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Dirty Necks and Crinolines

Dear Jane,

Yes, here we are beginning our blog conversation on the San Lorenzo River. I suddenly want to learn everything I can about this important river that flows past my back yard. It is so beautiful, and yet I am learning that it is so degraded from what it once was. What wildlife does it help sustain? How can we help make the river an even more friendly habitat for wildlife, especially wildlife whose future is threatened. Talking to you through a blog seems like a fun way to embark on this adventure of discovery. I’m sure it will motivate me to see more, write more, learn more.

Yes, the River is so full of life these days. I have been getting acquainted for the first time with the Eared Grebes. I know they are old friends of yours, but they are new for me. They work so hard, barely coming up for breath and then diving under again for a pretty long fishing trip. It seems almost impossible to get a decent photo of one, but I’ve managed a rather fuzzy one.   I’m still working at distinguishing them from the Horned Grebes. A more experienced birder told me that the Eared Grebe has a smudgy patch on its ears and neck. In other words, this guy told me, you can remember an Eared Grebe because it is the duck that doesn’t wash its neck or behind its ears!   They both have tail feathers that remind me of little crinoline petticoats. The petticoat of the Eared Grebe is especially flouncy. I wore crinolines in the fifties.  I was pretty proud of my petticoat, too.  We’re all one.

Do you think that your friend mistook the rusty red stripe on the Kingfisher’s breast for a bloody wound? People care about our wildlife. I used to study Chinese literature and philosophy and one of my favorite quotes from Confucius was “It is better to value something than to simply know it. It is better to love something than to simply value it.” I wanted to do this blog with you because you clearly love the birds. I am very happy that we keep meeting people who feel the same way.  I hope we meet lots more in the New Year. Barbara

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