Milpitas Camera Club Field Trip
Field Trip: Coyote Point
Trip Date: September 19, 2009
Report Author: Scott Hinrichs
Report Date: October 20, 2009

About seven persons attended the Saturday, September 19 Coyote Point Museum for Environmental Education field trip. Coyote Point is located between the San Mateo Bridge and San Francisco International Airport on the shore of San Francisco Bay. Highway 101 will take you right to the road leading to the gate. There is a $5 per-car fee for day use, since it is within a San Mateo County park.

This museum, although small, had quite a lot of things to see and do especially for children ranging from toddlers to teens. This museum specifically labeled itself an environmental museum and featured mostly native species and exhibits pertinent to California and Bay Area ecology. It wasn't boring (as I feared it migh be). The exhibits, although rather plain, were informative and most applicable to children, young adults and school groups. For a relatively small facility this was an excellent community museum with a large pool of excellent docents and volunteers.

The animals were very interesting and presented pretty well in somewhat natural looking enclosures. They did the best they could considering the limited space. The burrowing owls, the coyote, raccoons, blue heron, honey bees and porcupine put on their respective shows for our cameras. I expecially enjoyed the small European hedgehog probably the cutest animal I've ever seen. (Now I'm tempted to break California law and look into acquiring an illegal hedgehog!)

Once our group arrived, we dispersed throughout the facility and did most of our shooting by ourselves. The place was big enough for a small group to spread out and get lost in its many corners. I spent much more time than I thought I would shooting the various animals. (Perhaps I took a few too many exposures of the 16-year-old blue heron inside the aviary.) I also attended one of the animal shows and watched the charming young handlers give informative demonstrations on the Madagascar hissing cockroach, a couple of the birds of prey and that cute little hedgehog.

When I left, my shooting eye was hurting (like it does after every gruelling shoot), so I figure I took many more pictures than I did at the California Academy of Sciences the week before. They are both great science museums, but this small museum packed a pretty big punch.

As I exited I was enthralled by the combination solar-powered hanging garden, telephone and fish tank exhibit located just outside the front entrance of the building. This interesting piece of green technology used solar power to grow vegetables on an inclined vertical slab (actually a filter) topped by solar panels. The solar array powers the telephone and the pumps, which bring fish waste and water up into the vegetable growing matrix/water filter to fertilize and water the vegetables. It basically is a self-sustaining fish pond, vegetable garden and phone booth used in remote locations or refugee camps in Africa and other places with very little infrastructure. In short it was fascinating!

If you go to this museum, be sure and bring your children or grandchildren! Admission is an affordable $7 for adults, or free the first Sunday of the month. Teachers are admitted free with their valid teacher IDs.

In addition to the museum Coyote Point has a small swimming beach, a very nice panoramic view of San Francisco Bay and the approach path of the San Francisco Airport. When the winds are blowing the bay fills with boats and you can photograph scads of wind surfers from the beaches. There are also very nice picnic facilities in the groves of Eucalyptus and numerous restaurants in nearby San Mateo.

© 2009 S.R. Hinrichs