Good Morning Barbara and Fellow Nature Lovers,
In the early morning hours I obeyed the siren’s allure to check on the river after my evening return from Europe. We all know, I love the San Lorenzo River and I was curious to find out how I would experience the river after 3 weeks absence, seeing other landscapes, observing a few other bird species, hearing different languages. My European birding had been meager, because in Venice only the pigeons exist. The other birds dash quickly across the sky. The lack of vegetation and tourist invasion make this architecturally fabulous place difficult for birds to rest and forage. Of course the 11 story high cruise ships, blocking the most beautiful sights, have also done environmental harm: they raise the water level and damage Venice surrounding salt meadows. This condition has severely impacted the local and migratory bird population. There was a noticeable bird population decline in Munich’s English Park, which is a huge area with vast meadows, gigantic trees, creeks and ponds. I am used to seeing a large variety of bird species there, but this time it was feather poor. My friend, who lives next to the park, told me that she has noticed less birds in the last 2 years and that she is missing their songs.
As it turned out it was the perfect day for a river re-acquaintance exploration: the early, calm morning was nudging the wildlife to get ready for breakfast, the regular levee walkers were feasting their eyes on the rising sun over the ocean, stopping to talk about their latest bird observations, WHITE-crowned SPARROWS were warming themselves in the first sun rays and 15 of my beloved migratory BUFFLEHEADS were gently rocking on the water. I soaked in the images of the river, ocean, various birds, butterflies, lizard as they confirmed my long held take on the San Lorenzo River: Santa Cruz is darn fortunate to have such a unique place right in the middle of town. I just let myself drift, didn’t take any notes nor record the birds I saw, instead I just let the river enchant me with its sights, satisfied to realize why I’ll keep advocating for its environmental rights.
A few days later I visited the river again and this time the water by the trestle bridge was boiling with 60 foraging CORMORANTS. Fish were jumping out of the water, PIED-billed GREBES were chocking while swallowing oversized fish. COMMON MERGANSERS were torpedo fishing, seals were goosing 24 BUFFLEHEADS, who fled the unsettling scene. The nervous RUDDY DUCK tried to zig-zag through the hectic fishing crowd. The EARED GREBES kept diving to avoid the water surface traffic jam. 20 SNOWY EGRETS stood fish guard along the shore, ready to pounce on their breakfast. The KINGFISHER kept trying to dive between the mayhem while the OSPREY was perched high up, laconically watching the crazed scene, which made his breakfast dives impossible. It was obvious that the river had laid out one fine banquet for the fishing birds to gorge on. The algae eaters on the other webbed foot, like the MALLARDS and AMERICAN COOTS, were clinging to the shore lines, anxiously staying away from the fishing fever. To be frank: I hope these weren’t steelheads that the birds were devouring…
Downstream re-entry greetings from jane