“We Are Here, We Are Here”

Dear Jane,

I really enjoyed accompanying you (in my imagination) on your visual journey underwater with the GOLDENEYES.   I must spend more time on that bridge so I can see what you see.   So much is hidden, even from those of us who keep staring at the River.

And with the submerged Goldeneyes on my mind, wouldn’t you know, this is the week that I saw the ever-elusive SORA!

Sora (borrowed image)
Sora (borrowed image)

I was down by the Soquel Bridge about twilight, just turning home since it had suddenly turned a little cold and dark. I took one last look through my binoculars at the tule reeds on the east side of the river, hoping as I always do to catch a glimpse of the Sora that lives there. And there she was! (I borrowed this photo since I couldn’t get a photo in the bad light and from such a distance.) This was only my second sighting of a Sora, and the first time that I’d found her by myself. I was thrilled!

She picked her way slowly northward for about 3 minutes, never venturing far from the tules. Then she turned, took a very short flight, walked a few more steps, then left the greater world to return to her safe world of dense reeds. I think I will call her Emily Dickinson.

I wonder about how these reclusive birds get enough practice in flying to keep their flight capacities intact? Does Emily come out regularly to take short flights, just to keep in shape for migration? Does she come out more often at night? I read in my BNA bible that migration is usually at night, so it is rarely observed. I also read that Santa Cruz may be one of the few places in the world where Soras live year round. Anybody know if that is true? They are cold sensitive, I read! Does Emily not get enough exercise to keep warm?! Santa Cruz is a good place to settle if that is the case. I now have another soul to add to the beings I fuss over.

I was talking to a friend about the hidden life of the River, and she reminded me of Dr. Seuss’ wonderful book, Horton Hears a Who. Indeed, I thought! The very book! All during the public hearing last week on whether there should be paddling on the River, I kept hearing the voice of that darling elephant Horton saying ever so poignantly, “A person’s a person no matter how small’. And as one large person after another went to the microphone to express their ideas, I could hear the little Whos calling out in their tiny voices. They “cried loudly, they cried out in fear: ‘We are here! We are here! We are here! We are here!’”   (I hope that the Advisory Group that the City Council decided to appoint to look into paddling on the River will hear the plea of the little Whos from Whoville.) That Dr. Seuss!   What a prophet he was – and is.

I loved the photo you posted of the ‘diving ring’, that little ring in the water that is left behind as the merest trace of the EARED GREBE that just dived beneath the surface. It seemed emblematic of the whole world of wild things that are invisible to the human eye. I am thinking of  making that photo the header on the Links page of our blog. What sayest thou?

I’m leaving in a few days and will be gone for almost a month – a first visit to see my new grandchild.   I probably won’t be posting for awhile – unless it is about an endangered wetland in Hoboken that I’ve recently found out about. The struggle to protect urban wetlands is everywhere and it is all related.

Carry on the good river loving life.


3 thoughts on ““We Are Here, We Are Here”

  1. Your essay is a delight, Barbara! You and Jane verbalize the life and the joy of the river and her birds so creatively. May your visit away from the river be one of joy also – with your new grandchild.


  2. I was specially struck by the care the 2 of you take to interact with the whole environment and reflect on HOW you REFLECT.
    First sense observation: eyes on birds and humans. Coincident with intellectual observations: minds reflecting out of one’s personal experience — how can we think about the birds’ behavior? Is it analogous to human behavior?
    And then reading the research and reflecting again through thought and rationalization: what is going on here, not just as we see it with our eyes but also with our mind’s eye.
    And finally incorporating not just you and the birds, but you are the other people there and their society. A rich combination.


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