CLIFF SWALLOW musings & critter feet…

Good Morning Barbara and River Lovers,

critter gloved hands…

I was sorting through my mystifying CLIFF SWALLOW observations when I sensed that I was being watched. I looked around expecting to see a human in the vicinity, but there was nobody. Then I caught a movement out of the corner of my eye in the bush next to me. Our eyes met and I would be lying if I said it was love at first sight, because this is an old love story that began with setting sight on the WESTERN FENCE LIZARD ‘hands’. Their feet seem to have got hold of some fancy knight gloves and they are refusing to take them off. We stared at each other for a while. It stopped opening and closing its mouth when I proved to be a bad LIZARD conversation partner. Finally the little critter got to watch me walk backwards so I wouldn’t disturb its sun-bathing.

CLIFF SWALLOW nests under Crescent bridge…

And I returned to my CLIFF SWALLOW musings at the Crescent bridge. As I mentioned in a prior post, the CLIFF SWALLOW had been busier then ever building their nest there, but after the rains they disappeared. After 2 days waiting the air was still empty of the zoomers and the time for further investigation had arrived. I was happy to see Alan’s City maintenance truck by the bridge, because I felt safer in his company to take a closer nest look underneath the bridge. The 2 of us walked the length of structure and only saw a few finished nests, which seemed odd considering the prior CLIFF SWALLOW nest building frenzy in that location. There were quite a few broken nests and in some areas only the rim of nests was visible. Alan and I wonder what to think of our findings and I feared that somebody had knocked the nests down. Then it crossed my mind that the nests might have been compromised because of the mud quality that was more sandy this year. I was curious if the CLIFF SWALLOW numbers were going to go up again, which they didn’t. I had seen a few of them fly underneath the bridge and on Sunday I went underneath to check for active nests. There were about 15 to 20 that were smaller than the usual size. In the early morning hour 6 nests had parents flying in and out. Later in the day I might have located more active nests, because their food source, flying insects, would be available. It seems like there is more CLIFF SWALLOW musings on my horizon….

081-eucalyptus-tortoise-beetle-paropsis-sp-rr-713- googled

A few months ago Leslie Keedy, the City’s tree arborist, and I were talking at the Trestle bridge when this cute bug visited us. It wore quaint, yellow footwear and its back featured a intricate pattern. My bug delight was short lived when Leslie identified it as an Australian Tortoise Beetle, who enjoys re-designing the leaf edges of the Trestle Eucalyptus trees. I had forgotten about the ‘cute bug’ until I figured out that I wasn’t celebrating Ladybug larvae on the Trestle railing but facing Australian Tortoise Beetle larvae. Needlessly to say I am not excited to discover who they are.

YIKES! larvae of the Eucalyptus leaf re-designer on the move…

Here are some other river tidbits:
The City biologists were seining on Friday and Monday. It will be interesting to hear about the results.
The MALLARD Mama’s are still showing off their new brood arrivals.

MALLARD MAMA’s pride & joy…

The HOODED ORIOLE keeps bringing the teenage offspring to the river. The parent is getting to the stage of ‘ feed yourself’ as it tries to escape the demanding teenage food pursuit.
The RED-necked LOONS can be found foraging in the water when they are not resting on the shore bank.
A few CASPIAN TERNS fly over the river as they scan for fish, but I don’t see them dive for their meal. Then again the water is shallow and they need more depth for their plunges.
On the other beak the COMMON MERGANSERS are enjoying the shallow water level, because it makes for highly successful foraging. Every time they go down they come up with a fish in their beak.

bad feather day…

The heavy fog drizzle confronted the Red-shouldered Hawk with a bad feather day, which it endured with downcast patience.



5 thoughts on “CLIFF SWALLOW musings & critter feet…

  1. Hi Jane,

    I am curious about your apparent dislike of the Australian beetle. I am glad you showed me what it looked like because I have always wondered who made those intricate leaf edges happen in the Eucalyptus trees. But if you don’t like them because they are: a) not native or b) eating the eucalyptus…. well the eucalyptus are not native either. Anyway, as usual your blog delights me. Thank you!!

    1. Hi Batya, b) applies as an answer, because I see Eucalyptus trees being important to so many species that I like to see them healthy. True, they aren’t native, but the natives benefit from their feisty survival. The raptors need their height as their hunting take-offs. There are few other high trees on the river bank & I never see the raptors hunting from the Redwood, Elder, Cottonwood. The Monarchs, hummingbirds feed on the winter/spring blossom nectar. The Osprey hunts, eats & rests there. The Cormorants sleep & hang out in the Trestle trees & never use other trees. Down by the harbor the Great Blue Herons nest in the Eucalyptus trees. They don’t use any other trees for perching & nesting. So as you can see I value what the Eucalyptus trees have to offer to the natives. As always I love your interest in the posts & the river habitat. Joyous chirps to you, jane

  2. In 1985, nothing much bothered eucalyptus. So many pathogens showed up in the 1990s. I suppose a few more showed up since then; since there are many that I am not familiar with.

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