A pleasant Good Morning Barbara & Nature Aficionados,
Last Sunday morning I heard the Peregrine shrieking its displeasure for all to hear as I approached the river. When I got closer I saw the Falcon popping off a new Eucalyptus tree spot, fly towards its old favorite branch, return briefly and repeat its agitated behavior. I am familiar with this ticked off action. It’s triggered by a HAWK or the OSPREY occupying the PEREGRINE’s beloved site. So I started scanning for the known transgressors and my monocular landed on a huge bird. At first I couldn’t compute who I was looking at and then I almost levitated with the realization: It’s a BALD EAGLE sitting on the PEREGRINE’s branch. Since the white head indicated that the raptor had reached the 4-5 year breeding stage, I wondered if the visitor had already found a life mate. Was the branch guest on the look out for a high tree to start building their huge nest? Of course I wanted to show every passerby this incredible sight when the PEREGRINE carried out an other one of its speedy bomb dives. The BALD EAGLE decided ‘enough was enough’ and flew off with the PEREGRINE tailing right behind in hot pursuit. This visual demonstrated their size difference: the Falcon looked like a STARLING chasing a HAWK. On one hand I was sad to see the powerful bird leave, on the other hand I was glad for our river OSPREY, because BALD EAGLES steal fish from them.
This was my first live BALD EAGLE sighting and I have to tell you: pics just can’t do justice to the breathtaking live appearance of this powerful and vibrant Accipitridae species!! You might like to know that there have been reports that a BALD EAGLE has been present at Swann Lake, so the ‘small’ but mighty PEREGRINE succeeded with its territorial branch claim. Wait! Maybe not? Yesterday morning I heard the FALCON’S irritated call again and saw it perched high in the tree. Just as I took a pic. of PEREGRINE and CORMORANT perched neighborly to each other, a huge bird flew off the Eucalyptus tree. Again the PEREGRINE chased after it and the size difference made me wonder: Had the BALD EAGLE returned? This chase flurry was watched by the blasé OSPREY from a safe tree perch.
I was stepping closer to the bank to get a better look at the preening RED-throated LOON when out of the corner of my eye I caught a slight movement in the grass. It was a windless day, so I suspected a small critter caused the grass shiver. I turned into a statue in the hope of discovering the ‘who had done it’ imp. Within a few seconds the grass quiver resumed and a beautiful, healthy looking Santa Cruz Aquatic Garter Snake slithered over to the neighboring grass patch, where it vanished without a trace. The little ones amuse me with their ‘now you see me, now you don’t’ speed. Did you know that 18-28 inches long Garter Snakes go hunting in the water for frogs, their life expectancy is 10 years and that they don’t lay eggs? These snakes are viviparous, meaning that they birth live young ones, who developed inside of the parent’s body. I always consider a snake encounter a treat, because I regard them as a sign of a well balanced ecosystem and so I elatedly I continued my walk.
Be sure to check out these 2 upcoming San Lorenzo River ventures:
1.The Estuary Project is happening on Sat. March 17th. Click here for info. details.
2. Jeff Kaplan, the Director of The Common Language Program, is leading a bilingual river bird walk on 3/24. How great is that? Click here to get more info. details. Don’t miss it: he is a fine birder with great knowledge and a good sense of humor.
Happy river greetings to all of you, jane