Good Morning dear Nature Cheerers,

White Wagtail(googled)

Have you heard that the WHITE WAGTAIL has been visiting the San Lorenzo River mouth?If you never heard that name and have no clue what that bird looks like then you are in good company. Most local birders didn’t either until it was spotted at Corcoran Lagoon 3 weeks ago. Now every avid, local bird watchers has either seen it and/or studied its picture and background. Why is this 7 inch long tailed bird able to send the Santa Cruz birder community in a twitter, drop whatever they were doing and dash off when the Monterey Bay Birds(MBB) posts its latest location? In case you want to join MBB then use the Santa Cruz Bird Club link to subscribe to the MBBirdsgooglegroup: https://santacruzbirdclub.org/birding-listservers/  Now back to why this migratory WHITE WAGTAIL is receiving so much attention in the Santa Cruz County: this species breeds in Europe, Asia, Africa and has a ‘claw-hold’ in Alaska. The Northern American WAGTAIL population winters in tropical Asia. There have been very few of  reports of them in California since this bird hardly ever strays into the ‘New World’. So this little bird somehow ended up here. It seems to like this area, because it hasn’t continued on its migratory journey. So far I haven’t seen it and I am happy that Michael Levy did, because he has a soft spot for the river wildlife. It’s nice to know that the WHITE WAGTAIL and I share the same point of view: the Santa Lorenzo River is a great place to hangout.

Russell Brutsche: art of a “developed” car-centric downtown

 Mentioning Michael reminds me that a while back I met up with him and Batya as they were enjoying their morning levee ride. We had a wonderful conversation that covered the various river topics that included the fascinating wildlife, the City’s approach to the river’s habitats and our bird observations. Michael brought up that the California Coastal Commission had submitted a letter for the City Council meeting, in which the approval of the 7 story Front St Project was to be addressed. The California Coastal Commission’s objection to that monster Project ruffled the feathers of some City Council members while I confess~ the news of that letter was music in my ears~ because the river deserves better than a massively oversized development. Shelley Hatch and Ron Pomerantz wrote a vivid, descriptive  Sentinel Guest Commentary on what happened in that City Council meeting. It’s worth reading, so click here.

Great Blue Heron hanging out with Snowy Egrets…

I always tell you about our river OSPREY and I thought you might enjoy what somebody else has to say about this beauty. This OSPREY article and its wonderful photos will increase your appreciation for this species. Seraphina Landgrebe’s report ‘Osprey the Fish Hawk’ was published by the Monterey Bay Birding Festival, an organization well worth your investigation. 

River greetings sprinkled with Nature’s sparkles~ jane

celebrating returns~finding magic…

Good Morning Dear Fellow Nature Celebrators,

the SPOTTED SANDPIPER returned…

There is nothing like days away from the river to revive my passion for it. I had been laid flat for 5 days by my dental anti-anxiety med. that had taken its job obviously extremely serious. Finally strolling along the levee again I felt like I had come home and was visiting with all the dear, familiar friends: the OSPREY announced her presence with that high pitch call. The KINGFISHER counter her with its agitated alarm racket, because the OSPREY is an unwelcome fish meal competitor.
Now that the algae has strongly subsided the OSPREY is becoming once again a regular Trestle tree percher and river fish hunter. For months the algae cover was very thick and at times covered the entire water surface. That made it impossible for the OSPREY to locate fish, which is its main food source. I love looking up into the trees and see the white shape perched on its favorite branch and hear that her call is being answered by an other OSPREY in the distance.

our river female OSPREY is back!

The new plants were thriving thanks to the rain. The established Mugwort and Gumplant have their fall look now that makes any tidy landscaper’s weed-whacker fingers itch: brown, overgrown, straggly, collapsing into every direction and loaded with seeds. The plants that had escaped the weed-whacker had their seeds eagerly harvested by the LESSER GOLDFINCHES and the TOWNSEND’S WARBLERS, our winter migratory birds. Over the years the mowing and weed-whacking has become less intrusive as the levee crew and I have learned to respect each other’s tasks needs. I like to believe that it has been a mutually beneficial experience.

migratory LESSER GOLDFINCH harvesting Mugwort seeds…

The migratory winter fowl flocks have grown to a remarkable size. As every year the COMMON GOLDENEYES claimed the Trestle area as their gathering place and the BUFFLEHEADS sill prefer the stretch between the Riverside Ave. and Crescent bridge. The LESSER and GREATER SCAUP agree with the RUDDY DUCKS that the area by the east side pump-station is very desirable hang-out place. The COOTS are beside themselves with the new winter guests and flock around them. The newcomers seem to feel overwhelmed by all that attention and try to escape the white beaked pursuers by diving continuously. The COOTS see no reason to stop their friendship efforts and dive after the winter guests. COOTS don’t really dive all that much, but right now they are spending a lot of time under water with their elusive ‘friends’. Knowing that COMMON GOLDENEYES and BUFFLEHEADS dive deeper than COOTS, I suspect the black residents are harvesting the plant material and invertebrates that the visitors are stirring up. So it’s no wonder that the COOTS are happily greeting their food suppliers.

‘our’ new magic San Lorenzo River dragon…

A couple of weeks ago my friend and I took a river walk and we passed by the County building pedestrian bridge. We arrived at the right time: the workers were cleaning up after the dragon sculpture had been mounted on the arch. Several bystanders commented that the new San Lorenzo River dragon looked just how they pictured ‘Puff, the Magic Dragon’ as a kid. We all agree that the sculpture had magical quality as the sun was glittering across its surface. Somebody started singing the song and we all enthusiastically chimed in. At the end of the tune we laughed together for breaking out singing and waved good-bye to each other. I celebrate that ‘our’ river dragon magically united us with joyfully singing a childhood memory melody.
Come to the river where magic is waiting for you~ jane

soaking up river calmness on election day…

Good Morning Nature Seekers,

BROWN PELICANS fly by…

To-day I’ll go for an extended river walk, because I want my eyes to feed my mind beauty on this dicey election day. My ballot was cast on the day Santa Cruz had rally in of honor of Ruth Ginsburg, because I wanted to dedicate my vote to her. I am sure that all of you’ll have voted by 8pm today.

WHITE-crowned SPARROW stretching its beak jaw…

The other day I heard a bird utter a few subdued notes in intervals. It sounded like the bird was exercising its song. Finally I located the owner of the sound. It was a migratory WHITE-crowned SPARROW, sitting on the top of a Coyote bush, watching me. Once it decided that I was harmless, it opened and closed its beak repeatedly. Then a few ethereal notes were set free, followed by silence, which was used for further beak stretching. Watching this behavior, I was reminded that my friend, a professional singer, did exactly the same vocal cords exercise: stretch her jaw, sing a few tones, stretch the jaw some more. This went on for a while until the WHITE-crowned SPARROW felt ready to deliver its entire song that was delightful. Who knew that birds prime their vocal cords like professional opera singers?

setting its song free…

Sometimes the river hosts an unfamiliar guest. When that happens my mind races through various possibilities: is this an unusual migratory bird that got blown off its route, is it an inland bird that got displaced or…? After examining this DUCK, I figured that it was the frolic outcome of its domestic Duck and MALLARD parents. A COOT was quite taken by the nicely pattern newcomer. It stayed close to its side and charged at any other approaching relatives. This attitude kept the black torpedo very busy since the river features over 100 COOTS. The unusual Duck paid no attention to its ‘friend’s’ activity since algae eating dominated its time.

unusual river DUCK visitor….

Well, that was a good reminder! My friend & I took a bird watching walk along the river. I got absorbed with watching a COOT walk on top of the algae as if it was solid ground. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a smaller bird walk on the algae. I dismissed it as a BREWER’S BLACKBIRD, who frequent algae surfaces. My friend paid better attention to that bird and greatly pleased identified it as a shy, elusive SORA, who harvest floating vegetation. Obviously I was due to be reminded: never dismiss a bird with a brief glimpse, thinking that I identified it correctly. We were both elated to discover the secretive waterbird! We also saw the BUFFLEHEADS and RUDDY DUCKS, whose return I had celebrated the evening before. You can check our e-bird list to find out, who else we saw.

SORA-credit: National Audubon Society

The other morning approx. 40 CANADA GEESE rounded the river bend, slowed down, took a look at the BUFFLEHEAD flock, lined up in a formation and swam at a fast clip towards the white and black dots on the water. The BUFFLEHEADS stopped in their water tracks and watched the approach of the formidable flotilla. 2 BUFFLEHEAD males peeled away from the group and slowly swam towards the GEESE, who slowed down. Encouraged by that result the males picked up speed, causing the big group to start turning around. Obviously the brave newbies were satisfied with their success, because they watched the GEESE ensemble depart while leisurely treading water.

Sending you all river calmness on this election day~ jane

2 male BUFFLEHEADS watching CANADA GEESE depart…

allowing to be…

Dear River Friends,

RED-tailed HAWK

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…

AMERICAN COOT taking a levee walk…

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

celebrating good outcomes…

Good Morning fellow Nature Celebrators,

OSPREY drying off after his dive…

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.

KINGFISHER enjoying a well deserved rest…

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 is  provided 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.

Estuary stretch awaiting Flood Control work…

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.

saving native Buckwheat seeds…

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.

ready for the future- Calif. Fuchsia seeds…

And YES! Good outcomes are possible~ cheering jane

let’s go to the river…

Good Morning dear Nature Enthusiasts,

Meadowhawk dragonfly…

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.

Buckeye, Skipper Butterflies…

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…

steelhead…

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.

watching you…

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.

RED-tailed Hawk watching Flood Control work…

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…

Camp veggie garden & a renegade camper sign…

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.

Red-necked PHALAROPE in food coma…

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

PIED-billed GREBE dealing with its dinner…

San Lorenzo River finds me grieving & celebrating…

Good Morning to you Nature Appreciators,

newly planted Calif. Fuchsia already in bloom…

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 video to watch how a teacher celebrates the San Lorenzo Valley.

Saddleback Dragonfly taking a rest…

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.

Meadowhawk Dragonfly on the levee bank…

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.

feasting MALLARDS…

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.

algae spreading across the river…

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

sun setting behind the Cypress at the river…

wildfire ashes snowing along the river…

Good Morning dear Mourners,

the sun over the San Lorenzo River on Mon. 17th @ 10am

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.

black leaf with hieroglyphic imprints…

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.

WIDOW SKIMMER(googled)

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.

distressed COMMON MURRE droopy wings…

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.

juv. PIED-billed GREBE learning its river boundaries…

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

wildfire ashes caught in a San Lorenzo River spider web…

 

river fauna & flora…

Good Morning Nature Devotees,

TERNS getting ready for a feast?

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 Cliff an 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.

Monarch caterpillar munching Milkweed leaf…

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

last year’s Monarch feeding on blossom…

weeding for the future…

Good Morning Nature Freunde,

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.

Honey bee enjoying native GUMPLANT…

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.

native bee harvesting GUMPLANT…

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.

hard to take good pic. of RED-tailed HAWK’s take-off…

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.

Warm River critter greetings to you all~ jane