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.
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 isprovided 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.
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.
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.
And YES! Good outcomes are possible~ cheering jane
The City biologists finished seining for this year. As of the end of last month their boats and nets are no longer roving in the river. The 12 month seining cycle ended in September. Now the biologists are writing their reports and we have to wait until next July 1st to read their findings. It’s darn hard to wait that long and so I kibitz as much as I can while they seine. Since I was in fishing around for any information, I welcomed Zeke’s note that on 9/ 23 Coastal Watershed Council was hosting a seining talk of the City of Santa Cruz Water Department’s Watershed Section and Hagar Environmental Science. Chris Berry, the Watershed Compliance Manager, impressed us all with his engaging presentation.We couldn’t believe our ears when he told us that at their last seining at the Trestle bridge they counted over 10000 steelheads, which was the biggest haul in a long time. The good news was that these steelheads were predominately wild, who have a better ocean survival rate than the hatchery ones. It turns out that hatchery life doesn’t steel them for the ocean. The biologists are not certain why the count was so high this year. They expect that the late rain created a higher, steady river flow and had a positive effect on the spawning and rearing. Chris mentioned this interesting observation: the biologist had tagged some juveniles down river on their way to the ocean. Later in the season they found these juveniles again up the river, which indicates they did an atypical backtrack.
Finding the Pink Salmon in the San Lorenzo caused quiet the excitement, because it was the first time since 1914. Biologists are re-evaluating their lagoon perception: a closed river mouth was thought to be necessary for the steelhead to adjust to the ocean salt water, but the river mouth stayed open for most of the year, resulting in a very high steelhead count. It will be interesting to hear if fish behavior is being trolled by Climate Change.
It’s a good thing that Chris is familiar with my enthusiastic bird preoccupation, because he took it in good stride that his speech was interrupted by my excited outburst: “Look there are 2 HAWKS sitting in the Trestle trees!” The HAWKS stayed for the entire talk and provided me with the perfect visual background while I listened to Chris.
I don’t have any current pictures for you, because my camera is sick in the lens, leaving me photo blink-less. There are so many times, when I miss not being able to capture an image, then again there is a simple pleasure in just staying with the unfolding moment: the hunt for that perfect photo is replaced by letting Nature unfurl. Since I do enjoy sharing river images with you, would you cross your fingers that my lens can be healed?
I am getting fidgety, because my beloved BUFFLEHEADS haven’t shown up yet. Every time I go to the river, I scan the water for their presence. You all be the first to know when I see them.
The Public Works Dept. seems to have a headache on their hands: the levee has a leak. Public Work staff and Company workers are taking measurements, discussing and walking back and forth on the levee across from Jessie St. Marsh. At this point they are in the process of figuring out how to deal with it. I am happy to report that so far the native plants haven’t been stepped on.
That was pretty thrilling to see the plump Monarch Butterfly caterpillar devastate the leaves of the native Milkweed. A few days later it was gone, hopefully turning itself into a beautiful Monarch and testifying that our Estuary Project efforts are creating enriching wildlife habitat.