A Chirpy Good Afternoon Dear Marvelers,
Sometimes my river experiences like to develop a theme. Recently I had week that deserved the heading “Great talks with river compadres”. So if I had to describe my river theme for the last week I would say it was titled ” Mmmh…?”. I resembled a poised dog: head kinked to the side, ears straight up, eyes focused, nose wiggling, body on alert mode. And NO! as a dog I wouldn’t chase after wildlife! Here is one of my “Mmmh..?” moments: “Will it be safe for the juvenile RED-tailed HAWK to keep landing on the river point railing and allowing people to approach as close as 5 feet?”. It’s true that the cliff below is the perfect hunting site for ground squirrels and that its presence stops most people in their tracks and delights their cameras. Although there are those times when other observers watch with disbelief how some people pass right by the calmly watching HAWK, obviously totally oblivious to the raptor.
And what about the cozy friendship between the female COMMON GOLDENEYE and BUFFLEHEAD? They lingered peacefully together on the river long after their species comrades had responded to the breeding call from up North. The sudden water level drop of the May 16th breach seems to have put an end to their downstream river comfort, because they haven’t been seen since then. Also the question arose: “Will the City re-introduce the 2018 breach procedures that carefully controlled the opening of the meandering river mouth?”. The 2018 method assured that the river was seined for the federal and state protected fish. Bulldozers were strategically stationed along the snaking river, ready to prevent the water force from tearing the river mouth open too rapidly and stranding fish in the sand.
It would be great to see the friendly 2018 fish, tule bird nesting methods return. The City breached the river mouth on May 28th. From what it looks like the sandbar was opened in a straight river line. This method is known to drain the river very quickly, which raises the question:”Did that happen on the 28th?”. The wading birds enjoyed the short lived fishing pools, because the river mouth closed again 2 days later. On the other beak the MALLARD ducklings welcome the rising lagoon level, because they were able to access their favorite foraging and hiding in the reeds.
The best part of taking a break from my restoration work is scanning the surroundings for the various river surprises. Straight across from me, just waiting to be discovered, was the SURF SCOTER. He was resting comfortably on the rocks next to a male MALLARD, who didn’t mind sharing the river with the ocean visitor, who clearly deserved a migration breather.
So I am trying to get a decent pic. of the cozy scene when a BRANT GOOSE casually floats by. Its late presence proves that this species hangs out the longest in its wintering places, which is understandable~ after all they need to gather strength to live up to their amazing migratory reputation: flying 3,000 miles up North at high altitude. Unfortunately a dog wasn’t informed about the hard life of a migratory bird and enjoyed itself chasing off the BRANT GOOSE.
Watching it fly towards the ocean I noticed far down the lagoon a biggish dot surrounded by smaller ones. I expected to view more MALLARD Mamas with her ducklings, but the dots turned out to be a COMMON MERGANSER Mama with her sizable brood. The little ones were old enough to practice the torpedo fishing technique: submerge head into the water and race at high speed in a straight line. This exercise exhausted the young flock and required ‘taking time out’ on Mama’s back. Although not all 7 could fit on her the offspring didn’t fight each other for a Mama spot. Instead they swam in an orderly row behind her. I bet many of us would love to ask this Mama how she taught her ‘kids’ that smooth behavior…cheery chirps from jane