Good Morning Barbara & River Enjoyers,
This time of year is the transition period of summer to fall migratory birds, which brings a lull to our bird sightings. The SWALLOWS pretty much left us by now except for a few CLIFF SWALLOW stragglers, getting a late migratory start. Slowly the first WARBLERS will show up in our area. We’ll be thrilled to welcome back the WILSON WARBLER with its black cap on its yellow head, the TOWNSEND’S WARBLER with its black and yellow head striping and the black and white BUFFLEHEAD to name a few.
Who says that birds are not innovative? Obviously this AMERICAN COOT proved that wrong. The A. COOT was using a discarded cardboard as an energy saving transportation to leisurely float down the river, grab some yummies off the edge, rest a little and sail by the surprised MALLARDS, who rushed out of the way of the unconventional bird travel device.
I hadn’t been to the lower river in a few days, because I was busy recording the disturbing vegetation vandalism between Laurel St. and Trestle bridge. Returning to my familiar, lower river stretch I saw that the big, healthy Trestle Eucalyptus had fallen victim to PG&E’s safety zealousness, exposing the prior camouflaged blue camper tent (its resident uses the remaining big tree trunk as his table). In my perfect win-win world, only the Eucalyptus‘s top would have been trimmed back from the wires, the planned Trestle trail would have woven around the tree and the SONG SPARROWS, migratory WARBLERS, BUSHTITS would still have their favored shelter and food source available. The SONG SPARROWS’ perch in that tree was the perfect performance spot to drizzle their enticing songs on us Trestle path users. And if that habitat disappearance wasn’t enough, the Eucalyptus bank had received a severe pruning job: branches on the big trees had been removed, small trees and undergrowth are gone. Starring at the scene, my heart ached, because the bird, butterfly, bee habitat at the Eucalyptus grove is obviously decimated. And how was I going to explain to the GREAT BLUE HERON why its favorite perch got axed. In my perfect win-win world more branches and undergrowth would have remained to intercept the flow of heavy rain and storm water run-off.
This would prevent the soil from washing down the steep bank into the river thus stabilizing the bank and trees. Additionally it wouldn’t have changed the vistas so drastically: the bushy green is gone, replaced by bare tree trunks that now offer a panorama of once hidden buildings and the Boardwalk and its huge parking lot, previously barely visible, bombard the eyes. As you all can tell: it has been a hard vegetation week for me!
On Saturday the cliff overlook presented yet an other creative Main Beach sands-cape: a high, long berm along the Main Beach shoreline that solicited some interesting interpretations: Seaside Co. wanted to keep people out of the ocean, City was blocking high waves, City was trying to get rid of beach sand, etc. As you know the river water level is still high due to the lagoon.
The City’s attempt to keep the river mouth open this summer was doomed, because State and Fed. agencies required that the work had to be done by hand tools. This turned out to be impossible since the river mouth berm had become too wide and high. From my previous experience it looked like the City was getting ready to do a controlled breach, which is always suspenseful to watch.
Looking down Monday morning at the river mouth my guess was correct: the bulldozers were pushing sand around while the biologists were doing their final seining. My neighbor told me that 2 pipes had been buried on the Main Beach, which will maintain the river water level at 5 feet. Checking on the progress in the afternoon my cliff compadre told me that the controlled breach had been a successful and we watched the bulldozers dig trenches horizontally across the old river mouth. Then I walked home, humming my mantra: environment is no one’s property to destroy; it’s everyone’s responsibility to protect(Mohith Agadi). River love to you from jane