Good Morning Barbara & all you Nature Friends,
I greet all of you with some good news for the San Lorenzo River birds: The City of Santa Cruz Parks & Recreation Department hired a qualified Biologist for their 6 weeks annual mowing time to survey the San Lorenzo River levee for nesting birds. Without a doubt this is a most welcome approach, because no mowing will take place around active nests that can be located on the ground, in crevices, low bushes and dead trees depending on the bird species. The Park & Rec. staff’s willingness to adjust to that mowing strategy is a win-win solution for the Feb. 1st to August 15 bird nesting season and the necessary maintenance work. The Park & Rec. staff is showing commendable stewardship with this much celebrated bird-friendly practice. It will be exciting to see the areas that will be mowed later, because currently they are safely sheltering nesting bird parents.
And yes! this announcement was submitted to the Sentinel, which I hope gets published, so that the good news spreads out.
I figured out where the KILLDEER have taken up residence. They are nesting over at the Seabright Beach in restored dune area. Over time I have noticed a steady bird population increase at this site. So when Jeb Bishop, the extraordinaire project lead, told me that his volunteer group had sighted a KILLDEER and an egg in the dunes, it was an excellent excuse to take a walk with him! It’s always a pleasure to get a chance to have him introduce me to his natives plant friends, who are happily thriving under his group’s care. As we walked towards the river mouth, I spotted a KILLDEER, who tried to lure us away from the nest to which she returned quickly. Then we saw an other adult, which thrilled us. As we walked on we sighted an other KILLDEER hunkered down, causing us to celebrate with whispered hoots. We went into overjoy when a KILLDEER chick walked out of the dune grass towards its Mama, who got up to release an other chick. It surprised us to see 2 KILLDEER couples breeding in such close vicinity plus that they made it safely through the busy Memorial Day week end. Obviously Jeb’s hard work is offering native plants and birds a welcoming home.
Our restoration projects are not that far apart and yet they greatly differ from each other. The main contrast is that the river jurisdiction is shared by an amazing amount of Federal, State, County and City agencies, who have specific guidelines. One of them is the 1999 San Lorenzo River Levee Project Plan, which specifies what native plants can be planted where. Also our soils are world’s apart: his is sandy, the Estuary Project has mostly clay soil with patches of dumped soil, testifying of the long ago levee construction. This soil condition makes it challenging to find just the right plant for each spot, which has taught me to navigate between high hopes, realistic expectations and celebrating each native plant’s survival. Understandably I am mushy proud of what my volunteer group has achieved. I just have to give you to this link, because Christine and Elana from the County Volunteer Center did a wonderful job highlighting the positive aspects of the San Lorenzo River.
Ahh~ja~the ground squirrels, the mighty bane of the U.S. Army Corps of (levee)Engineers…According to my river observation there is a correlation between increased ground squirrel, CROW population, declined raptor, owl, falcons presence and trash. I see an abundance of Ground squirrels and CROWS where easy access to plenty of trash is available such as the Mike Fox Skate Park, Boardwalk parking lot, houseless camps, levee events, because they view trash as a fast food store. The raptor, falcons and owls did their best to keep the ground squirrel population in check, but then the CROWS spread their trash craws to each other, resulting in a hefty CROW increase. This was bad news for the raptors, falcons and owls, because CROWS love to make their hunting impossible by spending their time on bomb dive them. The ground squirrels celebrate the CROW behavior by lust-ly multiplying their tribes.
My German friend and I were standing on the San Lorenzo Park bridge, watching a small, whitish bird foraging in the shallow water next to a GREEN HERON. The unknown bird was far away and in constant motion, making it hard to id it. Finally thanks to my lousy pic. and the bird book we realized that it was a migratory RED-necked PHALAROPE. I was pretty jazzed to see my first GREEN HERON of this year sharing the river with a rare bird.
Sending you all river sparkle greetings, jane