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Devereux Slough Story 12/29/05
(Pictures from September to December)


Devereux Slough is near to where I have lived for the last five years. The slough is part of West Campus and is managed as part of the University California Reserve system. It sits within what is known as Coal Oil Point Reserve, which is open to the public. However there is no public parking. You must stay with your car if you do not want to risk a ticket. (Currently free parking is available to those who want to hike in from Isla Vista, the residential community that borders the West Campus bluffs.)

The slough has a few places where people can pull over, relax and enjoy the broad panoramic view. The sough is a shallow watery expanse over open low lying land that drains toward the sea. However Devereux only “breaks through” to the sea for a short time during parts of the rainy season.


Devereux Slough 12/31/05 about as full as it gets


On a rainny day Ocean Meadows Golf Course drains into the Slough from the North 12/31/05

Some dry seasons the water is reduced to a trickle. This summer the slough did not go dry. The slough is populated with abundant birdlife and the accompanying bird watchers. Having grown up in Santa Barbara I was briefly acquainted with the wetlands near Isla Vista though my bird adventures with my high school teacher Miss O'Brien.

To some extent the University and Isla Vista are an island surrounded by wetlands. Devereux Slough is part of these wetlands which are a point of concern and contention regarding University expansion plans for housing. Many of these areas have been filled in and channelized to accommodate housing and other types of development. Storke Ranch, where I live was built around six years ago. It is accross the street from the Ocean Meadows golf course and has a vernal pool area that connects with the Devereux Slough when intense duration rainstorms occur.

My family moved near to Devereux Slough because it was within our reach after outgrowing our 800 square foot condo and being priced out of Santa Barbara. Only necessity brought me out to this area. I would rather be in Santa Barbara, but I am learning to call Goleta, the Isla Vista area and the University grounds my home.

Recently I went for a wonderful hike at More Mesa bluffs and realized that my childhood horseback riding jaunts on the beach were within the view of the More Mesa cliffs. Also within view of these cliffs is Campus point and the University that jets out into the sea. Somehow I find this reassuring, and it helps me to realize that I really haven't gone as far away as I had thought. Some people find roots in the land that they have played on in their youth and I am one of them. My roots haven’t necessary been transplanted but perhaps merely spread further?


More Mesa is right between where I used to live and where I now live. This stretch of beach between More Mesa and Goleta Beach is hard to reach if the tides are not low. View toward Santa Barbara


More Mesa cliff's view toward Isla Vista and UCSB

This week , at Devereux slough, I watched two Peregrine Falcons share a Coot. They brought it up to a tall sapless tree to eat.

A few weeks ago I captured on "film" (on a digital camera) a Merlin eating a dragonfly.

Ducks both seasonal and regulars are always mucking around here.

Egrets stealthily hunt fish. Their white wings spreading in flight fan out like angel wings.

Long sharp beaks wait and then find their prey.

What a different way to earn a full belly than by the florescent glow of a computer tapping on a keyboard. None of these birds wear a hat to protect themselves from what to me is the harsh sun.  However the Egrets feathers were worn by many a fashionable lady years ago.

What is it to watch a bird, to plant a seed, to hear the calm of open space, the long stretch of sand fading into the mist, what is this compared to the other occupations, the other hours of our days?

Here at Devereux Slough, like at the ocean, the mountains or other open areas one can stretch out ones senses and feel the rhythms of other living creatures and see the changes pass both hourly and yearly. You can see Devereux Slough as a scientist, as a poet, a photographer, an artist, or a birder. Or just see it as one who proclaims, “wow, how beautiful”. My favorite thing to do is to just quietly observe it with someone I love. I also have fun sharing and playing with my camera there, as my included photos and words show.

There is the conservation side of protecting wetlands, and the effort that playing the role of an activist takes. Yet, I hope people can simply enjoy the stillness of nature just down the block from home. Yes, that is the best thing about Devereux Slough to me.

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Callie's e-mail: cjbowdish@hotmail.com