Good Morning to my Fellow Nature Inter-minglers,
The only explanation for this scene is pure bird excitement: I was checking on my BEST crew at the City sanctioned camp that is right next to the San Lorenzo River. I got sidetracked with talking to one of the houseless campers. All of the sudden I saw 2 birds zipping behind him and my conversation focus totally collapsed. The way the birds zigzagged made me think “Those are SWALLOWS”, which indicated an early arrival date for these migratory spring messengers. All of the sudden there were about 20 in the air. I realized that they were NORTHERN ROUGH-winged SWALLOWS, which triggered my grabbing the surprised man’s arm and squeezing it, shouting:”OMG! They are back!!” “Who is back?! Where are they?” was his nervous response. He scanned his surroundings at eye level and saw nothing that warranted my outburst. I pointed up behind him at a moment when the little torpedoes had disappeared. “What are you talking about?” was his slightly annoyed, confused comment as he looked at an empty sky. Just as he was turning back to me a SWALLOW flew low right by him as I excitedly squealled:” Did you see it?”. “See what?” “The bird that flew almost into you. That was a SWALLOW!” “What’s a SWALLOW?” was the perfect opening for me to make a birder out of him. I told him they are the first SWALLOWS to arrive and that they build their nests in cavities and that they repurpose the light fixtures underneath the bridges for safe nesting. Furthermore the NORTHERN ROUGH-winged SWALLOWS will actually perch on bushes, which the CLIFF, TREE, BARN SWALLOWS very rarely do since they spend 99% of their time in the air catching insects. I did apologize for grabbing his arm and getting so tweaked over seeing the first spring SWALLOWS. He smiled and said that I did scare the hell out of him, because he had no clue what had come over me…and he thanked me for telling him about the SWALLOWS, because he likes knowing who they are.
The spring migratory birds are arriving and the 6 winter migrants are still lollygagging on the river. Their BUFFLEHEAD comrades left a couple of weeks ago for their northern breeding sessions, leaving the 4 males and 2 females to enjoy the river. They don’t seem to be possessed by the usual mating behavior of bobbing their heads up and down, bending their heads all the way back, which occurs just before they head to their winter location. Maybe they took a lesson from the CANADA GEESE and decided to forgo the tedious flight up north?
In these intense times I take heart in the positive outcomes, which spread hope and a sense of sanity. I so I like to share with you that women ranchers are successfully combining ranching with bird protection thanks to the Audubon’s Conservation Ranching Initiative. The Center for Biological Diversity and an other group sued the ‘chemical giant BASF’ over their Pesticide product that contains trifludimoxazin that is harmful to fish. BASF just agreed to cease manufacturing and selling that product, which is great news for our river endangered steelhead and coho.
The river invites you to visit its delights with this Rainer Maria Rilke quote ~
Spring has returned. The Earth is like a child that knows poems.
SWALLOW happy jane
FYI: 3/19 is our next Estuary Project work day from 9am-11am. Come & join us @ River-path south of Riverside Ave. bridge above San Lorenzo Blvd. across from the Budget Hotel