Good Morning Dear Nature Compadres,
Several days ago I was looking down the bank by the Riverside Ave. bridge and 2 ‘pretty’ rocks caught me eye. Taking a closer look the rocks turned into 2 snoozing KILLDEER. It was a joy to see them, because the familiar KILLDEER had been absent for quite some time. Usually I don’t stare at sleeping birds, because it wakes them up, but it was hard to resist admiring their beautiful markings, shimmering in the afternoon sun. I did leave when their eyes popped open and stared right at me. Our Estuary Project volunteer group got to watch how several of us got carried away by our birding passion: we heard the KILLDEER calls, dashed instantly to the river bank, trying to locate them, which we did. Then we had to tell the others why it was so exciting to see them: KILLDEER had previously nested at the Riverside Ave. site, that their chicks looked like cotton-balls on sticks and that they had no fear of nesting on a roof slopes or busy parking lots.
So did you hear me wail Friday, the 12th? That was the day the California Coastal Commission voted against the Riverfront Appeal and turned the bulldozers loose to achieve the 81 feet Project’s mission of changing our Santa Cruz Downtown forever. I really got a bad case of the blues listening to one Coastal Commissioners basing her Appeal rejection on her decades old UCSC time when the San Lorenzo River was in its most neglected phase. I deeply regretted that she hadn’t been back to observe the OSPREY hunting along the river, the RED-shoulder and RED-tailed HAWK gliding over the levee banks, the native bees and butterflies enjoying their increased food sources of native plants. After the Appeal rejection I went to the river to ease my blues. The weeding calmed me down and then the calls of 2 KINGFISHER intrigued me. Of course I had to find out where the second one was perched since KINGFISHERS prefer solitude. Both of them were sitting on the Riverside Ave. wire at safe distance from each other. This wasn’t bird safety COVID distancing, but probably a timid tip-clawing of ‘Should we or shouldn’t we think about parenting?’. Their chasing each other up and down the river was partnered with their incessant, trilling calls. Every time they returned to the wire, they snuck a little closer to each other until they were only inches apart. There they sat side by side, starring off into the distance until one got bored with that and flew into a willow bush. From there it let loose a sharp call that tore the other KINGFISHER off the wire, diving into the same bush and then there was silence~ I respected their privacy and left.
You might be interested in to-day’s City Council agenda #23, proposing to expand the Downtown Plan south of Laurel Street in the hope of creating more height and density to the Washington, Center, Pacific, Front streets without public input process. Personally I am leery of this direction, because it re-designs a brand new Downtown that excludes the public voices.
Today I like to introduce you to Rachel’s Nature appreciation: “I write as a bird and native plant lover and someone who cares about preserving diversity of all creatures including humans like me. Without a healthy earth, we are not healthy. Birds and plants need homes too and this project will disrupt local and migratory breeding areas and eliminate native plants that feed the insects that feed the birds that add to our overall health, not to mention delighting us. Plus, they were here before we were here… we share this town with many creatures who cannot write to you. May my voice be multiplied by theirs, egrets, willows, herons, yarrow, sparrows, California fuchsia, bees, mugwort, butterflies, alders, flies, coast live oaks, and moths to name a few.” And these 2 volunteers elves send you special river greetings and so do I~ jane