Diet of Worms

(Burrowing Owl Update and King Tide Warning Below)

Snowy Egret (Egretta thula) Jan 18 2023

I apologize for the title. The Diet of Worms, of course, was a papal conclave in 1521 denouncing Martin Luther as a heretic. Here we have a less weighty matter. This Snowy Egret was stalking in one of the puddles that covered the Virginia Street Extension, the dirt road that runs east/west approximately opposite the driveway of the Hilton hotel. The bird seemed to be feeding on something fairly plentiful. It pecked and swallowed so fast that I had no clue what it might be eating. Slow motion video to the rescue! As you can see, the bird is taking advantage of the poor earthworms who have drowned in the inundation of the past weeks. They’re goners, and there’s quite a few of them. The Snowy Egret is an opportunistic feeder, and is cleaning them up. A diet of worms. Sorry :-).

Burrowing Owl Update

As if to refute my speculation yesterday that the owl had made Perch B its favorite, the Burrowing Owl in the park settled this morning in Perch A. There it stood generally at rest, and blinking from time to time, during most of the 23 minutes that my camera ran unattended. But it had a moment of high alarm, highlighted in my video, when something in the air got its total attention, and it crouched in readiness to dive into the rock crevice at its feet. Seconds later, the aerial threat passed, and life went back to normal. I was nearby but looking elsewhere as the camera was running so I have no clue what held the owl’s anxious focus during that moment.

Burrowing Owl (Athene cunicularia) Jan. 20 2023

To answer a question I’m asked frequently, Perch A is a spot in the rocks on the eastern slope of the Burrowing Owl Area toward the north end. When the owl is in that spot, you cannot see it from the paved perimeter trail outside the “art” fence. The only way to see it is with high-powered optics from the Open Circle Viewpoint, where the owl sits 110 yards north. Perch B, on the other hand, is a different spot in the rocks more southerly, near a big Fennel bush. In that spot you can see the owl, or at least its top half, with the naked eye from outside the “art” fence. Since its arrival on Oct. 30, the owl has perched in either A or B except for a very few days when it could not be seen anywhere. This owl has not so far been seen on the grass, ever. If you want to try to predict where the owl will be tomorrow, based on its track record so far, I’ve kept a calendar of its positions; click here.

King Tide Flood Warning

Tomorrow, Saturday Jan. 21 at 10:41 a.m. and again on Sunday at 11:34, the tide will exceed 7 feet and the salt water will again flood the pedestrian/biker trail along Marina Boulevard opposite the Hilton Hotel. This segment is the responsibility of the City of Berkeley. It would be a quick fix to plug the gap in the seawall that lets the flood in, but the City has not got its act together in more than 12 years to make this repair. Since it isn’t technically in the park, Parks Director Scott Ferris may not be responsible, and since it isn’t technically on a roadway, Public Works Director Liam Garland may not have it on his desk either, but certainly City Manager Dee Williams-Ridley has it under her purview, and that’s where the buck stops. So let’s christen this long-festering obstruction to pedestrian, bicycle, and ADA access Lake Williams-Ridley.

The other high tide flooding occurs around the corner on the Virginia Street Extension, the east-west dirt road at the south end of the North Basin. This flooding blocks the road to everyone without wading boots. Here too, a couple of small gaps that could easily be plugged are responsible. In charge of this area is the East Bay Regional Park District. Name that giant puddle Lake Elizabeth Echols, the Park District representative for this area.

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3 thoughts on “Diet of Worms

  • January 24, 2023 at 6:08 am
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    Gould fan. (¬‿¬)

  • January 20, 2023 at 7:28 pm
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    That’s a beautiful video of the Snowy Egret, and the lead photo (possibly one of the frames of it?) is equally spectacular. There ought to be awards for both of them.

  • January 20, 2023 at 6:16 pm
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    HaHa when I saw the title, I wondered how many people would have gotten the reference (Diet of Worms). Glad you taught them! I love the newsletter and look forward to it every day-
    Thank you!
    Carol Cohen
    Berkeley

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