Style Show on the River

Dear Jane,

Today is an auspicious day for the environmental movement in Santa Cruz. Chris Krohn, a strong defender of our environment, will be sworn in tonight as a new City Council member – along with the other Brand New Council candidate Sandy Brown. Together they should be able to push our City Council towards less profit-oriented and more people-oriented policies. I hope I get this blog written in time to get down there to celebrate with all of them tonight. Two other candidates, J.M. Brown and Robert Singleton, who were eager to develop the land along the river into tourist and recreational sites, including high-end apartments, were defeated. We can breathe a momentary sigh of relief.  But only momentary.  I’m sure Brown will be pushing for these same ‘improvements’ from his position on the City Planning Commission.

For the first time in a pretty long time, I actually had the energy to walk from the Water St. Bridge all the way down to the mouth of the river and back. I was richly rewarded with a good view of your friend, the OSPREY, perched high up near the trestle on the huge eucalyptus trees that line the bank of the river. These stern looking birds remind me somehow of judges with their crowns of shaggy white feathers , their piercing eyes and their black and white robes. I breathed a silent ‘Yes, your honor’ and almost expected one to appear in a curled and powdered wig! It takes a while to get to know this River and its inhabitants. Can you believe we’ve been blogging for two years! Happy Anniversary.

Osprey, December 11, San Lorenzo River mouth, in Eucalyptus on east bank of river.

At least one PELAGIC CORMORANT has taken a liking to our river, abandoning its more usual haunt on the ocean and ocean cliffs. I have seen it several times in recent walks, perched quite a ways upstream on a log in the river, sporting its unbelievably glossy and shimmering purple, green and black attire.

Pelagic Cormorant, preening on dead tree root in river. December 11, 2016

As I walk along the river, I am always peering into the willows that lean out over the water, a favorite spot for spotting BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERONS. I was pleased to find a juvenile on my walk this week, appreciating especially the way the color and patterns of the feathers and the river seem designed by the same hand.

Juvenile Black-crowned Night-heron, resting or sleeping.  December 11, 2016

With his chin tucked down, this BELTED KINGFISHER showed off its crest in a way I hadn’t seen before or appreciated. It was rattling very insistently in its inimical way, but I couldn’t figure out what all the agitation was about.

Belted Kingfisher, December 11, 2016

As if my almost 4 hour walk was not exciting enough, it ended with this great view of a RED-SHOULDERED HAWK. Russet? Red? I just can’t find the word that does justice to that beautiful rich coloration.

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Red-shouldered Hawk, December 12, 2016, between Water St. Bridge and Highway 1 Bridge

Less gorgeous, but always of interest to me, are the PIED-BILLED GREBES. These two were just hanging out together for a change. They are usually so solitary and hard-working, but maybe the holiday spirit of family togetherness and relaxation has struck them.  I hope their bellies were full.

Pied-billed Grebes, December 11, 2016

In all, I found 31 species on the river during my long walk down and back!  Readers can check out my list on eBird.

I enjoyed your help explaining some of the issues involved in the Interim Management Plan for the lagoon. You dive into these government documents with the spirit of an Osprey! Awesome!

I hope to see you and other readers at the annual Christmas Bird Count in five days. Happy Holidays to you, Jane, and to all our feathered friends on the River.












3 thoughts on “Style Show on the River

  1. Thanks for being a champion of the San Lorenzo River and the many beings that call it home. Your work will help assure that future generations in Santa Cruz will be able to enjoy more healthy wildlife populations along the river. I had no idea that there were ospreys along the river- what a joy!

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