I was down by the Riverside Ave. bridge, trying to ignore the CROWS’ ‘attack-the-Hawk’ calls. That is quite difficult, because those sounds are annoyingly penetrating since they are meant to reach all CROWS far and wide. The screeches are action announcement to stop any activity and hurry on over to menacingly bomb dive a RAPTOR until it leaves. The sounds were coming closer. I looked up just as a RED-tailed HAWK flew in my direction. I expected it to head for the telephone pole below the bank. So it surprised me when it decided on a tricky crash-landing into the tree next to me. After chasing the CROWS away with my owl hiss I looked at the HAWK, who was jammed into the thick tree foliage in an ‘eagle spread’ position. The branch jungle didn’t provide enough open space for the folding of the wide wings. The HAWK dealt with vulnerable situation by twisting and turning until the wings were properly tucked down. Then it was time to take a thorough survey of my exterior and interior being. It felt like it was seeing things I don’t even know about myself. Whatever the RED-tailed HAWK saw put it at ease, so I sat down slowly and enjoyed our peaceful time together…
To-day my visit with you is short, because I want to allow myself time to go through the grieving process of losing the Ranger Program. It was eliminated at the City Council’s budget meeting by the City Police Department. This means that the Parks and Open Spaces will be without their guardians, who stood up to assure environment and human safety. I’ll be back in 2 weeks with a soothed heart, ready to share my river tales with you. Until then be sure to visit the river, because it loves your company~ jane
It was so thrilling to see the long lost beauty high in the Trestle tree. For months I have been scanning their favorite perches, hoping to see that white glimmering shape contrasting with the rust colored branches. The OSPREYS had disappeared in early spring. We missed them dearly. We were deprieved of our pleasure: watching their slow flight over our river, scanning for a fish meal, the quick dives, the shaking off the water that showered the air with glistening water pearls. The feasting on their meals had a primeval flavor to it, hushing us observers. The male OSPREY looked down on the river from his high perch and I am sure he wasn’t excited about the sight: an algae covered surface, floating on murky brown-green water~ not exactly the perfect hunting conditions for the necessary dives. Finally he took a chance to score a his breakfast and circled over the San Lorenzo River. He made a speedy plunge and came up empty clawed. He kept shaking his whole body for some time, trying to shake off the algae decoration. After the second attempt he flew back to the tree where a KINGFISHER took offense to the fish competitor’s presence by filling the air with its high alarm calls. It didn’t take long before the OSPREY had enough and flew upstream. Hopefully its next visit will be more conducive to his hunting needs.
The river has been lagoon-ed most of the summer and yet the steelhead population count and the water quality have been holding up. This is good news, considering that the lagoon condition raises the water temperature, which fosters algae production and is not the ideal situation for the steelhead. The MALLARDS and COOTS couldn’t be happier since the algae isprovided them with an endless food source. It’s good to know that the City biologists are keeping a close monitoring eye on the river, which is required when the river turns into a lagoon.
The Flood Control work is continuing and this week they will arrive in the Estuary stretch. So you can find me on the inboard river bank, flagging the few native plants that are present. I am just going to whine a little bit about the City never implementing the restoration work that were in the San Lorenzo Urban River Plan(SLURP). The Estuary stretch is obviously the most bare one of the 3 river reaches, because it doesn’t get the care and attention it deserves. Four years ago my big time whining came to end thanks to the help of the Valley Women’s Club: we proposed the Estuary Project to the Park & Rec. Department and with their support and help we keep going strong. That is why right now I scrambling up and down the Estuary slopes, flagging the native plants so that their seeds can spread on the banks.
You probably had signed the ‘Raptors are the Solution’petitions to support the AB 1788 Bill. More then likely you heard that Governor Newsom signed the Bill into law, which puts a moratorium on second generation anticoagulant use (with a few exemptions). This gives the CA Dept. of Pesticide Regulation time to finish reevaluating these dangerous products, which kills our wildlife. ‘Raptors are the Solution’ was a driving force to make many of us aware that the rat poison kills our RED-tailed HAWKS, its cousins and the other wildlife species. A big THANK YOU to all of you, who responded to the ‘Raptors are the Solution’ action calls that benefits our San Lorenzo River critters.
And YES! Good outcomes are possible~ cheering jane
I took my sorrow over the loss of Ruth Bader Ginsburg for a river walk. I needed open space to free up the meandering feelings, because for decades she was my chutzpa fairy. She inspired me with her determination to be at the decision table during a time when claiming your womanhood was a severe handicap. It gave me strength to read that she used her intelligence and education as a drill to bust the glass ceiling while being a mother. And let’s not forget she knew how to dress with flair.
And yes, it did help to be charmed by the zillion Dragonflies, euphorically swoosh by, wings glittering in the sun. Is it because the river has been lagoon-ed for so long? Do the dragonflies perceive the lagoon as a welcomed lake? The Butterflies added their beauty to the enchantment. It’s exciting to observe their presence increase since our restoration plants have expanded. Now learning to id all the new species is an other story…Thank heaven for the attentive reader, who pointed out that I had turned a Gulf Fritillary into a Monarch Butterfly…
Friday I came to the Mike Fox site to water the plants and it was a kick to see the Biologists’ cars on the levee. It was the sign that they were seining and a chance to ease drop on their steelhead find. Right now the water surface has a lot of algae plus the water level is high. It’s hard work to pull the algae filled net through a high water mass. My timing was perfect: they were bringing their buckets up to weigh and measure the steelhead. One bucket was teaming with them and the other one housed only a few. Before they got busy I found out that the seining success had been so la-la. I commented that the fish looked really healthy, which a Biologist confirmed.
Well, the the Planning Dept. Commission cast their dice. At their last meeting they gave their approval to the Riverfront 7 story high development without any worthwhile recommendations. It was really stunning that this agenda item received hardly any opposition comments. Is it because people can’t imagine what this huge development will look like? Or is it because the location doesn’t have a residential neighborhood? It will be interesting to see how people will react to the 3 years development construction of the monster by the river.
A fellow Park & Rec. Commissioner & I took a walk on the levee to check on the camping situation close to the waterline. Alas, I got instantly sidetracked by the chainsaw and bulldozer sound, which meant that the Flood Control Work had started. And sure enough the trucks, chipper were parked on the other side. I admit it’s easier to face the vegetation removal this year. The reason is that the Streambed Alteration Agreement was amended by the California Dept. of Fish & Wildlife to improve the bird breeding and native plant conditions. Now the work has to be conducted after the bird breeding season has ended and the native plants on the banks can’t be removed. My blog partner, Barbara Riverwoman, and I have worked in that direction for years. While I served on the Sierra Club ExCom Board, the members support my lead on that successful amendment effort. And now back to our camp exploration tour. There were sections with clusters of tents right by the water. Lines for tarps were strung up from tree trunks and branches. The bushes & vegetation were either trampled down or cut back. Some tents had no litter and other sites begged for room service. I was not excited to see an open fire under a tree and asked the cook to extinguish it although he denied having a fire. After mutual smoke observation he poured water on it…
The County supervised Benchland camp area looked well managed and litter free. It was touching to see a small veggie garden and the renegade camper sign showed artistic promise. On the other hand we both had a hard time seeing the vegetation destruction of the renegade campers. This impacts the environment and its wildlife, which is on public property. Our tour revived my idea of creating a format to talk to the houseless population about environmental friendly camping.
I suspected that the white swirling spot by the Riverside bridge was a RED-necked PHALAROPE, who was stirring up the water for dinner morsels. The black and white river guest devoured the food rapidly, which seemed to cause a food coma: it didn’t move an inch for the longest time. Meanwhile a PIED-billed GREBE was trying to deal with its evening meal that kept resisting going down the dark bill tunnel. Nature bathing greetings~ jane
In my current state of mind I find myself with a heightened response to sightings of life and death in Nature. As I am religiously hand watering the 300 new plants to get them through their first summer, I find myself mourning for my friends and many others, who lost their homes in the San Lorenzo Valley fires. Their loved oasis is gone and now they face an uncertain, difficult future. I look at levee plant that is struggling for its survival and find myself grieving for the burned trees, the burned critters and displaced humans and wildlife. These feelings cycle through me, which are part of Nature’s life and death phases. I notice that I am not resisting the emotional impacts that arise, because my grieve is a celebration of life. When I feel heavy hearted about a friend’s fate or dead bird then I honor a life that will be no more. Doesn’t life deserve that respect? And at the same time doesn’t a new leaf on a heat parched bush deserve to be cheered and celebrated? Check out this heart-opening videoto watch how a teacher celebrates the San Lorenzo Valley.
Two days ago I was at our Trestle site watering the plants from open buckets. Within minutes I was surrounded by approx. 20 dragonflies of various species and more kept coming. It felt like fairytale land was shrouding my surrounding. There were so many beautiful, different, glittering wings swirling close to me that it felt I was in an enchanted kaleidoscope. Not surprisingly I heard myself laugh with delight… Usually the dragonflies gather in a certain area, where they perform their socializing whirl minuets. These dragonflies decided to break that pattern and accompanied me on my watering track down the path. After-all how often do they come across a woman with the novel idea of portable ponds? Want to find out more about dragonflies then check out this informative blog.
After I read this morning that the Police Chief is considering to eliminate Ranger Program I was hoping to see a Ranger to-day, forgetting that they were busy keeping people off the closed beaches…It was important to give my thanks for all the care, hard work and efforts they are doing in the Parks and Open Spaces. And let me tell you often it’s not pretty what they are addressing! After decades of seeing the familiar sight of a helpful Ranger in our Parks and Open Spaces it is inconceivable to loose them. I realize that the City is dealing with a super tight budget. Let’s hope that some solution can be worked out so that the Ranger program remains, because their presence and work is important for the safety of people and the Natural resources. The Ranger petition on NextDoor shows that people want to keep the Program.
A few days ago the MALLARDS were having a wonderful time harvesting the algae that is having a wonderful time spreading across the river. The MALLARDS were spending an enormous amount of intervals with their tails and feet in the air while their beaks were gobbling up a green feast below the water surface. It surprised me that no MALLARDS were present to-day. Maybe the heat was even too much for water fowl.
The land birds usually hide out from the hot air and honker down in trees and bushes. The few the birds I saw had their beaks wide open. A clear sign that they were attempting to cool down. Flying around was definitely a low priority, instead they hopped from one branch to the next. I ended my river visit watching the sunset and thinking about the Tuesday Park Master Plan presentation to the City Council.
Sending you magic dragonfly greetings~ jane
For over a week our Santa Cruz community and environment has been in the clutches of the devastating San Lorenzo Valley wildfire that has destroyed the homes of humans and wildlife throughout the Santa Cruz Mountains. Our sky was sheathed in heavy smoke, snowing ashes far and wide, covering everything with its tears of sorrow for petrifying loss. Our sun was wrapped in an eerie, fiery orange veil, reminding us that the wildfire was devouring relentlessly anything in its path. Nature had set loose her mighty lightening force, sending us the fire demons, the messengers of unprecedented hot fires that harvested ferociously the results of our Climate Change silence. Our firefighters battled the fire beyond human endurance with reduced workforce and undersupply of equipment. If it wasn’t for their determination and heroic efforts then wildfire would be raging with apocalyptic appetite through our whole region.
I went down to the river to water our Estuary Project plants during that week. It was remarkable to see the fire debris: intact leaves that were black and fell apart when touched. They were actually big pieces of ash, testifying of the heat the fire was generating. The remains had not gone through a slow burning process. It looked like an explosion had occurred, sending us fragments, telling us of its deed with hieroglyphic imprints.
The plants were continuing to pursue their intend to live and be part of the connecting life cycle: seduce the insects to harvest their food offerings with their brightly colored blossoms and thus nourish Nature’s web. It was uplifting to watch the will to live in spite of all the horrifying devastation around us.
In last week quite a few Widow Skimmers have been present at the Mike Fox fruit orchard. If you have seen one then you know they are exceptional big. So it won’t surprised to hear that they are cousins of biggest family of dragonflies. I have never ever seen a Widow Skimmer and was thrilled to welcome a new insect at the river levee, hoping they’ll become a regular river visitor.
About 2 weeks ago, I noticed that there was an increase of reports for COMMON MURRE in distress. I got curious and asked around. And that is how I found out that the Native Animal Rescue had over a 100 calls for COMMON MURRES. It’s worth noting that the birds had no waterproof and that there was a mix of juveniles and adults. Usually the young birds end up in distress and with injuries. The Calif. Dept of Fish and Wildlife will be examing the dead birds, trying to figure out the cause of their deaths. As you know the Native Animal Rescue center is doing an amazing job helping injured critters and in times like these they will love to receive our donations. Also be sure to check out their delightful blog posts.
The juvenile PIED-billed GREBE is trying really hard to get along with the belligerent, territorial PIED-billed GREBE adult. The youngster is getting to the point of instantly fleeing as soon as the older one heads its way, making pitiful high pitched sounds as swims as fast as it can. The teenager is in training to accept boundaries, which is a matter of survival: as long as it is at a safe distance it is allowed to hunt and eat. I am happy to report that the adolescent is getting the hang of the ‘house’ rules on the river.
To-day we had our first blue sky in over a week and Nature withdraw her threat for more lightening, our firefighters got more help and equipment. So to-day we got to give our gratitude to the universe for being able to catch a breath of relief. And let me tell you: it was mighty sweet to feel that release!!
Sending you peace and comfort greetings~ jane
I was filling the water buckets at the Boardwalk foot shower station and kept hearing muffled, high pitch sounds that I blamed on a fatigued waterline. When I stood up my ears were bathed with the typical TERN calls. Usually we hear a few migratory TERNS announcing mealtime, but this racket was a sign of a huge flock getting ready for a big feast. The elegant divers serenaded the slushing water buckets being trekked up to the levee, where I was greeted by at least a hundred TERNS by the Trestle. They were swirling through the air, sitting on the shore, swimming in the water and flying back and forth over the river. Suddenly they all landed on the river shore, veiling the sand with their white bodies, transforming that section into a mystical scenery. I was drinking in that sight and trying to id the TERN species when a couple walked right into the flock, flushing the entire mystical scene out to the open ocean. I consoled myself with watering the Estuary Project plants, who are establishing themselves nicely in their new homes. It’s always strenuous and labor intense to get them through their first summer in the clay soil with heat beating down on them. Later I found out that hundreds of birds were involved in an incredible ocean food frenzy along West Cliffan hour after I saw the river TERNS. Were the graceful divers putting out the invitation for the upcoming food extravaganza?
It was stunning to see a female MALLARD literally scamper with turbo speed across the river surface without flapping her wings for a take-off. Just before she reached the other side of the shore line a DOUBLE-crested CORMORANT popped up right behind her and tried to peck her tush just as she took shelter in the tule. The reason for not taking-off was frantically sculling towards her: 2 small ducklings eager to reunite in the tule with their amazing Mama. The peeved CORMORANT patrolled their hiding place for a while, gave up and dove down. I have never seen a CORMORANT chasing MALLARDS like that and wondered what had triggered that behavior…BTW: it was surprising to see such small ducklings this late in the year.
My river compadre told me that he had watched a young PEREGRINE in the Trestle trees, who was trying to persuade its parent to feed it. He said that the enduring food begging request left the parent cold, who was perched high up at a safe distance across the river. We both reveled in the return of ‘our’ PEREGRINE with the off-spring in tow, which explained the long absence of ‘our’ beauty. We hoped that the food weening would go well for both.
We have a native Milkweed plant at the Mike Fox Park, which was devoured last year by a Monarch butterfly caterpillar. So I have been scanning the plant in the hope of a repeat this year since Monarchs had frequently visited the plant in the last 3 months. Sure enough the other day I saw a big, healthy Monarch caterpillar systemically shredding a Milkweed leaf at an incredible speed: a section up to the leaf stem was decimated and then the other side until both sides were even. Once that was accomplished then the whole process was repeated. The other day I couldn’t spot the big caterpillar, instead there was a small one on the plant trunk. As you can imagine it’s absolutely exhilarating to see the river critters benefitting from our restoration efforts.
Sending you river flora and fauna greetings~jane
Yes~ I used the German word for friends since I am trying to broaden my worldly scope in my narrowed down everyday life. I like to invite you to send me the word ‘Friends’ in your mother language so I can use it for my next blog post.
I am cutting weeds by the bags full and ad nausea, because I don’t want their seed bank to spread along the levee. It’s therapeutic work that keeps my mood and temper even keel in these current states of affaires, which tend to send me straight through the ceiling…So instead I allow myself to be enamored by the remarkable increase of the native and European bees, who are absorbed harvesting the native plants that we have put in the last 3 years. More and more there is a continuous food source available for the bees and butterflies, i.e.: the Wild Rose blossoms are starting to fade just as the Gumplant buds are exploding into ‘delicious’ blossoms. My vision for the Estuary stretch was to have an ongoing food bounty for the bee, birds and butterfly along the Estuary levee. Steadily that dream is transforming itself into reality. It’s fascinating to watch the insect behavior. It’s quite similar to the bird actions: some species get along with each other while others trigger an instant dislike and need to be chased away.
The tiny native bee tolerates the presence of the honeybee on the same blossom, but sees red when any other native bee or bumblebee lands on its food plate. The minute insect turns into an attack torpedo and always gets its way. Bumblebees love the Evening Primrose blossoms and disappear deep into the belly of the blossoms. We were fortunate to grow 5 of them~ alas, in last 2 years we lost 3 Evening Primroses, because both years somebody yanked the plants hard in order to harvest the seed pods since the stems don’t break easily~ as the person found out. The extra force required was a death sentence to its roots. Will somebody please give that obsessed seed gatherer a pair of clippers, so that the bumblebees don’t loose their food source? My latest weed location has been across from Bixby St., where the RED-tailed Hawk has its favorite perch in a Palm tree. I love to be interrupted in my task as I watch it glide off its perch and circle above me.
Sometimes it swoops low over me and I wondered if I was messing up its meal plans, because there is a big ground squirrel burrow at that site. Now I am not so sure about my meal take anymore. The gorgeous RED-tailed HAWK circles above me during the ground squirrels nap times. You might find this interesting: the usual HAWK hasslers are not bothering this Palm tree beauty. Looks like the CROWS assigned that task to 3 WESTERN GULLS, who come charging out of nowhere to harass the RED-tailed HAWK. The good thing is that they don’t seem to pursue their duty as diligently as the CROWS: sometimes they arrive when the HAWK is already soaring high in the sky and sometimes they don’t show up at all.
This morning I was looking from the Trestle levee towards the river mouth and it struck me how differently the river shoreline looked from last year. Now there is vegetation growing in shallow water pools where once there was bare sand. The Mallards are investing a lot of time in harvesting the new development. The Snowy Egrets and Great Blue Herons stop-overs are brief, because they discover their food items are not on the pool menu. While I was watching the scene it struck me how fast life is changing for the wildlife and us humans. Will our rapid life change give us a better understanding for the speedy changes that wildlife has to adjust to thanks to our human encroachment and destruction on their habitats? Will that understanding create more inclusive wildlife consideration when development projects are designed?
Above me the TERNS were exchanging their screeches as they flew back and forth over the river, examining the water for the perfect sized fish. This hunter species has the opposite behavior to any other hunter I am familiar with: they insist on announcing their intent with high decimal fanfare to the prey. That does make you wonder if fish are deaf, doesn’t it? Some of the migratory TERNS arrived a month ago and now you can see their numbers increase while they are either resting on the river mouth shore, splashing in the low waterline or zooming through the air. They pilot their bodies with formidable, elegant skills that I never grow tired of watching.
They looked like a medium length tree stump, but they actually were juvenile MERGANSER, huddled together on the shoreline. This year I have only seen one other group of young MERGANSERS and this cluster of 5 was late for the COMMON MERGANSER breeding season. Then the question flared up: are they RED-breasted MERGANSERS, who breed later than their cousin. It was hard to talk myself out of that possibility, because they looked smaller than the COMMON MERGANSER. The markings such as sharper, straighter beaks, the obvious white wing patch, the messy feather-do all screamed for the RED-breasted MERGANSER id…the problem is that they are known to breed up north! But just then the RED-throated LOON popped to the water surface, reminding me that migrants are breaking their traditional pattern~ this LOON species is supposed to leave us for the summer and frolic around with a mate up north until nature turns them into parents. So now I have to ask the bird ID guru if I am id-loony and I’ll let you know what I find out.
The ‘wire to heaven’ was loaded with fledgling CLIFF and NORTHERN ROUGH-winged SWALLOWS. All of them hanging on to the wire for dear life, trying to counter the neighbor’s movement that set their precarious perch into motion. Interestingly enough no parents dropped by with food delivery, so these teenager are just about ready for their first long distance flight while we humans are COVID ‘grounded’.
Isn’t it amazing what that I enjoyed this lively river life during a 1 hour morning visit?
Does it wet your Nature appetite to check out the San Lorenzo River where you are always welcome?
Chirpy cheer to you all~ jane
The CROWS were literally falling out of the tree, because a HAWK was hiding in the Trestle tree foliage. Usually the HAWKS sit high on a bare branch, making themselves targets for the CROWS’ bomb-diving exercises. This new location required for the CROWS to sit above the HAWK and then fall off the branch, preferably right on top of it. This spectacle lasted for a surprisingly long time. Usually HAWKS can only take so much of rude CROW behavior. When I arrived at the tree it was obvious why the 1-year RED-tailed HAWK was resisting the CROWS’ onslaught: its talons were nailing its ground squirrel lunch to the branch. As the attackers dropped down, the HAWK puffed up, hissed, aimed with its beak at them and spread its wings protectively over the meal. I wondered if our young river raptor had finally yielded to the parental advice: hunt for your own food! and no CROW was going to interfere with its hard earned lunch. BTW: since that day I haven’t heard its food begging call echo across the river…
The other morning the City biologists were getting ready to test the water when I arrived at the Trestle site to pull weeds. One of the biologists came over as I was eyeing my never ending task and asked me to take a look at the bird that was lying oddly on the shore. She was concerned, because the bird wasn’t moving. The other biologist thought that it was a LOON and my heart sank, because I was afraid that one of our summer visitors had become sick. As I walked over I could tell from a distance that it was a RED-throated LOON, leaning immobile to the side. That position didn’t alarm since I have witnessed that before. LOONS are pitifully helpless on land due to their leg position so far to the back of their body.
What was concerning was that it wasn’t alarmed when we were fairly close to it, looking curiously at us as we looked worried at it. We decided that we should call the wonderful Native Animal Rescue center, so that the RED-throated LOON could be taken to a safe place. Just as we finished our call, the LOON lumbered to its feet and started heading like a drunk sailor up to the Boardwalk. Although we were thrilled to see it move, we were not excited about the choice of its destination: we instantly worried that our LOON wouldn’t have a chance if an off leash dog came charging down the Trestle path. As we were talking our rescue mission subject labored back up again and struggled towards the promising amusement park. Since that didn’t bode well, I suggested we pick it up and return the fine swimmer to the river. One of the biologists walked slowly over, lifted the LOON, who he thought was a yearling, and checked the wings and body for injuries. The bird didn’t struggle being handled and uttered only 2 perturbed squeals during its examination. Satisfied that our bird seemed fine, the biologist walked out in the water and put the RED-throated LOON in the river. It looked around, raised the body briefly out of the water, shook its wings, passed the Mallard family that had kept foraging close by, and swam upriver. The 3 of us were really happy with this successful rescue finale.
My river compadre and I were wondering where our PEREGRINE was. For the last few weeks we hadn’t seen it on its favorite high, bare branch. Then we remembered how we had the same ‘ Where is our PEREGRINE’ exchange last year to see that familiar shape back on its perch the following week. My river compadre said: “Just wait and see…it will be back next week.” I can’t wait to tell him that our PEREGRINE must have heard us, because it was surveying the river from its customary spot the next day.
Sending you all river love~ jane
Wishing all you Nature Schmoozers a pleasant Good Morning,
Have you all staked out your favorite Nature spots, which allow you to rejuvenate and find calmness in these unsettling times? My peace oasis are my garden and – you guessed right- the San Lorenzo River. I have been working a lot in the Estuary Project section since the virus shredded my social life. This new schedule makes the weed shake in their roots and tickles the the native plants green. It’s really fascinating how this new momentum is changing my river relationship, which was based on birdwatching. Now I am low to the ground, head down, stuck in one spot for some time. This eye position eliminates a lot of the surrounding visual cues of wildlife movement. Sound has become my new, helpful tool to what is going on around me. It’s really an amazing ear opener to discover all the different nuances of the CLIFF SWALLOW chirps. The sound and frequency level vary according to the time of day. Early in the morning their voices are low and only occasional. Towards the late afternoon the CLIFF SWALLOWS turn into highly vocal chatterboxes. Listening to them I can’t help but wonder if they are Kaffeeklatsch-ing about their day.
Keeping my head down treated me to 2 delight full sights. I was pulling weeds at the Trestle site, when I stumbled on these fairy tale blossoms lined up on long sprigs along a low growth spreading plant with silvery leaves. The flowers are tiny, fragile violet and yellow snapdragons, smaller than a thumbtack. I have never seen this plant before and every time I look at them they enchant me with their whimsical daintiness.
The other treat was watching 2 small butterflies getting acquainted. They crashed out of the air onto the levee path, landing facing each other motionless. After a little while they moved closer together and quickly opened and closed their wings simultaneously. Then one of them crawled to the head of the hopefully new friend and slowly, gently opened its wing slightly, hovering over the other’s head and wing. There was no reaction from the recipient, which was taken as encouragement for more winged tenderness. This required walking backwards until their bodies lined up perfectly parallel. They sat stock-still and all of the sudden the wing facing the other, quickly opened and closed. It looked like they were wing caressing each other. This wing duet came to a screeching halt when one of them backed up slowly and started aiming for new friend’s derrière, which pronto was removed by the owner taking flight.
A friend and I took ourselves on a strolling walk along the levee, enjoying our talk and our encounters. We watched the City biologists seine fish and of course I had to ask about the steelhead count. So far the amount looked good and they would know more after they finished their last seine of the day. Unfortunately the high water temperature was stressing the fish. The biologists had to work fast to avoid straining them further by keeping them out of the river for too long. The September count will tell us if this year’s count will be as great as last year. Well, our river RED-throated LOON is no longer loon-ing alone on the river. The other migration avoider appears to meet the river’s vacationer’s approval, because they preen and dive close to each other. Their migration sabbatical seems to be turning into a perfect RED-throated LOON vacation.