Saturday, August 25, 2012


The most exciting event of the week were Whales lunge feeding at Pismo. Photo by Mike Baird. I am also including a link to Mike's slide show on the Humpback Whales feeding at Pismo.

There are thousands of birds feeding at the same time as the whales. Pelicans are diving into the water as the whales lunge up. Unfortunately, many a Brown Pelican has gone down the gaping maw of a voracious Whale. I viewed the feeding phenomena from the Pismo Pier a few days a go.

Today, from Morro Rock, observed more of this fascinating feeding behavior. The whales and birds were feeding on bait balls, which are huge masses of bait fish packed into a globular mass. I do believe there were trillions of birds, Cormorant, Pelican, Sooty Shearwater, Gull, feeding along with three whales. The action was taking place on the Montana de Oro side of the breakwater, but was able to get an excellent view with binoculars.

Back to birding - Red-necked Phalarope has returned to the Turri Rd. ponds. There were about 40 or so spinning so fast it nearly made me dizzy. Churning up the water brings their microscopic food to the surface.
Tide was just right to see a variety of birds at the Audubon Overlook - Virginia Rail, 6 Greater Yellowleg, Dowitcher, and a very difficult bird for me to identify, Baird's Sandpiper; there were three, two immature and an adult. I spent at least an hour identifying them as they look so much like Western Sandpiper. Nearly forgot about the Spotted Sandpiper at the Morro Bay Marina. Every year one adorable Spotted Sandpiper takes up residence at the marina - was delighted to see it had returned.

Sunday, August 19, 2012


Yesterday I had the pleasure of participating in the release of a rehabilitated juvenile, female Peregrine Falcon. The Peregrine was found on the sandspit on June 26; one of her wings had been broken. She was rehabilitated by Jeri Roberts' at her raptor rehab center. Peregrine photo by Mike Baird. It is not the bird that was released, but could be kin.

Arrangements had been made with the Morro Bay Harbor Patrol to take the Peregrine to the area where she had been found. Jeri arrived with the Peregrine in a cooler, which was just the right size to keep the raptor confined but safe. One end is wire. The ride to the sandspit was delightful. No wind. The Peregrine exited the carrier with great power and soared across the bay. There was some speculation that she was one of the four Peregrines that fledged on the south side of Morro Rock this year. For your viewing pleasure have a less than a minute vide of the experience.

Sunday, August 12, 2012


Morro Strand Beach - North Point - The morning could not have been more beautiful. No wind, sun breaking through the fog, tide coming in, and a variety of shore birds. What more could one ask for.

On the rock formation (photo) were two Black Oystercatcher, a Western Gull and several Black Turnstone (not visible). Counted 12 Black Turnstone feeding and preening on rocks near the shore. May take a little patience to see Turnstone, as they blend in beautifully with their rocky habitat. (Photo)

Turnstones usually travel in flocks, making them easier to see once you have finally located the first one. Another identifier is their song that sounds like a grating rattle; often calling out as they fly between feeding areas.

My birding euphoria was disturbed for a few moments as a mother videoed her son chasing the shorebirds. The boy was running after Long-billed Curlew, Whimbrel, Godwit and Willet. Fortunately I was able to get a Whimbrel photo before the birds were disturbed.

During the summer months, it is nearly impossible to go to the beach without seeing an ignorant tourist.

Whew! The sun was warming the beach. Time for an iced Starbucks.

Sunday, August 5, 2012


A bit it of an introduction is needed to explain how this photo came about. For a couple of months I have been working on "Part 3" of what I call a "documentary" of the building of the Morro Bay State Park Marina Sandspit Boardwalk. The boardwalk is near completion and I wanted to get a few more photos of the men and women of the Calif. Conservation Corps at work.

I had told myself that I did not need binoculars, as I was going to focus my efforts, such as they are, on photography. In the distance I could hear Elegant Terns. Rounding the point I saw, along the edge of the bay, a small flock of terns. Although distant, two of them looked like Black Skimmers. In "Sibley's Guide to Birds," he describes the Black Skimmer as "unmistakeable," definitely my kind of bird. Took a photo, zoomed in, and sure enough they were Black Skimmers. Most every year a few are seen around the bay, but they are usually seen by scope.
(Photo - Black Skimmer, to the left, Elegant Tern)

What makes the Skimmer so unique is their mandible; it is sizable and a bright orange, and the lower mandible extends past the upper mandible. They forage mainly at night, flying over shallow water with the lower mandible skimming the surface. Am I lucky or not?

Wednesday, August 1, 2012


It was back to Turri Road this morning. Of course I wanted to check out the birds, but I was also in need of a dose of globally warmed sun. In the ponds, full due to a high tide, noticed a pair of Greater and a pair of Lesser Yellowleg. In the shrubbery along the road, a Gnatcatcher and a Wren let me know I was invading their territory. Above, looking for something to eat, a White-tailed Kite hovered (Photo by Kevin Cole) . Watching this bird hover, then to pause in mid-air, its glorious white tail spread out like slim fingers, is an amazing sight.

About 1/2 mile up the road the sun magically appeared. Between the ponds and the pea field, still in bloom and looking beautiful, managed to see immature Western Bluebird and Cassin's Kingbird feeding on tiny insects; at the rusty corral more Cassin's Kingbird, a female Blue Grosbeak, and a family of Indigo Bunting, mom dad and the kids, dashing back and forth across the road. If I were to rate today's birding, I would give it a perfect 16.