Good morning Barbara,

Where are Mama and Papa?

Just have to tell you about my last levee walk, which was filled with fluffy ducklings feather-balls floating on the river. As you mentioned last year, MALLARD males have a somewhat disturbing macho behavior. They see no reason to take female mating resistance seriously and are convinced rude pursuit is the way to go/fly. This year there is a huge amount of male MALLARDS present, who gang up on the mothers and flush them into the air. The fathers chase after them and the itsy ducklings are left to fend for themselves. The mother in me has a hard time observing this. It’s so curious, that the male MALLARDS are not interested in the lone female close by…what is up with that?! One mother chose a new approach to a gang of 5 misbehaving males: she evaluated the advancing threat, decided “Enough is Enough” and charged at them with breathtaking fury. The males failed to interpret her mood correctly and kept moving forward. That was clearly a mistake, because the first in line got a hard peck on the head. Then she took on the others and just wouldn’t let up. One of the males tried to swim away and the mother felt that she wasn’t done with him: she severely rearranged his tail with a new feather-do while the others watched dumbfounded. 2 males escaped to the shore, which infuriate her. With elongated neck, body flattened, speeding across the water, she caught up with them and let her beak express her indignation until the gang opted to fly off. She rested, shook herself and waddled back to her awaiting ducklings. Yep! You guessed right: I love that female MALLARD “Enough is Enough” attitude!

Later I saw an other role reversal: a RED-TAILED HAWK plunged efficiently at 2 CROWS with outstretched talons and let the CROW feathers snow. Did the HAWK take lessons from MALLARD Mamasita?

CLIFF SWALLOWS migrate to San Lorenzo River for breeding

I feel like shouting from the Santa Cruz roof tops: The long expected “LOWER SAN LORENZO 2015 FALL MIGRATION BIRD SURVEY” is here!!! Eager to read the survey? Click on the survey title.

Let me try to nutshell my excitement for you:

  •    It was compiled by well respected biologists Gary Kittelson & Bryan Mori.
  • This is the first bird baseline data survey done by the City of Santa Cruz for the San Lorenzo River Hwy 1/river mouth stretch.
  •  103 bird species totaling 9,036 birds were recorded on a 3.75 miles stretch in approx. 30 hrs during 12 days over 3 months.
  •  This means that 301 birds were seen every hour, every 26 inches a bird was present in spite of vicious drought months.
  •  If you include the e-bird data, then 202 bird species frolicked along the San Lorenzo Urban River.
  • Additionally local birders and survey authors spotted 10 bird celebrities, causing quite a flutter in birder hearts.
  • This factually proves on hand of approx. 30hrs scientific data gathering, that there is a remarkable bird population along the San Lorenzo River.

I am certainly not alone with my wish to have a whole year survey for the same stretch as proposed on 6/23/15 by City Council member Richelle Noroyan. It would give a comprehensive insight into the underestimated river environment, which has received so little enhancement, conservation attention. Just imagine what this area could be like, if more wildlife friendly vegetation graced the banks!

As you know this survey will be compared with the survey taken during the Paddle Pilot Program to determine potential impact on the bird population. In their pursuit to revoke the “boats prohibited” municipal code, the environment organization Costal Watershed Council intends to raise $30,000 to $40,000 for the 2016 fall survey. This is in hope to prove that the arriving, fatigued migratory birds, who need the designated Paddle Pilot Program stretch for survival, won’t be impacted by paddlers, in spite of contradicting science studies.

Life is curious greetings, jane

My first: horse riders on the levee=cool!

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