Good morning dear Barbara,
I had to smile about your ‘ GREEN HERON’ disguised as a BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT HERON, because I am so familiar with that phenomenon : Once a seal turned itself into a floating tree trunk in front of my very eyes.
& talking about the seal reminds me of meeting up with a friend on the trestle bridge. We took a break from our morning levee walks, caught up on each other’s life while watching the river & greeting the passing stream of morning bike commuters with a cheery ‘good morning’. As we observed the rare river visit of a Harbor Seal, we wondered if he had fed on any fish when an other seal surfaced further up river. The seals have been trolling the river all the way up the Riverside bridge for the last 3 weeks, which makes me nervous for the Steelhead population which is having a hell of a time surviving as it is. The additional fish gobbler guest made me wish for more vegetation overhang along the lower river so the fish could find protection from their nemesis.
My friend told me about the white & black bird she had seen in a group of MERGANSERS, who have been doing their torpedo fishing up & down the river. After further description it sounded like a drake( term for male ducks) COMMON MERGANSER. & yes, the COMMON MERGANSERS consider ducks their family.
When the drake COMMON MERGANSER isn’t in the mood for breeding he looks a lot like a female which makes it hard to tell the sexes apart. Once he is ready to step up to nature’s urge, he turns into this gorgeous, dashing bird, who makes the females feathers quiver.
The result of the quiver can be observed approx. 5 wks later: the mother shows off her brood, who are catching a ride on her back as she swims on the San Lorenzo River. A sight so delightful that I am sure it will make you smile.
Now get this: the female COMMON MERGANSER usually builds nests in forest tree holes. The 2 days old ducklings have to jump down to the forest floor & trek to the water guided by their anxious mother. This is like asking toddlers to follow me in the midst of traffic on a 6 lane Freeway, because the Hawks, Coyotes, Bobcats, Foxes drool over these waddling, yummy morsels. There are reports that mothers will transport the ducklings in her bill to the water, if the distance is further than 1 mile away.
I swear to high heaven that animal behavior never ceases to amaze me.
The MALLARDS(Ducks) are eager to settle down for their breeding time. I see them swimming paired up, which is a sign they are serious about their purpose of putting cute ducklings on the water. The drake MALLARDS are still spending a lot of time fending off the other drakes, who eye the female in the hope of persuading her to change her mind about her previous mate choice. The debate can get pretty intense. Kindness & consideration towards each other are not part of their quack vocabulary.
This is my river news for now & thank you so much for your compliments. Do remind me to tell you about the homeless ‘bridge woman’.
sending you ‘bird spring in the air’ greetings