tasks are useful…

Good Morning Barbara and Nature Lovers,

CLIFF SWALLOW working on the nest…

I arrived early for our river walk rendezvous so that I could spread some wood chips around the newly planted native vegetation before my German friend arrived. The chip circles suppress weeds and also give the maintenance crew ‘native plant’ head’s up as they weed whack. Of course I got sidetracked watching the SWALLOWS acrobat-ing, careening above me. Then I had to stand stock-still to find out if the 2 BUSHTITS were building a nest in the bush next to me, because they kept flying in and out of that shrub. We are in the February 1st through August 15th nesting season I am on constant look out for nests since I don’t want to alarm the young parents with my presence close to their nests. It’s a waste on their energy resources to focus on ‘is she or isn’t she a threat?’. Clearly they have to attend to more important season tasks. So when my friend got there I had not completed my task, which we did finish together thanks to his kind help. As you can imagine, I basked in telling him in German about my endless river observations. During our walk we bonded with the river as we celebrated one observation after the other. Without a question the OSPREY was the highlight that made us giddy with its beauty. It was on the tippy tip of the Redwood tree that grows at the foot of the bank next to the elevated path. This combo allowed us to watch the OSPREY fairly close up, whose priority was pulling one wing feather at a time through its beak. When we left after a long time the OSPREY still wasn’t done with its feather beak combing task, necessary to achieve its superb flight. Saying our good-bye my friend and I agreed that the river had gifted us with many wonderful sights and that we were glad we took the time for this walk.

our OSPREY….

This situation was hell for birds: A young man was sitting peacefully on the river bank and sharing his breakfast with the MALLARDS, who were overjoyed by this unexpected food supply. They stood around him, waiting patiently for an other morsel coming in their way. The RED-throated LOON swam close to the shore, clearly interested in the MALLARD scene. An other young man showed up with his dog. He unleashed the look-alike wolf, who couldn’t believe its luck: MALLARDS nearby on the shore. The dog took off lightning fast, aiming for the breakfast eaters, who couldn’t believe their eyes while they were gauging if this was really true: a dog on the loose, racing straight at them. They decided that a peaceful meal had turned into hell and exploded into the air to land on the water.

creator of bird hell…

The breakfast benefactor yelled at the dog owner, whose dog was chasing the MALLARDS in the water. The RED-throated LOON dove down and re-surfaced at a safe distance. It became obvious that the dog was on fire with hunting fever, ignoring the helpless master’s calls, chasing after every bird in sight until land and water were feather empty. It took a while for the owner to get hold of his dog and as they left the previously peaceful man tasked the other man to become a responsible dog owner with some peppery comments.

welcome back, little KILLDEER…

Driving downtown, I did my usual river scan and saw a group of CANADA GEESE on the sandbank. Needlessly to say: I had to pull over to check them out. There were 10 of them, feeding in the low water, preening themselves and a few were starring off into space. It seemed that the river was a stop-over on their way up north. Watching them I heard the welcome sound of the KILLDEER above my head. That call got a response from the shore. Moments later both of them were walking close to each other on the shore. I was so happy to see them, hoping they decide to nest again by the Riverside Ave. bridge. Never before have I seen so many RED-throated LOONS in the river, also there are still some BUFFLEHEADS and COMMON GOLDENEYES present. Did they decide to spend the summer on the river?                                        Sending you river joy greetings, jane

COMMON GOLDENEYES still on the river…

7 thoughts on “tasks are useful…

    1. The owners of unleashed dogs are usually not concerned about breaking the law. Then again I had a really good interaction w/a woman, whose dog went down the river bank. When I told her about the nesting birds it became clear she knew very little about bird life. She asked me tons of question & we ended up watching birds together. She was going home to read the blog:)

  1. People can be such jerks with their dogs. Both little dogs whom I work for have been attacked by unleashed dogs that those associated with told me were ‘friendly’.

    1. I am waiting for the honest dog owner, who admits that the dog, who is charging @ me, is a brute:) So far I have gotten the same response as you. Plus it’s nerve-wrecking that their dog is obviously not under voice command.

      1. Voice command is not an alternative to a dog being leashed with the owner holding the leash. If the dog is away from its premises, it must be leashed unless it is within a sanctioned (legal) off leash area in a park and only one beach in all of Santa Cruz County (Mitchells Cove). Dogs chase birds, as can be seen here http://llascc.weebly.com/dogs-chase-birds.html

      2. Hi Jean,
        It’s pretty stunning to see the dogs clear the beaches of birds as they race up & down the shorelines. Very often the dog owners don’t realize that the birds are food foraging, a necessity for their survival while their dog is frolicking for pleasure. In general people are good at leashing their dogs when I tell them that. & thanks for the link, jane

      3. Yes, Jane. Generally those you encounter along the San Lorenzo River are for the most part good about leashing their dogs when they learn about the birds. This is good news. Unfortunately, those locals who are at the beaches (e.g., Lighthouse Field State Beach near the city museum, Twin Lakes State Beach Park near the Simpkins Center, and Corcoran Lagoon Beach near 20th Avenue) are not so caring. They ignore information about birds, even when gently informed. As one woman said to me, while she lobbed a ball into the surf for her dog to chase: “I live across the street and I pay taxes!” Meanwhile, the birds are constantly harassed and it is so sad to see them take flight, land a little further away, then have the dogs chase them again. And again. With 50,000 dogs in Santa Cruz County, it is a constant battle to educate their owners!

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