This narrow band of wetland habitat (tidal mudflats, salt marsh) and limited upland (grassland-covered fill) extends across several hundred acres in the highly-urbanized central San Francisco Bay near Berkeley, between the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge (I-580) and the Bay Bridge (I-80). It may be divided into two sections, the "Albany mudflats" and adjacent "Berkeley Meadows" (former landfill) in the north, and the "Emeryville Crescent" to the south, hard up against I-580 and the Bay Bridge. Most of the tidal marsh is associated with the Emeryville Crescent, including several small "high marsh ponds" that fill with water intermittently. In 1997 the parklands were acquired by California State Deptartment of Parks & Recreation and are now managed by the East Bay Regional Park District.

The estuarine wetlands of San Francisco and San Pablo Bays are recognized together as a Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network (WHSRN) Site of Hemispheric Importance for shorebirds, the highest possible ranking.

Ornithological Summary

Lying between two larger wetland areas (North Richmond Wetlands in the north and South San Francisco Bay in the south), this Important Bird Area provides refuge for a wide variety of waterbirds in an otherwise inhospitable section of the San Francisco Bay where nearly all of the historical wetlands have been filled for marina developments and other urban uses. Shorebird numbers regularly exceed 10,000 birds at both sites, making them, along with Corte Madera Marsh across the bay the most productive shorebird areas of the central bay. Waterfowl numbers are also impressive, with thousands of ducks, mainly "diving" species (e.g. Lesser Scaup, Ruddy Duck). This Important Bird Area (especially Berkeley Meadows) has been found to be an important area for open-country species in the Central Bay, including the occasional Burrowing Owl in winter. The Emeryville Crescent supports the most intact tidal marsh bird community within the Important Bird Area (S. Granholm, personal communication), which includes Black and California Clapper rails (both winter, and may breed) and at least one of the two endemic songbird races of the Bay Area, the Alameda Song Sparrow (c. 2% of the global population, fide Hildie Spautz, PRBO). Saltmarsh Common Yellowthroat has not been detected on recent surveys (Hildie Spautz, PRBO, via email). A pair of Peregrine Falcons nest on the Bay Bridge, foraging heavily within the Important Bird Area. With proper management, three species may become regular breeders within this Important Bird Area, Northern Harrier (1 pair nested at Berkeley Meadows in 2001), Least Tern (12 pair nesting on an artificial island within Albany mudflats in 2000 only) and potentially Saltmarsh Common Yellowthroat (all bird survey numbers LSA Associates 2001).

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Conservation Issues

With most of the open space protected as Eastshore State Park, development is less of a threat than human disturbance. The Albany mudflats are located adjacent to the major off-leash dog area in the East Bay (Pt. Isabel), and, as such, receive heavy use by dogs (estimated 1 million visits by dogs per year, fide Arthur Feinstein). Exotic wetland species remain a threat, including Spartina alterniflora in the marsh, and both black rats and feral cats in upland areas. Potential future threats include proposed increases in public recreational use (including a "kayak camp" at the Albany mudflats).

Ownership

Most of the open space is earmarked for preservation as the Eastshore State Park.

Habitat

This narrow band of wetland habitat (tidal mudflats, salt marsh) and limited upland (grassland-covered fill) extends across several hundred acres. It may be divided into the ?Albany mudflats? and adjacent ?Berkeley Meadows? (former landfill). Most of the tidal marsh has several small ?high marsh ponds? that fill with water intermittently.

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