wilderness – wild near us pg 2


Join us for our 26th annual celebration of the migration through San Francisco Bay of more than 1 million shorebirds and hundreds of thousands of ducks, geese, hawks and other wildlife at the peak of migration. February 5-7, 2021




Yet, for all the amenities of stay at home wilderness–wild near us, I still find myself longing to be at the Mare Island Preserve. To experience in real time, the flocks of songbirds woosh into and through the fennel forests. To look above in the sky, to see a red-tail and a half dozen turkey vultures soaring. To glance across the way and see a raptor perched on a lightning rod in the old Naval Ammunition Depot. To sit for a time on the dock of the visitor center and marvel at the cloud formations, endlessly on the move, breaking up and rearranging over the hillock of the Mare Island Preserve. A miniature, in its effect on the weather, of Mt. Tamalpais, the big sister to the West.

My eyes turn slightly to the Southwest and there, in all its loveliness, is the willow, glowing yellow in the late Fall, barren, yet, riveting in the Winter light and glistening new green in the Springtime. Nestled within a thicket of evergreen coast live oak and a dead plum, which I once watched a peregrine falcon fly to for its evening meal, after it caught mid-air, a young dove just fledged from its nest in the overhang of our visitor center magazine. Wow! That restful backdrop and delight of the eye, just came alive with the wonder of life and death poised on a dead branch in the nook of a vibrant mixed grove of deciduous and evergreen.

That is the way of the Mare Island Preserve and all wild places we cherish more than ever, now. Now, in the time of upheaval and unrest, the extreme turbulence and shifts of nature and collisions of peoples, like we have not  dreamed possible. We find ourselves somewhere amongst all these layers, and in the midst of a pandemic that knows no borders. Yet, the tranquility and serenity of the Preserve and each of our special places we are drawn to, our sit spots in our favorite park, the stop to rest just off our special trail, a place right around that rock on our favorite must go-to, beach.

These are our treasures. Sacred places of surprise and delight. Of expectation and regeneration. Of hope. Where we are convinced that we are human. That we are nature. That we are one. That we can, restored and at peace, return to the other world we have carved out or possibly has been thrust upon us, of work, family, community.

Each and every year, for 26 years now, I am surprised by the jumble of feelings I begin to experience as I more and more think about and ponder, creating and inviting you to yet another, Flyway Festival. In the last few years, because we have lost long time sponsors and wonderful connections that used to make the planning of the Festival feel easy, I now find myself tentatively mentioning the Flyway Festival. Struggling to convey to someone new, what the Flyway Festival is. click to continue

Please make your donation to the Flyway Festival payable to:

Mare Island

Heritage Trust

816 Branciforte St.

Vallejo, CA 94590

Donate online

Photos: American kestrel with vole, Suisun Marsh, Bill George; BFF and pup, Mare Island Preserve; Osprey on Napa River channel marker with nest, Bill George; Black phoebe on lighting rod, Mare Island Preserve, Bill George.