Good Morning Barbara & all you river-y Nature Lovers,
The buzzing wildlife proves that the February 1st date is correct as the official start for the breeding/nesting season. The river life is vibrating with high promises of future generations. Our migratory visitors, the COMMON GOLDENEYE and the BUFFLEHEADS, are gathering in big groups to present themselves as desirable mates. Now is prime time to visit the river to see their grande partnering performance. The land birds are flitting through the air, sitting in the trees and bushes, singing their heart out in the hope for a potential partner. For some birds the search has borne fruit and they are already occupied with building nests, such as the MALLARDS. Birds build nests in various locations along the river: rocky levee banks, grassland, underneath bushes, tree holes, tree branches, ground burrows, tule, gravel and sand. The breeding/nesting season is the head-up time for us humans to respect our fellow critters plunge into parenthood by staying clear of nests, avoid removing trees, bushes, brambles, grassland. I know, how difficult that is for us humans, because spring channels /triggers our inner ‘Spic and Span’ voice to include Nature, who dreads our zealous activities.
Coming across the Trestle bridge last week, I noticed an odd ‘Duck’ absorbed in foraging amongst AMERICAN COOTS. As I got closer the odd ‘Duck’ remodeled my perception and became a gorgeous CINNAMON TEAL. The sun was doing an epic job of highlighting the ravishing feather colors. This rust colored dabbler belongs to the Duck/Geese family, prefers short distance migration to marshes and ponds. Getting bored with its company, the Cinnamon Teal decided to meander over to the MALLARD crowd. As the beauty approached the females‘ heads snapped up, took a second look at the stunning approacher and determined this visit clearly had to be discouraged. Three Females lower their necks and charged at the Cinnamon Teal, who casually changed directions and took up foraging. On my way back, I saw the Cinnamon Teal had unearthed a friendlier MALLARD assembly that allowed her presence.
The 17 SNOWY EGRETS along the river shore were debating who could be close to whom. There was lots of raised head feathers, jumping at each other, splashing water and crackling calls. Then they would calm down, stalking through the shallow water until one of them made a wrong move, provoking the next flurry fluster. In the meantime a SONG SPARROW was sweetening the air with a mating song in a nearby bush, a CANADA GOOSE couple was bathing amicably together, establishing that different methods can reach the same goal.
On Jan. 16th I introduced you to Downtown Streets Team and over the last few months I have been exchanging bird observations with some members. Their interest and questions birthed the idea of introducing all the levee cleaning Teams to the river bird world. Their Director, Greg Pensinger, graciously arrange for our tour last Thursday. The breeding season was the perfect chance to talk about the various ground nesters since the Teams are likely to encounter them such as SONG SPARROW, JUNCO, TOWHEE, MEADOWLARK, KILLDEER, SPOTTED SANDPIPER, PIED-billed GREBE, MALLARDS. I acquainted them with the bird nest alarm systems they might witness along the levee: bomb diving, luring potential predators away from nest by faking injury, sharp, high pitch, repetitive agitated calls, bird bursting off the ground and bushes, back and forth flying above a location. It turned out to be a wonderful, interactive walk that fostered great questions, creative ideas, interesting observations, knowledge exchange and inspiring feedbacks. So many offered great, insightful remarks, that demonstrated they cared and” We need to protect the environment” was a repeated statement. A member’s shy reflection” They are just like us!” snuggled into my heart. I felt so fortunate to share my time with all of them. Their eagerness and willingness to learn about environment showed that they are definitely a part of the river stewardship Team. I proudly welcome them aboard with open arms!!!
The other day I was checking on the Estuary Project by the Riverside Ave. bridge and discovered a RED-throated LOON preening itself meticulously on the sandbank. It felt like déjà vu, because months ago my last RED-throated LOON sighting had been in the same area. Of course I hope to see it again, but migratory visits are often fleetingly brief.. Nesting greetings to you all, jane