Hope Soars Above the Parking Lot

white-tailed kite compton creek habitat watershed Heal the Bay education

On a recent Thursday, our four-person crew met to lead a water chemistry field trip—aka “Creek 101”— at Compton Creek. However, just as students arrived a dramatic downpour cancelled the field trip and left us to explore and contemplate other ways we could enhance the experience of Creek 101 at Compton Creek. I had never been to the site before, so I was very excited to get my own personal tour and explore the area. 

Although the stretch of creek Eddie Murphy, Heal the Bay’s Secondary Education Coordinator uses as his outdoor classroom is fairly restrained due to many factors, there are nearby sites with great potential for habitat restoration that could be accessible and beneficial to the entire community (both people and wildlife).

Because of the natural sediment bottom of this particular Creek 101 site, many different types of plants inhabit the stream creating a lush and green island between the surrounding parking lots and developments. We had noticed during our walk that many birds were still present and valued the site as suitable habitat in a habitat limited region. The most compelling evidence, which proves the importance of this small non-concrete space was Katherine Pease, Heal the Bay’s Watershed Scientist identifying a White-Tailed Kite hunting directly above the creek (seen in the video below). 

White-Tailed Kites are small raptors that hunt by facing the wind and hovering elegantly in the air. Their beautiful white-feathered bodies hang like actual kites, while they scan the ground for rodents to prey on. Our sighting is especially crucial because Kite populations have been declining in past years mainly due to habitat loss and are rarely seen in developed areas. This is so hopeful to see that Compton Creek (and possibly also the adjacent abandoned partially undeveloped lot) provides a haven of ecological importance for both plants and animals.  

Marissa Maggio, Stream Team Intern