Spanish explorers arrived in Oakland on March 27, 1772. They reported the natural geography as possibly the most perfect on earth. Near the shore stood magnificent oaks; on the hills stood acres of giant redwoods. In the spring, wildflowers filled the valley with golden poppies and purple iris. Deer, rabbit, bear and wildcat roamed the woods. The Creeks tumbled were filled with salmon, crab, sturgeon, smelt, lobsters, clams and mussels. The marsh that would become Lake Merritt was alive with wild fowl.