streaming to the river…

Good Morning Barbara,

1 of 3 BUFFLEHEAD clusters

There has been a steady stream of migratory birds landing on the San Lorenzo River. I love to check out who has arrived since my last river visit. I bet you think the newcomers stay put after their long journey, but that isn’t the case. In the beginning of the migratory seasons the bird population can shift from one moment to the next. The birds are picky about their winter vacation location and sometimes change their minds about their initial choice. Some years ago I wondered if I was hallucinating, because I had just seen a good sized BUFFLEHEAD flock on the water, but 10 minutes later there was not one BUFFLEHEAD feather nor beak in sight.

our little wing injured C. GOLDENEYE

So I took the disappearance of the 5 female COMMON GOLDENEYE in stride: there one minute, gone the next. A bad pic.of their brief stopover proves I am of sound mind. Earlier I had seen our little female COMMON GOLDENEYE preening herself upstream. She couldn’t summer migrate because of her wing injury and we worried for her survival a while. Seeing her feather sisters floating downstream, I was curious how she would respond to meeting them. Now I have to wait for the next COMMON GOLDENEYE group to find out what kind of reunion is in water stars for her.

You’ll be pleased to hear that the EARED GREBE species is well represented on the lower river. I recall your deep concern when you discovered that this bird will be highly impacted by the Climate Change, which according to highly under qualified ‘scientist’ Myron Ebell( he isn’t joking!) we don’t have to worry about. After counting 15 EARED GREBES the other day, the thought crossed my mind, that people up north must be working on saving their nest habitat and I sent my “Thank You” their way. This species doesn’t arrive in a flock, but one by one. They form loose knit communities. It’s a kick to watch this process: one will swim over  to a potential ‘friend’ and wait for the cue that it’s okay to come closer, which means the other one doesn’t dive out of sight abruptly. Slowly the distance diminishes until they are next to each other and facing in the same direction, take in the scenery. After they have established their relationship they swim off together and stay in each other vicinity. Then an other EARED GREBE will make the same friendship overtures and if accepted, joins the growing tribe. Yes, you are right: I love watching bird’s behavior, because the way they live their life fascinates me. P1070356.JPG

For years I have watched the water migratory birds arrive in the lower river section. This year the travelers touched down further upstream, closer to the beginning of the Estuary Stretch. They haven’t explored the downstream section yet, instead they hang out in species clusters in the narrow riverbed stretch. It’s getting pretty crowded there since more vacationers arrive daily. Only the privacy loving EARED GREBES are taking advantage of the downstream spacious riverbed, flitting around without having to deal with those irksome globetrotter flocks.

Cat, thank you for sending me this fine pic.

On an other note, I was in San Lorenzo River heaven during the 11/12 2 hr. Bird Walk, because I had the pleasure to tell 26 wonderful people about the river, bird behavior, which bird hangs out where and why. And you won’t believe it: the OSPREY flew over our heads, the GREEN HERON dashed by, the RED-tailed Hawk posed on the redwood tree and the BUFFLEHEAD showed up, while the EARED GREBES teased us with their quick dives. We also saw a seal south of the Soquel bridge. It’s unusual to see the salt water seal in the Transitional Stretch, where salt & fresh water mix. At the end of the walk I was so happy and grateful that the people and birds showed up for each other and that the river got to unveil its enticing habitat.

Crowded downstream greetings, jane

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