ARRIVALS, DEPARTURES, SURVIVORS…

Good Morning Barbara,

juv. MEW gull, the record setter
juv. MEW gull, the record setter

I am absolutely certain that people have lost their minds trying to id juvenile gulls. These tykes love to lavish themselves with feather markings that look like their cousins during an other growth spurt. So, why was I specifically fascinated by these three unknown gulls? Because they featured unusual sharply pointed gull beaks, round heads, big eyes and darn exquisite precise, scaly wing markings and hues of beigey gray underparts. Wanting back-up for my gull id, I zoomed over to the screen of local bird Guru Steve Gerow and he agreed: they were juv. MEW gulls. Now get this: the three MEW gull musketeers set a local record. According to available data no MEW gull has been reported in Santa Cruz County before mid-August/Oct. And just like my favorite BONAPARTE’S gull, the MEW nests in trees in upper Canada and migrates south for the Winter. Are you thinking this is further testimony why the San Lorenzo River habitat is so important for migratory birds? Well, I agree with you!

Breach sign by river mouth
Diggers by river mouth at Breach sign

This is almost funny if it wasn’t so serious: the river mouth moved itself over to the Boardwalk Main Beach and is opening by undocumented forces whenever the Lagoon water level rises too high. For the last two weeks the Trestle bridge gauge has fluctuated between 4’.5 and 5’.5 height that NOAA deems acceptable for the endangered Steelhead/Coho population. Beach visitors are happily building dams, creating lakes, digging up sand castles supply right next to the Breach warning sign by the river mouth. Of course I hope that an overzealous digger doesn’t inadvertently opens the sandbar and drains the river. The City is on stand-by with their costly, controlled Breach as the water level is rising…

feisty Wild-Rose Survivor
feisty Wild-Rose Survivor

Your amazing Flood Control Work report addressed the vegetation topic very ardently. It’s truly admirable how you are digging in for improved vegetation treatment. And since we are on that green topic: Do you remember the levee vegetation restoration from 12 yrs. ago, which was due to the San Lorenzo Urban River Plan? The banks prospered with wildflowers, bushes, small trees. It improved the wildlife habitat and was a lovely sight. Then slowly the vegetation diminished, because of repeated mow-down, trampled/vandalized by people until the levee banks looked barren once again. So I was understandably ecstatic when we discovered the clumps of mini shoots along the river path in the bleak Estuary Stretch. These were determined survivors of the initial Wild-rose and Coyote Bush restoration effort and clearly deserve to live.

CLIFF SWALLOWS discussing upcoming trip
CLIFF SWALLOWS discussing upcoming trip

And here is some river ‘this and that’: The CLIFF SWALLOWS flocks had arrived in stages and so the first batch from Riverside Ave. bridge left us two weeks ago. This morning it looked like the second flock was heading south with lots of excited chatter about their journey. The MALLARD Mamas are presenting the results of their second breeding cycle. The water is sprinkled with the tiny fluff balls. Be sure to check out this thrilling sight in the early morning: the migrating CASPIAN and ELEGANT TERNS arrived and have chosen the Lagoon shore to hang out with their off-spring.

CASPIAN & ELEGANT TERNS are here
CASPIAN & ELEGANT TERNS are here

Here is a link for the ROMA Presentation to the SC City Council for the Front St. development. When you scroll down to the bottom, you’ll see ROMA. Click on it and see what you think…
More river news next time & be well, jane

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