Rotary Nature Center: Program Proposals Due May 21st.

If you’ve been by the Rotary Nature Center in the last year, you will have noticed that the Center has been closed. The building is undergoing inspection and assessment, and a planning process to reopen it. Animals and the bees have been relocated from the building.

Good News: The Oakland Parks, Recreation, & Youth Development department is accepting program proposals for a reopened Rotary Nature Center. The city held a meeting with the community to discuss this and other things April 7th, 2018. This meeting was led by facilitator Alan Briskin along with a small committee including CJ Hirschfield of Fairyland, Jennie Gerard of Weed Warriors, and James Robinson of LMI.

The next community meeting will be held June 2nd, 9am-12:30 at the Lake Merritt Garden Center.

Proposals: More information about the proposals and background can be found hereProposals are due May 21st, 2018

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The Swallows of Lake Merritt

One of my little markers of the season is the swallows. Sometime in April (maybe I’ll pin the exact date someday, I first saw them April 9th this year), swallows appear at the lake and begin nesting.

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The channel is where I first noted them: Northern Rough Winged Swallows nest in light fixtures and drains under 280, and now the 10th st bridge. They have a strange and unique chattering call. I watched as one sorted 3 inch sticks to carry up into the darkness of a drain.

Cliff swallows built these amazing little mud nests on Laney College buildings and on the 12th bridge (maybe they’ll start new ones on the 10th as well), this year in 2018 (and maybe previous years, if so I missed it) on the Oakland Auditorium building. Cliff swallows seem to get up high into the sky too, you might see then swirling high above Laney.

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Low tide you can sometimes see them come get the mud for their nests. Rough Wings seem to stick closer to the surface, zooming back and forth over the water, though you’ll see Cliff Swallows doing it as well. In fact, standing on the 12th street bridge (as of mid May) you get a pretty good view of them as they skim across the surface.

Violet Green Swallows also come to the lake but they are on the northside (cliff and northern rough wings can also be found in other places around the lake). If you find a large lawn like the ones over by the Bellevue Club you’ll can find them zooming about.

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Rotary Nature Center cleaning complete

Karis’s Griffin’s weekly email of May 11th, 2018 indicated that “the cleanup of the RNC is finally complete. The boxes [of taxidermy] are expected to be moved out of the building in the next two weeks.”

The next public meeting is confirmed for Saturday, June 2nd 9am to 12:30pm at the Lake Merritt Garden Center.

Attendees should come prepared to:

  • Review the proposals that have been submitted
  • Discuss and share ideas with each presenter

The proposal deadline is still March 21, 2018

Next Community Meeting, June 2, 2018

Karis Griffin, in her May 4th, 2018 update, reported a number of things.

  • The first level of clean up has been completed. Taxidermy has been boxed and stored (until further notice) as per advice from professionals.
  • Additional cleanup continues (with a hoped for opening over the summer).
  • The deadline for program proposals has been extended until May 21st, 2018.
  • The next community meeting has been scheduled for June 2, 2018, 9am-12:30pm to be held at the Lake Merritt Garden Center, 666 Bellevue Avenue, 94610, where programs will be presented by the community.

Let us know if you are coming here: https://www.facebook.com/events/2052327211712955/

The Inside Cleanup Continues

One plus of the clean up, was a chance for a peak into the Nature Center and a look at what’s happening. After months of looking like nothing had happened, there is now a lot of things being moved around inside.

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Karis Griffin of OPRYD said in her last update, that “all taxidermy is being wrapped and boxes as recommended by a professional taxidermist–for safe keeping–except for the mountain lion, eagles, skeleton heads of small mammals and other taxidermy which were sealed under glass.”

There is not currently a date set for the end of cleaning, but she is hopeful she will know by the 27th of April, 2018.

She also provided this general info. There are:

  • 4 tables,
  • 30 chairs (which belong to the beekeeper)
  • 2 desks
  • 1 conference table

The Library is 22’x15′ (with 2 outlets)
The Office is 17’x12′ (with 4 outlets)
The Auditorium is 31′ x 27′ (with 2 outlets)
The Front Entry is 8’x27′
There is also a “modestly appointed” kitchen with 4 outlets. But shouldn’t be counted on as a space for use.
There is no storage available and no restrooms inside. (The restrooms were originally accessible from the inside, but the inner door was closed and the restrooms are only available from the outside).

They also provided a list of taxidermy from 2012, but have not yet tallied that to what they are cleaning up now.

Earth Day Clean Up

April 21st, 2018, we organized a clean up crew through Adopt a Spot. About 12 of us over the course of 3 hours — members of Community for Lake Merritt, City Staff, the Rotary, and others — worked to clean up the grounds of the Rotary Nature Center — in particular the Bee Garden.

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Some 30+ bags of garden waste later things were looking much better. There is still plenty of work to do, so we hope to organize more regular work on the grounds.

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We also planted some Dutchman’s Pipevine as well to hopefully provide a good spot for wandering Pipevine Swallowtails.

Cormorant April ‘18 Nesting Update

I’d noted earlier in the year that the cormorants had not returned to the nests on landside — the tree above the playground.

But after our big rain last week, I found that maybe half a dozen cormorants are nesting in the tree — and several in a new tree further to the east.

Last year, these nests did not seem to have any results, so it’ll be interesting to see if anything comes of it this year.

As I was watching I noted a fox squirrel climbing the one tree, and proceeded to roust upset cormorants from their nests to investigate.

Hard to tell if it found anything, whether it was looking for cached food or an egg or two. The cormorants barely made an effort to defend and the squirrel was only slightly wary.

Raccoons are on the islands as well, so maybe its surprising any eggs hatch on any of the trees.

Earthday Clean up – April 21st, 2018

FREE! Join us on Earth Day, Saturday April 21st, to help clean up the area around the Rotary Nature Center.

We’ll be doing weeding, and cleanup of trash and materials around the center. We might plant a little bit, and put down compost and enjoy the day, the birds, and what other nature goodies we come across.

We can share with you plans for the Rotary Nature Center. We hope to see it open soon.