Good Morning Barbara and Fellow Nature Lovers,
Early Friday morning I just had to take a look at the river mouth from the cliff ‘Point’, because the river water gage was just below the 7’ level, causing water to seep into the street, the Boardwalk parking lot and is flooding the Riverside St. underpass. The Main Beach sight must make the Seaside Co. and the various river agencies mighty nervous, because the river is steadily swallowing up the Boardwalk Beach. A visitor and I scanned the impressive water body for birds while commenting on the small sand islands in the middle of the river that once were a gigantic sandpile. We both caught sight of the preening MERGANSERS on the one small island, when the visitor said:” Is that young MERGANSER? It looks so small and is much lighter.” I didn’t see what he was talking about until I inched closer to him and sure enough: hidden behind one of the MERGANSERS was a smaller, lighter bird. The other 3 birds obstructed a clear view, but we decided that it wasn’t a MERGANSERLING(as Robin calls them). Finally our mystery bird collaborated, stood up, walked away from its friends and we both clearly saw the white eye marking, characteristic for our feathered river visitor: the LONG-tailed DUCK. As we parted, we agreed that it was interesting that the quilled visitor and locals were so comfortable hanging out together…walking away I thought that our plumed remark applied to the two of us as well…
You won’t believe this: the PEREGRINE finally fulfilled my wish to see its hunt plunge that same morning. As usual I scanned the Trestle trees for the Falcon, who I hadn’t seen for a while and I was disappointed to not see the familiar shape high in the tree. Resigned I headed up stream when I saw the well known shape head for the trees, land on the highest branch, shake its feathers and commence to survey the scene: the fleeing pigeons, the disturbed chattering of the CORMORANTS sitting on the branches, the silenced songbirds and the unperturbed GREAT BLUE HERON staring in the water for its fish breakfast. Satisfied to see its return, I continued my walk when suddenly a dark shape blitzed 4’ away from me into a flying pigeon. That hit made an eerie, loud thud sound, sent the pigeons feathers snowing down on the water, left the PEREGRINE empty taloned, because within a split second the pigeons veered sharp left and escaped death. The Falcon re-perched itself and I suspected that my ‘plunge’ observation had arrived, because the PEREGRINE was in hunting mode. And sure enough after a short wait, the predator literally fell off the branch, dropped like a stone towards the water, wings tucked tightly to the body, inches above the water surface the wings moved ever so slightly as it blasted towards a pigeon on a boulder. Once again fate favored a potential victim, because right in front of the hunter a CORMORANT burst out the water, barely avoiding a collision the predator sharply pulled up, missing out on its meal. The saved victim flew off, thanking its lucky stars (I am sure), the CORMORANT swam in circles, looking stunned, the Falcon shook itself and flew back to the trees. I am still flabbergasted that I got to witness the unbelievable spectacle!!
As you know I was celebrating the great Park & Rec. Staff mowing job, which saved the survivor plants and I was devastated when I discovered that somebody has mowed down many off them. I got worried about my other survivor plants, expecting the worst, I raced to check on them.
Thank heaven, they were untouched and doing amazingly well. It was unbelievable to see how far the Calif. Fuchsia, Coyote bushes, Dogwood, low manzanita bush had spread since we had freed them of weeds, dead wood and gave them new soil. A Swallowtail, several Monarchs enjoyed the revival of the survivor plants with me.
Relishing the ‘unbelievable’, jane