river dream…

Good Morning Barbara & fellow River Friends,

many critters live along the river…

As you know, I love to talk endlessly about the river. Jean Kratzer from the new Santa Cruz radio station innocently asked me if I was willing to be recorded as we talked on levee walk about the San Lorenzo River. She is working on a river story for her program. I was in heaven and the birds obviously were in support of my opinion that their habitat is an amazing treasure. The migratory RED-throated LOON rocked on the river, watching us looking at it. The COOPER HAWK swooped down, landed on the bank, which really infuriated the KINGFISHER. The much smaller bird so no reason to hold back with her territory screeches and bomb-dived the bigger bird merciless. Clearly both their hunting opportunities were ruined and the COOPER HAWK took off. Just to be sure that it understood clearly to never ever enter the KINGFISHER’S hunting area again, the fishing expert chased the HAWK quite a distance inland, stressing her fortissimo message with blitz-y attacks. Upon return the KINGFISHER flew back and forth near the abandoned SWALLOW nests, which was unusual. That came to a dead stop when the down stream KINGFISHER was trying to sneak by her. So off she went to set the next intruder straight. One of Jean’s questions was: What was my dream version for the San Lorenzo River? That question tempts for a long answer, because of the many components that play into making my dream come true. All too often the river issues receive quick, short term ‘fixes’ that result in long term unwanted outcomes. Pressed to sum it up, I would say: All river involved agencies and river advocates take a deep breath, sit down together and acknowledge that their joint highest goal is mindful river protection and stewardship for its habitats with our fused integrity. Committing to this objective all approaches/actions would get filtered through that lens. Yes, it would take time, but then again any artist, business person knows: producing any successful prototype takes innovative thinking, time, money & effort. Personally I think that this concept is worth applying to our river, a Natural Infrastructure. I would love to see the river thrive thanks to good care and watch the community be proud of what was achieved.

river feeding SNOWY EGRETS…

I hope your cold has departed and you are in full swing of birding for the migratory WARBLERS, who are starting to arrive. They are such small birds, who love to hide behind foliage. It takes endurance and patience to spot them. It seems that they remind us to slow down just like this season is. The busy summer is turning its leaves over to the sedate fall and I like to think that the WARBLERS help us adjust to the change.

testing culvert concept…

Well, it seems like you won’t be reading any more breach reports this year. The hopes run high for the involved agencies and the City that the buried pipe on Main Beach will turn out to be a successful ‘test case’ for the planned year-a-around culvert. This is different to the previous design, which planned to remove the culvert before winter storms and re-install it in the spring. The latest Sentinel article explains why there are high expectations attached to the test result.

just a few of the many MALLARDS…

This morning the river was surprisingly low in spite of the closed river mouth. The 50 MALLARDS or more were gobbling up their breakfast and 10 PIED-billed GREBES spend their time diving. There is one PIED-billed GREBE, who has mingled with a MALLARD group for the past week. I am starting to wonder if it knows it’s a diving PIED-Billed GREBE. There was an odd gull looking bird swimming on the river and now begins my windy ‘Who is that? journey. Next time I’ll let you know what I find out and until then you all enjoy your mystery river visits, jane

Advertisements

Secure Housing for All Creatures of the Earth

 

Your photo and story, Jane, on Captain Coot, proudly sweeping by the astonished Mallards while sailing his cardboad ship down the river, was one of your funniest of the year!

 

A slight glitch in my posting this week.  I  posted this piece to my education site by mistake.  When I tried to move it back to this San Lorenzo River Mysteries Site, I  lost photo captions and some links.  If you would like to see the original post, you can click here and go to my other, now mostly moribund, education site.  That way you can also take a peek at my former life!

I’ve been busy working on the Yes on M campaign (rent control), specializing, it seems, in trying to save the homes of human as well as avian creatures.   I am perhaps unreasonably partial to the idea of a world where every sentient being  has secure housing!  Anyway, for this reason, as well as having a cold, I haven’t been out on the River this week .   Fortunately the river has come to me in the form of many new  riparian dwellers visiting my overgrown native garden, separated from the river by a single fence.  My sunflower seed feeder is a major attraction, as well as a rotting log I introduce a while back.  I hope the native plants factor in the equation somewhere.  I really don’t have the vaguest understanding of the ecology that I am blindly trying to create.  But I think it is working.

I have not been lucky enough in the past to catch many glimpses of our colorful

Grosbeakon fence

summer visitor, the BLACK-HEADED GROSBEAK, so you  can imagine how happy I’ve been to have one of these showy creatures appear as a regular visitor in my backyard for the last two weeks.  She (or he?) seems to love my sunflower seeds.  Weirdly, it is impossible to  know if my backyard Grosbeak is a first year male or a female, since in their first year the two are indistinguishable.  All I know is that it was not a second year male whose solidly black head and deep orange breast clearly identify it as a breeding male.  Unfortunately, one of those hasn’t visited yet.

I also read that this species loves to feast on  Monarch butterflies, one of the few bird species that can successfully process the toxins in Monarchs that would kill or sicken another bird. Both Monarchs and Black-headed Grosbeaks return to the mountains of central Mexico in the winter – unfortunately for the Monarchs.

curious grosbeak

But I forgive the Grosbeaks since they are one of those lovable birds that share the duties of incubating and feeding their young. Here is a good website connected with Cornell University  that I use to collect some of these interesting tidbits of information – All About Birds. 

 

I’ve heard that HOUSE FINCHES tend to be late breeders and the recent mobbing of my tube feeder by all kinds of fluffy and scruffy young finches seems to prove the truth of this.

House finch juvenile

The tube is absolutely cleaned out by evening each day.   I also wonder if some of them might be molting adults. I wonder where they nest.

House Finch juv male

Here is a video of house finches feeding their young – slightly overproduced for my taste, but a nice intro to my sightings of them after they are out of the nest.

Adult male House Finch

Parent finches regurgitate food for the young, making it possible as we see in the film to feed many for quite a while.   Click here.

I saw a juvenile COWBIRD perched near my house for the first time that I remember.  A parasitic brooder, often leaving an egg in the nests of  House Finches, I wonder if this juvenile was inadvertently raised as a sibling of one of my finches above..  He looks a bit bewildered and stranded, don’t you think?

Cowbird juvenile

Passing the 80 milestone has kept me from getting down to the  estuary end of the river very much – so I much appreciate first hand news and photos of the breaching.   What did you think of the Sentinel coverage of this phenomena?  It cleared up some questions that I have had. For readers who didn’t see the article, click here for the link.

I don’t think I  have mentioned  my concern about the dirt road that the City built along the east side of the river bank on the riverine reach (Water to Highway 1) while they were doing their flood control work a month ago.

New path along East Bank of riverine stretch

Here is a photo of the road as well as a close-up that shows how close the road comes to the river.  I am worried that rangers and police will begin patrolling the area in their trucks, creating a disturbance to the wildlife and setting a bad precedent for the future in terms of how close humans should get to the river.  I know that there are some commercial and recreational developers that would just love to create more paths right next to the river. I would love to walk there myself,  – but I don’t think it bodes well for habitat protection.  I am likely to hear and see more if I am not disturbing what I want to hear and see.

New road

Have you seen this mighty sprinkling can heaving its way down the Riverwalk?

Tree sprinkler

I talked to the driver and he told me that it brings water to thirsty native plants that are newly planted and need a little extra support. If we ever get the river levee re-planted with natives, and they get established, maybe this will become the dinosaur that it resembles.  But I definitely appreciate the restoration work that seems to have taken off on the levee and Riverwalk.

Here is the bonus photo for the day, a mysterious insect that graced my garden for a moment.  I would love to begin to learn the names of these visitors.

Mystery Insect

Quote of the Day

No Sierra landscape that I have seen holds anything truly dead or dull, or any trace of what in manufactories is called rubbish or waste.  Everything is perfectly clean and pure and full of divine lessons.

John Muir

May we all learn to respect the right of all living creatures to a secured place to live.

Barbara

 

 

 

river deserves win-win solutions…

Good Morning Barbara & River Enjoyers,
This time of year is the transition period of summer to fall migratory birds, which brings a lull to our bird sightings. The SWALLOWS pretty much left us by now except for a few CLIFF SWALLOW stragglers, getting a late migratory start. Slowly the first WARBLERS will show up in our area. We’ll be thrilled to welcome back the WILSON WARBLER with its black cap on its yellow head, the TOWNSEND’S WARBLER with its black and yellow head striping and the black and white BUFFLEHEAD to name a few.

innovative A. COOT exploring new transportation method…

Who says that birds are not innovative? Obviously this AMERICAN COOT proved that wrong. The A. COOT was using a discarded cardboard as an energy saving transportation to leisurely float down the river, grab some yummies off the edge, rest a little and sail by the surprised MALLARDS, who rushed out of the way of the unconventional bird travel device.

tree gone, tent there…

I hadn’t been to the lower river in a few days, because I was busy recording the disturbing vegetation vandalism between Laurel St. and Trestle bridge. Returning to my familiar, lower river stretch I saw that the big, healthy Trestle Eucalyptus had fallen victim to PG&E’s safety zealousness, exposing the prior camouflaged blue camper tent (its resident uses the remaining big tree trunk as his table). In my perfect win-win world, only the Eucalyptus‘s top would have been trimmed back from the wires, the planned Trestle trail would have woven around the tree and the SONG SPARROWS, migratory WARBLERS, BUSHTITS would still have their favored shelter and food source available. The SONG SPARROWS’ perch in that tree was the perfect performance spot to drizzle their enticing songs on us Trestle path users. And if that habitat disappearance wasn’t enough, the Eucalyptus bank had received a severe pruning job: branches on the big trees had been removed, small trees and undergrowth are gone. Starring at the scene, my heart ached, because the bird, butterfly, bee habitat at the Eucalyptus grove is obviously decimated. And how was I going to explain to the GREAT BLUE HERON why its favorite perch got axed. In my perfect win-win world more branches and undergrowth would have remained to intercept the flow of heavy rain and storm water run-off.

soil erosion potential?

This would prevent the soil from washing down the steep bank into the river thus stabilizing the bank and trees. Additionally it wouldn’t have changed the vistas so drastically: the bushy green is gone, replaced by bare tree trunks that now offer a panorama of once hidden buildings and the Boardwalk and its huge parking lot, previously barely visible, bombard the eyes. As you all can tell: it has been a hard vegetation week for me!

drastic vista change…

On Saturday the cliff overlook presented yet an other creative Main Beach sands-cape: a high, long berm along the Main Beach shoreline that solicited some interesting interpretations: Seaside Co. wanted to keep people out of the ocean, City was blocking high waves, City was trying to get rid of beach sand, etc. As you know the river water level is still high due to the lagoon.

high river level allows MALLARDS to use foot path…

The City’s attempt to keep the river mouth open this summer was doomed, because State and Fed. agencies required that the work had to be done by hand tools. This turned out to be impossible since the river mouth berm had become too wide and high. From my previous experience it looked like the City was getting ready to do a controlled breach, which is always suspenseful to watch.

long, high berm received many interpretations….

Looking down Monday morning at the river mouth my guess was correct: the bulldozers were pushing sand around while the biologists were doing their final seining. My neighbor told me that 2 pipes had been buried on the Main Beach, which will maintain the river water level at 5 feet. Checking on the progress in the afternoon my cliff compadre told me that the controlled breach had been a successful and we watched the bulldozers dig trenches horizontally across the old river mouth. Then I walked home, humming my mantra: environment is no one’s property to destroy; it’s everyone’s responsibility to protect(Mohith Agadi). River love to you from jane

The Power of a Pink Ribbon

Dear Jane and All Nature Lovers,

Why am I so happy to see a delicate pink ribbon still dangling from some scrubby little bush along the levee bank?

P1090338
Coyote Bush (Baccharis) flagged for protection. August 2018, Photo by B.Riverwoman

Well– because those ribbons were finally placed there this year by the City to warn the mowing crew to leave the native Coyote Bush alone.  These low growing shrubs pose no flood threat, but have perished as collateral damage in the City’s grander mission of removing the large-diameter trees like Cottonwoods, Alders, Willows and Box Elders.  The pink ribbons remind me that change is slow, but if we keep asking year after year, the City does listen. I hope that in the future many more of the smaller native plants, important to the diversity of the habitat, will be flagged in order to ward off the chainsaws.

I had another ‘first-time-on-the-river’ experience this week, spotting a BAND-TAILED PIGEON perched high overhead on a telephone wire.  Even more interesting, she was a juvenile.  What was a juvenile Band-tailed doing on the river.  Why was she alone instead of in a flock where you usually find these birds?   Why have I never seen this year-round resident on the River before.  I also started wondering why doves and pigeons (the columbidae family)  favor telephone wires.

Band-tailed Pigeon juvenile
Juvenile Band-tailed Pigeon, between Felker and Water Bridges, Photo by B. Riverwoman

I decided to do a little research on this unlikely river bird.  I found out that Band-tailed pigeons usually stay close to their flock except when breeding.  I also learned that they lay only one egg per nest – perhaps explaining why this juvenile was still alone.  It turns out that  these birds prefer coniferous and oak forest habitats.  Maybe their high wire preferences are because these wires are the closest urban equivalent to the high branches in their normal forest habitats.  And to my surprise, I found out that this particular species is the closest genetic relative of the extinct Passenger Pigeon.  For this reason, the species has been widely studied in an effort to bring back the extinct species

Band-tailed Pigeons and MOURNING DOVES are the two native members of the pigeon and dove family that reside year-round in Santa Cruz.

Mourning dove 3 copy
Mourning Dove, San Lorenzo River, Photo by B. Riverwoman

The Mourning Dove occurs throughout the U.S, but the Band-tailed Pigeon’s range is more limited, extending only along the western parts of Washington, Oregon, California and south to northern Argentina.  Its population plunged before the Federal Migratory Game Bird Act of 1918 was passed, due to severe hunting.  But it has now recovered  and is not longer listed as endangered.   Cheers to all the survivors on our River and to all those environmentalists before us who help save threatened plants and animals.

The other two common members of this family, the ROCK PIGEON and the EURASIAN COLLARED-DOVE, are introduced species.  The former is an old timer, having been introduced, I learned, very early in  the 17thcentury from Europe, Africa and other parts. The Eurasian Collared-dove, on the other hand, is an upstart.  It is native to subtropical Asia and, believe it or not,  didn’t arrive in North America until the 1980’s.    At that time it entered Florida and has since become one of the great bird colonizers, spreading rapidly across the country. They breed throughout the year, three to four broods being common.  Unfortunately, they are known carriers of parasites that can spread to native birds via commingling at feeders and by consumption by predators.

Eurasian Collared-dove
Eurasian Collared-dove in my backyard next to levee, August 15, 2018, Photo by B. Riverwoman

Since I learned that bad news, I’ve been discouraging them from foraging in my backyard where my House Finches, California Towhees and winter sparrows forage.  Sad.  Before I got wiser, I used to love to see them.    During one walk this week, I saw at least one of all four members of this Columbidae family.

 

 

scrub jay juv
Juvenile Scrub Jay, August 2018, San Lorenzo River

As for continuing juveniles, there are still many young SCRUB JAYS hopping around with  telltale fluff popping out all over. I laughed out loud earlier in the week  to see a young House Finch on a telephone wire with its parent. The teen-ager would edge its way along the wire until it got very close to the mother, who would then scuttle further down the wire, the scene repeating itself again and again.   And today, I smiled as I watched two somewhat dazed  looking young crows, fully feathered except for just a few wisps of down on their still fairly naked faces.  The sight that pleased me the most was this juvenile  JUNCO, busily foraging along the sidewalk with a group of adult Juncos. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a juvenile Junco.

Junco juv
Juvenile Junco, August 20, 2018, San Lorenzo River, Photo by B. RiverwomanEnter a caption

On a sad note, I think I will have to reconcile myself to the fact that the PIED-BILLED GREBES have not been able to successfully produce any young this year.  This is  the first time there haven’t been young PBG’s on the River in the four years that I have been watching.  Here’s a photo of Stripey, the product of the first nest of Grebes that I discovered in 2015, the highpoint of my river birdwatching.  I’m especially sad since I watched the hard working parents try several times to build nests, foiled each time by the suddenly rising or falling river due to the artifical breach of the sand bar.

Stronger  Legs each second. – Version 2
Stripy, the first baby Pied-billed Grebe that I learned to love.  Photo from August 2015 by B. Riverwoman

I met an enthusiastic bird lover named Andy Davis this week while he was out keeping our river clean with the Downtown Street Team.

Andy Davis
Andy Davis, DST, Photo by B. Riverwoman 

If some of our readers haven’t met members of this team yet, stop and talk with them. They’re out on the River everyday and know a lot about what is going on.  Andy reported the discovery recently of a very large gopher snake, good news on the state of our River’s ecosystem.  Somehow she survived the flood chainsaws and bulldozers.   When I said to Andy how great it was that the DST is keeping an eye on the wildlife, he said to me, “That’s what we’re here for –to protect the river.”  Thanks, Andy.

My friend Jeff Caplan, an ardent advocate of birds, is sponsoring a Bird Fun Festival  on Saturday and Sunday,  September  15 and 16th, at the Museum of Art and History in downtown Santa Cruz.  There will be a bilingual walk from Beach Flats Park to the MAH, starting Saturday at 10 a.m. with events to follow at the MAH.  Sunday will be focused especially on bird related activities for children.  It sounds like lots of fun.  I will be there on Sunday with a cooperative nesting bird game to play with kids ages 7 to 11.   Hope to see some of you there.  Click here for the full website. 

683d64fe-b76b-49ed-ad4a-53911c1fb777

Quote of the Week

“I care to live only to entice people to loook at Nature’s loveliness.  Heaven knows that John the Baptist was not more eager to get all his fellow sinners into the Jordan than I to baptize all of mine in the beauty of God’s mountains.”  John Muir

I hope everybody is enjoying the remaining young birds of the season.  They are growing up fast.  Happy Birding!

Barbara

river changes…

Good Morning Barbara & Riverphiles,

open river mouth changes river life…

The rapid river mouth changes in the last week have been astounding. In my last report you read how the river was seeping into the San Lorenzo Blvd.Then the river mouth opened around mid-night from the 30th to the 31st. The 4’ high tide created a new look for a couple of days until the river mouth closed again. It is fascinating to see how these various waterscapes appeal to different bird species. The PELICANS cherish the short lived lagoon islands, which have been populated by 30 to 70 PELICANS. If endless grooming time allows, they waddle around, doze as picturesque statues until they take off in unison and fly a wide circle. Most of them land back on the resort island and a few decide on an ocean visit and are replaced by new comers. The ELEGANT and CASPIAN TERNS screech with fish-hunting joy when the river is lagoon-ing. They bomb-dive for fish, barely avoiding collision with each other and drive the fish stealing gulls berserk, who are in a frenzy, trying to decide which TERN to rob of their prey. The CORMORANTS and TERNS benefit from each others fishing styles: the CORMORANTS flush the swimmers upward, the diving TERNS flush the fish downward. Does anybody know if fish are deaf? The loud TERN screeches should warn the fish that quilled hunters are on the loose and dash instantly for the deeper cliff channels instead of staying in the middle of the lagoon, presenting easy targets. The Shorebirds such as prefer the open river mouth. In the early morning they carefully ‘graze‘ the waterline, make their way slowly past the river towards the Seabright beach, where early human risers and dogs cut their visit short. They fly off and don’t return until an other day.

Western Sandpipers ‘grazing’ at the river mouth…

It’s the time in the breeding season when the feathered parents have reached the limits of patiently responding to the incessant begging call of their brood. Now the brood’s ‘feed me’ call tends to get either a sporadic response or is totally ignored. Sunday morning a gull parent tried to escape the pesky offspring, who was obviously unwilling to grow up. This proved to be a quite difficult case of ‘kicking the young out of the nest’. The youngster followed the parent in the air, landed almost on top of its sire in the water, raced in the sand after the potential food source while screeching non stop. Finally the parent fled to the open sea and of course the peeved teenager followed. Plainly the young gull was no match for the progenitor’s speed: swiftly the gap between them widened. As you see, family issues are not species specific.

Pelicans enjoying new river island…

A couple of weeks ago I saw the Soquel bridge light installation in the evening. The different colored lights streamed back and forth in the dark. The art piece appeared for the EBB & FLOW festival and I thought it would stop once the event was over. The impact of the construction work for the installation had me already concerned for the SWALLOW nests underneath the bridge ledge. And now I am staring my concerns for the nocturnal, diurnal wildlife hunters in the eye. How are the moving lights effecting their nightly, twilight feeding? I know there are Owls, Hawks, Black-crowned Night Herons and Shorebirds along the river. They use the night, twilight for find food for their survival. In addition the San Lorenzo River is in the Pacific flyway of migratory birds, many of whom fly at night. Looks like it’s time to honor my wildlife concerns with some( whom am I kidding?always ‘much’) research and outreach work, which includes you all. Thanks for sharing your information how light across a waterbody effects nocturnal, diurnal hunters. The birds and I appreciate that!

light installation across the river…

Here is a little update for you: The COMMON GOLDENEYE and the RED-throated LOON are still residing on river between Laurel St bridge and river mouth. The amount of ELEGANT, CASPIAN TERNS, CORMORANTS and juv. HEERMANN’s gulls has been staggering at the river mouth/Trestle. The SPOTTED SANDPIPER is back between Trestle and Riverside Ave. bridge, where only a dozen or so CLIFF SWALLOWS remain. On Sat. 8/18th we’ll be working on our ongoing Restoration Project and we love to have you join us.
Sending you all sparkly river greetings, jane

Whimbrels by the river mouth…

Alone or Together, Trying to Survive

Dear Jane and Fellow Nature Travelers,

As I write this article, it is August 6th, Hiroshima Day.  I light a candle, take out my Buddhist prayer bead made from the wooden propeller of a Japanese airplane, and sing a Japanese song against nuclear war.  I do a little ritual on this day almost every year,  sometimes with others, sometimes by myself.  This year for the first time my small prayer for peace includes all living species. I wonder why it has taken me so long to add other species to my thoughts on Hiroshima Day.

I almost always return from my walk along the degraded River with such a strange sense of peace.  Maybe it is precisely because it is so degraded that the life it protects offers such a message of hope.  So much wildness has survived so much human violence.

On my walks this week, I was struck by how some birds spend most of their time together, while other species spend most of their time alone.  They have all figured out different strategies on how  to give life a chance., give peace a chance.  But how different their lives must be depending on what has worked to keep them alive and flourishing.   Today’s blog is dedicated to all the birds who have learned to live in flocks and also those who spend most of their time alone.  Many different evolutionary strategies have helped them make it this far!

P1090196
9 Canada Geese, swimming near Benchlands, August 1, 2018, photo by B. Riverwoman

As I walked along the River I saw 9 CANADA GEESE swimming along in an almost straight line, reminding me always of what a closely knit group of social beings they are.  I saw 18 DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANTS fishing and taking a rambunctious early morning bath together, then swimming off purposefully in formation to continue their fishing downstream.  I hailed 85 ROCK PIGEONS in three separate flocks, one large flock creating a magic circle in the air while another flock spaced itself evenly along a stretch of telephone wire.   I was delighted to see 15 beautiful COMMON MERGANSERS  on the river bank just south of the Chinatown Bridge, preening and resting together.

Cormorants
9 Double-crested Cormorants (among a flock of 18) fishing together south of Soquel Bridge, August 1, 2018, photo by B. Riverwoman
Mergansers
9 Common Mergansers (among a flock of 15) hauling up below Laurel St.Bridge to rest and preen, August 1, 2018, Photo by B. Riverwoman
Pigeons
29 Rock Pigeons, August 1, 2018, photo by B. Riverwoman

Interspersed among these gregarious groupies were the loners –

Snowy Egret
Snowy Egret, August 1, 2018, Photo by B. Riverwoman

the spectral SNOWY EGRET, dignified and graceful,  foraging  in the muddy banks and shallow waters for crunchy crustaceans, elusive fish and buried insects; the busy SPOTTED SANDPIPER plunging his pointed beak again and again into the sand bar between Laurel and Riverside, a spot he has pretty much claimed for his own year after year;  the Belted Kingfisher  perching briefly on a branch before rattling on down the river in search of a better vantage point; the unusual and mysterious RED-THROATED LOON, whose rare lingering on the River for two summers is a mystery we will probably never understand, and of course my very special little PIED-BILLED GREBE, who almost certainly has a mate not too far away, but almost always fishes alone.

Spotted Sandpiper
Spotted Sandpiper, August 1,  2018, Photo by B. Riverwoman
P1040752 copy
Belted Kingfisher, October 23, 2015, Photo by B. Riverwoman
grebe
Pied-billed Grebe on the move, August 1, 2018 Photo by B. Riverwoman

 

Here is my eBird checklist with the names of all 20 species, blessed survivors, that I saw on my river outing this week.  Click here.

The SWALLOWS seem mostly gone.  I saw a few remnant CLIFF SWALLOWS still whirling about near the Laurel St. Bridge, but they will presumably be flying a little straighter once they head  south.

May all human beings figure out a way to survive peacefully, together or alone, with their own kind and with all living creatures.

Barbara

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

unbelievable…

Good Morning Barbara and Fellow Nature Lovers,

San Lorenzo River’s high water level

Early Friday morning I just had to take a look at the river mouth from the cliff ‘Point’, because the river water gage was just below the 7’ level, causing water to seep into the street, the Boardwalk parking lot and is flooding the Riverside St. underpass. The Main Beach sight must make the Seaside Co. and the various river agencies mighty nervous, because the river is steadily swallowing up the Boardwalk Beach. A visitor and I scanned the impressive water body for birds while commenting on the small sand islands in the middle of the river that once were a gigantic sandpile. We both caught sight of the preening MERGANSERS on the one small island, when the visitor said:” Is that young MERGANSER? It looks so small and is much lighter.” I didn’t see what he was talking about until I inched closer to him and sure enough: hidden behind one of the MERGANSERS was a smaller, lighter bird. The other 3 birds obstructed a clear view, but we decided that it wasn’t a MERGANSERLING(as Robin calls them). Finally our mystery bird collaborated, stood up, walked away from its friends and we both clearly saw the white eye marking, characteristic for our feathered river visitor: the LONG-tailed DUCK. As we parted, we agreed that it was interesting that the quilled visitor and locals were so comfortable hanging out together…walking away I thought that our plumed remark applied to the two of us as well…

our river visitor, the LONG-tailed DUCK…

You won’t believe this: the PEREGRINE finally fulfilled my wish to see its hunt plunge that same morning. As usual I scanned the Trestle trees for the Falcon, who I hadn’t seen for a while and I was disappointed to not see the familiar shape high in the tree. Resigned I headed up stream when I saw the well known shape head for the trees, land on the highest branch, shake its feathers and commence to survey the scene: the fleeing pigeons, the disturbed chattering of the CORMORANTS sitting on the branches, the silenced songbirds and the unperturbed GREAT BLUE HERON staring in the water for its fish breakfast. Satisfied to see its return, I continued my walk when suddenly a dark shape blitzed 4’ away from me into a flying pigeon. That hit made an eerie, loud thud sound, sent the pigeons feathers snowing down on the water, left the PEREGRINE empty taloned, because within a split second the pigeons veered sharp left and escaped death. The Falcon re-perched itself and I suspected that my ‘plunge’ observation had arrived, because the PEREGRINE was in hunting mode. And sure enough after a short wait, the predator literally fell off the branch, dropped like a stone towards the water, wings tucked tightly to the body, inches above the water surface the wings moved ever so slightly as it blasted towards a pigeon on a boulder. Once again fate favored a potential victim, because right in front of the hunter a CORMORANT burst out the water, barely avoiding a collision the predator sharply pulled up, missing out on its meal. The saved victim flew off, thanking its lucky stars (I am sure), the CORMORANT swam in circles, looking stunned, the Falcon shook itself and flew back to the trees. I am still flabbergasted that I got to witness the unbelievable spectacle!!

re-perching PEREGRINE

As you know I was celebrating the great Park & Rec. Staff mowing job, which saved the survivor plants and I was devastated when I discovered that somebody has mowed down many off them. I got worried about my other survivor plants, expecting the worst, I raced to check on them.

surviving Calif. Fuchsia spreading…

Thank heaven, they were untouched and doing amazingly well. It was unbelievable to see how far the Calif. Fuchsia, Coyote bushes, Dogwood, low manzanita bush had spread since we had freed them of weeds, dead wood and gave them new soil. A Swallowtail, several Monarchs enjoyed the revival of the survivor plants with me.
Relishing the ‘unbelievable’, jane

Tiger Swallowtail resting on a ‘survivor’…