By Gerry Traucht
Editor’s Note: Gerry offers us glimpses of what he sees on his Berkeley strolls. This unique collection embodies the qualities of the beloved Japanese poetic form, Zuihitsu. Zuihitsu is genre of Japanese literature (since adapted by many Western writers) consisting of loosely connected personal essays and fragmented ideas that typically respond to the author’s surroundings. Photos taken by Gerry.
For over a year a Black-crowned Night-Heron has claimed a dumpster on 4th Street behind Market Hall and Peet’s Coffee. Migration and hunting are not his thing, but possibly there is a better story to why he stays here.
He’s a familiar sight. He has an audience, often photographing him. The dumpster is his stage.
Now that the nearby restaurants are closed, the dumpster is largely empty, the streets are empty.
Nearby, the Great Blue Heron roams Cesar Chavez Park and the Berkeley Marina.
Blue skies, Bay views, San Francisco.
California Gull at Cesar Chavez Park. Usually on the same shoreline rock opposite the Golden Gate Bridge.
My backyard Raven greets me from his usual perch above the deck. It was my birthday. Nice timing.
He comes for short visits most days. Because his beak isn’t especially heavy, I don’t know if he’s a Raven or a Crow. He does have the Raven ruffled collar feathers, but not much. He’s a bit brownish, not Crow-black.
When he’s hungry, he brings his mate. They’re a twosome, as Ravens often are. He seems bigger than a Crow. Not by much.
What do you think?
Is my Raven a Crow?
Early April at Aquatic Park, Berkeley.
A Great Egret was side hunting with neck and head approaching parallel to the water. He circled, slowly. This side-ways neck technique is the first time I’ve seen it so quickly repeated in prolonged hunting.
He high-stepped and leaned sideways until he spied his target. Every minute or two he had a fish.
Recently, this stylish bird gave the backyard’s other plum tree a visit. Black Phoebe. 99%. That is what my iBird identifier says.
But he’s brown.
In the bird books, he resembles an Eastern Phoebe by the color of his back feathers but not the chest pattern.
One friend first suggests sun-faded feathers that will not change until July moat. Another friend offers possible morph.
Does anyone know this bird? If he’s a Black Phoebe, why is he brown?
Late afternoon, backyard Berkeley.
A Golden-crowned Sparrow picks blossoms from the cherry tree in bloom in the middle of the yard.
A dozen feet away, another.
This Sparrow worked the wine-colored leaves of the plum tree.
Have a shelter in place birding story you’d like to share? Email Melissa your 800-1200 word essays at firstname.lastname@example.org. Wishing you joy and peace through birding.