river Cupid nibbles, WAGTAIL and what matters…

Good Morning Dear Nature Schmoozers,

these days of leisure are over…

I am here to tell you that spring is nibbling on our feathered river friends. Why am I saying that? Because in the last week the bird Cupid has been busily darting across the water, through the trees and bushes, spreading the rumor: ” Mating makes you happy!”. At first hardly any birds tested that message and now many doubters have turned into convinced believers. Take the MALLARDS: Two weeks ago there were either no or just a few MALLARDS on the lower river stretch. Back then they calmly rested, foraged alone or with their sidekicks along the shoreline. That scene changed dramatically within a week. Now the water surface is housing up to forty MALLARDS, who are fevered up thanks to Cupid’s arrows. The males are treading water as fast as they can when they sight a female, ready to convince her that they are the perfect one. They don’t bother to notice that she has another male in tow, who of course is deeply insulted for being overlooked. So the quacking discussions start and often they end up in feather ruffle brawls. The females will add her two cents worth of quacks, watch for a while and then start foraging. She won’t be enjoying that for long before a third and sometimes forth male arrives to remind her the season for pecking daintily at the Tule is over. Presently the females keep popping up from underneath males. A clear indicator that sweet little ducklings will decorate our river and make us tweet with delight. The SONG SPARROW is throwing his head in the air, opens his beak to practice his luring tunes. Admittedly they still need some fine tuning before his song becomes the aria she just can’t resist. And then there is the male HOUSE-FINCH, who is following his Cupid choice through the bushes. Obviously she is immune to the Roman god’s memo, because she pays him no attention and keeps flying off. He might have better luck if he resorted to the beautiful melody his species is well known for. Most of us think that songbirds just have to open their beak and these enchanting mating songs flutter out. I fancy that the songbirds wished that was the case, because it takes patient practice to release the song that convinces her that Cupid’s rumor is true.

SPOTTED SANDPIPER shaking off after bathing…

Well, I finally got to see the WHITE WAGTAIL. And no! I didn’t see the rarity at the river mouth as I had hoped. The white and black enchanter has frequented the river cliff area less, because the high water level has devoured the shoreline. My friend and I spotted the WHITE WAGTAIL feasting on the seaweed at Cowell beach. The delicate, elegant body was surprisingly small, about the size of a SPOTTED SANDPIPER. We had just detected the migrant when we watched in horror a beachgoer heading towards our long awaited find. We were worried that our joy would be cut short, because the elusive bird would be chased away by the beachgoer. We watched with amazement how the WHITE WAGTAIL kept flying a few feet in front of him and start foraging again. The man turned back without ever being aware how close he was to a rare bird, who attracted birders from far away such as the bird visitors we met in the parking lot and the photographer of the ‘Strutting WAGTAIL’ pic….

Mark J. Rauzon’s pic. of WHITE WAGTAIL strutting along the San Lorenzo River

I was soothing my nerves over to-day’s painful City Council agenda item #13 by pulling weeds around the native plants. The various permits for the 7-story Front St project will addressed. As you know that development brings me either to my knees or sends me straight through the roof, because of its river habitat impact. Suddenly a big flock of BUSHTITS dashed into the bush close to me. I forgot about the agenda item, because I got absorbed watching their branch acrobatics. These tiny feather balls will scour the branches in every which direction- even if it entails hanging upside down and insects shiver when they arrive. I love listening to their incessant chitchat that is delivered with chirpy trills. The flock did what BUSHTITS are famous for: they all departed simultaneously in one flash to the next bush that promised them an other tasty meal. I returned to my work, knowing that the river habitat deserves and needs more than what I was doing. Yet I see that even little improvements make a difference and that is what matters to the critters and me.
Sending you all my wish that Nature soothes everybody’s nerves for the next 8 days~ jane

river hope is eternal…

Good Morning to you Nature Solace Seekers,

                                                                      GREEN LACEWING

A reader’s comment reminded me what a great adventure it is to walk through the door of discovery. I remember how I fell in love with water bodies and how I slowly unwrapped their treasures. Looking back I am grateful for stumbling through that door, which resulted in decades of opening San Lorenzo River gifts that I didn’t know wanted to learn about~ Hydrology?~ really?! Sediment build-up? isn’t that for engineers?!. The amazing part is that these topics actually turned out to be fascinating. The plants and critters have always charmed me and then I discovered that each had their own, big universe story to tell such as the GREEN LACEWING. Who would suspect that this insect with its incredible textured, delicate wings and oversized eyes starts out as a larva that is nick-named ‘the Aphid Lion’. This little beast is able to satisfy that ferocious aphid appetite with its strong jaws and a handy paralyzing venom supply. Once I discovered that fact it made sense that the GREEN LACEWING was hanging out next to the aphid invested Evening Primroses.

                                                                               PEREGRINE

Of course I first checked to see if the PEREGRINE was on its Trestle perch throne before attending to the Buckeye trees. Satisfied that it was present, I turned my mother-hen scrutiny on the recently planted Buckeyes. Right now these trees are in the limbo phase, testing their new home if it is worthwhile to put down roots. I happened to look up at the Peregrine and was surprised to see its previously relaxed body tensed in high alert, starring upstream. Scoping the sky and the river I didn’t find anything to explain the PEREGRINE’s body language, so I turned back to my task. A few minutes later I saw a big bird moving towards the Trestle. Behind me the PEREGRINE let loose a penetrating shriek. As the shape came closer these alarm calls increased in frequency and volume. The new arrival was the OSPREY, who was planning to land on one of her favorite bare branches. That attempt was greeting with the PEREGRINE’s high speed plunge, aiming straight at the OSPREY, who managed to land anyway, dodging the unfriendly welcome. The obviously ticked off PEREGRINE kept trying to dislodge the fish eater from every possible direction while the pestered OSPREY flattened her body, swiveling her head, avoiding the fury loaded attacks. Obviously the usual peaceful tree sharing had come to a screeching halt. Maybe the PEREGRINE is already feeling its mating itch~ after all a safe, raptor free territory could prove to be very appealing to the bride-to-be. Maybe the OSPREY and the PEREGRINE actually share the same tingling, because the OSPREY has been calling from her perch and far off ‘somebody’ is answering her lure. Raptors and Falcon are early nesters, which requires laying timely claim on enticing ‘homes’ and a smart mate plans ahead…

DST Members & Tommy restoring river habitat…

Finally we managed to arrange an Estuary Project work day again! After an extended break the DST Members have joined the restoration efforts twice now. It was good to work together again and pick up a familiar ‘normal’, because as a houseless community they have faced an extra hard COVID road. As you know we have restored native habitat together for the last 2 years, which has been a rewarding experience. It was so astounding to see all of us fall right back into our work rhythm and watch the various restoration skills flow right out of their fingertips. We managed to click off all our section goals: pruning bushes, planting native Black Sage, dead heading natives plants and spreading their seeds plus some weeding. And here is my confession list: I admit I am enamored with our camaraderie that creates an open atmosphere of learning, teaching, talking, laughing with each other. I confess I delight in hearing people compliment their work. I wish that my hope bears results. My hope is that City/County/State agencies hire ‘my’ DST Members for the needed restoration work in the fire locations. It would be such a win-win solution, because they already have the skills, the focus, the know-how for this type of work and the agencies create jobs for  the DST Members. So I invite you to join my Happy New Year wish for all of us~ MAY HOPE BECOME REALITY~jane

more San Lorenzo River rarities…

Good Morning Dear Rain Receivers,

TOWHEE in freshly rain laundered feather coat…

Wasn’t that rain just perfect? Mama Nature cleaned her creations with small rain  drops, which came down slow and steady, achieving a long needed, thorough rubdown. The day after the rain the critters’ and vegetation’s colors were shining brighter, unveiling the nuanced details of their life forms. The TOWEE’s scrubbed feather coat had me mesmerized with its freshly laundered looks.

LONG-tailed DUCK in the early morning…

The last time I told you about the migratory river winter rarity, the WHITE WAGTAIL. To-day I am introducing you to an other San Lorenzo River migratory rarity: 2 LONG-tailed DUCKS. You’ll find them sleeping and diving between the river mouth and Trestle bridge. They are not explorers like their cousins, the BUFFLEHEADS and COMMON GOLDENEYES, who are checking out every nook and cranny along the river. Sight-seeing is a low priority for the LONG-tailed DUCKS, because they spend their lives 4 times more underwater than on the surface. Their underwater activity is strenuous, so the LONG-tailed DUCKS uses the water surface as their bedroom. As you know, for diving DUCKS use their feet to propel themselves forward, but the LONG-tailed DUCKS employs its wings for that purpose. This DUCK species is the only one that you’ll see out in the open sea. Usually they winter at the Bering Sea, Hudson Bay and Great Lakes. Rarely do they migrate to California. So allow yourself to take a Holiday river stroll that will greet you with the sight of 2 rare San Lorenzo River guests: The LONG-tailed DUCKS.

REALLY…!?

And then there was this rare Duck of a man, balancing on the top of the Trestle structure. It was scary to watch him walking on the beam while his friends cheered him as they ‘safely’ stood on the rail tracks that have gapping holes. There is something about the Trestle bridge that makes men perform dare devil actions like the driver, who tried to navigate his car across the bridge on the railroad tracks. He got stuck and needed to be rescued…

safe bird distance versus perfect pic. closeness…

I was watching a RED-tailed HAWK hunt along the river cliffs and land on a rock outcrop above a location that is well populated with ground squirrels. Clearly the HAWK was positing its perch, getting ready for a nourishing meal. The RED-tailed HAWK’s hope was doomed, because 2 people thought the HAWK had positioned itself for their picture taking pleasure, which required to get as close as possible to the majestic beauty for that perfect, close-up photo. One of the people just had to sneak closer and closer until the HAWK flushed and abandoned its hunting perch. I hope the person didn’t think:”WOW! it really was tame and let me get that close.”, because big birds are reluctant to spend their energy resource on taking flight unless it’s for prey. Most people don’t know that taking flight costs the bird a high ratio of its energy, which needs to be replenished with food and rest. Therefore big birds wait to the last minute to gage if they really need to escape. Unfortunately I was too far away to offer my suggestion: How about gifting the bird a safe distance to avoid the drain of its energy resource? How about gifting the bird your thoughtful, joyous appreciation by respecting its comfort level? I almost forgot to mention that a migratory SNOW GOOSE has befriended the big flock of CANADA GEESE, that frequents the river mouth shore. You can’t miss the SNOW GOOSE in the midst of the CANADA GEESE crowd, because of its all dressed up in brilliant white feathers.

migratory SNOW GOOSE with CANADA GOOSE friend…

As a Season cheer I like to leave you with a good read that explores why seeing birds make us happy. I wish you a very Happy Christmas that nourishes your soul~ jane

Good Morning dear Nature Cheerers,

White Wagtail(googled)

Have you heard that the WHITE WAGTAIL has been visiting the San Lorenzo River mouth?If you never heard that name and have no clue what that bird looks like then you are in good company. Most local birders didn’t either until it was spotted at Corcoran Lagoon 3 weeks ago. Now every avid, local bird watchers has either seen it and/or studied its picture and background. Why is this 7 inch long tailed bird able to send the Santa Cruz birder community in a twitter, drop whatever they were doing and dash off when the Monterey Bay Birds(MBB) posts its latest location? In case you want to join MBB then use the Santa Cruz Bird Club link to subscribe to the MBBirdsgooglegroup: https://santacruzbirdclub.org/birding-listservers/  Now back to why this migratory WHITE WAGTAIL is receiving so much attention in the Santa Cruz County: this species breeds in Europe, Asia, Africa and has a ‘claw-hold’ in Alaska. The Northern American WAGTAIL population winters in tropical Asia. There have been very few of  reports of them in California since this bird hardly ever strays into the ‘New World’. So this little bird somehow ended up here. It seems to like this area, because it hasn’t continued on its migratory journey. So far I haven’t seen it and I am happy that Michael Levy did, because he has a soft spot for the river wildlife. It’s nice to know that the WHITE WAGTAIL and I share the same point of view: the Santa Lorenzo River is a great place to hangout.

Russell Brutsche: art of a “developed” car-centric downtown

 Mentioning Michael reminds me that a while back I met up with him and Batya as they were enjoying their morning levee ride. We had a wonderful conversation that covered the various river topics that included the fascinating wildlife, the City’s approach to the river’s habitats and our bird observations. Michael brought up that the California Coastal Commission had submitted a letter for the City Council meeting, in which the approval of the 7 story Front St Project was to be addressed. The California Coastal Commission’s objection to that monster Project ruffled the feathers of some City Council members while I confess~ the news of that letter was music in my ears~ because the river deserves better than a massively oversized development. Shelley Hatch and Ron Pomerantz wrote a vivid, descriptive  Sentinel Guest Commentary on what happened in that City Council meeting. It’s worth reading, so click here.

Great Blue Heron hanging out with Snowy Egrets…

I always tell you about our river OSPREY and I thought you might enjoy what somebody else has to say about this beauty. This OSPREY article and its wonderful photos will increase your appreciation for this species. Seraphina Landgrebe’s report ‘Osprey the Fish Hawk’ was published by the Monterey Bay Birding Festival, an organization well worth your investigation. 

River greetings sprinkled with Nature’s sparkles~ jane

celebrating returns~finding magic…

Good Morning Dear Fellow Nature Celebrators,

the SPOTTED SANDPIPER returned…

There is nothing like days away from the river to revive my passion for it. I had been laid flat for 5 days by my dental anti-anxiety med. that had taken its job obviously extremely serious. Finally strolling along the levee again I felt like I had come home and was visiting with all the dear, familiar friends: the OSPREY announced her presence with that high pitch call. The KINGFISHER counter her with its agitated alarm racket, because the OSPREY is an unwelcome fish meal competitor.
Now that the algae has strongly subsided the OSPREY is becoming once again a regular Trestle tree percher and river fish hunter. For months the algae cover was very thick and at times covered the entire water surface. That made it impossible for the OSPREY to locate fish, which is its main food source. I love looking up into the trees and see the white shape perched on its favorite branch and hear that her call is being answered by an other OSPREY in the distance.

our river female OSPREY is back!

The new plants were thriving thanks to the rain. The established Mugwort and Gumplant have their fall look now that makes any tidy landscaper’s weed-whacker fingers itch: brown, overgrown, straggly, collapsing into every direction and loaded with seeds. The plants that had escaped the weed-whacker had their seeds eagerly harvested by the LESSER GOLDFINCHES and the TOWNSEND’S WARBLERS, our winter migratory birds. Over the years the mowing and weed-whacking has become less intrusive as the levee crew and I have learned to respect each other’s tasks needs. I like to believe that it has been a mutually beneficial experience.

migratory LESSER GOLDFINCH harvesting Mugwort seeds…

The migratory winter fowl flocks have grown to a remarkable size. As every year the COMMON GOLDENEYES claimed the Trestle area as their gathering place and the BUFFLEHEADS sill prefer the stretch between the Riverside Ave. and Crescent bridge. The LESSER and GREATER SCAUP agree with the RUDDY DUCKS that the area by the east side pump-station is very desirable hang-out place. The COOTS are beside themselves with the new winter guests and flock around them. The newcomers seem to feel overwhelmed by all that attention and try to escape the white beaked pursuers by diving continuously. The COOTS see no reason to stop their friendship efforts and dive after the winter guests. COOTS don’t really dive all that much, but right now they are spending a lot of time under water with their elusive ‘friends’. Knowing that COMMON GOLDENEYES and BUFFLEHEADS dive deeper than COOTS, I suspect the black residents are harvesting the plant material and invertebrates that the visitors are stirring up. So it’s no wonder that the COOTS are happily greeting their food suppliers.

‘our’ new magic San Lorenzo River dragon…

A couple of weeks ago my friend and I took a river walk and we passed by the County building pedestrian bridge. We arrived at the right time: the workers were cleaning up after the dragon sculpture had been mounted on the arch. Several bystanders commented that the new San Lorenzo River dragon looked just how they pictured ‘Puff, the Magic Dragon’ as a kid. We all agree that the sculpture had magical quality as the sun was glittering across its surface. Somebody started singing the song and we all enthusiastically chimed in. At the end of the tune we laughed together for breaking out singing and waved good-bye to each other. I celebrate that ‘our’ river dragon magically united us with joyfully singing a childhood memory melody.
Come to the river where magic is waiting for you~ jane

soaking up river calmness on election day…

Good Morning Nature Seekers,

BROWN PELICANS fly by…

To-day I’ll go for an extended river walk, because I want my eyes to feed my mind beauty on this dicey election day. My ballot was cast on the day Santa Cruz had rally in of honor of Ruth Ginsburg, because I wanted to dedicate my vote to her. I am sure that all of you’ll have voted by 8pm today.

WHITE-crowned SPARROW stretching its beak jaw…

The other day I heard a bird utter a few subdued notes in intervals. It sounded like the bird was exercising its song. Finally I located the owner of the sound. It was a migratory WHITE-crowned SPARROW, sitting on the top of a Coyote bush, watching me. Once it decided that I was harmless, it opened and closed its beak repeatedly. Then a few ethereal notes were set free, followed by silence, which was used for further beak stretching. Watching this behavior, I was reminded that my friend, a professional singer, did exactly the same vocal cords exercise: stretch her jaw, sing a few tones, stretch the jaw some more. This went on for a while until the WHITE-crowned SPARROW felt ready to deliver its entire song that was delightful. Who knew that birds prime their vocal cords like professional opera singers?

setting its song free…

Sometimes the river hosts an unfamiliar guest. When that happens my mind races through various possibilities: is this an unusual migratory bird that got blown off its route, is it an inland bird that got displaced or…? After examining this DUCK, I figured that it was the frolic outcome of its domestic Duck and MALLARD parents. A COOT was quite taken by the nicely pattern newcomer. It stayed close to its side and charged at any other approaching relatives. This attitude kept the black torpedo very busy since the river features over 100 COOTS. The unusual Duck paid no attention to its ‘friend’s’ activity since algae eating dominated its time.

unusual river DUCK visitor….

Well, that was a good reminder! My friend & I took a bird watching walk along the river. I got absorbed with watching a COOT walk on top of the algae as if it was solid ground. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a smaller bird walk on the algae. I dismissed it as a BREWER’S BLACKBIRD, who frequent algae surfaces. My friend paid better attention to that bird and greatly pleased identified it as a shy, elusive SORA, who harvest floating vegetation. Obviously I was due to be reminded: never dismiss a bird with a brief glimpse, thinking that I identified it correctly. We were both elated to discover the secretive waterbird! We also saw the BUFFLEHEADS and RUDDY DUCKS, whose return I had celebrated the evening before. You can check our e-bird list to find out, who else we saw.

SORA-credit: National Audubon Society

The other morning approx. 40 CANADA GEESE rounded the river bend, slowed down, took a look at the BUFFLEHEAD flock, lined up in a formation and swam at a fast clip towards the white and black dots on the water. The BUFFLEHEADS stopped in their water tracks and watched the approach of the formidable flotilla. 2 BUFFLEHEAD males peeled away from the group and slowly swam towards the GEESE, who slowed down. Encouraged by that result the males picked up speed, causing the big group to start turning around. Obviously the brave newbies were satisfied with their success, because they watched the GEESE ensemble depart while leisurely treading water.

Sending you all river calmness on this election day~ jane

2 male BUFFLEHEADS watching CANADA GEESE depart…

allowing to be…

Dear River Friends,

RED-tailed HAWK

I was down by the Riverside Ave. bridge, trying to ignore the CROWS’ ‘attack-the-Hawk’ calls. That is quite difficult, because those sounds are annoyingly penetrating since they are meant to reach all CROWS far and wide. The screeches are action announcement to stop any activity and hurry on over to menacingly bomb dive a RAPTOR until it leaves. The sounds were coming closer. I looked up just as a RED-tailed HAWK flew in my direction. I expected it to head for the telephone pole below the bank. So it surprised me when it decided on a tricky crash-landing into the tree next to me. After chasing the CROWS away with my owl hiss I looked at the HAWK, who was jammed into the thick tree foliage in an ‘eagle spread’ position. The branch jungle didn’t provide enough open space for the folding of the wide wings. The HAWK dealt with vulnerable situation by twisting and turning until the wings were properly tucked down. Then it was time to take a thorough survey of my exterior and interior being. It felt like it was seeing things I don’t even know about myself. Whatever the RED-tailed HAWK saw put it at ease, so I sat down slowly and enjoyed our peaceful time together…

AMERICAN COOT taking a levee walk…

To-day my visit with you is short, because I want to allow myself time to go through the grieving process of losing the Ranger Program. It was eliminated at the City Council’s budget meeting by the City Police Department. This means that the Parks and Open Spaces will be without their guardians, who stood up to assure environment and human safety. I’ll be back in 2 weeks with a soothed heart, ready to share my river tales with you. Until then be sure to visit the river, because it loves your company~ jane

celebrating good outcomes…

Good Morning fellow Nature Celebrators,

OSPREY drying off after his dive…

It was so thrilling to see the long lost beauty high in the Trestle tree. For months I have been scanning their favorite perches, hoping to see that white glimmering shape contrasting with the rust colored branches. The OSPREYS had disappeared in early spring. We missed them dearly. We were deprieved of our pleasure: watching their slow flight over our river, scanning for a fish meal, the quick dives, the shaking off the water that showered the air with glistening water pearls. The feasting on their meals had a primeval flavor to it, hushing us observers. The male OSPREY looked down on the river from his high perch and I am sure he wasn’t excited about the sight: an algae covered surface, floating on murky brown-green water~ not exactly the perfect hunting conditions for the necessary dives. Finally he took a chance to score a his breakfast and circled over the San Lorenzo River. He made a speedy plunge and came up empty clawed. He kept shaking his whole body for some time, trying to shake off the algae decoration. After the second attempt he flew back to the tree where a KINGFISHER took offense to the fish competitor’s presence by filling the air with its high alarm calls. It didn’t take long before the OSPREY had enough and flew upstream. Hopefully its next visit will be more conducive to his hunting needs.

KINGFISHER enjoying a well deserved rest…

The river has been lagoon-ed most of the summer and yet the steelhead population count and the water quality have been holding up. This is good news, considering that the lagoon condition raises the water temperature, which fosters algae production and is not the ideal situation for the steelhead. The MALLARDS and COOTS couldn’t be happier since the algae is  provided them with an endless food source. It’s good to know that the City biologists are keeping a close monitoring eye on the river, which is required when the river turns into a lagoon.

Estuary stretch awaiting Flood Control work…

The Flood Control work is continuing and this week they will arrive in the Estuary stretch. So you can find me on the inboard river bank, flagging the few native plants that are present. I am just going to whine a little bit about the City never implementing the restoration work that were in the San Lorenzo Urban River Plan(SLURP). The Estuary stretch is obviously the most bare one of the 3 river reaches, because it doesn’t get the care and attention it deserves. Four years ago my big time whining came to end thanks to the help of the Valley Women’s Club: we proposed the Estuary Project to the Park & Rec. Department and with their support and help we keep going strong. That is why right now I scrambling up and down the Estuary slopes, flagging the native plants so that their seeds can spread on the banks.

saving native Buckwheat seeds…

You probably had signed the ‘Raptors are the Solution’ petitions to support the AB 1788 Bill. More then likely you heard that Governor Newsom signed the Bill into law, which puts a moratorium on second generation anticoagulant use (with a few exemptions). This gives the CA Dept. of Pesticide Regulation time to finish reevaluating these dangerous products, which kills our wildlife. ‘Raptors are the Solution’ was a driving force to make many of us aware that the rat poison kills our RED-tailed HAWKS, its cousins and the other wildlife species. A big THANK YOU to all of you, who responded to the ‘Raptors are the Solution’ action calls that benefits our San Lorenzo River critters.

ready for the future- Calif. Fuchsia seeds…

And YES! Good outcomes are possible~ cheering jane

let’s go to the river…

Good Morning dear Nature Enthusiasts,

Meadowhawk dragonfly…

I took my sorrow over the loss of Ruth Bader Ginsburg for a river walk. I needed open space to free up the meandering feelings, because for decades she was my chutzpa fairy. She inspired me with her determination to be at the decision table during a time when claiming your womanhood was a severe handicap. It gave me strength to read that she used her intelligence and education as a drill to bust the glass ceiling while being a mother. And let’s not forget she knew how to dress with flair.

Buckeye, Skipper Butterflies…

And yes, it did help to be charmed by the zillion Dragonflies, euphorically swoosh by, wings glittering in the sun. Is it because the river has been lagoon-ed for so long? Do the dragonflies perceive the lagoon as a welcomed lake? The Butterflies added their beauty to the enchantment. It’s exciting to observe their presence increase since our restoration plants have expanded. Now learning to id all the new species is an other story…Thank heaven for the attentive reader, who pointed out that I had turned a Gulf Fritillary into a Monarch Butterfly…

steelhead…

Friday I came to the Mike Fox site to water the plants and it was a kick to see the Biologists’ cars on the levee. It was the sign that they were seining and a chance to ease drop on their steelhead find. Right now the water surface has a lot of algae plus the water level is high. It’s hard work to pull the algae filled net through a high water mass. My timing was perfect: they were bringing their buckets up to weigh and measure the steelhead. One bucket was teaming with them and the other one housed only a few. Before they got busy I found out that the seining success had been so la-la. I commented that the fish looked really healthy, which a Biologist confirmed.

watching you…

Well, the the Planning Dept. Commission cast their dice. At their last meeting they gave their approval to the Riverfront 7 story high development without any worthwhile recommendations. It was really stunning that this agenda item received hardly any opposition comments. Is it because people can’t imagine what this huge development will look like? Or is it because the location doesn’t have a residential neighborhood? It will be interesting to see how people will react to the 3 years development construction of the monster by the river.

RED-tailed Hawk watching Flood Control work…

A fellow Park & Rec. Commissioner & I took a walk on the levee to check on the camping situation close to the waterline. Alas, I got instantly sidetracked by the chainsaw and bulldozer sound, which meant that the Flood Control Work had started. And sure enough the trucks, chipper were parked on the other side. I admit it’s easier to face the vegetation removal this year. The reason is that the Streambed Alteration Agreement was amended by the California Dept. of Fish & Wildlife to improve the bird breeding and native plant conditions. Now the work has to be conducted after the bird breeding season has ended and the native plants on the banks can’t be removed. My blog partner, Barbara Riverwoman, and I have worked in that direction for years. While I served on the Sierra Club ExCom Board, the members support my lead on that successful amendment effort. And now back to our camp exploration tour. There were sections with clusters of tents right by the water. Lines for tarps were strung up from tree trunks and branches. The bushes & vegetation were either trampled down or cut back. Some tents had no litter and other sites begged for room service. I was not excited to see an open fire under a tree and asked the cook to extinguish it although he denied having a fire. After mutual smoke observation he poured water on it…

Camp veggie garden & a renegade camper sign…

The County supervised Benchland camp area looked well managed and litter free. It was touching to see a small veggie garden and the renegade camper sign showed artistic promise. On the other hand we both had a hard time seeing the vegetation destruction of the renegade campers. This impacts the environment and its wildlife, which is on public property. Our tour revived my idea of creating a format to talk to the houseless population about environmental friendly camping.

Red-necked PHALAROPE in food coma…

I suspected that the white swirling spot by the Riverside bridge was a RED-necked PHALAROPE, who was stirring up the water for dinner morsels. The black and white river guest devoured the food rapidly, which seemed to cause a food coma: it didn’t move an inch for the longest time. Meanwhile a PIED-billed GREBE was trying to deal with its evening meal that kept resisting going down the dark bill tunnel. Nature bathing greetings~ jane

PIED-billed GREBE dealing with its dinner…

San Lorenzo River finds me grieving & celebrating…

Good Morning to you Nature Appreciators,

newly planted Calif. Fuchsia already in bloom…

In my current state of mind I find myself with a heightened response to sightings of life and death in Nature. As I am religiously hand watering the 300 new plants to get them through their first summer, I find myself mourning for my friends and many others, who lost their homes in the San Lorenzo Valley fires. Their loved oasis is gone and now they face an uncertain, difficult future. I look at levee plant that is struggling for its survival and find myself grieving for the burned trees, the burned critters and displaced humans and wildlife. These feelings cycle through me, which are part of Nature’s life and death phases. I notice that I am not resisting the emotional impacts that arise, because my grieve is a celebration of life. When I feel heavy hearted about a friend’s fate or dead bird then I honor a life that will be no more. Doesn’t life deserve that respect? And at the same time doesn’t a new leaf on a heat parched bush deserve to be cheered and celebrated? Check out this heart-opening video to watch how a teacher celebrates the San Lorenzo Valley.

Saddleback Dragonfly taking a rest…

Two days ago I was at our Trestle site watering the plants from open buckets. Within minutes I was surrounded by approx. 20 dragonflies of various species and more kept coming. It felt like fairytale land was shrouding my surrounding. There were so many beautiful, different, glittering wings swirling close to me that it felt I was in an enchanted kaleidoscope. Not surprisingly I heard myself laugh with delight… Usually the dragonflies gather in a certain area, where they perform their socializing whirl minuets. These dragonflies decided to break that pattern and accompanied me on my watering track down the path. After-all how often do they come across a woman with the novel idea of portable ponds? Want to find out more about dragonflies then check out this informative blog.

Meadowhawk Dragonfly on the levee bank…

After I read this morning that the Police Chief is considering to eliminate Ranger Program I was hoping to see a Ranger to-day, forgetting that they were busy keeping people off the closed beaches…It was important to give my thanks for all the care, hard work and efforts they are doing in the Parks and Open Spaces. And let me tell you often it’s not pretty what they are addressing! After decades of seeing the familiar sight of a helpful Ranger in our Parks and Open Spaces it is inconceivable to loose them. I realize that the City is dealing with a super tight budget. Let’s hope that some solution can be worked out so that the Ranger program remains, because their presence and work is important for the safety of people and the Natural resources. The Ranger petition on NextDoor shows that people want to keep the Program.

feasting MALLARDS…

A few days ago the MALLARDS were having a wonderful time harvesting the algae that is having a wonderful time spreading across the river. The MALLARDS were spending an enormous amount of intervals with their tails and feet in the air while their beaks were gobbling up a green feast below the water surface. It surprised me that no MALLARDS were present to-day. Maybe the heat was even too much for water fowl.

algae spreading across the river…

The land birds usually hide out from the hot air and honker down in trees and bushes. The few the birds I saw had their beaks wide open. A clear sign that they were attempting to cool down. Flying around was definitely a low priority, instead they hopped from one branch to the next. I ended my river visit watching the sunset and thinking about the Tuesday Park Master Plan presentation to the City Council.
Sending you magic dragonfly greetings~ jane

sun setting behind the Cypress at the river…