Good Morning Barbara,
Just like you I get drawn in by SNOWY EGRETS and their interesting feeding behavior. They stand in shallow water, preparing for a meal by stirring the mud gently with their yellow feet in hope of raising a food morsel to the surface. The black legs barely quake and the body is motionless while the white beauty stares concentrated at the water. The body tenses just a little, the feet move quicker, the legs quiver faster and then the beak strikes like lightning and spears something, which slowly glides down the throat, visible by the descending bump in the neck. This SNOWY EGRET had located a food treasure chest, because it fed in the same spot for a long time.
Thanks to your alert that the Flood Control Work started, I headed bravely down to the Riverine Reach where the crew was working. It’s always hard to see a year’s worth of habitat
vegetation growth being taken down within a few hours. The cut down, bundled willows sadly lined the levee banks. I celebrate your diligent efforts to integrate the Flood Control Work with habitat needs and I can’t wait to read your on-the-scene report.
The next day Shelley and I checked on the work progress, which was in full swing. Afterwards we crossed the Water St. bridge to say ‘Hi’ to our busy friend Alan while a huge HAWK circled over us. The Water St. bridge is good place to watch groups of MALLARDS in the Riverine Reach, but there were only 7 MALLARDS present. We were surprised to find our path blocked at your beloved Benchland by lengthy fencing. We learned that the upcoming Taco & Tequila event also required many toilets.
So after our detour we stood on the San Lorenzo Park pedestrian bridge and observed the amazing amount of MALLARDS in that river stretch. More than likely the upstream Flood Control chaos had relocated the refugees downstream, triggering squabbling MALLARDS in heated discussions about space claims, resulting in little resting and feeding. This was a perfect example of what happens when birds lose their habitat and have to relocate: the refugees take up habitat space and food from the established bird population and both sides spend a lot of their time and energy on territory fights.The reason is that a habitat section can only support a certain number of bird, especially when they require the same living conditions and food source.The fighting takes a measurable energy toll on the birds. If the birds don’t replenish their energy level with eating and resting their survival and procreation chances go down,i.e. the offspring from a depleted parent is not as strong as a fledgling from a well fed, well rested one. As I looked down at the repeated territory blow-ups, I cringe to think how the wildlife habitat will be impacted by the 7 story buildings along the river from Soquel Ave. to Laurel St bridge where we currently have 1 story structures. It’s hard to understand why a supposedly environment friendly City chooses to ignore the San Lorenzo Urban Plan, which integrates the wildlife habitat protection with the City housing needs with 5 story buildings and instead decides on such heights and building mass right next to a watershed, Open Space area in the floodplain. Well, I circled the Sept. 8th on my calendar: the deadline to submit comments on the EIR for the Front St. 7 & 8 story concept. Did you mark your calendar?
Yesterday morning the RED-throated LOON was back, occupied with preening its feather-do while a stunning amount of resting TERNS dusted the beach white.
And next time I’ll tell you about “bankfull” until then, jane