Good Morning Barbara,
Have you ever heard that high pitch, urgent duckling call echoing across the water? It’s the signal that a little one lost track of its MALLARD Mama and is attempting to re-unite with her. It took a while to locate the duckling, who was ricocheting by the shore. Surveying the area by the Crescent bridge, I spotted a Mama with 4 ducklings across the river. Of course I assumed that the lost feather-ball belonged to her and started to worry about her mother instinct as she ignored the desperate call. The itty loner started to cross the river, was chased back by a male MALLARD. This ordeal called for some foraging to replenish its strength. Once fortified the little one resumed its “Mama” call. It swam upstream, staying close to the shore, gaining more distance to its oblivious Mama across the river. My nerves were fraying, because unification with the lax mother looked gloomy. 3 salivating CROWS landed on rocks right next to the swimmer, who dashed to open water to be chased back by a female MALLARD. The duckling stopped paddling, bobbing up and down, decided feeding was in order, nibbled on algae at a safe distance from both dangers and then resumed the alarm call. From upstream came a ‘Mama’ quack, which catapulted the duckling into a levitating swim frenzy towards the quack. I was sure that a happy ending was on its wings and was peeved when the advancing MALLARD Mama with 2 ducklings pecked at the approaching lost soul, sending it into the MALLARD couple path, who started chasing it. Just then a quacking MALLARD Mama materialized on the rescue scene. She attacked the couple, retrieved her little escapee and swam towards a big rock by the Riverside Ave. shore, which turned out to be 9 piled up ducklings, staying safely out of harms way. After some intense Mama quaking and lots of duckling peeping, Mama needed a snack to get ready for further feather mothering.
Last Thursday a speaker at the Planning Commission meeting wondered if there really was any wildlife worth considering along the river since it was a man made flood control structure. Whenever I hear that kind of statement I ponder if the person has actually spend some time by the river, because the river and its banks flourish with wildlife in spite of the years of habitat neglect. It’s true that the rich and diverse wildlife takes time to discover as it pursues its life. Wildlife is not greedy for our applause nor does it compete for our attention nor is it eager to feed our egos, it simply and unpretentiously lives. 2 Commissioners tried to figure out if paddling, kayaking could be included in the ‘Recreation’ EIR category, which thankfully wasn’t within the EIR scope. Do you think the paddling issue is being dragged back on the table in a roundabout way?
To-day I watched a GREEN HERON fly across the water and remembered the sad fate of juvenile GREEN HERON trying to escape the paddler flotilla, ending up in the PEREGRINE’s talons. A few minutes later a low flying COOPER HAWK passed by, which allowed us to look directly into each other’s eyes. It was an exquisite moment of 2 beings acknowledging each other’s presence and meaning no harm to the other. The NORTHERN- rough winged SWALLOWS were darting in and out of their bank crevice nests. The OSPREY was flying towards the Trestle tree, clutching a good sized fish. Do you think the Thursday speaker would still wonder about river wildlife worth considering if he had experienced this 20 minutes sequence?
River love to you, jane