river tapestry…

Good Morning Barbara and all you Nature Admirers,

wishing you fruitful recovery…

Ohh…Barbara!!I I am so sorry to hear that you are dealing with some health issues. I am sending you soothing healing wishes. Our fellow Nature compadres and I will miss your rich, lively blog posts while you are recuperating. May your recovery be swift so that your current health situation turns into a vague memory.

glittering beauty…

It’s interesting how my relationship with the river life has changed since I have been working so much on maintaining the newly placed native plants. I am not walking along the levee, but stay put in one place for some time. Now the critters around me are disclosing their relationships with their surroundings and weave a tapestry of their daily activities: The presence of the beautiful Red-tailed Hawk is squawked to all by the CROW, who has a vocal cord issue. It sounds like announcer has a slight case of laryngitis. Maybe that is why only 1 or 2 other CROWS arrive for the co-mopping session. The Red-tailed Hawk knows the drill, flies into the Sycamore branches until the CROWS give up on chasing reinforcement and abandoned their dive bombing scheme. Then the raptor positions itself on the lamp pole, surveys the hunting grounds along the levee banks for the best prey options. The Mike Fox ANNA’s HUMMINGBIRD accompanies me on my work route, watching calmly from above, perching on its favorite branches along our course. The HAIRSTREAK butterflies really don’t like sharing their chosen plants and its blossoms. When an intruder arrives their antennas get busy wiggles and the butterfly turns to face the nervy new-comer for a proper assessment. A fellow HAIRSTREAK is most definitely not welcome and the message is delivered by a landing attempt on top of the schmarotzer, who takes off, only to return to its newly discovered morsels. This claiming dispute can go on for minutes and usually the original plant owner gets to stay.

claiming ownership of blossom…

Finally I saw my first 3 MALLARD ducklings of this year. I had looked up from weeding, because I heard repeated wing splashing on water, which is rarely a good sign, and I saw 2 male MALLARDS ruffling their wings back into place, swimming innocently along the tule line. There was movement in the tule, but it was impossible to see who caused it. One of the males charged at the shifting reeds and solved the mystery movement by flushing out a Mama MALLARD with her 3 tiny ducklings. Male MALLARDS can make life hell for a Mama MALLARD when they get it into their heads to chase after her. This Mama was unwilling to accept hell and started to attack the males, who swam away from her out to the open river. The furious Mama pursued them, followed by her 3 tiny ducklings. Now they were all in the middle of the river without the protective tule shield for the brood. I saw the RED-tailed HAWK swoop off its lamp pole and descend at rapid speed towards the water, aiming for the MALLARD group. The duckling mother had her back turned to the hunter and her beak embedded in one of the male’s wings, who was getting alarmed by this development. He flung himself sideways right next to the ducklings, thus foiling the predator’s target. The warrior Mama had a few more quacks to say, took her little ones back to the sheltering tule, the males swam upstream, looking for more trouble and the HAWK returned to the lamp pole for further hunting possibilities.

my 1st duckling sighting for this year…sorry for bad pic.

I am so happy to tell all of you that our Dave from the DST group is no longer houseless and that he now works 2 jobs. For over a year he shared his gentle smiles with us on our Estuary Project Saturdays as he enjoyed learning about restoration. He succeeded conquering a hard road and I hope he is darn proud of his achievement for which I salute him wholeheartedly!!
Greetings from the river tapestry~ jane

searching for river answers…

Good Morning Barbara and stay safe Nature Wanderers,

CLIFF SWALLOWS in the sky…

Your delight of listening to Vandana Shiva took me right back to attending her interview up at UCSC a few months ago. My friend urged me to go with her, saying that I would love this Ecofeminist, because we spoke the same earth language. After her first sentences I felt like I had known her forever, although I had never heard of her nor read any of her books. It was the most curious experience~ this woman was meandering through my core and carefully harvesting my innermost earth truths and saying it out loud to a big audience. It’s wonderful that Vandana Shiva touched us both so deeply. It did amuse me that she said my truths with an Indian accent instead of my German one.

no weeds: Calif. Lilac snuggled into rice straw…

Okay..I might bore you with my planting episodes, but you have to bear with me just one more time: on Saturday the last of over 300 native plants got housed. That feat was achieved in approx. 21 days with some friendly help and our arms tell the tale of toiling with heavy clay soil and rocks. The new native plants are doing very well, because the rain spirit sent her life giving cheer after each planting. Now you get to hear the result of our rice straw experiment on the levee by the Trestle parking lot. We tested 4 rice straw applications: thick, medium, little and no straw mulching. The thick straw layer has no weeds coming up and the native plants are thriving. The results deteriorated according to the amount of straw applied. The plants with no straw nest grew the least and look a little anemic. I am glad we did that experiment, because it shows that rice straw is an excellent weed suppressor plus it enhances native plant growth. Now I have to convince the Boardwalk maintenance crew to leave the straw in place and not remove it…may they get used to the new straw look!

my watering & weeding set-up: wagon thanks to a kind donator & debris sack is re-purposed Verve burlap bag…

The river life has a season rhythm that I swear has crept into my blood. By the end of February I find myself searching for the ducklings in the tule along the water edge, where they are feverishly discovering what the river menu has to offer them. So you can imagine what state I am in, because I have not seen 1 duckling in the Estuary this year. In all my river years I have never encountered no downstream ducklings. So I asked my levee compadres if they had sighted any lower river fluff-balls and they hadn’t. There were very few San Lorenzo River duckling reports on e-bird and now we wonder what is going on…The nice discovery was that e-bird reports mentioned birds hanging out in the plants we put in.
This year there is very little nest building activity going on in the Estuary section. I wonder if that is due to the greatly increased COVID-19 levee traffic. No matter what time of day I go to the levee, there is a constant flow of people either walking, biking, skating, jogging etc. Plus a lot of people walk with their dogs, who are mostly leashed. BC(Before COVID) there were parts of the day with no or very little path traffic. The COVID levee hustle coincided with the bird breeding season and maybe the future parents went looking for a quieter neighborhood? But where?

NORTHERN ROUGH-winged SWALLOWS…

There are 2 PELAGIC CORMORANTS loafing around by the Trestle bridge. Up to now they share a friendly sibling relationship and breeding seems the furthest thing from their mind. Maybe they are building a deeper connection or are actually siblings? Many times a male MALLARD in his bright orange galoshes stands close by on the rocks. Is he vying for their tree trunk or keeping them company? They do make an interesting Trio.
Enjoy your leisure nature visits as you discover critter magic~jane~

Spring at the River…

Good Morning Barbara and Nature Explorers,

DOUBLE-crested CORMORANT fishing in the river…

It’s so good to read you post again, Barbara! What a month you had~ that pain sounds intense. I gather your backyard became your Nature paradise, which helped your recuperation nicely. Aren’t you glad that Nature enjoyment is high on your list? Just looking out the window offers you spring blossom greeting and stepping outside you hear the birds serenading the season in excelsis. I am sure your stay safe walks are filled with happy gratitude to see that Nature is continuing her ancient cycles while our lives are upside down. As we are wading through our creative resources of how to entertain ourselves and stay well, Nature is busy hosting a grand coming out party for her leafy, furry, feathered, scaly debutantes. Now isn’t that a splendid omen for our new future?

bee harvesting Calif Lilac, planted last year…

I guess you could say that spring is pulsing through my veins, because I have been busy with pulling weeds in the Laurel St bridge island, so that the newly planted native species have room to grow and spread unhindered. As I mentioned our Estuary volunteer Project got cancelled, which not only left over a 150 native plants begging for soil housing, but also an impressive wood pile, aching to be spread. So I turned my daily stay safe virus walks into habitat improvement activity. This entailed staying put in one area and getting to know the daily walkers, their dogs and kids, drug dealers and their clientele, the lovers and their happiness. Since this site is right by a light signal intersection, I was treated to a wide range of loud music. Over the last 2 weeks I learned that young men mostly listen to angry, hard core or whining music. Young women listen mainly to love yearning tunes. Many truck driving men like country tunes. It seems that once people reach their forties, they no longer turn up their radio dials, so I have no idea what they are listening to. I have been on a mission to get all this work done, because I observe the benefits of the native plants for the river critters: the bees feeding on the blossoms of now established Calif. Lilac and the moth resting under the Gum-plant.

intimidating large wood chip pile…

I think you would be proud of me, Barbara, if you saw how seriously I take our ‘Protect Wildlife’ motto. I am absolutely without prejudice when it comes to pointing out that certain conducts are harmful to the river habitat. This includes insisting that the camps get removed from the waterline in order to protect the waterfowl’s breeding grounds or preventing anybody walking up or down slopes so erosion and ground nester disturbances are avoided. Who knew that protecting wildlife was an exercise of daily civil courage and education. You be happy to know that we have planted more Toyon bushes in order to increase the CEDAR WAXWING food sources in the Estuary section. This species adores the red Toyon berries~ a flock of these little beauties can strip a bush bare within 20 minutes. We have 5 more big Toyon bushes ready to be planted, which hopefully carry fruit by coming winter. I think our efforts are having the wished for results, because people have mentioned that the CEDAR WAXWING presence has increased along the river.

early morning empty beach…

Slipping a “R” into the COVID-19 could very well be a Freudian slip since I feel the same about the virus and the CROWS. I am just not fond of overwhelming, invasive traits, although the sound of COVID-19 is surprisingly beautiful. The interesting thing is that CROW population is way down on the beach and along the river. Then again less people, less tourists means less food litter thus putting a dent in the CROWS food supply. The RED-tailed HAWKS are benefitting from not being mobbed by up to a dozen CROWS. The harassment of one or two CROWS doesn’t interfere with their courtship flights right above me. A few CLIFF SWALLOWS have returned and they are examining last year’s nests, determining what remodeling is required for successful breeding. My wish for you is that you stay safe and well while you enjoy the Spring cycle~jane~

the rhythm of life…

Dear Barbara and fortunate Nature Lovers,

NORTHERN ROUGH-winged SWALLOW cleaning off the migratory dust…

Barbara, I hope you got your computer fixed. I sure missed reading your post last week and hope you’ll be back in the blog saddle with your next river report. Did no computer and cancelled meetings allow for lots of time outside?
Aren’t we lucky that our passion is Nature as we are facing times when we are asked to adjust to a ‘new norm’ and deal with uncertainties on so many levels. I do feel badly for my fellow humans, whose passions are confined in the ‘stay safe’ cage such as Team Sports. It’s easy for us to keep the CORVID-19 required social distance when we visit Nature. Never has it felt so endearing to be outside, enjoying the buds explode into enchanting beauties, watch the future bird parents flit through the scenery, looking for the perfect nesting material, listen to the bumblebees’ buzz as they stumble from one blossom to the next, welcoming the NORTHERN ROUGH-winged SWALLOWS back. Being in Nature is a wonderful reminder that life wants to live and that in all this chaos the rhythm of life continues to hum.

ANNA’S HUMMINGBIRD fledglings dozing in the sun….

There was a fair amount of river event adjustments to deal with in the last 2 weeks. I have this restoration project rule that our volunteer work should not disturb any breeders during nesting season. Therefore I had asked a biologist to check for active bird nests in the area for the big volunteer event. Serendipity worked its magic when that event was cancelled within hours that I found out that there was an active ANNA’S Hummingbird nest right smack in the middle of that site.

getting crowded in that nest….

We would have roped off the nest kingdom, minimized sound and activities, but, let’s face it, so many volunteers close by would not be a bird’s mother dream come true. Instead the nestlings were allowed to enjoy an unbothered chick-hood. They must have fledged because the nest was empty 2 days ago.

empty nest…

Since 2 volunteer planting events were cancelled over a hundred donated plants got stranded on my friend’s truck bed and in my garden. It was a daunting sight that made me instantly tired. I started to plant a few a day, but that didn’t seem to decrease the truck bed load. Fortunately the plants are being housed and 1 day I’ll tell you how…
Now I am on a mission to locate the elusive BUSHTIT nest, because I have been seeing a future parent hunting for the perfect nesting goodies.
Sending you all good health river-greetings, jane

River relationships weave their magic…

A pleasant Good Morning to you, Barbara, and all you Nature Devotees,

I’ll miss the AmeriCorps & DST crew…

It has been a while since my last meandering river saunter. I have I been frequently to the river~ just in a different format as you might recall from my previous disclosure. Last Thursday was the grand finale of the AmeriCorps & DST members working together for 6 weeks. The members did a fabulous job of completing our goal and our accomplishment looks spectacular~ okay…since I might be a little bias, you should go and check it out for yourself. I admit that I got melancholic as I watched them walk away, because during the 6 weeks we got to know each other quite well and built relationships. I will miss each one of them and our good collaboration as a crew.
So this morning was my first-in-a-long time river visit. It was so superb to slide into my familiar river mode, which always bathes me in peaceful joy. Well, actually I splashed into my bliss when I spotted the juv. RED-tailed HAWK in the Trestle trees, watching me cross the street. Having watched the youngster hunt for some time I can attest that its skills have greatly improved due to lots of practice. It’s a relief to observe that the juvenile is mastering the food supply issue, because starvation is one of the causes that many juvenile HAWKS don’t survive their first year.

introduction to bliss…

Then the BUFFLEHEADS & COMMON GOLDENEYES captured my attention, because their behavior shows that they are preparing to migrate up north for breeding. Both species were clustered in large, head bobbing groups, no longer intermingling nor dotting the river with small batches. It’s intriguing to watch the males’ heads bob up and down, then perform their vertical beak stretch. From my perspective the movement sequence is arbitrary, then again the 2 species might find that assessment clueless to the finer nuances mating conduct. Then there is that quirky male BUFFLEHEAD behavior: males spend a mighty amount of time and energy on fighting over a female, who keeps distancing herself from them and who they have to chase all over the place. They ignore several perfectly suitable females in the flock, who seem to be willing and able to enter a relationship.

BUFFLEHEADS getting ready to migrate…

As previously reported: we have been using rice straw for mulching and I have been keeping my eyes open for critters in the straw section. Lately ground foraging birds are pecking in the straw, an indicator that insects are present, which is good sign for birds and insects~ considering that the insect population dropped 40% and we lost 1 in 4 birds in last 40 years. The weeds are either absent or minimal in the straw mulched soil. Interestingly enough our wood chip places are absent of ground foraging birds as well as snakes and lizards. It will be great if the declining ground feeders such as TOWHEES, JUNCOS, ROBINS, BLACKBIRDS, migratory SPARROWS will benefit from the straw mulching.

Calif. Lilac snuggled into rice straw…

We like to invite you to join us for our habitat restoration work. The Estuary Project will meet Saturday, the 21st from 9am-11am and click here for details. It will be great to welcome you.
My intent starring at the gulls made a levee promenader curious what I was watching. I told him I wasn’t sure if I had spotted a rare gull or a common one, changing its feather decor for its next year cycle. We ended up having a great conversation that entailed him going down the steep bank to pull a jump bike out of the river after I meowed about the bike battery in the water. He instantly became a Hero in my river book and he proved my point: the river invites us to meet good hearted people. River magic greetings to you from jane

ground feeding BREWER’S BLACKBIRDS…

San Lorenzo River keeps us busy…

Good Morning Barbara and all you Nature Lovers,

RED-throated LOON stretch
RED-throated LOON stretch

Our RED-throated LOON treated me to a rare sight: practicing the famous LOON stretch~ at least I think that is what it was doing. During mating season the well skilled divers raise their bodies straight out of the water and flap their wings wildly. You can’t mistake it for a take-off attempt, because waterfowl leans forward for that action. The RED-throated LOON kept at its maneuvers until finally the whole body was above the water, only the feet were below the river surface and after a few encores, it was serious preening time. Watching this scene I was reminded of my GOLDEN-crowned backyard SPARROW, who has been working on his song that just doesn’t come out right. He keeps getting stuck in this one section that silences him for a couple of minutes and then needs to be repeated with same result. I hope one day my backyard Sparrow gets to experience the same satisfaction as the RED-throated LOON.

P1180311
working on the perfect stretch…

Well, it looks like the river mouth Culvert needs further detail adjustments before it goes to the City Council. It’s a tricky construction: putting long pipes along the cliffs to the ocean. Of course I wonder how the sediment deposit plays into that, because the huge amounts of sand that are moved from the Main Beach to build the summer berms, wash into the river, creating extended shorelines and raising the riverbed. The storms didn’t make a dent into diminishing the sediment build-up and the river channel has gotten so narrow that people can cross the river to the other side. The culvert is intended to keep the river water level at 5’5” to prevent flooding during summer lagoon season.

P1180095
narrowed river channel…

I am not sure what was up with the two WHITE-crowned SPARROWS~ they really didn’t like the harmless little CHICKADEE, who was minding his on bug business, flitting through the Cottonwood tree. The two torpedoes came out of nowhere and zeroed in on the petite insect eater and let their torpedo beaks hammer out the message:” We want you to leave immediately!!”. The CHICKADEE, being no dummy, raced off. It crossed my mind that the SPARROWS were defending a nest, but they are winter migratory birds, who breed up north, so I have no clue what triggered their unfriendly behavior.

20200220_101800
here is what we achieved last Thursday….

The last 4 Thursday mornings have been so rewarding and filled with awe. “Why”, you ask?  Because I have been working with the AmeriCorps & Downtown Street Team(DST) members on the river levee restoration. It is a heart opening experience ~ all of us working together on the same goal at the Mike Fox Park ~ improving habitat and to feel so supported by our tools, plants, mulch donors and to have Linda Skeff’s AmeriCorps Team in the urban river stretch.  The Team is from the Valley Women’s Club ‘s ‘SLV Native Habitat Restoration Program’. It is so great to see ‘my’ DST members becoming skilled restoration-ers. Together we have accomplished clearing bermuda grass, spread Jackson Landscape’s famous mulch over that area, planted many of our native plants that were donated by the Elkhorn Nursery. And BTW let me tell you: only the people who have wrestled with bermuda grass removal know that we deserve medals for our achievement! So if you see us working the next 2 Thursday mornings by the Riverside Ave. give the Team members an approval wave/honk and please don’t let us hold you back from dropping off yummies between 8am-10am:)

Cheers and Chirps to you all, jane

20200220_101722
BIG THANK YOU to the awesome AmeriCorps & Downtown Street Team members…

 

visitor surprises…

Good Morning Barbara and Nature Enjoyers,

dawn visitor…

The other morning the moist shore sand bore witness of night and dawn beach visitors. According to the left behind paw and bird feet prints lots had been going on while I was sleeping. I love trying to decipher what animal belongs to what print. My favorite scenario is to compare several imprints of the same species and try to figure how many individuals had been present, because~ just like us~ each animal has their unique walk. A great chewy food source for the imagination are the prints that just disappear into the no-where, because the ‘what-happened?’ plots are fun to play with.

testimony of busy MALLARD palaver…

Yes, Barbara, you are right: the Canada Geese are right on schedule for the February 1st through September 15 nesting season. For about a week I have been seeing them circle back and forth over the river, honking to high heaven and I wondered about their behavior. I think I discovered the reason for their restless river flights during my ride-along with Erica, who is on the Park & Rec. maintenance crew,. Remember last year’s CANDA GOOSE nest on the river island across the Benchland and Trader Joe’s parking lot that fit the bill( or eggs for that matter) for a safe nesting spot? Well, the CANADA GEESE parents obviously questioned the potential nest safety requirements, because the island is occupied with sprawled out camp sites. I watched one C. GOOSE land on the previous year breeding spot, crane its neck for a better look at the campers, walk back and forth and fly off. Personally I agree with the CANDA GEESE couple assessment of this situation: the island is not the right place for campers to be. I hope that the feather couple will locate a safe nesting ground.

last year’s river nesting result…

I was starring off into space, working out the logistics for various Estuary Project volunteer groups, not really paying attention to the birds flying above me. But for whatever reason I turned around and looked up, right at the OSPREY, who was hovering over the water, eyeing its future meal. She plummeted into the water, came up empty beaked and dashed off into the sky to have a discussion with a RED-shouldered HAWK, who was rocking gently in a wind current above the river. They circled each other for a while and then they both flew to the Trestle trees. The OSPREY landed on its favorite bare branch while the RED-shouldered HAWK snuggled into the foliage, where its undetectable. That wonderful interruption blew my brain fog away and if you want to see the logistic result then come and join us on Feb.15 from 9am-11am down by the Boardwalk/Trestle path. Here is more info. 

I want to leave you with a video that will make you smile and no! I won’t tell you why. So enjoy and cherish your Nature moments with gusto, jane

OSPREY getting ready for RED-shoulder HAWK discussion…

 

uniting & healing river magic…

Good Morning Barbara and fellow Nature Celebrators,

‘my’ RED-throated LOON arrived…

In my last post I was lamenting that I hadn’t seen ‘my’ RED-throated LOON on the river. One of our readers responded right away, mentioning that she saw a LOON a day prior to my post. She also brought up that the recent Christmas bird count reported a 30% decline of birds recorded, which mirrors my observation of the low migratory waterfowl presence. The day after my post I met up with my levee compadre, and I was so happy to hear that a RED-throated LOON was waiting for me upriver. We booth just about jumped up and down like excited kids. I rushed to find ‘my’ bird and sure enough there it was: preening the beautiful feathers, taking a few dips to put them in place. Once in awhile the healthy looking bird checked on me and continue its absorbing morning beautifications, resulting in a great success. Watching the RED-throated LOON I mused how remarkable it was how we are weaving this rich river community network with our readers.

RED-tailed Hawk gliding over the San Lorenzo River…

The day after my Sierra Club Executive Commission election defeat I let the river magic wash over loss wound and greeted Nature’s healing powers. And yes, the election campaign was a hurtful experience, which didn’t surprise, but was unpleasant to go through. So it was soothing to see the SPOTTED SANDPIPER at its favorite rock and it was exciting to see an other one close by, announcing the early phase of potential mate selection. The AMERICAN COOTS flotillas decorated the water surface and a few COMMON GOLDENEYES moseyed along the cliff edge, exploring the rocks for breakfast choices. I let the slow, easy life pursuit of the wildlife spread a calming, peaceful blanket over my turbulent soul and surrendered to the moment. I want to thank all of you Sierra Club members, who honored me with your vote. Your voice matters a lot to me, because it encourages and supports me to continue standing up for the environment.

AMERICAN COOT nibbling on kelp…

It was a pleasure to take a walk with Sandi, who had been introduced to me by her nephew, the prior Project Manager of the Santa Cruz Downtown Street Team(DST). He took the brilliant introduction step, because he had read my blog post that referred to his aunt’s FB report about the Seabright dog that had audaciously chased the poor SNOWY PLOVERS, which was hard for Sandi to watch since she is a dog trainer. We had wonderful, quirk filled walk that was packed with river life: the various birds, showing her the restoration work the DST members had achieved, the guy who threw his bike in the waterline bushes and flushed birds and who took kindly to my educational talk, even considering coming to the Estuary Project work day. Sandi and I even managed to find time to exchange great brainstorming ideas for the river.

OSPREY checking out fish lunch…

What is it with life that hands me a battery dead camera when I observe something astounding? I faced that dilemma as I was coming around the Crescent bridge bend where a beautiful, healthy RED-shouldered HAWK was having an AMERICAN COOT breakfast right by the waterline. As always I felt sorry for the feast victim and as usual I bridged that pity with knowing that bird hunters don’t kill for hoarding sake, but everyday survival. Satisfied I didn’t show any interest in sharing the meal, the gorgeous HAWK kept filled its empty belly, only occasionally eyeing me until I gave the RED-shouldered HAWK its eating privacy.

Tony Elliot, our Park & Rec. Director, stopping by our work site…

It will be so exciting to introduce the Estuary Project volunteer crew to the new, working tools that were donated by a river compadre, who we have impressed with our Estuary Project efforts. My compadre thoroughly, deeply enjoys the river and birds, so I can’t wait to work with the volunteers and new tools to improve the habitat further for thriving critters, who will be lovingly celebrated by the donator and all of us. And I like to assure the reader, who saw the beautiful CEDAR WAXWING at the river that more of their food sources are on the planting menu horizon.
Here is to the river that unites us with its magic!!
Cheers & chirps, jane

missing & discovering…

Good Morning Barbara and all you other Nature Snugglers,

I didn’t read that article you were referring to in your last post, Barbara, therefore I appreciated your grant updates and insights. We all learned a lot thanks to you. The fish most certainly don’t need more lights shining into the river. It sounds like we’ll be busy at the public meetings for the plan design should the City receive the grant.

EARED GREBE with AMERICAN COOT…

Has anybody else noticed the absence of our usual river winter migrants? I keep hoping to see more petit-ish HORNED and EARED GREBES performing their rapid dives, that drive any photographer out of their minds. This season we have a record of 1 EARED GREBE, who stayed for a short while. And were are the elegant, well sized WESTERN and CLARK’S GREBES? Have you been missing their royal float-by as they watch you on the levee? So far I haven’t had that thrill of catching sight of the slender RED-throated LOON moseying on the river.

No RED-throated Loon on the river this year…

Thinking that I just happened to be at the river at the wrong time, I checked the e-bird Hotspot for the San Lorenzo River to see if other birders recorded better winter migrant results. Looking at the reports it became obvious that the other birders didn’t have any better luck then me. The BUFFLEHEAD and GOLDENEYE count is way down as well. Frankly I have never seen so few winter migratory species visit our river. It’s time to find out if they are lollygagging on other waterbodies or if they just didn’t arrive this winter season.
I love that “Wait!~ what is that?” moment when I scan the river landscape. That odd shape among the rocks on the other side. That flicker of light catching in the bird’s feathers in the tule. The quick leaf movement in the bush as a bird nibbles on the delicious bugs. These moments of discovering that the rock is actually a GREAT BLUE HERON preening its feathers and that the light flicker was caused by a GREEN HERON are magic micro reminders of Nature’s abundance, ready to be enjoyed at any time.

GREAT BLUE HERON blending in with the rocks…

The rain has been taking care of the Estuary Project plants we have put in at the path by the Trestle bridge. The area is doing nicely and the rice straw is behaving well: it’s staying in place in spite of the strong winds we have had. We are experimenting with straw as mulch, because it allows the ground insects, such as ground bees, easy access to the soil. We decided to try this approach in the hope of supporting the declining insect population, which deserves all the help we can offer. After all insects play a vital part in the ecosystems and feed many critters. We have been ‘liberating’ the established Toyon bushes from encroaching branches of neighbor bushes and trees. That pruning resulted in more winter berries for the CEDAR WAXWINGS, who cleaned the red Toyon fruit off their stems within a week. This year there was an increase of CEDAR WAXWINGS sightings along the river, so it looks like our Estuary Project efforts are literally and successfully bearing fruit. This coming Saturday is our fun work day and we love to have you join us. For more info.: click here
May Nature’s gifts expand your heart, jane

Cedar Waxwings resting after stripping Toyon berries off the stems…

Nature gifts us her masterpieces…

Good Morning Barbara and all you Nature Celebrators,

early morning CANADA GEESE saunter…

Standing early at the river point, I hear their honking in the distance, knowing that any moment their bodies will be visible in the sky, disclosing their flight intent. From my observation these big birds fly in loose formation when they are out for a fly-saunter such as a new, close by feeding site. The leisure outings seem to require a lot of loud honks. When they are ready to cover greater distance they fall into wing for that famous CANDA GEESE ‘V’ alignment that involves less honks until it comes to the landing when heated honking breaks loose. Listening to their reverberating sound exchange I expected to see a loose arrangement line, which turned out to be case. 10 Canada Geese flew over me, touched down upstream and their loud landing proclamation guided 5 more to the chosen location. 

I bet you all gained great Christmas count insights from Barbara’s report. Peripherally many of you have noticed a change in bird presence and/or their behavior, so the count helps to document these alterations. Any of you are welcome to join us for the next Christmas count.

SNOWY PLOVER warming up in the morning sun…

I want to address a Facebook post that was about a loose, owner less dog racing around on the State Beach chasing SNOWY PLOVERS, who are experiencing a population decline. The Seabright Beach used to filled with SNOWY PLOVERS, cuddling in the early mornings in any sand indentations, waiting for the sun to warm them up. For a long time they disappeared and in the last 2 years, we have recorded the return of a few.

dog chasing SNOWY PLOVERS…

So if any of you know this dog and its owner, please let me know, because I want to tell the owner that any chased bird has to spend a size specific amount of energy to escape, which depletes the bird’s resources, who then has has to feed more to make up for the depletion, reducing its necessary resting and decreasing the already compromised food sources. I plan to have a good interaction, because I know that as residents and beach goers we love and enjoy what Nature gifts us and in return we have to take pride in how we caringly steward our gifts.

not an EAGLE…

I came early to prep for our monthly Estuary Project day, which got waylaid because I just had to check on the birds…big time consuming mistake! There was a large bird high up in the Trestle trees, which looked odd and requiring some deciphering time~ after all it might be an EAGLE visiting the river. After looking at it from various angels, a part of the large bird moved up the branch, disclosing itself as the PEREGRINE and the other, remaining part was its breakfast draped over a branch fork, whose legs dangled down. Prior to the move, both were positioned in a way that they looked like 1 bird. After that discovery, I hustled to catch up on the prep work, leaving the PEREGRINE to its meal. I just love my volunteers!

awesome volunteers taking a Holiday bustle break…

Here 11 amazing volunteers had gathered at 9am on a Saturday morning in the midst of the Holiday bustle, a few days before Christmas, eager to get native plants into the ground, spreading straw and enjoying each others company. For the last 3 years each one of the Estuary Project volunteers has added a special something to the levee habitats and I am grateful to have worked with each one. So here is to the many Estuary Project participants: Humongous Thanks for your time and efforts that resulted in the mighty impressive Estuary Project success!

SPOTTED SANDPIPER on the rock throne…

The ever busy, little SPOTTED SANDPIPER took time out to chase off the other SPOTTED SANDPIPER, who temporally had forgotten that its place was on the downstream cliff boulders from the Trestle bridge. For months the upstream terrain owner had tried to make it crystal clear that no buts and ifs would change that set-up, flying home its point by determined, wild, high speed pursuits. The other SPOTTED SANDPIPER quickly retreated, leaving the satisfied terrain trainer on its rock throne.

OSPERY greeting the morning…

The critters like to remind the Sierra Club members to be sure to send in their ballots before Jan. 12 deadline and thank the members, who voted for Erica and I.

I wish all of you a Happy New Year and may your 2020 year be sprinkled with many heart warming Nature gifts, jane