Good Morning Barbara and Fellow River Aficionados,
Last Saturday we were heading downtown along the river levee when a big white dog and a woman in the Mike Fox fruit orchard send me into high alarm mode. I whipped the car into an illegal parking spot, exploded out of the car, stopped traffic crossing the street, took a deep breath and told the woman and her five friends that the KILLDEER had returned to the orchard for an other ground nesting attempt. I explained that the mother would try to distract them from the nest by leaving it and faking a broken wing. The woman welcomed the explanation, because it shed light on her baffling encounter with the KILLDEER, who was now standing on the roof across the street, watching us intently. I emphasized that it was important for people and dogs to stay clear of the nest and that bird predators made nesting success hard enough as it was. After showering the group with more KILLDEER nesting habits, the group pledged to stay away from the nest, furthermore protect it from the CROWS and the RED-shouldered HAWK. We parted, exchanging Thank Yous, because now our common goal was the safety of the KILLDEER nest.
Many of you have gathered rich river tales and observations and to-day I am sharing two reader responses to my river walk discoveries… I enjoyed how their input added new layer to the post. I thank the musical Michael Levy and Mac for permission to quote them.
Here is Michael and Batya’s encounter with a Mallard family:
‘Batya and I found a mom mallard with 12 ducklings (the same family?) in a very urban place on Saturday afternoon: At the meeting of Pacific Ave. and Front St. South of Laurel. They were at the base of the old stone steps that used to lead up to a Victorian manor on Beach Hill (gated off now). She was trying to lead them up the steps but they couldn’t make the leap. We were terrified that she would lead them out into the street, which seemed dangerous even though there was a crosswalk right there. With a minimum of shepherding from us, she eventually opted to lead them on the sidewalk up Front Street toward the arena and Laurel St. I almost died from the cute factor, but was pretty worried about them too. Before reaching the arena, she veered into the property of the mental health facility with the ducklings in tow, and I am not sure if they could get access to the river that way. I sure hope so. We headed for dinner downtown and I hope they got dinner at Cafe San Lorenzo, because I am not sure how long duckling energy supplies last away from water and its yummy edibles.’
Mac wrote that he had seen ‘a couple of times masked Weasels near the River Walk section that is near Pet Smart and Ross’s, which is to say between Hwy 1 and Water Street. They seem to like when the embankment has a lot of rocks that they can use for cover.’ To my great relief he also mentioned that Weasels primarily feed on rodents. He suggested to google the Long-tailed Weasel( Mustela frenata) for more info.
The other morning a SNOWY EGRET was having a hell of a time eating its breakfast by the Riverside Ave. bridge. It had scored a good sized fish, that refused to go down the feared tunnel beak. Every time the white eye candy stretched the neck upward the fish slipped out. The SNOWY EGRET stared thoughtfully at it in the shallow water, picked it up again, tried to line it up for the big swallow, just ending up with same result. The fish drama took its final beak curtain when the wader managed to open its beak extremely wide and finally swallowed the slippery breakfast. After that stunning feat, it kept opening and closing its beak as the fish lump was sliding down the neck, which shows that eating well doesn’t mean it’s easy. Cheers to you all, jane