adventures in nature

healdsburg osprey nest and peregrine falcon sighting

I’m a bit behind in my posts, I’ve been doing less computer time and more wandering time since summer weather  has finally arrived (at least that’s my excuse for this week!). The hills are brown and the soap plant flowers are blooming in the evening now, as the last spring flowers have wilted in the heat wave last week. The air is dry and smells of fennel and many of the baby birds have already fledged and are beginning to make their own way in the world. We have seen so many fawns this year, and almost all of them are a pair of twins. Perhaps the profuse winter rains activated an as-of-yet unknown signal in the bodies of the does signaling an abundant food season with the promise of supporting two offspring. It’s been quite a gift to see all the fuzzy fawns frolicking together.

But there have also been a few late-comers this year. I stopped to check out the osprey nest near Healdsburg Memorial Bridge the other day and it appears that there is a young brood there. The attentive parents were busy over the nest when I arrived, and despite being quite a distance away, one of them (the lighter colored and larger bird, a female I’m presuming) took off from the nest to do a fly-over of me.

Once satisfied either with an appropriate greeting, or that I wasn’t a threat, she returned to the nest to resume her duties. As I watched, the almost-full moon was rising in the background in the blue sky, and as the evening light started to turn everything a golden hue, I saw a familiar form alight behind the nest. It was an adult peregrine falcon! This has been the year of the falcon for me, I have seen more falcons this year than ever before. A good sign. For all involved.

The falcon didn’t seem so interested in the osprey nest, though they seemed to keep an eye on it as it passed over and began doing gentle circles above the Russian River. It stayed within sight for about fifteen minutes as it hunted the area, until finally it spiraled up and away towards Fitch Mountain. The whole time it was escorted by nervous and agitated swallows who were trying to feast on all the river insects without the looming presence of the bird-hungry predator.

The osprey took turns hunting while the other parent remained vigilant at the nest, and even when I looked at the nest two days ago I couldn’t see any youngsters poking their heads up. I got an interesting shot of the female osprey releasing an electric-looking poo into the air as she came in to land on the nest.

Hopefully the appearance of the bird shitting on/towards my water mark in the photo above isn’t a sign of what it, or the general audience, think of my pictures.

More shots of the osprey …

The lizards are enjoying the warm weather as well, this one was sunning itself by the abandoned railroad tracks on the East side of the pedestrian bridge. It appears to be a Western Fence Lizard. Interestingly, when ticks infected with the Lyme’s disease bacteria feed on one of these, it cleans the ticks of the disease – just one reason of many that it is a welcome part of our ecosystems here. Plus they are just fun to watch. During territorial or mating displays they will do push-ups to display their prowess, and they also have the ability to lose their tail if threatened by a predator (in hopes the predator will be distracted by the severed wiggling tail, allowing the lizard to run away and grow a new one).

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