Good Morning Dear River Comrades,
In the last week one of our the spring messengers arrived at Riverside Ave. bridge. The migratory NORTHERN ROUGH-winged SWALLOWS have been flitting around the area, scoping out possible nesting cavities~ their preferred breeding places. This SWALLOW species is drawn to the ceiling light fixtures underneath the bridge, which were retired when the brighter bridge lights were installed. It’s pretty much impossible to catch a good view of their cavity entries and exits, because it happens so quickly. I invite to come down to the bridge and find out we share the same response: do you find yourself holding your breath as they speed towards a small opening, but suddenly execute a breakneck turn to enter an unexpected cavity? If this behavior is meant to confuse the potential predators then I am proof that their maneuvers are successful. The NORTHERN ROUGH-winged SWALLOWS differ from their other restless cousins, who hardly ever take a landing break. You can find these new spring greetings perching on the branches and wires that are close to the water. There they take care of their meticulous preening ritual, followed by a brief, well-deserved snooze. Maybe the tiny hooks on the leading edge of their primary feathers require the intense cleaning efforts? If you see a SWALLOW shape fly extremely close over the water surface then you are watching a NORTHERN ROUGH-winged SWALLOWS on their famous dare-devil flight. And no~ they never collide with the water.
I just have to ask you again: who of you has seen any adorable ducklings decorating the San Lorenzo River? I have been pestering all my river friends if they have seen any and get the response: “Now that you mention it~ no, I haven’t.” Nor have I observed any nesting activity that assure us charming ducklings are on our river horizon. To this date no birder has recorded any ducklings on their e-bird ‘San Lorenzo River’ list. The CANADA GEESE are present on the river and no nest building is taking place nor has anybody mentioned goslings. In previous years we used to see ducklings arrive by middle of February. We witnessed the CANDA GEESE sitting on their nests by now. So by this date many of us had been treated for over a month by the little feather-puffs scurrying after their MALLARD Mama, because they got waylaid snagging that last quick food nibble. It’s interested to observe my reaction to the duckling, gosling absence: At first I figured I was impatient. That was replaced by telling myself I was at the wrong place, time to spot them, which didn’t hold up based on my river friends and e-bird reports. Then I was irritated that nature denied me one of my cheerful spring delights. And now I am hanging out in the deep waters of worrying of ‘what is going on with the MALLARD, CANADA GEESE breeding season?’. Frankly I can’t (nor do I want) imagine our river without these small enchanting spring thrills.
It’s a joy to see our newly planted native greenery doing well. The last two weeks have been warm and at times windy. That weather condition mandated for the tedious hand watering to keep the plants thriving. Maybe my hopeful wish for more much needed rain will come true. After all some other hopeful wishes were fulfilled: the very busy levee maintenance crew found time to install a rope fence at the busy tourist Trestle site and filled the sink hole at the Mike Fox Park site. As mentioned before: I am so grateful for the Park & Rec. Dept. crew, who are always willing to walk that extra 500 miles to make the impossible possible to take care of our Parks and Open Spaces.
And now I am going to the river, because I am curious if I’ll be able to report to you that the CLIFF SWALLOWS migrated back to our river bridges…in the meantime be sure to keep an eye out for our river duckling ~ jane