Central Coast: Past, Present, Future: Delights of Sweet Springs Nature Preserve | Columnists

A peregrine falcon plunges headlong into the water, emerging a moment later with its prey clasped firmly in its beak. An egret, so white it appears to glow, walks slowly and carefully alongside a clearwater brook.

Frogs in a nearby creek hop from place to place as turtles and mallards swim past. From a tree high above a great horned owl looks down on the scene below. In the distance sits Morro Rock, majestic, serene and everlasting.

Welcome to Sweet Springs Nature Preserve in Los Osos, 24 acres of the most alluring and bucolic real estate on our Central Coast.

Located off Ramona Avenue, Sweet Springs is home to 210 species of birds, 41 of which breed there, as well as frogs, turtles, fish, deer, raccoons, towering eucalyptus trees and a sense of peace and quiet you will be hard-pressed to find any place else.

Archeological evidence points to the Chumash living near Sweet Springs as early as 500 A.D. The first Europeans to see Sweet Springs were members of the Portola Expedition, which came through the Central Coast in 1769 on a mission for King Charles III of Spain. On Sept. 7 they entered the Los Osos Valley, and the next day a young officer named Miguel Costanso wrote that they came upon, “An estuary of immense size …”

Juan Crespi, a Franciscan Friar traveling with the expedition, noted the estuary was so large “it looked like a harbor to us.” Crespi also observed that “to the north we saw a great rock in the form of a round morro.”

More than 100 people per day visit Sweet Springs during the summer, “with slightly fewer during the other seasons,” according to Jan Surbey, a member of the board that oversees Sweet Springs on behalf of the Morro Coast Audubon Society.

The popularity of Sweet Springs will likely increase in the future, because the Audubon Society, which acquired eight acres adjacent to the…

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