San Lorenzo River treasure trove…

Good Morning Barbara,

Coast dudleya in the middle...
Coast dudleya in the middle…

Last Friday Cat and I finally enjoyed our long planned levee walk. We had an exquisite time sharing our river love.  We were meandering down from Laurel St when I saw movement by the Riverside Ave. bridge sandbar. A monuclur look disclosed a big flock of shore birds. Unfortunately we never got to id them, because the flock got spooked and flew off. Maybe your Saturday sighting of the SHORT and LONG-billed DOWITCHERS answered my Friday shore bird question: Who are they? The RED-throated LOON made its appearance for us. The mellow bird had been visiting the river for the last few days, swimming casually back and forth between the Trestle and Riverside Ave. bridge. Cat’s self-taught vegetation knowledge is impressive. He pointed out theCoast dudleya/ Coast live-forever and the Sand spurrey, both native plants growing on the river mouth cliff where our attention drifted to watching 40-50 small gulls below us. Some of them had them had the black beauty mark behind the eye: the tell-tale feature of a BONAPARTE’S gull. Mixed into that swirling cloud were black headed gulls: the migratory BONAPARTE’S gulls showing off their marital summer attire, ready to head up North to nest in trees.

BONAPARTE'S gull in breeding attire...
BONAPARTE’S gull in breeding attire…

Anybody attempting to id SWALLOWS is rewarded with dizziness, because the eyes try to follow their ziggy-zag high speed while the brain is trying to assimalte the bird’s markings. I used to just enjoy their ‘swallowishness” and not bother with what species was delighting me. Now I have adopted a helping tool: their location along the lower river stretch. mud nests on bridges are made by the CLIFF SWALLOWS. NORTHERN ROUGH-winged species dispear into bridge light fixtures and culverts. BANK cousins search the levee slopes for crevices. The TREE SWALLOWS circle the river across from Jessie St. Marsh and the few VIOLET-BLUE beauties always head towards the Beachflats.

just a few of the many...
just a few of the many…

Are the Harbor Seals taking over the lower river? The other day there were 22 between the river mouth and Riverside bridge. Their presence is a good indicator of a healthy river, which obviously supports a big enough fish population to feed the hungry Harbor Seals, who eat 5% to 8% of their bodyweight.This amounts to 10-18lbs. of fish per day per seal. So the 22 fishers pulled out a min. of 220lbs. of fish. This doesn’t include the fish the riverbirds consume. Harbor Seals and waterbirds will steal fish from each other: 2 days ago a Harbor Seal surfaced with a big fish and a DOUBLE-crested CORMORANT shut up right next to it, in hot pursuit of the fish. The CORMORANT, a mighty good fisher in his own right, just couldn’t reach the fish, because the Harbor Seal was practically levetating above the water trying to swallow the fish. Was I witnessing the continuation of the underwater drama? Had the Harbor Seal stolen the fish from the DOUBLE-crested CORMORANT, who kept pecking at the Harbor Seal until they both dove down again?

FORK-tailed STORM PETREL(googled)
FORK-tailed STORM PETREL(googled)

This Saturday morning bird watchers flocked excitedly to the San Lorenzo River overlook, because the rare FORK-tailed STORM-PETREL had been sighted by well respected birder, Alex Rinkert.The Ocean bird was tricky to spot, because it blended in so well with water color that we uttered lots of: ‘There it is! Now it’s gone. Wait I see it again. Over to left, now to the right, just lost it.’

treasure greetings, jane

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3 thoughts on “San Lorenzo River treasure trove…

  1. Wow, do we really have 5 different species of swallows? I saw a few Violet-Greens from the levee next to El Rio MHP last week. Oddly, they kept swooping low above the road in the mobile home park. Why?

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  2. Los of juicy nuggets, as always! I was lucky that the one Dunlin and large flock of Dowitchers hung around long enough for me to slowly figure out who I was peering at. I had no idea that the birds were in serious competition with the harbor seals. And you got to see one of the Fork tailed petrels that Ihave only been reading about! Good to get all the news from downriver since I don’t get down there much. Thanks.

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