September 14, 2008
Gary Bogue: What Did We See Swimming Past Our Boat?
By Gary Bogue
Bright sunrise in the eyes
Swallowtail awakes from sleep
baby lizards run and leap
-- Brian Murphy,
I sail our little 24-ft. boat out of Vallejo with my brother most weekdays. A couple of weeks ago we were working our way against a fairly gruesome ebb tide and moderate winds when there among the whitecaps we saw a pair of dolphins heading outbound toward San Pablo Bay.
We see all types of interesting wildlife out there but this was a first for me and that extends back to the mid-1980s.
I asked a friend out of Alameda and he said he saw them quite often. What the heck are they? They're small, maybe 5-feet or 6- feet, and very dark chocolate brown, almost black.
They're not seals. Swimming on their sides I could tell and I know they weren't anything else. I could hear their breath and observe their swimming closely.
L.J. Graham, Vallejo
Sounds like California harbor porpoises. They match the size and color of the marine mammals you saw. Harbor porpoises are found along the California coastline and they like to explore inland waters, like San Pablo Bay!
Marine mammals seem to have a powerful curiosity. Sea lions have been found swimming in canals in the Central Valley. (You might also keep an eye out for beavers, river otters, mink, sea lions and harbor seals.)
Several days ago on my evening walk, I suddenly became aware of some cawing of crows, which seem to be the majority of birds around here.
I didn't pay much attention as I walked on until the racket astonished me because it got so loud I couldn't believe it!
I looked up and there were a couple dozen or more birds flying around in a circle, making the most raucous din that you can imagine! I looked down and there beside the path where I was walking was a dead crow "...
Do you suppose I unintentionally walked into a crow funeral??
Madge Weis, Danville
Crows are flocking birds and they spend most of the time hanging out together. As you saw, they get very upset when something happens to a member of their flock.
The other members of the flock also get upset if they see a human, dog, cat, or whatever approaching their dead or injured friend and sometimes dive-bomb the intruder. They can't really hurt you, but it's a little scary to look up and see all those big black birds diving down at you.
I suppose you could call it a funeral. It could also have been a roast. Depends on what they were saying about the dead crow.
FRIENDS IN NEED
-- Feral Cat Foundation Raffle -- Drawing is Oct. 19. First prize is a seven-day Gold Coast Maui, Hawaii, vacation. Plus trips to Kona, Hawaii; British Columbia; and more, plus many cash prizes. All donations help cats rescued by FCF. Tickets are $2 each; $10 for six. To order, call 925-829-9098. See all prizes at www.feralcatfoundation.org.
-- National Disaster Search Dog Foundation (SDF), a nonprofit, non-governmental organization that trains the most highly certified canine-firefighter disaster search teams in the nation, needs volunteers to comb local shelters or surf the Internet to find high- energy Labs and golden retrievers with the drive and focus required in a disaster search dog. Dogs need to begin training by Oct. 1.
If you can help, call Terry Miller, program director, at 888-459- 4376, Ext. 109, or e-mail [email protected]
A FINAL NOTE
Al Arnold called with a story about a scrub jay. His neighbor was painting his house. He gave a scrub jay a peanut, and it came back with fresh paint on its head.
Find more Gary in his blog at www.ibabuzz.com/garybogue. or write Gary, P.O. Box 8099, Walnut Creek, CA 94596-8099; e-mail [email protected]
Originally published by Gary Bogue, Contra Costa Times.
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