Flocks

Flocks

During the doldrums of January and February there isn’t much activity on the Slough, however something new or different occurs every day. It’s those events that spawned my goal to look and see; seeing is the key word.

It’s to a picture takers advantage to keep reminding ourselves of it to improve our skills. I read a comment on a Bird watchers Facebook Page where the Chief cook and head bottle washer stated she didn’t know why people would take a pair of binoculars along with their camera on a photo session in the field. I didn’t answer as it’s a honest question. I will answer for myself, I carry one for no other reason then to be able to “see” better; in the context of my three words “look and see”.

One of those events is the flyover of migratory birds flying from North to South some landing in the pasture to graze. I’m not sure but those in the photo may be Trumpeter Swans. They were silent as they flew overhead making a wide circle several times until they spied a suitable landing spot. The migrating birds frequent the pasture due to its food, protection from the wind and it has numerous water ponds just over the Levee top.

I photograph and write about the Canadians quite often, they demand attention while in the surrounding area. They fly past on a regular basis in groups of 2 and as many as dozens of individuals. They are loud attention gatherers and will become much louder in the coming weeks and months. During egg laying time they and the Mallards are the most boisterous of the entire mass of animals on the Slough.

Pelicans are interesting when traveling in their large flocks, the photo above depicts a small portion of a much larger group. They hunt for fish communally forming a huge semi-circle in the water they swim towards the shore driving small fish against it then begin to pluck the small bait fish from under them eating until they are full. Their flying is very graceful and relaxing to observe. They don’t just fly in large flocks I have seen nearly every day two or three flying together along the far side Levee. Once on the water they have a tendency to stay for an extended time swimming from one end of the slough to the other; a jaunt of 1/4 mile.

Again I’m not able to identify the species in this photo, they appear to be Canadians however I’m not a all sure. They fly high, an example of why I have binoculars with me nearly all of the time. At times it’s difficult to tell from a distance if a bird is flying towards or away, I’ll spot them in the binoculars to be certain. Most of the time one bird let alone an entire goes in one of the other 359 degrees offered to it. These guy’s were silent which re-enforces that they are not Canadians; When they decide to take to the sky as a flock they are their own cheer-leaders, whooping it up honking and barking.

I’ll part with this photo of Mute Cranes, an invasive species in California they reside on the East Coast in the state of Maine. As an invasive species it is legal for them to be hunted all year round, California needs no more foreign animals. I don’t know what people do with them after they are shot, I assume they are on the dinner table. They are large birds that takes a large crew to consume one.

On the invasive species list in California are Black Bass, Stripped Bass, wild Turkeys and Asian mussels. They with the exception of the Bass have open hunting season with no limit. The Bass are sure to follow at some point down the road. They as much as the water conveyance systems of canals, dams and pumps do as much damage to the Delta as they.

The water war is an extremely complicated issue, most people do not understand it fully, I should say no-one understands it close to fully. It takes a lot of “look and see” for it to make any sense at all.

Jacques Lebec Natural Self Reliance

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