treasuring river’s touching moments…

Greetings to all of you river enjoyers,

HAPPINESS STREET BLITZ….

Just in case you are wondering if I have landed back on earth after my incredible river 3/22 Happiness soak: barely! ~ is the answer to that, because all day long tremendous people celebrated the Jane Mio Day with me. Blog readers cheered the day, e-mails offered wonderful ‘Yahoo’ messages, Major Brunner’s Proclamation reading triggered my happy cry, which sprinkled happy tears all over my well rehearsed dignified response and they kept flowing thanks to the heartwarming comments of City Council Member Brown, Cummings, Meyers and Mayor Brunner. My words might have failed me, but my happy tears delivered the message wet and clear: I felt immense honored!! In the afternoon family, friends/neighbors joined the Happiness Street Blitz that had been put together spontaneously by my wonderful neighborhood friends. The result was that I floated above the ground, because I was surrounded by ‘my’ people, who enjoyed having a good time meeting each other, sharing laughter and lively conversations.

They braved the rain…Peggy, Nasebee, Peter, Robin, Dan, Sue, Ivan(not shown Karsten, Russ, jane)

My recent river time had 3 volunteer events that included some special moments that I like to share with you. The 3/19 Estuary Project work day had rain forecasted, which is not very inviting to work outside in the dirt. Yet this weather didn’t deter 10 volunteers to show up at 9am in rain gear and work with vim and high spirit on our various tasks. We were thrilled to welcome Rotary Member Peggy Pollard and her UCSC International Student from Mozambique, Naseeba Sidat, who was introduced to planting Calif. Lilac by resident Peter & DST member Ivan. Our river OSPREY dazzled Naseebe by scrubbing its talons in the shallow water right across from us

river OSPREY dazzling Naseebe…

The second event entailed working with 9 members of a delightful AmeriCorps Team and a DST Member. I was smitten by the 9 members’ interest in the river, their questions about the benefits of their tasks. Robin Lopez, a DST and BEST member, was my right-hand since she is familiar with the restoration tasks. She kept an excellent eye on who needed what help.

fabulous AmeriCorps Team & DST member Robin…

Robin is also the one, who discovered the very long gopher snake. We tried to guide it to a safe place, but it wanted to return to its dangerous sun bathing spot. So I just picked it up(much to everybody’s surprise) and relocated the beauty away from the heavy foot traffic path.

Robin found this very long gopher snake…

Last not least there was the 4/3 BEST Sunday, filled with touching nature incidents. There was Mitch, being totally absorbed by the flight of a butterfly, by a bug crawling up a branch, raising his head to glimpse at a bird. It makes me happy to witness how nature awareness is unfolding for him. You would have been touched to see David tenderly attend to the newly planted vegetation, making sure they were properly berm-ed, flagged, weed free, watering them carefully.

BEST Sunday members: Mike, Katrina, Robin, Mitch, Beth, David, Cheetah, Ivan..,

And there was Cheetah, looking for me, because he wanted to show me the GREAT BLUE HERON, hiding in the bushes across the river. It melted my heart to stand next to him and share his glorious, well hidden find, which he spotted because he had tuned into the river environment. I hope these little insights highlighted some of the many touching moments that I treasure dearly ~ fortunate jane chirps

Cheetah’s find, the GREAT BLUE HERON…the BEST mascot

loving the San Lorenzo River is a full-time job…

Greetings to You Delighted Nature Lovers,

nature teaches patience: Beeplant returns after 2 year hibernation…

The San Lorenzo River visit answered my frustration driven, irritated question: “Why do I spend so much time on the river related issues?”. This question was triggered after reading ‘Steinbruner’s States’ 1/17 post, because I realized that I was unaware that ‘conveyance system’ plans for the PureWater Soquel Project had changed to the option of attaching the pipe to the Laurel St. bridge and not placing it underneath the river. So finding out that the favored, much needed breeding location for the migratory CLIFF, NORTHERN ROUGH-winged SWALLOWS was in jeopardy made my SWALLOW nests knees buckle. Admit-tingly I find the pipe construction project to be San Lorenzo River environment unfriendly, but a mitigated pipe placement would assure that the SWALLOWS breeding location was saved. In order to get clear on the pipe location I descended into the project’s documents/plans hell. I’ll spare you my journey through the all-too-familiar rocky terrain of ‘ the San Lorenzo River environment is paying a high price once again’, which made me run to the river. There I was greeted by the recently planted Buckeye buds that were pushing open their protective brown capsules because the leaves are birthing ready.

Buckeye buds birthing leaves…

The Bumblebee was nibbling nectar from the Sage plants, the RED-tailed Hawk couple was involved with their mating circling, the lone female COMMON GOLDENEYE attracted 3 AMERICAN COOTS, who hoped that the damsel had stirred up some delicious algae. Down the river I discovered 2 more female COMMON GOLDENEYES. One was eager to befriend a MALLARD couple ~ alas ~ they were busy discussing their mating possibility…I didn’t see any male COMMON GOLDENEYES, who had a low presence on the river this year. And then there was the discovery that the Beeplant had decided to come back strong after a 2 year hibernation. It was a treat to see my levee friend walking up with her 2 grandchildren and I had wonderful river conversation with her 5 year old grandson. This little boy and the river life made me realize why I spend so much time on river issues. It’s because I want all present and future beings to be able to enjoy what I love: a rich and thriving river environment.

lone female COMMON GOLDENEYE…

Mitch, one of the BEST members, and I will give a presentation to-night to a group that is interested in our efforts. It will be a good experience for both of us, because we will gain insight how our message comes across. I like you to know that the BEST is still doing a very fine riparian corridor stewardship job. Because of our by now familiar presence the Benchland campers are becoming more and more engaged with kinder co-operation and lending us their hands and tools. My friend, Eva, made the BEST a yummy lunch, which we devoured gratefully after our shift, having a great time sharing a meal together.

BEST enjoying Eva’s lunch…

Chirps to you that hum with river life ~ jane

river beckoning…

The River Sends You Its Good Morning Greetings,

storm break at the San Lorenzo River…

Actually I was heading to a different river site when the corner of my eye caught sight of that mighty big shape on on the tree trunk in the middle of the river. Not only caused that for my car to slow down – apologies to the driver behind me – but a pronto decision to pull over across from Jessie St. Marsh and figure out who owned that shape. Walking up the path I prepared myself to either discovering an odd piece of debris or look at an empty tree trunk. The first is based on living with my quirky imagination that entertains me with turning branches into critters, etc. The second one is the birders’ reality: birds see no reason to satisfy human viewing hunger with waiting patiently for their arrival. So my birding heart giggled seeing the sizable, dark silhouette be a bird that was still hunkered down on the stranded tree. And that is where my luck wore thin ~ the large bird had its back to me, was gazing across the river with the sun shinning straight into my eyes. I appreciated that it sat immobile while I improved my viewing angle. When I was able to take a better look, I noticed that it was gradually tipping backwards to dip its tail in the water and then tip forward, gently shake the tail, sit for a moment and repeat its interesting ‘grooming’ act. Finally it turned its head sideways, allowing the view of the stunning eyes and the fierce beak, triggering the immediate thought: ” WOW ~ that’s one fine EAGLE!”

the mighty fine EAGLE…

I spend 10 minutes starring at its back since it refused to turn around or look sideways again. It was surprising to see the huge body suddenly be in the air without the usual raptor lift off maneuver. It gained height with a few powerful wing flaps, aimed to the Boardwalk, changed direction towards me, circled twice above me before heading inland. Watching it disappear I was happy that Nature had beckoned me to take the time to observe her young BALD EAGLE.

BUFFLEHEADS snoozing in shallow river water….

Now that my bird focus was gone, I looked around, taking in what the low tide exposed after the rains and storms: extensive sandbars and expended shorelines. The water was very shallow, which might be due to the sediment deposits that raised the riverbed. Because of these conditions it seemed possible to walk across the river. In the urban corridor section the banks let go of a few big trees that are now lying in the river. During my river escapade the AMERICAN COOTS kept me company and upstream from the Riverside bridge 3 male and 1 female BUFFLEHEADS were snoozing the afternoon away. 2 female COMMON GOLDENEYES took lazy swim. There were very few birds on the water, which might be due to the BALD EAGLE visit.

young BALD EAGLE water ‘grooming’ the tail…

The BEST is still busy doing an amazing job in taking care of the Benchland riparian corridor: planting natives vegetation and re-purposing the broken willow branches as new starts for future growth. It’s is very remarkable to see the BEST show up for the Sundays. They work hard and focused in spite of the camp upheaval such as relocations, wet belongings and unsure future. I love how they kindly raise my awareness of being houseless by letting me know what I can do better to be more sensitive to their circumstances. Their honesty means a lot to me.

a BEST planting a native Calif. evening Primrose…

Have you been pondering what to do in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King’s memory this week-end? Then allow me to invite you to join the Saturday Estuary Project volunteer day: join residents and DST members and enhance together river habitats. Click here for details.
Can’t make that one? No problem, because there is the BEST Sunday option: meet us @ 11am at the Benchland shipping containers underneath the pedestrian bridge.
River Beckoning Cheer ~ jane

meet the BEST and enjoy the river vignettes…

Good Morning Greetings to all you River Friends,

Mike, David, Gillian Rebecca and Tony were last Sunday’s BEST….

My last two weeks have been taken up with hand watering our young native plants, trying to nurse them through the dry summer and initiating the Benchland Estuary Stewardship Program for the houseless campers. I can’t help but see the similarities between the two activities. Both are trying to survive harsh circumstances according to their individual abilities.  The reason for this Program is that the stretch by the San Lorenzo River waterline has has been heavily impacted by uncontrolled camping that degraded the habitat vegetation. I know first hand that houseless people make great environment stewards because I have witnessed that with ‘my’ Downtown Streets Members, who have become a part of the Estuary Project work crew. These Members are the backbone of the BEST, aka Benchland Estuary Stewardship Team. They are the ones, who show up for the work, help brainstorm ideas to promote the Program so that fellow campers become part of the BEST. I admit that I loved seeing Tony Elliot, the Park & Rec. Director, Community and houseless members work together on helping the river habitat. They created a BEST community by helping each other out with hard and at times difficult work, they shared laughter and conversations. Nature rewarded their efforts with the passing of a MALLARD Mama and her 5 ducklings and a GREEN HERON’s fly-over. You are welcome to join the BEST every Sunday from 11am-1pm. We meet at the Benchland entry by the big, black dumpster close to the Water St. bridge.

JUNCO thanks the BEST with a song in the cleared Benchland area…

As mentioned before it has been interesting to compare the settle differences in the river habitats with my river compadres. We can’t figure out if this year’s lack of river bird diversity is due to COVID- more human and dog presence- or if we are witnessing the climate change effects. Many of us are keyed into the Nature cues to prepare us for the upcoming seasons : ducklings announce spring, SWALLOW arrival announces spring transition to summer, migration birds fledglings indicate summer and so on…The comrades’ consensus is that the observed changes leave us a little disoriented. Have you noticed bird behavior changes? And if that is the case~ how do they effect you?

BLACK PHOEBE sailing on the river…

The BLACK PHOEBE discovered that the algae is very handy river float that allows catching the insects that are attracted to the flotsam. It seemed quite enamored with the river ride, because it was still sailing the river on its green ‘boat’ when I returned an hour after. Usually this restless species zips from one perch to the next. This year there have been less BLACK PHOEBES along the river. Did they fly to a different habitat? Barbara Riverwoman will be delighted to hear that a juvenile PIED-billed GREBE is moseying around by the Riverside Ave. bridge. She has a special bond with them, so I want to let her know: the mask marked teenager is chasing its parents, who escape this danger by diving every time the youngster comes too close. Clearly they see their parent role as fulfilled. And talking about young birds: the juvenile RED-shouldered HAWK keeps calling for parental branch food delivery. Either the parents are deaf, bad hunters or weaning their youngster, because some days you can hear that meal request for hours on end. One of my river comrades saw the PEREGRINE in the Trestle trees again. The Falcon always disappears for a few spring and summer months. Now we are waiting for the OSPREY’s return, who follows the PEREGRINE’s behavior pattern.

Monarch approves the Estuary efforts…

Last not least~ We like to invite you to our Estuary Project work day this Saturday, July 17th, from 9am-11am. You find more details here: https://www.scvolunteernow.org/opportunity/a0C4T0000026cG4

It would be fun to meet you at the river~ cheery chirps to you all~ jane