Monday, December 15, 2014

Birding Morro Bay Beach

Morro Bay Beach - Weather coolish, cloudy and breezy.  As you can see in the photo the beach was very quiet.  I was hoping to see two winter visitors, Bonaparte's Gull and Mew Gull.  Fortunately there were only a few gulls on the beach, making it easier to spot the little migrants as they moved between a small beach pond and the edge of the surf. 
Bonaparte's Gull at 12-13 inches in length is the smallest gull (photo above).  Both gulls breed in Alaska and Northern Canada and winter along the west coast.  A fascinating aspect of the Mew Gull (photo below) is that it is the only gull that nests in trees.  And you will never guess who Bonaparte's Gulls are named after  -  Napoleon's brother, Charles Lucien Bonaparte who was a leading ornithologist in the 1800's. 

When trying to ID the Bonaparte's Gull and the Mew Gull keep in mind they are about 1/2 the size of a common Western Gull and are often alone or on the edge of a group of Gulls. 

Other beach birds - Feeding in the breaking surf was a mixed flock of Surf Scoter, female Bufflehead, and Eared Grebe.   Farther out was a flock of Western Grebe.   After a chilly hour of birding the beach it was time for a cup of tea.

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