river news flowing to you…

Good Morning Barbara,

watchful parent?

You mentioned the juv. RED-shouldered HAWK. Could it be the same youngster, who perches frequently on the Boardwalk lamp post on one claw, holding up the other? Clearly the PIGEONS aren’t alarmed by the hunter’s presence as they calmly sit on their wire. How do they know they are safe from this hunter? Is the held up claw injured, preventing hunting? A watchful adult RED-shouldered HAWK is in attendance on a Trestle tree branch. Is it a concerned parent?

juv. Red-shouldered Hawk resting on 1 claw

I was lost in my thoughts when a small HAWK lifted off right next to me and made my heart jump. Instantly I wondered:



SHARP-shinned HAWK

These 2 species are so hard to differentiate! The short wings, small body and head size, pointed to a SHARP-SHINNED HAWK. With its 11 inches length it’s the shortest one of the Accipiter species. This smaller than a CROW predator is famous for its low flying, high speed hunting style through bushy vegetation. The SHARP-SHINNED HAWK impales the prey with a talon and plucks its meal since it doesn’t consider feathers part of its migratory feast.


sand build up by the river mouth

For me the San Lorenzo River(SLR) is a source for enjoyable wildlife observation and relaxation. As I am beginning to read the 2015 Interim Management Plan (IMP) for the river’s mouth and lagoon, its apparent that the machinations of the river’s mouth are anything but relaxing for City staff. This IMP document serves as a Pilot Program on how to deal with the river’s summer lagoon and outlines a permanent solution for lagoon issues. So why is the City addressing the lagoon? Well, this formation of a costal river lagoon, created by the sand barred river mouth, allows the water to rise in the SLR Estuary Stretch( Laurel St bridge to river mouth) to such an extent that it floods the downstream neighborhood and the Boardwalk basement. This lagoon problem is created by the fact that Main Beach (and Seabright Beach for that matter) are now much wider (from Boardwalk to Ocean) than it they were prior to the construction of the Santa Cruz Harbor and its large breakwater. We have the Army Corps of Engineers to thank for the Harbor’s construction, as well as the levees. The IMP describes two flood control approaches for the lagoon: 1)Temporary Outlet Channels, 2) Head Driven Culvert. The process is complicated and involves many State, Federal, Local agencies. It seems like the ill conceived development planning of the Army Corps of Engineers has left the City holding the bag trying to manage an intricate balance of habitat preservation, environmental protections, flood protection and mitigation, resource expense and public safety. What would Santa Cruz look like, if a Calif. Coastal Commission had existed back when the levees, harbor and Boardwalk were first proposed? More next time and let me know if you have any IMP questions.

male BUFFLEHEAD joining C. GOLDENEYE flock

My friend & I were entertained by 2 male BUFFLEHEADS, who had set their mind on infiltrating a flock of COMMON GOLDENEYE. The 2 species share close water proximity, but the flocks keep to themselves. The 2 males obviously were determined to break the flock barrier. No matter how the COMMON GOLDENEYE group tried to dodge the BUFFLEHEADS, they couldn’t get rid of them. The flock tried to distant itself from the 2, who increased their swimming speed, dove & popped up smack in the middle of the them, prompting some agitated flock members to beak-dive out of sight. The 2 rebels just wouldn’t let up on their ‘break-the-flock-barrier’ mission and finally the COMMON GOLDENEYE flock consented to the 2 rogues right in their center. Oh! before I forget: the native BLACKBERRY bushes by the E. Riverside St. under-path are flourishing nicely after the rain.

native BLACKBERRY bush

Just signed up for the Santa Cruz Christmas Bird Club Count and I am encouraging friends to sign up as well.                                                                                                                  Chirps for you, jane

3 thoughts on “river news flowing to you…

  1. The problem of flooding in the Beach Flats neighborhood and the Boardwalk is the result of development of the Boardwalk and a residential neighborhood on the existing San Lorenzo floodplain. As any engineer will tell you, the water always wins. There is no way to permanently hold back the river from where it has gone for millennia!

    I don’t understand how the construction of the harbor could affect the beach west of the San Lorenzo River mouth. The harbor jetties are east of the river mouth, and mass transit of sand from the river flows east, so it can’t end up on the beach west of the river mouth. The extensive beach build up between the headland at the river mouth and the harbor jetties is caused by the interruption of the mass transit flow by the jetties, but this does not extend west of the headland.

    Does the IMP address this?

  2. I’ve subsequently reviewed the City’s Negative Declaration document for the IMP, which lays the claim for the harbor jetty construction affecting the width of the beach at the San Lorenzo River mouth.

    However, the process of beach berm development at the river mouth was a part of the entire lagoon formation before the residential and commercial development of the lagoon area. It was the elimination of the larger lagoon that ultimately modified the beach berm formation process, not the construction of the harbor jetties.

    I think there’s a bit of self-serving revisionist geomorphology going on here!

    1. Hi Michael, I am making my way through the IMP & frankly there are some parts that are not all that clear to me. I am trying to present what the IMP is stating & get feedback from people like you, whose comments I’ll integrate in my next posts as to get a back & forth conversation going. I would think that the document reflects a certain perspective & I think it’s good for the reader to hear counter points. So I thank you for your insightful input, jane

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