The Bodega Harbor area features a natural, protected estuary/harbor fed by several small, freshwater creeks that flow out of the surrounding hills. Tidal action transforms the harbor into a vast mudflat, making it attractive to large numbers of waterbirds year round. A sand-spit juts out across its southern end, protecting extensive Doran Marsh, a brackish, tidal wetland. Another peninsula comes down from the north, and forms grassy Bodega Head, surrounded by sand dunes. The area is a popular destination for tourists exploring the California coast and with fishermen. The U.S. Coast Guard maintains a station on the sand spit, and UC Davis operates the Bodega Marine Lab on Bodega Head. Just south of Bodega Harbor, two major estuaries flow into Bodega Bay, Estero Americano (on the Marin/Sonoma county line) and Estero San Antonio (Marin County). Estero Americano is accessible through a purchase by the Sonoma Land Trust, however Estero San Antonio is located on private ranches and is virtually unstudied and inaccessible.

Ornithological Summary

Large numbers of migrant and wintering waterbirds are the primary value of this Important Bird Area, particularly the hundreds of Brant that stop in migration and winter (Sedinger et al. 1994). Located within a few minutes' bird-flight from the wetlands of Tomales Bay, it may be seen as the northernmost outpost of the larger Pt. Reyes wetland ecosystem, with a similar array of species (e.g. nesting Black Rail). Though rare in recent years, Snowy Plover have both bred and wintered here (Ken Wilson, in litterature).

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Conservation Issues

Though the site seems reasonably secure from further development, direct disturbance of birds by human use (recreational fishing boats, windsurfers) may impact wintering flocks of water birds. Incursions of exotic plant species (especially Pampas grass) threaten the native flora, especially the wetland habitats.

Ownership

The U.S. Coast Guard maintains a station on the sand spit, and UC Davis operates the Bodega Marine Lab on Bodega Head. Just south of Bodega Harbor, two major estuaries flow into Bodega Bay, Estero Americano (on the Marin/Sonoma Co. line) and Estero San Antonio (Marin Co.), which are located on private ranches and virtually unstudied and inaccessible.

Habitat

The Bodega Harbor area features a natural, protected estuary/harbor fed by several small, freshwater creeks that flow out of the surrounding hills. Tidal action transforms the harbor into a vast mudflat, making it attractive to large numbers of waterbirds year round. A sand-spit juts out across its southern end, protecting extensive Doran Marsh, a brackish, tidal wetland. Another peninsula comes down from the north, and forms grassy Bodega Head, surrounded by sand dunes.