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

San Lorenzo River welcomes BUFFLEHEADS & GOLDENEYES…

Good Morning Barbara and all you Nature Enjoyers,

male BUFFLEHEAD & his harem…

As you know, I my vigilant eyes have roamed the river water surface in the hope to see the appearance of migratory waterfowl, especially the adorable BUFFLEHEADS. On October 29 my wait was rewarded with the sight of 1 male BUFFLEHEAD and his harem of 4 females in tow. They had the skittish behavior of newcomers, which meant that any perceived threat sent them under the water surface. This disappearance mania eases off as they get familiar with their winter neighborhood. The goosing PIED-billed GREBE obviously didn’t approve of the new crew: it circle the small flock, dive down and stay out of sight. All of the sudden the male BUFFLEHEAD would burst into a dash away from the females, but wouldn’t dive. I couldn’t make head or tail of these perplexing speed zooms until I noticed that the PIED-billed GREBE would pop up close to the male. After 4 repeats of this scenario, the male BUFFLEHEAD cleared the water decks, because he was fed up with the sneaky gooser and his devoted harem trailed behind him upriver. Do you think the PIED-billed GREBE knew he save himself some time by chasing off the male because the 4 females would follow him?

2 female GOLDENEYES joined the BUFFLEHEAD flock…

For the last 6 years I noticed that the female GOLDENEYES don’t subscribe to the BUFFLEHEAD harem concept, because they arrive before the males, who meander in approx. a week later, decorated in their stunning plumage. I watched the 2 female GOLDENEYES checking out the growing flock of 18 BUFFLEHEADS. After swimming back and forth on the other side of the river, they decided that it was okay to join their migratory cousins. Slowly they approached. The BUFFLEHEADS were agreeable to their company and the GOLDENEYES melted smoothly into the flock.

City is opening the river mouth…

The City opened the river mouth on October 28 and drained the water below 5’5″. It used to be that the City was careful to not let the water level go below 5’5″, because that height was established as beneficial for the fish. In the past I have seen Biologists with nets, pulling out fish at the opened river mouth, but not this time.

female OSPREY on her favorite branch…

There is something gentle and reassuring to see the same river birds in their familiar places. It creates a sense of affinity with these critters as I walk the levee. There is the tiny Anna’s Hummingbird that always buzzes me as a walk by the plum tree. Sometimes it comes so close that it seems to get ready to land on me. In the beginning I was worried that I was close too its nest, but I noticed that no other people were getting buzzed like me. The TOWHEE couple by the Boardwalk parking lot forage along the path. When a person approaches, they sound alarm and both flit into their hiding spot in their favorite elderberry bush. I see them peeking down at the people, waiting for them to pass, so that they can resume their food rummaging. The royal OSPREY in the Trestle trees peers down at me as I stare mesmerized up at her. I consider my ‘feathered regulars’ a part of my extended family and I am always happy to see them.
Be sure to come to the river and welcome our migratory winter guests, jane