Good Morning Barbara and all you Nature lovers,
I love the spell a bird can cast on me and charm me as the SPOTTED SANDPIPER did. It started a couple of winters ago, when I caught sight of a small, white chested shorebird across the river, bobbing along a narrow sand bank and then it disappeared and I was left with: ‘who was that?’. Then one morning I saw a little bobbing bird on the rocks by the Trestle bridge, same size, same yellow legs as the previous shorebird, but it had a spotted chest… so was I looking at a different shorebird species? I found out that it was a SPOTTED SANDPIPER, who announces ‘ready to breed-yahoo!’ with brown spots on chest and ‘not-breeding…thank you very much’ with a virgin white chest. It enjoys long, thorough baths that call for a redefinition of cleanliness. It’s really hard to tell the sexes apart, because they look very similar. The female chest spots are supposed to be bigger and you need the male next to her to compare the difference. The female is the one, who chooses and initiates the courtship with her desirable feathered prince and entitles him with the task to incubate their eggs. Last summer I learned the river resident was a female SPOTTED SANDPIPER, because she chased unfit males away. Then one day two SPOTTED SANDPIPERS were facing each other and bobbing vigorously up and down. From then on the two foraged peacefully together on the rocks. I missed them when they disappeared for about 3 weeks and was beside myself with joy when I spotted 2 adults and 4 chicks foraging on the rocks. After some family time the male faded out of the picture and Mama instructed the chicks to find their own foraging terrain. Now the 4 ‘chicks’ are spread out along the Laurel St. and river-mouth section and looking mighty fine.
I love standing on the river bridges! The height allows me to gaze into the water as well as an extended view up and down the river. But my Wednesday morning view from the Trestle bridge gave me a severe case of the ‘Blues’. The evening before the City Council had rubber-stamped the Planning Department’s 70’-85’ building height request along Front St., making developers giddy with joy. I stared towards the downtown, knowing that one day 70’ buildings will line the river that are higher than any recently built downtown buildings and 20’ lower than the Palomar. There is no doubt in my mind that this high density building mass will effect the riparian corridor and its wildlife! The heavy, intense, lengthly construction alone, necessary to support such building mass, will create havoc for the river environment. Plus there are three more river projects in the pipeline… our poor river is facing some tough times…
I love those spontaneous connections with other river walkers. On Sunday morning a RED-Shouldered HAWK by the Trestle bridge triggered such an encounter with 2 fellow observers. We exchanged one river bird story after an other, discovered that we have walked the levee for years, that we couldn’t believe we had not met before, that Bob’s neighbor’s Redwood tree gets visited by an EAGLE. Bob mentioned that he had never seen an OSPREY along the river and asked if I had. Just as I launched into my river OSPREY story, he said: “I can’t believe it!” as he looked upriver. I turned to check what he meant and faced the incredible river magic: the OSPREY was flying low towards us with a fish in its talons and pulled up to land in the Trestle tree. We were giddy with the OSPREY’s perfect timing, tried to guess its unusual call and yodeled about Ann and Bob first San Lorenzo River OSPREY sighting. We parted, hoping to meet again to continue our cheery connection.I continued my walk, stopped to watch one of ‘my’ SPOTTED SANDPIPERS and was joined by young man, who asked what I was looking at. He was from Italy, where they nick-name SANDPIPERS “dancers”. Right then the OSPREY passed us, flying very low over the water, racking the surface with its extended legs. The young man watched in awe while the mighty fish hunter repeated its talon cleaning procedure several times, signaling that it had finished its breakfast. We shared how essential Nature experiences were for our soul and emotional well-being. In our good-bye we shared our pleasure to have experieced the river together.
river chirps from jane