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Birder' hot spot in Hayward.

Birders' hot spot in Hayward

Begun about six years ago, one of the largest salt-water marsh restoration projects on the West Coast has progressed enough to attract an enormous number of waterfowl and shorebirds to its section of San Francisco Bay. Many of them overwinter here.

The 720-acre Hayward Regional Shoreline was a diked-off dump before it was covered and the dikes breached to let salt water back. Salt grass, pickle weed, and cord grass now grow in profusion, providing food and shelter for foraging birds; tiny islands offer resting areas.

Before you go, check newspaper tide tables for high tide times. Just after a high tide peaks, Bay waters recede from the marsh islands, exposing cord grass and mud flats--and the birds flock in as if answering a dinner bell. You can walk about 2 miles out over dikes and bridges to see avocet, curlew, great and snowy egrets, herons, killdeer, willet, cattle egret, and perhaps golden plover as they poke for clams, pile worms, and ghost shrimp that squirm in the quivering mud.

The marsh is about 18 miles south of Oakland. Take State Highway 17 to the Winton Avenue exit and head west to the shoreline parking lot at road's end.

Photo: Scattered like confetti after a parade, shorebirds dot Hayward marsh; tidal ebbs bare mud flats and grassy islands teeming with food
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Title Annotation:Hayward Regional Shoreline, Hayward, California
Date:Jan 1, 1985
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