Dear Jane and Nature Lovers All,
I happily accepted your invitation, Jane, to visit our newly arrived and elegant friends, the BUFFLEHEADS and GOLDENEYES, at your end of the river. I never fail to be amazed that they find their way back each year from their breeding grounds in Canada. I have to admit that it has taken me too many years to figure out that many waterbirds assume their breeding plumage in the fall while songbirds and shorebirds wait until spring to dress up in their courting finery. I don’t know why. After all, they all give birth in the spring. Here is the handsome male Bufflehead I saw yesterday with his glamorous iridescent neck and forehead. It took me at least thirty shots to catch this elusive guy above water. They barely catch their breath before diving in search of another fish..
Like you I also saw the poor Buffleheads pushed out of their area, this time by a flock of about 200 gulls, all splashing and squawking. They are an unruly bunch, these gulls, especially when they spot a cousin who has found an especially desirable treat. I saw this peaceful scene near the Riverside Bridge suddenly erupt into a a wild and noisy chase with the whole family demanding a share of the treat. A small group of five Buffleheads, busily fishing nearby, were forced to beat a quick retreat once the uproar began. They huddled about 30 yards from the good fishing spot they had thought was theirs – losing precious fishing time until things settled down again.
I was also glad, Jane, that you pointed out that the male Goldeneye lingers behind while the female arrives here first. There was no male visible on yesterday’s walk either, although I saw 12 females (and perhaps juveniles) with their distinctive pointy heads and bright golden eyes.
I was happy to catch sight of maybe the first two fall arrivals of EARED GREBES on the river. These little brown waterbirds seem quite nondescript compared to Buffleheads and Golden-eyes – until one gets a close-up look at their fluffy crinolines peeking out from behind, quite enticing don’t you think! As you know, I am quite partial to grebes.
And like you, Jane, I am always pleased to see the now familiar OSPREY and DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANTS hanging out on those tenacious eucalyptus trees, In spite of the bad rap these non-native trees get, there is no denying that they provide great habitat for our fishing friends like the ospreys and cormorants. .
I had seen a Double-crested Cormorant a little earlier in my walk, drying her wings after a fishing expedition. This spot was upstream from the trestle on a fallen snag, another favorite place for her. I never tire of watching cormorants do this.
And now in the opposite category of creatures occupying unusual spots. I was a little surprised to see this lordly GREAT BLUE HERON high in a tree, instead of on the more usual river bank or open field.
In the same vein, I was quite amused to see the little peon GROUND SQUIRREL below, also perched somewhat perilously, and unusually high up, in a shrub. I imagined that the little fellow was a bit surprised to find himself so high, maybe contemplating how to get down. I wonder if something chased him up there? I have rarely seen a ground squirrel sit still for so long in such a visible place.
Click here to see my eBird list of the 22 bird species I saw yesterday.
Quote of the Day.
“Nature will bear the closest inspection. She invites us to lay our eye level with her smallest leaf, and take an insect view of its plain.”
Henry David Thoreau
May we all enjoy some close up looks at the natural wonders around us, even in the middle of a City.
Happy birding to all,