Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Santa Cruz Island Wetland

Look closely for the small pond in front of the dead tree.
Can there be a wetland on a dry island? Yes.

Santa Cruz Island is the largest of the Southern California Channel Islands. The eastern side of the island is composed of porous volcanic rock. Rain water peculates through the rock and comes to the surface as springs in a few areas. One of these areas is at Prisoner's Harbor.

In the past couple of years the wetland at Prisoner's Harbor has been going through restoration. Landfill was removed so the springs were once again able to reach the surface and therefore become a resting spot for migratory birds. A dead tree or snag was left in place as a perching area. The rare island scrub-jay, insect eating black phoebes and a variety of birds are using this natural perch.

This spring native willows, grasses and even oaks were carefully planted. Brightly colored flags, mark the different vegetation areas that are delineated by elevation. Small variation in elevation means differing amounts of freshwater. 

Looking across the restored wetland toward the sea.
Wetlands are rapidly disappearing along the California coast. The restoration of this wetland helps not only the endangered island fox on Santa Cruz Island, but a wide range of species on this island.

This is the area of Santa Cruz Island where our facebook and Twitter island fox family lives along side an island scrub-jay family. Follow their adventures on-line or in the black box on the right edge of this page.