The Laws Pocket Guide: Near creeks, rivers, and ponds

Things you'll see near creeks, rivers, and ponds

The Bay Area is a great place to explore the life that is sustained by marshes, streams, and ponds. Muddy banks make for great animal tracking, so keep your eyes downward in search of tracks and other clues, and listen for the sounds of frogs splashing as they leap into the water.

In late winter, be on the lookout for newts as they emerge from their burrows to lay eggs. Springtime ushers in blooming azaleas, and brightly colored migrant birds fill the trees with cacophonous celebration–few, however, outshine year-round resident Anna’s Hummingbird, whose beautiful plumage, clicking calls, and thrilling aerial mating shows are sure to delight observers. Summertime brings more fantastic displays in the sky as dragonflies dart about in the sunlight looking for mates. On especially hot days, you may also find snakes sunning themselves along the trail, and Western Pond Turtles likewise basking in the warmth.

About the Author

John Muir LawsJohn Muir Laws is a naturalist, educator, and artist, with degrees in conservation and resource studies from the University of California, Berkeley; in wildlife biology from the University of Montana, Missoula; and in scientific illustration from the University of California, Santa Cruz. He is a 2010 Audubon TogetherGreen Conservation Leadership Fellow and has received the Terwilliger Environmental Award for outstanding service in environmental education. Visit his website at