Good Morning to all you fellow Nature adorers,
Ever since the Trestle bridge construction I haven’t seen the PEREGRINE perch on its favorite, high perch in the Eucalyptus tree. I keep looking up in the hope to see the sight of that beautiful Falcon. This shows optimism, because during the bridge building the CROWS moved into the lower branches, from where they could easily harvest the workers left overs. Then a RAVEN couple build their nest a few trees over, much to the chagrin of the CROWS, who have been endlessly complaining about the RAVENS’ nest location. Yet both black, loud vocalizers would unit in a second to mob the PEREGRINE, should it attempt to return. Their attacks are scary as the juvenile RED-shouldered HAWK found out, who had been chased out of its safe Jessie St. Marsh nursery perch when the huge soil drilling equipment moved in. The young Raptor kept ducking lower and lower on the branch, trying to keep its balance. If this was its first encounter with ceaseless dive bombing then it got a royally baptism to the bane of its future life.
Right now the seed eaters are feasting on a wide variety of seeds. The BUSHTITS, HOUSE and a few LESSER GOLD FINCHES favor the seeds of the native Mugwort. Did you know that the oil of its crumbled leaves relieve the poison oak itch? A dainty, lite-blue Butterfly rested on the Mugwort, long time enough for me to fall in love with its fairytale physique. Thanks to Santa Cruz Critters, Ken and Andy identified it as a GREY HAIRSTREAK. The ground squirrels are eagerly munching on the grass seed pods, which makes me wonder if they could be enticed to mow the levee, thus eliminate the heavy equipment.
Remember the observation that we had more Ladybugs this year? Well, I am glad about that, but they are clearly overwhelmed by the aphid infestation on our Lupines, who had been doing magnificently well until the aphids literally sucked the life out of them. So now I am on a rescue mission: every second day I remove the aphids from the surviving Lupines. And yes, I leave the areas alone that have Ladybugs or their larvae on them. I caught 2 Ladybugs taking a break for some important leisure time.
Jeb Bishop from Groundswell Coastal Ecology and I enjoy swapping our Project observations. Recently he reported a wasp at his Seabright beach site that I had just seen in my Estuary area. Obviously our efforts are making a difference since we both noticed an increase of critters species.
Quoting Jeb: A cliff buckwheat (a native, Eriogonum parvifolium) near our work site was alive with quite a few insects. We spotted a new species on it, the striking wasp in the photo. Tiffany identified it for us as a Great Golden Digger Wasp (Sphex ichneumons), and posted it on iNaturalist where you can get more info. Thanks, Tiffany!
Last Saturday morning I was down by the Riverside Ave. bridge, planning to get ready for the Estuary Project work day when I heard the familiar CANADA GOOSE honk. And of course my curiosity won out over my prep-task. It turned out that an adult didn’t like a good looking, slender one that was trying to approach the group. Wayne, our City tool delivery man, joined me. Together we watched how the heavier set C. GOOSE extended its neck low above the ground and charged at the resisting intruder, who waited to the last moment to execute a nonchalant retreat. Satisfied the winner webbed footed back to the group, not realizing it was being followed. The honk from an other C. GOOSE gave the friendly invader away and the same scene repeated itself 4 times until the group took to the water and swam away, leaving a lonely GOOSE behind. After giving it some thought, it opted for waddling down the sandbank in the same direction, then decided swimming was more efficient for catching up with the others. Wayne and I regretted to see a re-run of the same scenario. The next day I was greeted at the Trestle bridge by the honks of a lonely C. GOOSE. Then it spotted a MALLARD couple and decided to try its ‘Let’s be friends’ move with them. Feeling overwhelmed by this overture they escaped to the cliff rocks. After several attempts the GOOSE clambered onto the slippery surface and stood next to the couple. Together they watched me, watching them until I felt like an intruder, so I left…wishing them and all of you magical encounters, jane