Good Morning cherished Nature Lovers,
The storm was having a rambunctious time with its playmates, named Wind and Rain. Each enforced the others mighty display of unleashed power. It was truly breathtaking to stand in their presence at the river mouth point. The wind amused itself with blowing the rain sheet horizontal and the few flying gulls sideways. I wondered about my common sense when I opened the car door to go and check on the river. The wind came in strong gusts that had a blast taking things somewhere else. A man’s hat became the wind’s toy, a dog looked worried about his long ears that either stuck straight up or out. Suddenly a hushed silence wrapped the storm and the playmates in its swaddling blanket, allowing the gulls to take to the sky. I turned just in time to see the RED-tailed HAWK glide in, circle above me and land close by on the cliff.
Watching this majestic bird survey its surrounding I wonder if once this RED-tail HAWK’s sovereign, dignified behavior was the model human leaders strived for: calm power that knew the right moment for actions.
I believe that we all share the experience of having assumed something quickly to be proven wrong. Well, this little story illustrates how Nature recently gifted me one of those occasions.
The Education Coordinator for the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History, Chris Soriano and I had arranged a meeting at the river levee to discuss onsite the logistics for the Earth Stewards’ February event. Alas ~ both of us being birders we just had to take a ‘quick’ look at the river birds. A waterfowl bird flew in, who I quickly wrote off as a MALLARD. But when Chris wasn’t buying that id, I took a a second look and wondered about my birding skills, because this was definitely not your average MALLARD. In a matter of fact this friendly water dweller looked like no species we were familiar with. We eliminated EIDER, which I long to see on the river and guessed it was an AMERICAN WIGEON. Then I started doubting that id once I took a closer look at the enlarged pics. So finally I had mercy on myself and asked our local guru birder, Alex Rinkert. It turned out to be a CHILOE WIGEON, which is a high priced (literally) South America beauty. Maybe it was a storm escapee of an exotic duck collection?
If I didn’t have pic. proof I would doubt that the BUFFLEHEADS had shared the river with the unusual CHILOE WIGEON. I was thrilled to see their winter arrival, which is expected around this time of year. The odd thing is that I have not seen them since that day. It did cross my mind that the BUFFLEHEADS might have read the Health Advisory sign at the river mouth shore and decided to move on…
In my search for winter migratory birds I discovered the newly installed fence by the Riverside Ave. bridge. I knew who had done this good prevention deed: Louis ~ a member of my’ awesome Park & Rec. levee crew. The fence will protect the native plants from walk through traffic, allowing the plants to thrive. Receiving Wayne’s head-up fence pic. once again made me celebrate ‘my’ entire Park & Rec. levee team ~ And YES ~ I consider myself very fortunate to have their support!
It was good to get back with the BEST and work again in the riparian corridor after we got rained out last Sunday. One of our tasks was to move vegetation debris away from the waterline. A BEST member was moving such a pile when I heard him ask quietly behind me: ” What do I do with this guy?”. Thinking he was referring to a person, I checked around before realizing that he was looking down at something on his pitchfork. When I walked over I saw a baby gopher snake, wriggling off the chilly metal. We all respectfully greeted the discovery of the riparian corridor critter and Lira took it to safe place so it could continue its life journey. I was happy that the BEST got to meet a member of the important river wildlife, showing them their stewardship has meaningful value. We send you our river greetings ~ jane