Dear Nature Compadres,
Well, here we are! Waltzing through the rest of the summer without our Barbara, who is taking a posting sabbatical. We’ll dearly miss her river stories, insights & information tidbits. Upon her return, she’ll will delight us with her posts again. In the meantime my bi-monthly river observations will float your way.
I was watching three shapes moseying along the tule edge. I had no problem identifying 2 of the trio as a MALLARD couple, but the third one had different shape and movement. When I tried to get better view of it through my monocular, I couldn’t find it: the rascal had disappeared! Assuming that it must be hiding in the tule, I kept scanning the vegetation. Finally I decided to write the bird off as a mystery appearance, walked on and found myself starring at a migratory COMMON GOLDENEYE, preening herself on a log. Her sight surprised me, because this duck diver was out of sync with her river timing. She is supposed to arrive in the fall and leave in the spring. True, 3 summers ago we had an injured female COMMON GOLDENEYE, who spent the summer with us. I figured that she had been well enough to migrate up north with the others since I hadn’t seen her in a year. It’s so frustrating to not be inter-species lingual! I wanted to ask her, if she was our river COMMON GOLDENEYE or a very early fall arrival. And if she was our river Mam’selle, where had she been hanging out?
I was walking towards the migratory RED-throated LOON, who was dragging itself ashore while keeping a watchful eye on me. I stopped to let it find its comfy spot, because the migratory bird was ready for its usual early morning siesta on the sand. The foraging CROW didn’t appreciate being so close to a long, pointed beak and flew off. I was honored to be regarded as non threatening, because after settling into the perfect position, the eyelids slowly closed, the body melted into relaxation as the dawning sun spread her magic. The RED-throated LOONS are a common sight during the winter and this spring/summer they have become an unusual regular appearance on our river. And yes, a peaceful joy descended on me as the 2 of us rested in each other presence.
When I saw all the SWALLOW activity by Laure St. bridge, I gathered that the fledglings were practicing flying, landing and screeching for the parents to feed them. This is the normal behavior for this time of year. But then I noticed that the flight pattern was really close over a mud patch at the lower bank. Taking a closer look, I was dumbfounded to see that adult CLIFF SWALLOWS were picking up mud and dashing off towards the Riverside Ave. bridge. What were they doing, racing around with nesting material in their beaks? Did somebody forget to tell them that this not the time for nest building, but getting ready for their migratory departure? After-all the bridge ledges and phone wires are occupied with SWALLOW offsprings, preparing for their first long migratory journey.
Upriver 2 CASPIAN TERNS were walking around amongst a big group of gulls, dodging the mischievous teenage gulls, when fireworks detonated on the levee, causing the river birds to explode in every direction into the air. They flew off as far and as fast as possible, ending my bird watching morning! I waited a while to see if they come back, but then the silence and the bird empty scenery made me misty and I left, feeling sorry for the birds that have to pay the price for people’s amusement. I am keeping my fingers crossed that the fireworks turn out be all duds, which would a great treat for all critters. Sending you all peaceful Nature wishes, jane