San Pedro Valley Park deer

I’m getting a little better at finding wildlife here in the Bay Area! Some research told me that San Pedro Valley Park in Pacifica was a good place to find bobcats, so that’s where I headed on Sunday! I’ll say right off the bat that I didn’t actually see any bobcats, but I think I may have heard one purring. I know that sounds like crazy talk, but bobcats do purr and I know what purring sounds like AND there was a lot of scat near where I heard it that looked like cat scat to me, and I have two cats, so I know cat poop. And I was on the trail where I think most sightings occur. So it’s POSSIBLE I heard a bobcat – or better yet, a mountain lion! – purring, although I acknowledge it sounds pretty goofy.

Despite not SEEING any bobcats (or mountain lions), I really loved this park. There were really beautiful views, and although Karl the Fog was enveloping San Francisco and Highway 1 and greater Pacifica, I had read that San Pedro had its own microclimate that was often sunny even when the rest of Pacifica was foggy, and I found that to totally be the case! It was very lovely. I have some landscape pictures queued up, but as usual I’m going for the wildlife shots first. Although by their nature, cats are going to be difficult to impossible to predict or plan for, I think you are pretty much guaranteed to see deer at San Pedro. This one was in the picnic area near the parking lot as soon as I arrived:
black tailed deer

The trails at San Pedro ascend and descend hills (like ALL trails in this area, I’m learning) and there are a lot of switchbacks to help control it. This is a deer I found lying in some scrub mere feet from me as viewed from above her:
deer lying down

Then I went around a switchback and took this picture looking up at her from below:
deer lying down-2

The photos above were taken on the Valley View trail, which, though absolutely beautiful, is very short and after just 1.6 miles ends at the multi-use Weiler Ranch trail, which you can use to make a loop back to the trailhead/parking lot. I backtracked instead, preferring the privacy and views of Valley View, but not before stopping to photograph these deer grazing right off Weiler Ranch trail and ignoring the relatively steady human traffic.
deer grazing near trail

One thing that makes San Pedro very unique among Bay Area parks is dogs are prohibited. Now, I don’t want to be branded as a dog-hater, and in fact, although I am first and foremost a cat person, I plan to look into walking shelter dogs – taking them on day-long hikes and the like – and I love taking my mother-in-law’s dogs to the park and walking/running with them, but I think one of the reasons San Pedro has so many bobcat and other wildlife sightings is the restriction on dogs. And also I suspect there are just plain fewer people there than there would be because people LOVE dogs around here and many or most of the parks allow dogs off-leash at least in certain areas, which I’m sure scares off wildlife. Dogs were not allowed at my beloved Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge which I’m sure was part of the reason you ALWAYS saw multitudes of wildlife there, so I’m happy to have found a wildlife-friendly place as opposed to yet another dog-friendly place. (And when I do go hiking with a shelter dog, I will have still PLENTY of options.) San Pedro is sure to feature prominently on my short-list of go-to parks!

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One Comment

  1. November 16, 2015

    It makes so much more sense to me to keep parks as wildlife-friendly places! Humans (and their dogs) have taken over so much of the territory; wildlife should be given precedence in those spaces…
    It’s nice that you’re starting to see (and hear!) more and more wildlife. It’d make sense to me that one would experience an adjustment period after arriving in a new place before starting to see everything that is there. You’re getting used to those new surroundings – and maybe the local wildlife also needed to get used to you before showing themselves! In any case, I’m glad to read that wildlife sightings are happening more and more often.

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