Good Morning Dear Nature Compadres,
Since our last river schmooze I have been busy watching the return of the migratory CLIFF SWALLOWS and taming the weedy growth fiesta along the Estuary stretch. This entails cutting a 2 foot circle around the native plants then cuddling them into rice straw nests. Trial and error taught me that this method gives a clear message to the invaders: smothering the domestic flora is not an option. The TOWHEES and other ground feeding birds wait for me to leave so that they can spread the straw nests apart to search for their delicious food treasures.
When I see Mugwort stems bend their tops after their neighbor was cut back, I wondered if plants grieve…You have to come for a river visit and see the graceful California State grass on the steep East Laurel St. bridge bank. This big patch of Purple Needle grass is a successful testimony how joint efforts create remarkable results: two years ago I discovered a few clumps of this State protected grass on the site and asked the Field-supervisor if it was possible to mow that section after the grass seeded. We repeated that approach last year with the result that the rich seed bank spread and now the native Purple Needle gently veils most of the steep bank. You’ll be charmed by this purplish bank mantle that sways elegantly in the breeze.
I confess that my river ducklings search continues. Two friends saw a Mama MALLARD with 6 chicks at the Crescent bridge on the same day, but that little family has never been seen again. In the meantime the MALLARD couples are spending a lot of leisure time together, which is not off-spring promising. And what is with that birder’s video of a MALLRD Mama taking her brood out to the ocean!? What is she thinking? That observation is ultra unusual since MALLARDS don’t favor open ocean excursions. Hopefully the closed river mouth will prevent the river MALLARD Mamas from such duckling unfriendly behavior. Watch the video and tell me what you think.
I just have to tell you about this engaging board game that a levee crew member introduced me to. It made my Nature heart flutter, because it asks the players to find the right habitat and food for their birds. The game is called Wingspan and this Bird magazine article gives it a raving review.
A while ago I promised to get back to you with an id for the camera shy gull. It turns out that it was a 1 cycle migratory MEW gull, whose claim to fame is that it perches in trees and is not a garbage-can rummager. I am familiar with the gentle look of the adult MEW gull so this juvenile swam right under my gull id radar…
Is it coincidence that the RED-shouldered HAWK pretty regularly lands close by while I am working at the levee? It perches on the riverwalk signs, in the trees, on the lamp polls to keep an eye me. It is not bothered by any of my activities unless I pull out the camera! No other object I use results in an instant fly off. So I don’t let myself get tempted anymore to take the most perfect RED-shouldered HAWK pic. Instead we just hang out together as I think of Lira’s grandfather’s relationship with a HAWK and Jen’s search for the HAWK’ nest. In that spirit I send you gentle river greetings~ jane