Chirpy Good Morning Barbara & Fellow Nature Lovers,
A couple of weeks ago I encountered your neighbors, Michael & Batya on the search for the MERLIN, who had been spotted along the river while I was busy identifying a GOOSE. It didn’t fit the CANADA GOOSE profile. Using the white neck ring as ID clue I was pretty sure it was a CACKLING GOOSE. Later Michael informed me that the ID key is the shorter beak and smaller that differentiates these 2 species. This CACKLING GOOSE passed the days by the Tule and swimming blasé on the river. All this changed after James Maughn announced the arrival of the SNOW GOOSE. When I looked for the new comer a few hours later, I saw the SNOW GOOSE calmly grazing the young grass right next to the bustling levee path. At first I didn’t see the CACKLING GOOSE who stayed safely behind the SNOW GOOSE, placing the new friend as a shield between itself and the path’s traffic. The SNOW and CACKLING GOOSE are flock migrants and to see a single member of these species is unusual. Both species mate for life and breed up in the Tundra. They solved the single issue very nicely by befriending each other. During the next few days the CACKLING GOOSE became more brazen and the two GEESE mowed side by side the tender grass along the path. One morning I came around the bend and faced them just a few feet away. The three of us froze in our tracks, staring at each other, assessing the situation. The SNOW GOOSE evaluated me with a direct, penetrating look that made me hope I pass its muster. I started my usual wildlife exit: moving slowly backwards, which seems to cause the least stress to animals and detoured around them while they watched me with great interest. Once they felt satisfied with my conduct, they resumed their mowing. A few days later I saw the MERLIN by the Laurel bridge, the SNOW GOOSE has left…off to Mexico?…leaving the CACKLING GOOSE behind.
For the last couple of weeks the Trestle trees have housed up to 80 CORMORANTS in the mornings. They doze in the rising sun, preen for the day, chatter to each other and make the PEREGRINE and OSPREY mighty unhappy. Neither one will land in their favorite river trees when this CORMORANT crowd is present. The OSPREY perches on the Boardwalk rides, facing the trees, ignoring the harassing CROWS. The PEREGRINE checks to see if its cherished branch is claimed by a CORMORANT, tries to chase the intruder off and if that fails, flies off. Usually the FALCON and the OSPREY perch simultaneously in the trees since there is no food competition between them: the OSPREY is on a stringent fish diet. The other morning I was watching the OSPREY, sitting on the Log ride when I heard the PEREGRINE’s call, whose circling had successfully dislodged the CORMORANT off its favorite branch. That sight proved to be too much for the OSPREY. With lightening speed it plunged onto the PEREGRINE with a high screech, talons extended, ready for attack. The PEREGRINE twisted rapidly sideways with outstretched talons, warding off the OSPREY. The two birds are well known for their amazing speed and plunges, which they executed on each other, screeching to high heaven. Then they both plummeted close to the trees. That development unnerved the huge amount of CORMORANTS and they all exploded out of the trees, filling the air with flapping wings. The surprised fighters flew off in different directions…
I have been exchanging river sightings with Robin, who is also a morning levee walker. It has been fun to find out who Robin sees on the same stretch and swap stories about the feathered river regulars and surprise visitors. It was exciting to learn that he had seen a shy, elusive AMERICAN BITTERN on the north bank a couple of weeks ago. I am looking forward to hearing about Robin’s sightings so that I can share them with you.
And talking about sharing: I am curious if you have master explaining why you love Nature? Frankly I have never been able to sum up my Nature love with a stunning, crisp statement. Instead I ramble on with various reasons, always feeling my word vocabulary is failing my love. Care to share your experience about defining your Nature love?
Feathered greetings to all of you, jane