warbler, Western tanager, blue grosbeak and lazuli bunting. At the Yolo Bypass, he found 38 species. Amazing.
It’s time to help the California condor and our environment and get the lead out of ammunition. The condors eat the critters shot with lead ammo and then they die. We have removed the lead from paint and gasoline. There is no safe level of lead in our environment.
There is a move in the California Legislature to ban lead in all kinds of hunting. The National Rifle Association is opposed fearing further legislation. Let your legislators know you favor lead-free ammunition, please. Let’s keep alive our condors that we just barely brought back from extinction.
Please do something to green our planet, our home. And kiss each day.
— Jean Jackman is a Davis resident; her column is published monthly. Got a comment, correction, question? Contact her at JeanJackman@gmail.com